Thursday, October 30, 2008

Art Blog: Artist EGO

I remember when I was 13 years old. I was living with my father that year. I hadn’t spent any time with him since I was 5 years old. It was a great time to get reacquainted. He bought me an oil painting set. HE KNEW. He could have been an artist, but life got in the way. His gift of a painting set was like a strand of gold to me; yet, it was a gift to him too. My mother who had been raising me never encouraged my ART side. She knew I had it, but since my creative side was paternal, she didn’t want to nurture it. When I started to paint in oils, I was in heaven. There was no agenda. There was no criterion. I just painted. I remember the first painting I did was an awful painting of a clown. I remember kids in the neighborhood coming over to my porch and “Ooooing and Ahhhhing”. They thought I had so much talent and that painting was so cool. I thought it was cool too. I really felt like a REAL artist.

I think this is how many of us hang on to our art dreams. We are GOOD at something. We feel the vibe from others. We get figurative pats on the back. We finally feel like we have a direction. Even though I made the decision to become an artist in kindergarten, this middle school oil painting experience signed the deal. I WAS an artist on that California porch.
Due to my new step mother’s distress, I was unable to continue living with my father. However even as I flew over the plains states back to Michigan and despite all the life trauma, I planned my artistic life. I continued to paint and impress my high school friends. I would use all my babysitting money to buy art supplies. If my friends ever needed an artist to do a project, I was the “it” girl. I gave my art away. I didn’t care about marketing or making a name for myself. I just wanted to be known as Sheree the Artist back then. I was so proud of myself. I felt successful.

Now, it is different. I hesitate when I start a new piece. I imagine the whole series. I wonder how all this fits into the art world that I am not even a part of anymore. Sometimes, I even think I forgot how to paint. I can stare at a blank canvas for hours because I am feeling so unsure of myself. The insecurity is so riveting and scary. My ego is so worried now. There is this lingering voice that shouts “Pick me, Pick me, Pick me!!” when I enter every exhibition. I don’t like this anymore. I really don’t.

Just like the Maisel quote I posted yesterday, I repeat with vehemence:

“Despite her doubts and distractions, a brave artist will routinely approach her work each new day, as naturally as she breathes and stretches.”

This is the way I was when I was 13 or 16 or even 18. What happened after that? I went to art school and got entrenched in all this art world stuff.
This is an inevitable part of becoming an artist. However, it is a struggle trying to understand how you fit into the scheme of things if you don’t live in New York or have wealthy patrons or have art that is of investment quality (per powerful people). All I know is the “PICK ME” voice is louder than ever right now. I want to quiet it. No more “ME ME ME” Sheree. I want to be that little girl on the porch just painting because it makes her feel alive.

“ME”, Misbehaviorists Series, by Sheree Rensel
Click for detailed view


JafaBrit's Art said...

I discovered that little girl on the porch when I was 40 years old. After having everything that I found precious taken from me in my childhood, discovering an ability to do art was a defining moment. I somehow don't really care what anyone thinks about my art, because for the first time in my life I had something that was mine and nothing and nobody was ever going to take that away. This was something what was truly MINE. I love your drawing lol! It looks like a manifestions of my art baby and she has to be protected.

Sheree Rensel said...

This is so deep! I felt adrenaline reading this comment. I was lucky. I knew when I was 4 years old I wanted to be an artist. I knew this because my father's brother, my Uncle "LEFTY" was an artist already. We went to visit him and that was my awakening. In my immature, childish mind, I thought "I don't know what he is doing, but I want to do this." I was a lucky girl. I had my direction early on.
To hear you say you waited 40 years sends chills up my spine. Then your reference to "ART BABY" makes me shiver. Do you know I had a one person show in which the exhibition was called "ART BABIES".
Here is the link to the postcard photo. Art Baby. I know all about that!!

Oh yeah. We are all art babies!!
Thank you so much for your comment!

self taught artist said...

Well you continue to inspire and impress me AND it appears you do not possess an art ego.
I see you write posts on blogs that I would never guess you had been to, and you leave links and clues to all sorts of interesting people/artists etc. Your knowledge is wonderous.
I go to your website and see you have kicked ass (the car/$$ for your class thing awhile back, the write ups and shows with your kids), none of these are small feats.
I love my ME ME ME bag that you sent me, I'm proud to carry it around. You have years of juju ... I'm wondering, can you state in one sentence what it is you want that you dont have regarding you being an artist? I mean it sounds like you went pretty far into it all when you were a young woman, and art is a part of your nearly every waking hour. You say you want to be that little girl on the porch just painting because it makes her feel that all? Is that so hard to find again? I'm seriously asking. You don't strike me as wanting to be the new york 'it' girl. Sorry if I'm being stupid, for all your posts I'm not sure I really have a sense of what you want (other than a new job :)

Sheree Rensel said...

Well Paula,
I am glad you can get some kind of boost from my yadda, yadda, yadda. I am not all that impressed with my past dealings with my teaching experiences. You are right, I have done a lot. I have excelled. I am the cream in that area of my life. However, it has never impressed me. It just happened.

Your statement:

"it sounds like you went pretty far into it all when you were a young woman"

OUCH! That was a stake in the heart. Yes, I think you are right again. I was on a certain track when I was younger. However, I had a kid and life took a detour. I don't need a reminder of that.
Regardless, I also realize I could never be a NY "It girl". I am far too honest and my mouth is too big. Both attributes would get me kicked out of any kind of elite NY cadre before my bus ticket had a wrinkle. I know this to be true.

The one sentence?
Oh, there could be many. The one that comes to mind first is:

"If I knew what I really wanted I probably wouldn't have time to write anything on this blog."


self taught artist said...

sorry, i didn't mean to put a stake through your heart :(
it was meant in a good way, like WOW look at all you've done! under 30 is YOUNG.

deb said...

I love the me me image, that's my artist right now screaming to get out... the best ten minutes of my day was ten minutes I spent working on one of my students drawings tonight trying to show him something, I just totally zoned out and was your proverbial girl on the porch, anyways so v. tired just stopped by to say hello. peace and blessings...dryadart

Sheree Rensel said...

OH Paula, NO NO NO!! Don't worry about the "stake in the heart". I totally agree with you. In fact, I think you hit the nail on the head! (pun intended). I am going through a stage in my life in which I am thinking "What if". I know for sure I would have had a different kind of life if I had made different choices. However, that is water under the bridge. I have no regrets. I just feel very frustrated right now, but I will get over it.
Thanks for you perceptions and insight!!

Sheree Rensel said...

Deb, It is so funny you said "this is me right now". All my "Misbehaviorists" are take offs of things kids have drawn in my classes. Yet the weird thing is I can look at any one of them and relate. They could almost be self portraits!! The same goes for my "Online: Lost Souls, Lonely Hearts" series. I was in the middle of the series and started to realize any one of them could be ME!!!
Thanks for you comment!!!

self taught artist said...

relief to know i didn't offend.
there is no reason on earth that you cannot one day have those assistants. i think with your track record, if anything you are just as close to 'something' as not. the experience is the most valuable thing in my book. you are strong and tough and filled to the brim with ideas, who knows maybe the assistants will trickle in, maybe in the summer you can have young assistants...who knows? (i'm thinking for me too here, cuz i want many of the things you just described in the new post)