Sunday, November 30, 2008

Art Blog: Art Bizzzzzzzzzzzzz

I can feel myself vibrating. I have this buzzing aura. I love this feeling! This is the last day of my vacation. However, I am ready and willing to go back to work. I feel back to my normal self, Sheree the Art Maniac! I love her so much! The best thing is I feel organized enough to keep this art roll going despite having to go back to work. I figured out yesterday the primary reason I get so irritated sometimes isn’t so much because I dislike my day job. It is truly because the time and energy I spend there causes me to become derailed sometimes. For example, I wanted to kick myself in the butt early this week. I was finally sorting through piles of paper on my work table and I found a prospectus for a show I really, really wanted to enter. I looked at it and realized I had missed the deadline by days. It felt like ice water had been poured all over me. This was my own fault. I know better. I just let my schedule get out of hand and I started piling one thing onto another until this entry form got lost and forgotten.
Shame on me.

Well, Thanksgiving day I stopped painting for a while. I thought how I have to get back to moving some of this art out of here! So I got down to art business. The first thing I did was rifle through my computer files and threw out all the outdated stuff I had collected about shows and trashed them. Once that was tidy, I collected more info on upcoming shows and printed out the ones I wanted to consider. I have to print out stuff. Digital files are great, but I need to hold the real piece of paper in my hand to comprehend what each gallery wants. Then I moved over to my paper files and weeded out garbage and made new folders with DATES for shows entered and future possibilities.

This art biz stuff takes up so much time! Friday and Saturday I spent over twenty hours getting four entry packets together. That breaks down to about five hours each. That’s crazy! It is unavoidable though. If you want it, you have to deal with it. I had to fill out the forms, print them out, make labels for the envelopes, edit photos to each of their specifications, make CDs, create CD labels, write checks, compose and print artist statements, and package everything up. Two of the packs required proposals. That took a huge chuck of time getting that stuff ready to go.

It is Sunday. I have to prepare for tomorrow’s work day. Today I will be doing the mundane: laundry, dishes, general housecleaning. However, I will be painting while I work. I have another idea for some new canvases I found tucked away in a closet. They are round. Weird. What can I do with these little numbers? I have a new idea.
Bizzy, bizzy, bizzy, BUZZ!

It took me over twenty hours to assemble the contents of these four envelopes. Arghhhhhhhhhhhh!
Oh well, a girls gotta do what a girls gotta do.
Now, off to the post office!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Art Blog: Art Life Reality Sets In

This is a hard thing. We all try to stay positive. We hear “Never say never!” However, there comes a time in everyone’s life, you realize some things will never be. It is not fun to realize you will NEVER become or be able to do certain things. This feeling is similar to when some men realize one day they will never play in the NFL. Even though I don’t relate to that, I do relate to the emotional letdown. I mean, there are things in your life you will never be able to do. Face it. Lucky for me, I have a very narrow scope of aspirations. However, I am not immune to life’s disappointments.

I hate to admit this. I can’t believe I would even write these words. However, I am going for it. Recently, I have been hooked on watching the TV show about the making of Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders. Oh yes. SHOCKING! I am so against cheerleading and everything it stands for in our society, it isn’t funny. I hated cheerleading so much, it became one of the most important lessons I gave my daughter. Whenever she would ask about this phenomenon, I would freak out; I would change the subject; I would tell her she was worth more. Ironically, my daughter could have been the perfect cheerleader. She has the look. I didn’t care. I wanted more for her. I will admit the TV show proved to me these girls have to do a lot more than just look sexy.
OK, back on task here. So I started watching the “making of a cheerleader” show out of boredom. I actually liked it. Despite realizing many of the girls are not the “brightest crayons in the box”, they have to earn their keep. I saw the candidates had to go through a type of hell to become an official DC cheerleader. My admiration grew from seeing their work, struggles, failures, and triumphs. I was living vicariously through these girls. I was taken in by the challenge of it all. I actually felt bad for those who didn’t make the cut.

Obviously, I will never be a cheerleader of any kind. Age has taken its toll. In fact, even in my youth I was never in contention. Never. I am far too short and oddly shaped. I was never athletic enough. Also, my personality made it impossible to be content waiting on the sidelines. So be it.

Nope, Never, Never, Never. Oh Well……. Tee Hee HEE HEE

However, there are other life disappointments that linger. I will not say anything about art life disappointments. OH NO! I have no regrets and I am still a working artist. Hey, it ain’t over until the fat lady sings! Yet, there are other simple things I have come to realize are gone for good.
When I go to Busch Gardens, I stand and look up at the swirly, whirly, techno roller coasters. I wish I could go on them. I can’t. For some reason, I can deal with wooden rollers that go up and down. Yet a few years ago I learned I just can’t endure modern rollers that go loopty loop. Spiraling around and round doesn’t agree with my physiology. I just can’t do it.

The same reality exists for me and the circus. I can’t experience any kind of circus. There is something about my make up that prohibits me from being able to stand or stay sane during Ringling Brotheresque, circus shows. It is just too much stimulation. There are too many sounds; too many colors; too much movement; too much EVERYTHING. It is a neurological thing, I think. For example, last week I watched one of my autistic students made to sit through an African drum performance. I am not his lead teacher, so I couldn’t remove him from the situation. However, I watched him bow his head; close his eyes, frown, and wince in pain. I felt so bad for him. I related. I totally understand. There are some things we are just not meant to do. I will never be able to be a Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader in this life. I will never be able to go on a modern roller coaster. I will never be able to go to the circus. This is a very short list of all kinds of things I will not experience in this art life. It is sad, but true. This is OK though. I have a bunch of life I can do and I am doing it now.
Do you have any things that you can’t do, but wish you could?

I feel sad I can’t do loopty loop roller coasters.
However, it isn’t worth the puke. LOL LOL

Then, there is the circus. It is too much of a good thing.
Also, clowns suck and they are creepy.
I am sorry. No offense intended. Too weird for me!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Art Blog: Black Friday

It is Black Friday. Oh geesh. Have you seen those stories on the news about people who camp out in front of Best Buy for three days just so they get a coupon for stuff? Idiots! Do you know there is even a “Cyber Monday” now? Be inline/online on December 1st for internet shopping deals! Anything goes in pursuit of the buck. Of course, these are dates ordained as days we must spend, spend, spend! I don’t BUY into these ploys. (pun intended) In fact, I am to the point right now, I am trying to downsize. I have way too much STUFF. I found a pair of earrings yesterday, I didn’t even remember buying. The tags were still on them. This is bad Sheree. BAD!

When I was online this week looking for a vintage copy of the Stein book previously mentioned, I realized I should start selling some of my old books online. I am a book addict. Is there support group for people like me? TOMES ANONYMOUS? I have an addictive personality anyway. If I am not eating ice cream or drinking six packs, I tend to buy books, books, and more books. I am a sick puppy. LOL LOL During my bookstore adventure a few days ago, I was on my way to cash out. With my little paperback book and my ARTnews magazine, I was ready to leave. Then I saw this. It is an ART TOY!

Well, it is a book, but it reminds me of a grown up art toy for the amusement of those with eclectic tastes. It is a coffee table book. It is huge and heavy. The Treasures of Vincent Van Gogh is its title. So what is the big deal? It is so much fun and so cute! It measures a full 12.5 X 12.5 inches. It has big, slick, full color images. One of the pages folds out to reveal 4 humongous portraits of Vince. However, the coolest part is it has vellum pockets in which facsimiles of Van Gogh documents are stuffed. As you leaf through the book, you come across these little artifacts in these sheer sleeves. It is so much fun! Unfortunately, I can't speak or read French. However, the publisher considered Anglos like me. In one of the pockets is a translation book! Hooray for that!

I know this is kind of dorky and juvenile. I don’t care. I love this Christmas present to myself! Also, the price was so right. It was only $24.99. Can’t beat that!

Thursday, November 27, 2008


I am thankful for all of you who take the time and effort to read this blog. I appreciate you. I am THANKFUL for you!
Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

Sheree Rensel wishes you all a
Happy FLORIDA Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Art Blog: Terminally (un)HIP

Thumbing through the November issue of ARTnews, I scanned articles on artist comebacks, street artists moving up (notice the Shepard Fairey on the cover), art reviews Ad nauseam, and lots of costly, full page, color “notice me, me, me” advertisements. There is even a piece with pics on Helen Frankenthaler’s eighty year old self.

As I stomped through the art world bog, I stopped at an article titled “Single Black and White Feline Finds Love at Biennial” by Lamar Clarkson. The article begins “Ben Coonley is a new-media prankster.” Below those words is a thumbnail of a YouTube video created by Coonley. I don’t want to go on to describe the whole story. You can pick up the magazine if you want to read it. However, I was curious about this new-media guy.

I read the article, and then went to watch his YouTube video. I realize this is one of his pranks(?) I know there are more examples of his work. He is an award winning new-media artist. I just wish I could see his work in context. I mean, this Valentine video is well….. I don’t know what to say. I don’t know what to think. I really thought I had a great sense of humor. However, I feel so boring and uncool right now. I couldn’t help but realize despite my attempts to keep up with art and media, I must be terminally UNhip. I sat there nonplussed and pondering. I asked myself,
“This is what gets you into ARTnews these days?”

I have to get going. I have so much work to do!
I gotta get busy getting HIP.
Now where did I put those old clips from
“Gilligan's Island”…………..

“Valentine for Perfect Strangers” Ben Coonley

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Art Blog: Salon Oui Oui!

When I was in art school, somebody told me to stay away from art galleries that hung the work “salon style”. This was considered taboo. I always remembered that. I have pretty much steered clear of those kinds of venues. I even stayed away from doing that in my own home. However, I don’t have a choice now. I am running out of wall space! LOL LOL
I was so proud of myself yesterday. I got another thing done on my “To Do” list. I have been tripping over art for months. I needed to hang it someplace just to get it off the floor. I decided to start hanging the work in my exercise room. I am going to plaster the walls “salon style”.

When I got this much done, I stood back and giggled. Then, I had a flashback about reading the book “Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas” by Gertrude Stein. What a great book! Right at that moment, I decided I wanted to read it again, so I ran over to the bookstore. The only problem is the volume that includes photos is out-of-print. I had to buy the paperback.

I started rereading the book last night during dinner. This paperback will have to do for now. I will look around to see if I can find a vintage, hard cover version somewhere. I can always use the internet to find pictures. The reason I thought of this book as I looked at the beginnings of my salon is because I remembered this picture of Gertrude’s sitting room.

Look at those paintings! They would be worth millions today. Do you recognize the artists? I love reading about Gertrude and Alice. What a funny pair! Also, the book is so full of gossipy, art history. So much fun!

"Alice and Gertrude" Photo credit: Man Ray

Alice B. Toklas (left) and Gertrude Stein (right)
"You go girls!" LOL

Monday, November 24, 2008

Art Vlog: Filling the Well

Well, here goes! I told you so. I have started the process of merging my personalities into one. Here is my first video as
"Little Wizzee"!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Art Blog: Schizoid No More!

A baby is born. Her name is “Little Wizzee”

I am convinced moving into your 50’s is very similar to becoming a teenager again. I say this because a lot of the same issues I experienced in my teens are going on with me now. I feel very ugly. I am far too introspective and self absorbed. My daredevil nature has resurfaced. At times, I feel self conscious. I don’t fit in with the YOUNG people, but I don’t fit in with the OLD people either. I have this urge to take on the world, but don’t know exactly how to do that (yet). I feel the world is my oyster one minute and then want to scream “Life sucks” the next. I seem like a 15 year old again! LOL LOL LOL (BTW, anybody who reads this entry and has their own opinions about this teen – midlife connection, please feel free to add your observations. Please do!)

Also, I am stuck on this “Who am I? question. This has to be something real to me. I keep writing about finding myself, getting a new life, becoming me (whoever that is), etc. I guess this time of life is just another one of our special transitional moments or some crap like that.

Along with blogging, I vlog too. Until now, I have made two types of videos. Some are art related videos (wizzlewolf). The others are about my fitness life (littlesheree) Wizzlewolf is OK, but I just love littlesheree! For some reason, I don’t see a connection between the two personas. It is a weird, psycho thing. Therefore, I have decided to merge these two people. I am melding them into one and her name is “littlewizzee”.

I will have to work on creating some new littlewizzee videos. Until then, I wanted to share this littlesheree video with you all. I filmed this back in August 2008. It reminds me of who I really am and who I want to be. It is called “Weighing Wants”. It was about being happy, enjoying life, and being healthy. Even though it was on my fitness channel, it relates to ART too! Everything I said and did on this video can be applied to our art lives just as easily. Everything is related. Also, we have to always weigh what we WANT in this life! Little Wizzee says “Oh YEAH!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Art Blog: Say WHAT?


Yesterday’s post set off all kinds of thoughts and memories for me. Looking at the daily painter websites caused me to remember my high school painting days. I would lay on the floor of my bedroom with my Grumbacher “Art of Oil Painting” book right next to me on the floor as I tried to copy all the hokey paintings contained within each lesson.

This book was my art bible. I wanted to teach myself to paint and wanted to make things look REAL. It was pure luck or bad timing that when I got to art school a few years later, I found out this kind of painting wasn’t considered worthy (according to my professors). During that era, realism was seen as cliché and boring. Being a loyal student, I listened and learned the styles of the time.

One thing I have been trying to wrap my head around this week is what I want my art to say. I want my work to be more than about paint or craft. I want there to be thoughtful substance. I think this "color series" has caused me to step back and reexamine my motivation and the content contained within the pieces. The majority of my work tries to send messages or speak on a topic. Usually, I would like the viewer to see the painting but also, to think about issues beyond the paint.

This is why looking at the daily painters art was timely. Just for fun, I made a quick list of what seems to be the preferred subject matter of the realist painter (or at least those in the daily painter cadres).
There are a lot of paintings containing:
Aluminum foil wrappers, marbles, fruit, anything metallic or shiny, water in decanters, crumpled paper or fabric, more fruit, pastries with colored sprinkles, fried eggs, flowers, lots and lots more fruit, etc.

They choose this subject matter because these are objects that will showcase their draftsmanship and realism techniques to the fullest, as well as, appeal to the masses. When painted well, this subject matter brings on the “OOOoooos and AHHHHHs”. In other words, painting stuff like this gives more bang for their art buck. I too am amazed at the skill that takes to make paintings like these. My goodness, I spoke the other day about starting to twitch when I painted any kind of straight painting without gouging, sanding, or gluing something to surfaces. If I tried to paint in the style of super realism, I would have a full fledged seizure!! LOL LOL I admire their commitment and stamina.

The thing that bothers ME (This is my own problem. I am not passing judgment on the daily painter people!) is that I can’t get past the technique. I look at the paintings. I think WOWY ZOWY that looks so real. Then, there is nothing more. My mind doesn’t wander or relate to anything else. There is nothing more to think about after viewing the shiny metal pot or gooey food or a bunch of oh so pretty flowers. My mind goes blank. So this is a lesson for me. I want the viewers of my work to think about more than how I make my work. I would like my art to be a springboard for other thoughts about life and emotion. I want my art to SAY more.

It is fun to look at works like this though!

Duane Keiser
Egg No.33, oil on linen/mounted, 5"x6" 2007

"Duane Keiser Paints a Shiny, Reflective Ball" video
Looking at the slimy egg painting or watching this Duane Keiser video makes me think I am watching a magician do tricks. They do look very cool, but for me there is still the “Say WHAT?” factor.

Now this is kind of funny to me. After writing this post, I was just wandering around YouTube. I found this video of the works of a daily painter. The humorous thing is the video highlights just about every "preferred subject matter" I mentioned in my original post. Do they have a club or credo or something? Oh well. More power to them all.

"Daily Painter: Abbey Ryan"

Friday, November 21, 2008

Art Blog: Daily Painting

Who-HA!!! As of this hour, this minute, this second, I do not have to go to my job until 6:30 AM on December 1st. Double WHO-HA!!! I have nine days off to just take care of me and a lot of art biz! I LOVE this time of year. It is one of the perks of teaching. Come the last week of every November, I get Thanksgiving week off. When I go back, I work three weeks and then, get another two weeks off. The coolest thing is my pay is distributed in such a way, my paychecks don’t stop. There are those automatic deposits. Life is good. I am in cotton candy, sweet dreams, feather pillow heaven!

One thing I am doing differently this year is I am not making a “list” of things I want to accomplish during holiday hiatus. I am one of those anal list makers. This is grand and good most of the time. It keeps me on task and satisfies my neurotic nature. However, it causes me stress too. I keep looking at the list of art projects, house chores, and yard work. I get frustrated and anxiety filled. Then I say screw it all and feel ashamed of myself. This has happened during the last two lists. Since this practice isn’t working for me, I have decided there will be NO LISTS until January 2009. Let’s call it my end of the year resolution.
I look at my calendar and it is blank. Yes there is nothing on it for the next nine days. EMPTY. That looks so cool. I am going to do what I feel like doing each day.

This sounds like a great plan to me. In fact, it looks like this is the first year in my entire life I will be alone on Thanksgiving. I am still cooking, but my daughter is struggling with the idea of not coming here. She has her own life (boyfriend and his family) now. That is just La Dee DA DANDY with me. I keep telling her not to feel guilty because I don’t mind at all if she makes other plans. (This comes from the same mother who told her if she has children; don’t bring them over here until their 21st birthday! I am so bad!!) In fact, I kind of like the idea she isn’t coming. I won’t have to clean the house or dismantle my temporary studio in the living room. I have been using my regular studio for big stuff, but I shacked up on my front room, coffee table for little paintings. It is warmer in there and I have a big TV! LOL LOL

I really want to paint every day. Thinking of this reminded me of the “Daily Painters”. There are a bunch of them out there. If you google "daily painters", you will find lots of websites about artists who try to create a painting a day. I have looked at hundreds of daily paintings and rarely if ever does anything knock my socks off. Many of these artists tout the fact they belong to the “art league” or “art guild” or “art society something or other”. Whenever I read stuff like that, it gives me the heebie jeebies. Why? It is a long story. That will have to be the subject of another post.

I did find one guy who really interests me. His name is Jeff Hayes. He is a contemporary realist which is another one of my “raised eyebrow” issues. (That is another post too!) However, he seems like a very cool guy. Also, I love his work. What truly won me over was his writing. He has two blogs. The link above is to his “Watching Paint Dry” blog. His other blog is called State of the Art. I really like the way he writes. Also, he seems to be living a really interesting art life. That is very cool. Check him out!!

Jeff Hayes
"Two Ikura Sushi"
Oil on linen on masonite, 10 x 8 Inches

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Art Blog: TAG: You are IT!

I am not a super fan of tag games. Tags are when someone asks questions about you and you need to answer. Then you have to tag a certain number of people to do the same. I see these kinds of things in the same category as chain letters or email “forwards”. They just don’t do it for me. However, today I make an exception to the rule. I am going to respond to a tag by Martha Marshall because she is a cool dude and I like her!
Her tag requires I list:
5 Unusual Things About Myself
1. I love being alone. I prefer being alone. People tend to annoy me. I am speaking about people in general. I have found I enjoy my own company. Also, it provides me FREEDOM!
2. I have never drank a cup of coffee in my life. I just hate the smell.
3. I broke my leg in five places hot dog skateboarding at the age of thirteen. Yeah, I was a hot shot tomgirl. Things never change.
4. I am a total, 100% Dave Matthews Band freaky, groupie. I have no idea why. I just love their music.
5. I wear a size 2, children’s shoe. I know. Weird. It is a genetic anomaly.
OK, now here is the fun part. I tag:

Pam Goode

P.S. If any of the TAGEEs don't want to write for the tag game, it is perfectly fine with me. Believe me, I understand!!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Art Blog: My Future

Oh my goodness. I know I have spoken about atree3 before. I just have to share this with you all. I love her so much because I see myself in her. Also, I see my future. As I get all wrinkly and old, I wonder what is to come of me. When I watch atree3 I see my future. It is OK. It is all good. It is spectacular. In fact, it is wonderful. She is one of my vicarious, internet mentors. I love her and her life so much. I cannot embed her videos here. She forbids that. Therefore, just click each pic and it will take you to her current videos.
First, there is the Glas Haus. She built this. It is on her property, Cazadero Nature and Art Conservancy. I want to live in there!

Second, she spends the night in the glass house. How cool is that?

Isn’t it great to realize there are human beings on this earth like her?

Art Blog: Art Media Choices

This is a funny post. At least, it made me laugh just thinking of this stuff.
Did you ever wonder why you chose the media that you choose to do your work? Once you have decided on a media have you wondered why you chose to handle the media in your own particular manner? These questions occurred to me as I worked on my current “Color Series”.

I am a painter. I have always been a painter. I hate clay and sculpting. Printmaking was out because you need too much equipment. Ditto for photography. Even now computer art has its place, but the hand of the artist as opposed to the hand of technology makes my perceptions of that media too nebulous. Painting is my thing. I love the colors and the act of painting. The feeling of paint all over my hands makes me feel the joy. Even though I have worked in three dimensions, those works were less about 3-D than the paint surface I created to cover them.

When I was in school, I was in the painting department. I knew right away I was not a watercolorist. I enjoyed using watercolors, but I didn’t feel the love. It was just too fragile for me. I started out using oil. However, I found out very quickly that my body didn’t like oil paint. This was expressed by finding rashes all over my arms. So, I changed to acrylic. OK. That is the answer to my first question.

The second question is harder for me to answer. I have no idea why I am obsessed with certain techniques, styles, or art habits. For example, I have a montage picture below. I know. This is a bit analytical. However, I just have to work this out in my mind in order to move on to new things. As I painted last weekend, I wondered why I feel this compulsion to glue crap on my canvases. Also, I kept scraping, tearing, and scarring the surface like an mad woman. Stop it Sheree! Then I stopped and thought for a moment. Why do I do this and how can I change.
(Gee, this sounds like an AA meeting!!! LOL LOL LOL)

OK. Here is my sample, “Exhibit A”.
1. I beat the crap out of my surfaces. (Anger issues?)
2. Compulsive over detailing (Too much stimulation?)
3. Using found objects (read: garbage collector)
4. Painting, but feeling the desire to use collage. (No naked paintings?)
5. Straight painting (When I do this, I start twitching. LOL)
6. Right now, I want to just paint. So what did I do in this painting? I painted the background and then painted the fish on another piece of canvas and glued the DAMN thing on. Duh……………….LOL LOL

I know what I want to do right now. I want to just paint. No gluing. No ephemera. No beads. No glitter. No broken shards of glass. I just want to paint. No collage. No beating the shit out of canvases. No nothing. I just want to paint. I realize I will have to twitch a little more. I will live through it. In the meantime, I ask you:
Why (art wise) do you do what you do?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Art Blog: Decisions

I know. I know. I know. I was going to post about “those books” today. I am not going to do that. I started writing and got so frustrated, I decided to move on. I want to think positive. So here is my positive post.

One of the most difficult things about having a life in flux is the feeling of not having a direction. I hate that I don’t have any idea what I will be doing next year at this time. Actually, none of us really know. Yet if your life has a rhythm and you are doing OK, there is a chance you could predict or at least give a reasonable synopsis of what you will be doing November 18, 2009. I don’t. In fact, today I said it out loud. Today I told someone I want this to be my last year at this job, this life. When I said it, I heard myself. I felt a kind of relief. A weight had been lifted. I felt it. I am moving on. I made a decision!

Now. WHERE? You all know I have been dabbling with ideas. I was willing to move wherever a job might take me. However, there is no job calling me. So…………….I am going to just take the bull by the horns and figure out where I want to go and be an artist. I will figure out the job stuff later.

The first place that is calling loud is New Mexico. I have no idea why I am thinking I want to go there. It just came to my mind years ago. I guess I have been collecting images and information for years. I have a database in my mind. Suddenly, my brain started spitting out facts, figures, and numbers telling me to go, go, go THERE. I am not sure about this yet. I am still researching.

I am going back and forth in my mind. I want to stay here (St. Pete) because I have my house. But no……… I do not want to stay here. I want some place new. (Where, I don’t know for sure????) At least, I am making the decision I want to move on. At LEAST!!! I have already taken personal days off in January. I wanted to go to a technology conference. I am seriously thinking I will make a change of plans. I am thinking of creating a New Mexico agenda and just taking a 5 day hike around Albuquerque and Santa Fe. I think that might just be a really good thing. At least, I would feel like I am moving forward.

OMG!! I forgot to tell you! Two of my "Red" paintings have already been accepted for a show in North Carolina. That was fast and very cool!!! :-)

Monday, November 17, 2008

Art Blog: Money, Money, Money

This is a table in my bedroom. It was once part of an installation called “Emergency Room”. The idea behind the installation was the lack of health care for those without health insurance or money. This included me during the time I made this installation. I will talk more about this table later. It relates to this post.
Money. Money. Money.

Yesterday, I had a revelation. I got an email from Self Taught Artist (A super, fantastic artist, I might add!). Among other things the topic of money came up. She said something that caused me to stop and think. In fact, she said a number of things which made me think a lot!

Many artists are hurting right now. People in general do not buy art in times of economic stress. It is a whole lot of work selling your art in good times. It is common for artists to have supporters who give compliments or wish you well, but there is no interest in buying. There is the “I have no money” syndrome. Actually, this is not always a true reason. In reality, there is the “I have money, but I don’t want to use it to buy your art” phenomenon. This can effect an artist’s self worth if they associate bucks with their creative output. If there are no sales, there is no worth. This association can be deadly.

I haven’t felt the economic downturn in relationship to my art because I made the decision to take art sales out of my economic equation. Let me explain. I have sold a lot of art in my life. In fact, there was a time, I sold art pretty regularly. However, I didn’t make enough money to live any kind of grand life. I got by and supplemented my earnings by teaching art workshops and classes at art centers. It was all good as long as I wasn’t too proud to pick up aluminum cans to buy an occasional dinner or go without heat or stand in line for hours at the free health care clinic. Oh, yeah. It was a grand life.

When I moved to Florida, I went two years working for minimum wage while making lots more art. I was still living hand to mouth and would actually search out men to take me and my daughter out to dinner. (Yes. Blonds do that!! LOL, So what does that say about me? Hmmm….Shut up!!! LOL LOL) Oh that was a very ducky time too. When I finally got offered to sign on the dotted line to get a full time teaching gig, I hesitated, but finally worked the pen. I was just tired of being so poor.

There are people who buy art. Thank GOD for that. You have to find them. Unfortunately, they are too few and far between to support all the artists there are to support. Remember supply and demand? Also, there is the issue of what kind of art you do. I know for damn sure, I could sell a whole lot more art if I did Florida landscapes or sweeping sunsets. People get that. I just don’t have it in me. My bad!

OK, back to the table. That table has a drawer. When I had the installation up in the gallery, the drawer was left in the open position to show some money glued onto the bottom of the drawer. Do you know there have been two times in my life I was so poor I have actually tried to pry that five dollars out of the drawer. Oh, that is sick, but true. I needed money so bad, I took a file, tweezers, and tried to unglue those bucks. I didn’t succeed either time. This brings me to my point.

Simultaneous to writing this blog post, I was in contact with a book entrepreneur who was hawking his book about art marketing. I found this to be so ironic. It was one of those books. If you do this, this, and then this, you will be an affluent artist. Yeah, whatever, Shut up. I will get to that in tomorrow’s post.

The “A-Ha!” moment I had in the last 24 hours was all this hoopla about my new life and jobs is really all about money and SECURITY. Even though I don’t want to face the fact I am bound by economic concerns, I am. BIG TIME. I am so full of fear right now. Currently, I have a paycheck. It comes ever two weeks. Since I have lived such a sparse life, I am frugal. Right now, I can buy as much art supplies as I want. I can get sick. I even have a little retirement fund. Yet there is this little part of me that wants the freedom to make my art. I have nobody but me to fall back on so it is all about ME. I am not sure I want to pay the price. Just like potential customers of art, I am backed into a corner. I want it (In my case, freedom to be an artist.), but I don’t want to recognize the cost (Existing on a lower standard of living).
In other words just like the potential customer, I like the idea but I don't want to pay for it??????????????????????????????

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Art Blog: Note from the Universe

"November 16, 2008
Feeling Stuck And Frustrated
Virgo Daily Horoscope

Today you may be feeling blocked, as if you’ve reached a brick wall in your path. You may be feeling frustrated that your plans are taking longer than you hoped, and you may be feeling stuck. Perhaps the universe needs you to stop and wait for the other details to fall into place. You may also need to redirect some aspect of your plan, which would take you around the wall. To find the right answer for you, go within and consider all aspects with the input from your intuition, your heart, and your mind. Then release it all to the wisdom of the universe. The only answers the universe gives are “yes,” “not now,” and “I have something better for you.” Listen to discover which answer is yours today.

Sometimes our frustration gives us energy to pursue avenues we would not have otherwise. In seeking ways to make use of this downtime, we may find something we had missed. We may need to reach out for the help of others rather than try to do it all ourselves, or we may be learning the lessons of patience and endurance. No time is ever wasted, no effort is useless, all experiences are meaningful and lead you to the best possible outcome. By going within to examine your frustrations, you harness your power through your connection with the universe, and all that is yours will come to you.

What do you think?"

What do I think? I think OK. If you say so.

(Credit: S. L. Snowden)

The Virgo cluster is relatively nearby at a distance of 16 megaparsecs (52.2 million light-years). The bright and extensive emission in the upper right of the image originates from and extensive distribution of hot gas nearly 2.5 degrees in radius. For comparison, the full moon is 0.25 degrees in radius in the night sky. The cluster is centered on the galaxy M87. The bright extension of the emission to the upper left is centered on the galaxy M86. A number of other galaxies show up in the field as point sources. (Source:

Friday, November 14, 2008

Art Blog: My NEXT Life

If I have a next life, I want to be a scientist. I have always loved science. I want to be a researcher. I want to be tucked away in a laboratory and just do experiments. I have always had this interest. However, I couldn’t do everything. I had to find a
focus. Art won out. Science has always run a very close third. I suppose my second chosen vocation would have been writing. After that, I have always wanted to be some kind of scientist. Always.

In my teens, I was a girl scout. I joined late. I was never a Brownie or Junior Girl Scout. Life circumstances prevented me from being a participant. I finally got to be a scout in high school. This was when most girls were dropping out. It wasn’t cool. However, I was a hippie, dippy, Girl Scout. I was the president of my troop. I was the troop leader for a G.S. trip to Mexico. I was a Type A, overachiever scout back then. I was all into it.

I was also into the achievement stuff. Having earned the most badges ever in the one year as a Cadette G.S., I was really motivated to get the most metal insignia awarded to Senior girl scouts. However, it was a bit harder to achieve those. Instead of doing a required list of activities to earn a badge, Senior G.S. had to attend a training workshop to complete the requirements to get a certain subject area, colored bar. These are similar to military bars on uniforms. OK. OK. I got right to it. I was attending every weekend shindig they had to offer! I wanted to get the SCIENCE award. They didn’t offer a workshop in that. There wasn’t enough interest to warrant the organization of a class. I thought “Screw that!. LOL LOL LOL I called the G.S. headquarters. I ranted. They told my 16 year old self that if I wanted to do it, maybe I could come up with my own curriculum. LOL LOL LOL Oh boy, they didn’t know who they were talking to!!! LOL LOL

Oh yeah. I created my own curriculum! Holy Macaroni. I was on the telephone that week with some person at the Enrico Fermi Nuclear power plant. I charmed my way into that place for a personal tour. Wearing my stupid ass green G.S. uniform, I was walked through the entire plant. Then, the tour guide gave me a lead. He made a call to a lab associated with NASA. He made an appointment for me to go there too. Shit!!! LOL LOL
Anyway, I did it. I compiled my findings in a little book and sent it to G.S. headquarters. A few weeks later I got my “SCIENCE” insignia with a letter that basically said “You GO GIRL!”.

Sheree the scientist still lives in my heart. In fact, today I saw an article about the discovery of a new planet orbiting a star 130 light years away from our own solar system. This just boggles my mind. I love just thinking about stuff like this. I realize we know so little. Yet each time we learn a little tidbit like this, it fills me with awe and inspiration.

Click to read article
I had to chuckle at this picture because it reminded me so much of an “eye”. This is like my “Watching” piece. Be careful.

THEY are watching us!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Art Blog: PERFECT art, Part 2

"Perfectionism is not a quest for the best. It is a pursuit of the worst in ourselves; the part that tells us that nothing we do will ever be good enough--that we should try again."
Julia Cameron, The Artist’s Way

OK, as I was saying. Perfectionism is insidious. I know this for sure because I have lived with it like a facial tic all my life. How did I get this way? Well, I suppose it could be considered a nature vs. nurture issue. I am sure I was born with some of the attributes of perfectionism. I am a Virgo, you know. However, I also heard “It isn’t good enough!” just about every day for the first 17 years of my life. I now know those comments were less about me than the speaker. So be it. Still, it is part of the fabric that makes up Sheree. Oh, I have come a long way baby! At least now I know the differences between the rational and irrational threads of perfectionist thought. Hallelujah for that!

Getting stuck is not a new thing for me. However, I KNOW from experience it is stupid and idiotic. Experience has taught me it is an illusion and a twisted sister of an idea. It is fine to move on to other things. The dead horse pieces will be there when you are ready.

Case in point:
Here are two examples that taught me grand lessons. Ironically, these pieces are two of my favorite paintings.

“Mind of the Artist”

This piece was started by accident. I had to make something else and I used a piece of wood as a table. Working on fabric, the paint seeped through and made the rainbow impression on the wood. I loved the effect so I started to make a painting on that wood. It wouldn’t budge. It just wasn’t happening. Months later, I picked it up and started working on it again. It was then “Mind” was born.

“Universal Dump”

This work was almost put in the dumpster. I remember actually picking it up and starting to head toward the trash bin. I stopped. I had painted the earth and the red swirls. I just didn’t know how to resolve the outer portions of the canvas. I finally gave up. I put it aside. It sat in my studio for more than a year. One day I found some old aviation magazines at a thrift shop. I cut out pics of old airplanes and glued them around the globe painting. It worked! So much for patience!

The moral of this story is striving to be perfect is an imperfection. It is fine to let some things go. It is OK to move on. It is wonderful to allow yourself to “always go further, further” as Picasso said.

Also and most importantly, it is just dandy to be an IMPERFECT artist! Oh, about the "stuck" piece. I have already removed it from sight. I am moving on. :-)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Art Blog: PERFECT art, Part 1

“It's always necessary to seek for perfection. Obviously, for us, this word no longer has the same meaning. To me, it means: from one canvas to the next, always go further, further...”
Pablo Picasso

Ok. So I spoke about how I had a stellar, art weekend. I was cranking them out like nobody’s business. I love times like this. I have canvases here, there, and everywhere. Things were rolling along and then, and then, and then, I got stuck. There was this one canvas that just wouldn’t give it to me. I had an image in my head. I had a message. That damn thing wouldn’t cooperate. So what did I do? Did I set it aside and move on? Hell no! I worked on it over and over and over again. I felt like I was beating a dead horse. This frustration brought back a lot of old baggage.

Ms. Perfectionist had surfaced. I am one of those types of people. I am one of those types of artists. I am one of those individuals who never wants to do anything that isn’t just right. There are no sketches or experiments. There are no trial runs. It has to be good all the time. (Why I do this is very obvious to me. I will explain it in my next post.) This is not good. I laugh at myself sometimes because I want to get over this. It is old. It is boring. It is stupid.

When my daughter was little, she loved bowling. I absolutely, 100% HATED bowling. Why did I hate it? It was because I wasn’t good at it. I don’t think I have bowled more than ten times in my life. I doubt I ever had a score that broke 100. I am a novice. I am an idiot bowler. Also, I never gave a rat’s ass what my bowling score was or could be. Even though I realize if I bowled more and practiced, I would get better at it. I never did that. I think the whole activity is ridiculous. I took my daughter to bowl occasionally just because I felt a duty to please her. However, it was my hell.

So what does this have to do with my art? Oh, geesh! Bunches. As I painted this weekend away, it was going great. Then, I got to a point on one piece and things weren’t working. I didn’t move on. I just kept painting and repainting and then painting again. I thought “I just have to make this work!” Well, so far it hasn’t. This makes me so angry. I realize this is a reasoning flaw. I know better. I just need to put it aside and move on. I know this from experience. I will speak more about this in the next post. However, I want to point out the Picasso quote stated above. For me the key words he spoke are “always go further, further”. This is what makes me laugh at myself.

I know this.
I just have to do it.

What is your perfection nemesis?

Monday, November 10, 2008

Art Blog: Bloggers Unite, Refugees United

The alarm goes off and we lift up from our cozy beds to start our day. We look out the window of our comfortable homes to see the traffic moving as the sun rises. We grab a bite to eat from our behemoth refrigerators. Let’s see, eggs or a blueberry muffin? The shower we take is warm and invigorating. We select an outfit from an overstuffed closet. We jump in our cars and rev the engine. Ahhh….
Life is good.
However, I ask:

No. Not everybody. We live in a large world. Our little corner of this earth represents just a speck of our collective, global humanity. Last week I spoke of Maya Angelou and her reminder to be thankful. Anyone reading this blog has so many reasons to embrace the Universe with gratitude. It was just by the luck of the draw we were born here and have our pleasant, abundant, humane lives. We are so fortunate.

Today is Bloggers Unite day. Those participating are writing about the refugees of the world. This post is my one, tiny effort to be my “best human being” and to try to help those with far less.
I am not an expert on world hunger or strife. I will not try to explain what is going on around us. I will let the authorities try to help you understand. Without further adieu, I give you this link to the gallery of "Women's Commission for Refugee Women and Children". Since the readers of this blog are visual people, I thought you would be interested in viewing any one of the photo essays showing the lives of refugees around this world. There are many. What tiny thing can you do to be your best human being and help to change our world?

Click to go to the gallery of Women's Commission for Refugee Women and Children to view photo essays.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Art Blog: RED Series

Click pics for detail views.

Art Blog: Quality Art Life

I painted for eleven hours yesterday. I was so focused, I forgot to eat dinner. I woke up at dawn this morning and felt energized. I ran to see what I had done and where I want to go with these little, new works. I am happy to report I got a nudge yesterday. I discovered a lead for a new direction. It is a great compromise. It includes a bit of old ways, but introduces some new artistic habits. In fact, one day this week I want to write about art techniques. I find the way we chose to work to be interesting and might be a crumb in the food for thought category.

My exuberance was dampened when I started watching the TV show Sunday Morning. I learned writer/critic John Leonard had died this week. This is such sad news. I love John Leonard. I love his work, writing, and television commentaries. He was one of the outrageously smart people who makes me stop and think. He was a logophile. I am too. Anybody who loves words is my pal. Mr. Leonard not only loved words, he could arrange them in a way that was fascinating and a delight to read or hear. All my senses danced when he spoke. Whenever I had the chance to see him in an interview or reviewing a work, I was captivated. He challenged my brain. I was soothed by his voice, stimulated by his prose, and excited by his energetic, zest for life. This is one of the most important things I will remember about him. He seemed to love life and was happy.

If you are a reader of this blog, you know I have been writing about trying to make changes in my life. I have mentioned I am thankful for what I have now, but I want more. There is nothing wrong with that. I am not greedy. I am not miserable. I just want to live my happiest life. To want better things does not mean I am ungrateful for my current life. However, I am in a state of fervor right now to reach as high as I can go. I am not talking about work success or art notoriety. I want to rise up and grab the kind of life situations that will make me the most joyful. That is OK. In fact, that is a good thing. I realize too well that this art life is going to end someday. I want to know that I did my best not only to do good work, but with my last breath know for sure I did my best to galvanize the quality of my life. Just like I am sure John did.

Click the picture to read the NY Times account of his life and his obituary.
Thank you John for reminding me what makes me feel joy and zest in my life.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Art Blog: UGLY Art

Back when I was doing my social commentary drawings about war, abuse, the environment, etc. a patron came up to me and said “Why do you always do art about such negative issues?” I told her all my art is not negative. However, it is important for me to consider all aspects of life. I appreciate the Yin/Yang of our world. Recently, I had a similar comment come my way when I made my “Online: Lost Souls, Lonely Hearts” video. A person said, “These sculptures are SO DEPRESSING! People on the internet are not all losers!” I told her I didn’t think these figures are depressing or losers. I thought the pieces and stories behind them are thoughtful and represent my interpretation of some of the people I have met online. The characterizations are just composites of what I have experienced and those people I have met. They are not about ALL people on the internet. I called the series “Lost Souls, Lonely Hearts”. The work is about those people.

I am not surprised when I hear comments like this. To some people, art is supposed to be pretty and happy. To them, it should only be about the beauty of nature and vibrant colors. I think of them as the “rainbows and butterflies” crowd. I guess they think artists should just paint bowls of cherries. Well, that is not the way it should be. Besides being boring, it is not a true reflection of life. That is what art should be about. Our world is not pretty and happy all the time. There is another side to that story. For every sunny day, a rain cloud is forming somewhere in the world. Life has a balance.

Today I watched a James Kalm video featuring the work of German Pitre at Rupert Ravens Contemporary in Newark. I think this is the UGLIEST art I have ever seen! The paintings have a flavor of Anselm Kiefer whose work I love! However, Keifer’s work has a different palette and texture. Much of Pitre’s work has this gooey, matted, sticky, dirty, garish, nasty surface that is repulsive. I didn’t stop looking and watching though. I viewed the work and listened to the Pitre interview. One of the works shown won me over. It is a huge piece with dirty stuffed animals smashed and degutted lying on the left side of the canvas. The middle and right side of the canvas has a gritty, tangle of polyester stuffing painted over with muddy earth tones. I looked at that painting and thought about walking the streets of my hometown Detroit. This painting could be a still life of a garbage strewn Cass Corridor alley. I have seen this image before. It is stored as a memory in my brain’s image file.
When we encounter art that is not familiar or of our taste, it is necessary to step back and think. It is important to take it all in, assimilate the image, and try to understand. How does the work reflect the world as a whole? It doesn’t matter if you like it. The true question is does the work have value and meaning?

I have embedded the Kalm video here. Here is an excerpt of Kalm’s explanation of the video:
“Pitre presents work that challenges good taste while extending the classic painterly legacy. Working on a large scale and attaching objects to the canvas surface, the artist comingles the cuddly with the crappy and produces work that resonates with a pathetic awareness of unavoidable decay and enveloping entropy.” James Kalm

Friday, November 7, 2008

Art Blog: Art Life Patterns

“Illegitimi non carborundum”
This is a hokey phrase that supposedly means
“Don’t let the bastards get you down!”

It isn’t true latin. In a way, it is street jargon made to sound important. I don’t care. I will use it here. This is a phrase that is mot juste (perfect for the occasion).

It is happening again. In fact, this sequence of events is all too familiar to me. As I have said many times before, I think a lot of my problems are my own problems. It is my temperament and sensitivity. They are my demons.

OK. In the last two months, I have applied for six jobs. I have heard not a whisper. Nothing. Without sounding totally egotistical, I have to say this is really shocking to me. It isn’t I am the end all and be all of anything. I just have to say, I am really good at what I do. I know this one thing for sure. I have the history, data, and resume to prove it. Even though I have expressed my soft spots here, I know this one thing to be true. I am a super, kick ass teacher of students of any age. College students think I am an oddity, but they respect me. I know this because they produce work that is really great via my facilitation. Also by mid semester, half of them are wearing some funky things that I wore on the first day of class! LOL This is a sign they respect me and what I represent. This is a good thing! Yet, no job calls. No job anything.

The deadening silence is getting to me. Oh come on now. I am not even on the short list?? Geesus!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! At first, I think screw them! Then, I start to mull. I realize nobody wants me. I am not good enough. I am too old? Stop it! Stop it! Stop it! Yep. I get stuck there.
So, I found another job post. It is in Louisiana. I don’t know why, but I keep getting this internal signal to go to Louisiana. This has been happening for a few years. At first, I thought about New Orleans. After doing research, I trashed that idea. N.O. is just too dicey for me right now. I was born and raised in Detroit. That is enough urban excitement for me. This new job post is a bit away from N.O. However, I started to think about applying and I STOPPED dead in my tracks. I looked at the job post and thought “What is the point?” Not good. Not good Sheree! All the old crap surfaced. I heard the “Black Muse” voice. He said:

“You have already applied for six jobs and nobody is even paying attention. They don’t want you. You are a loser. You are too old. You are never going to fulfill your dream to be a college professor. Don’t even try! LOL LOL”

This scares the shit out of me. The reason I titled this post PATTERNS is because this is a repetitive thing with me. I tend to get all enthusiastic about something; put all my energy and life on the line; get rejected; then want to hide under a rock. I have to stop doing this. Why am I sabotaging myself like this? When I am ignored, I don’t understand why. Then, I want to crawl into a hole and say F&%* it all!!! In fact, I wish if I am being rejected, they would tell me WHY. I have no idea why. I really don’t. I have the goods. I have the knowledge. I have the history. I have the energy. Yet, I have no job offers. Nothing. Nada. Zilch! I will not let them get me down. I will not. I am good to go and if they don’t want me, “Oh well too bad, so sad!”

“Illegitimi non carborundum”

I won’t let THEM get me down. I am applying and applying and applying and applying until I die. At LEAST when my pulse has stopped, it can be said she did the very best to reach out for her DREAM.

This is just one sources of my frustrations. I know I am being noticed. I don’t just stuff a resume in an envelope and call it a day. I spend hours making job packets. I know for sure I am getting noticed. However, I am not getting the type of attention needed to make them say “We want HER.”. I don’t know what else I can do. Suggestions welcomed.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Art Blog: Artist Support

Time to talk art again!
I titled this post “artist support” because I want to speak about things that keep artists going, creating, and feeling valuable. I am not talking about financial support via grants or sales or other economic systems. I am speaking of helping an artist feel supported emotionally and spiritually. Artists have all kinds of things that help to motivate them and keep them making the work they are meant to do. Some are external motivators and others come from an internal source. I for one wish I could rely on purely internal attributes that would motivate the making and creating. I would like to be so driven sans any need for the cheers of others or scheduled activities that make me want to produce.

Here is my Treasure Box.

As some of you know, I work with students who have emotional and behavioral challenges. It is common in special education to use various kinds of external motivators to change behaviors. This is a very common behavior modification practice. Rewards are used to shape behavior. For years, I have offered minor treats or activities to reward good behavior and successful art production. The primary goal at our school is not to make great artists. It is to get these kids out of there so they can function at a mainstream school. Therefore, I jumped on the reinforcement bandwagon long ago to help mold behaviors.
Last year, I was at a thrift shop and found a rickety, old treasure box. It was made of wood. I looked as if it had been made as a prop. Perhaps it had been used during one of the many annual, pirate related events down here in Florida. I bought it for $5. What a deal. I hauled it to the art room and let the kids have at it. We primed and painted. We stenciled. We put all kinds of plastic jewels on it. Then I filled it with crap. Inside the lined chest is a candy jar, snack size chips, fruit roll ups, Little Debbies, and bunches of silly, little toys. The kids have to get a star a week on the STAR CHART. If they collect 4 stars, they get to pick from the treasure chest. So basically, they get one pick per month if their behaviors earn them a star per week.
It is amazing to me that these kids will come in every week and check the chart. They love that chart and treasure chest. They work an entire month to get one, tiny treat. However, this made me think about myself. Even though it seems so trivial, I can relate to this external motivation.

I have been thinking a lot about why things are different for me now. I remember years ago, I would make art all the time. I was driven. Now, it is different. Sometimes I don’t see the point. This really bothers me. So what is the difference between now and then? Well back then, I had a figurative Treasure Chest. There was always an exhibition coming up. There was a resume to be filled. I lived in an art community so I needed to make art to be one of the gang. There were art collectors where I lived. Even my jobs were ARTIST related. Oh yes, my job now is art related, but I doubt a handful of people I work with really knows or cares that I am an artist. There are no expectations for me to make my own art. There is no art community I care about. Even showing my work is a bit sketchy now due to the expense involved in keeping that fire burning. Currently, I have no external motivators.

I wish I could say I don’t need any kind of support systems other than the spark of my inner self. I am not there yet. I am not sure if I will ever be that strong and self directed. In the meantime, I have to find a way to pick the lock to get inside my treasure chest of now. I have to find something to help me want to perk up and enhance my artistic verve.

Art Blog: OH YEAH!

That’s what I am talking about!

New President, New Vice President, New Now

P.S. I held my breath so long the entire state of Florida turned

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Art Blog: Waiting to Exhale


It is not about the shirt.
It is not about the person.
It is about:

Silk Screen portrait by Shepard Fairey

Let's get it right this time. Right Russ?