Sunday, December 27, 2009

Art Blog: HELP From My Friends?

“Oh, I get by with a little help from my friends,
Mmm I get high with a little help from my friends,
Oh, I'm gonna try with a little help from my friends”
With A Little Help From My Friends
The Beatles

OK. Where do I start? I got this idea. I wanted to have a series of online art shows during 2010. I created the Git Outta My Face website. I put up a prospectus. It pretty much went unnoticed. I was bummed out but I am not a quitter. I am trying it again. I am promoting it in a different way. The new deadline is January 15, 2010. It costs nothing to submit your work.

PLEASE participate or help me find artists who are interested!

My motivation is simple. I want to have five online shows with different themes during the coming year. I think it would be fun. It offers artists another place to show their work. Since each artist will have their own exhibition page with their information, it will offer a way for viewers to be redirected to the artist’s websites. Also, the shows will allow artists to meet new, unfamiliar artists.

Now here comes the “help from my friends” part. I need help promoting the first show “GO AWAY!” I am trying to do something for artists, but I can’t do it alone. This is why I am asking for help from you, my friends. If you have a blog, use Twitter, Facebook, or any other online forums, I would appreciate it if you would mention the show and encourage artists to participate. I would really appreciate any and all help from any of you. I am trying to do something positive and fun for artists. I think this is a win/win situation.

Click on pic to go to Git Outta My Face website and get the prospectus! If you have ANY questions, email me at
Thanks SO MUCH in advance to all who help me with this! :-)

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Art Blog: WISDOM

Main Entry: wis•dom
Pronunciation: \ˈwiz-dəm\
Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English, from Old English wīsdōm, from wīs wise
1 a : accumulated philosophic or scientific learning : knowledge b : ability to discern inner qualities and relationships : insight c : good sense : judgment d : generally accepted belief
2 : a wise attitude, belief, or course of action
3 : the teachings of the ancient wise men
synonyms see: SENSE

You will get through this Sheree. I feel like I am being beaten with a stick right now. However, I am a true believer hard times bring new insights and life lessons. This is one of the most difficult times of my entire life. That is saying a lot because I have had some weird, difficult years! I can’t remember ever feeling like this. If I can sleep, I have nightmares. When I wake up, I am shaking literally. I feel like I am being chased by dragons and demons.

Thank the UNIVERSE for my art life. Come to think of it, I think ART has gotten me through a whole bunch of turmoil through the years. As I reflect on the last six months, another thing has occurred to me. I have been such a lucky girl in the past. I have always had so many WISE people surrounding me. I have been fortunate to be given the gift of wisdom from many of those who have passed through my life. I looked up the word wisdom and got a chuckle. I love the last line:
“synonyms see: SENSE”
That is what is missing in my life right now. Nothing makes sense. Yet I know from the wise ones I have known everything happens for a reason. Soon, I will look back at all this and it will make sense.

One of the most important things I have learned with time is nobody can make me do anything I don’t want to do. What I do and the kind of life I have is my choice. I need to remember that. Being fortunate to have all my wise mentors, I realize I have assimilated many traits of wisdom.

Now is the time I need to use them.

“You Can’t Make Me”
"Misbehaviorists Series"
Sheree Rensel
Acrylic on Canvas
8” X 10”
Click pic for detail view

Thursday, December 3, 2009


A Challenge For Artists

OK. Here it is. This is a CALL FOR ARTISTS! Please submit your work for this "GO AWAY" online show. It is the first of five that will be featured during 2010 on the "GIT OUTTA MY FACE" website.

You are welcome to participate. Please spread the word.

Click pic to go to the website and SUBMIT your work!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Art Blog: Let’s Pretend

I can remember it like it was yesterday. Back in the late 70’s, I was in grad school. My “advisor” (cough cough) was a Yale grad. I am thankful for him because he had all kinds of great connections. He didn’t think much of me, but that was OK. I got to experience his adoration and promotion of the current art scene back then despite his disdain for me.

Back then at Wayne State University, the B.F.A. and M.F.A. students were so lucky to be introduced (literally) to many of the artists of the day (and this day). There was Phillip Pearlstein, Lynda Benglis, Ron Gorchov, Bill Jensen, and et. al. We never got to meet Al Held, but my “advisor” talked about him ad nauseum. I guess he was his hero(?)

I remember back then thinking I would be on a NY artists “hit list” in decades to come. That never came to fruition. I am not. Life happens. However, I still hang on to the memories of those early visions and meetings. I am still interested in what artists are doing in the oh so awesome ART world and NY scene. I am not there. I am not sure I wish I was. I suppose I could have moved there and made my way. I guess, that was not the UNIVERSAL plan. I think some of my university colleagues might feel the same way. We were all so young and eager back then. We expected the best. We had stars in our eyes. Then, we got out of art school, took on life responsibilities, and got older.

So now, I watch YouTube videos and wonder. It is like a game of “Let’s Pretend”. I see what is going on in the art world and realize it really has nothing to do with me at all. NOTHING. I live vicariously through the artists who are the supposed movers and shakers in the art world. I imagine what would have happened if I had moved to NY in 1980. I just wonder. That didn’t happen, so now I play “Let’s Pretend”.

Click on pic to go to James Kalm’s vid: “Phil Pearlstein, Al Held, Five Decades at Betty Cuningham”,

Monday, November 23, 2009

Art Blog: Is Being a Painter Irrelevant?

Everyone is feeling the effects of our changing world right now. I know I am. I have never felt like I fit in anywhere anyway, so all of this mysterious transformation is very unsettling to me. There are just too many things to think about right now. Our futures are more uncertain than ever. Images speed through my mind almost as fast as things are changing. At times it is just too much to handle.
I try to grasp onto the things I know are true. I am an artist. I am Sheree. Lately, I am wondering who “she” is and where she is going. I mean, I am a painter. I am beginning to think that is so old fashioned. Is being a painter even relevant anymore???
(Leave comments below!)

So I sit on my back porch and ponder or I search the internet for life inspiration. I found something today that gave me a surge of excitement.

Imagine not needing a camera in hand to take a picture. All you would have to do is hold your hands up in a rectangle shape and SNAP!

Imagine not needing a pencil to draw on paper. Just use your finger to sketch and just touching the paper will create a digital image.

I saw these two experiments demonstrated while watching Pranav Mistry’s TED video. He is an inventor. Some of the things he is working on are absolutely mind blowing and unbelievable. I might not live long enough to see all his inventions become available to the masses, but at least this video caused me to pause and dream. It also made me wonder how artists fit into this new world coming. What do you think?

Imagine leaving virtual graffiti on every wall you pass. I guess this is one way I fit into our current world. I am one of the lucky ones. I can IMAGINE.
Click pic to watch “Pranav Mistry: The thrilling potential of SixthSense technology”

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Art Blog: Mad Scientist, Mad Artist!

First, let me get this straight. I am a happy person. Some might think after reading this blog, I am negative. Nothing could be more untrue. In fact, I am a realist. I don’t live in a Pollyanna world and only express my gumdrop and rainbow thoughts online. I tell it like it is. I am honest. I think we can use more of the truth lately. Therefore, if you think I am a downer, don’t read this blog. It is that simple.

Ever since I started this blog a few years ago, my mission was to express my every day thoughts in a truthful manner. Nobody I know has a great day, week, month, or year, all the time. NOBODY. If someone is online and only talks about their cushy, kitten fur life, I think they are either a liar or in denial. I am neither.

All this crap going on in my life right now is such a bad thing but it is a good thing too. After doing research this weekend on topics such as emotional survival and maintaining sanity during hard times, I came across a simple line of text that really hit me hard. It said something like

“While you are dealing with traumatic life circumstances, it might be difficult, but you will learn a lot too.”

I read that and read it again. I responded “YES!”

Today after doing some house chores, I started working on an upcoming project I am planning for a couple of my classes. I am doing a science experiment and having the students interpret the results via art. I am not only going to do the experiment, but I am dressing up like a MAD SCIENTIST with lab coat, goggles, gloves, and my own MESSY hair! While gathering all the supplies for the experiment and art project, I realized this reminds me so much of when I was an “artist-in-the-schools”. Back then, I was a “free agent” and would go visit schools to work with the kids as an artist. I would plan and plan and go all out back then. I would love making the presentations a performance. I am back to doing that again. I LOVE IT!

I never intended to teach. That was never my goal. Being an artist-in-residence was the thing that made me realize I was so good at art instruction. This is how I got from that point A to this point B. So due to my current situation, I am learning. I am making adjustments. I am finding what I love to do all over again.
Now does that sound negative? Far from it!

I love prepping for silly, but exciting art projects. I love making memories for kids. They DO remember too!!!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Art Blog: “Looky Looky Loo!”

I will admit it. I am in a really bad mood right now. LOL LOL LOL I am trying so hard to be optimistic. I am looking for the bright side every minute of every day. I am analyzing every move I make. Art wise, I have been distressed because things just aren’t happening the way I want them to happen. I am being overrun by an inventory of just too much art and too few shows. I have all kinds of weird thoughts about this. (Right Gilda?) I just don’t know what to think, what to do, or how to handle life right now.

I know things are changing. This is a good thing and a bad thing all at the same time. I am scared out of my wits. I need to change jobs. However when you have worked at the same place for sixteen years, it is very hard to even imagine yourself doing different things. My art room at school has a cobalt blue floor. I have always joked, “I will die on that blue floor!” Yes, Sheree will just flop over and someone will have to call for help. "YEP, SHE IS DEAD on the blue floor." Now I realize I will not die on the blue floor. I am going to have to leave this room before I die. This is kind of sad to me. I know. That is a weird thing to say, but it is true.

One small change this year is I have to divide my time with another school. When I was told I had to travel and teach at another school, I felt traumatized. Then when I found out I would have to teach a couple of classes with kindergarteners and third graders, the trauma doubled! I am not a fan of being a teacher of lower elementary kids. Yes, they are cute as a button and oh so energetic. However, I prefer to teach students who have the capability to understand concepts and art ideas and then run with it. Little kids can’t do that yet.

But we have to do what we have to do. I am kind of desperate at the moment. I have to take what is given. I want out of my current job so much, I just ran with it. I have been teaching these tiny tikes for a bit more than a month now. It has been such a bizarre experience. I have begun to realize this is one of my life lessons. These kids act like I am the best thing since peanut butter. Over the years, I have developed all kinds of silly tag lines to get kid's attention. For example, I might say “HERE IS THE SCOOPEROONI!” or “LOOKY LOOKY LOO”. When I say these stupid things, kids know to look at me and pay attention.

This week, I was waiting for my kindergarten class outside the art room. I saw them coming as they walked in a uniform line towards me. The first little girl ran ahead and grabbed me around my waist. She looked up into my eyes and said “LOOKY LOOKY LOO”. My heart melted. I realized this little kid has listened to me and remembered me to the point she can mimic my silly words. I realized that everything we do in this life is important. That little girl will probably remember Looky Looky Loo for a very long time. It is such a simple thing. Yet is important to her and it is important to me. I realize I do have value and I am important in her eyes. She is important to me too!

This is one example of a simple project being created by my kindergarten class. We are studying the “SENSES” and creating a book. This is just one “TOUCH” page. I want to show this because these kids have “touched” me.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Art Blog: The SYSTEM

This weekend, I watched a couple of hours of BookTalk featuring Dr. Temple Grandin. She is autistic, a prolific writer, scholar, and wise woman.

I have been a fan of hers for years. It could be because I have been the teacher of hundreds of students with autism. However, I also relate to her because her story relates so much to my own. When she speaks about her life and how she perceives things, I always understand. I am not autistic, but I see the world in “pictures” too. I have never been a left brain achiever. My left brain skills have been honed and learned the hard way. I have always taken the initiative to practice my left brain skills over and over again. It has never come naturally.

As I watch Dr. Grandin interact with people, it reminds me of me. Some think I am gregarious. This is so wrong. It is all an act. I fake it. I hate social interaction. This is why I have never collected friends or had wonderful relationships. I love being alone all by myself. That is just fine with me. I hate mingling and small talk. I just don’t get either. I see mouths moving. I hear noises surrounding me. I want to shrink and run away. Often, I space out in social situations. I don’t feel bad about this. I just want to go home so I can think. That is what makes me happy.

Similarly, I have dealt with a lifetime of fighting feeling like a dummy. In 3rd grade, I was given a label. I was in the “Blue Bird” reading group. Other kids laughed. That was the reading group for dummies. Well, I have eleven years of college under my belt now. I would have more if I won the lottery and could finish my Ph.D. So who is a dummy? My mind is sound. It is the way I was taught that was faulty. BTW. I don’t blame the teachers either. I am one. I see the system as the culprit.

Today there was an “Academic Awards” ceremony at school. It is called the “3.0 Club”. I scurried around trying to finish my classes so I could attend. I had made certificates for some of my students. Each certificate read “For EXCELLENCE in ART!” When I ran into the assembly, certificates in hand, I realized some of my excellent students were not invited. You see, they were not on the honor roll. OH. I see. In other words, I saw this assembly as a celebration of left brain thinkers. Oh my. My bad. I misunderstood.

You would think I would be an educational system cheerleader. Rah! Rah! Rah! I am not. There are just too many things wrong with the system. Despite volumes of research and data, we still don’t get it. Our society is in a rut. We don’t think outside of the box. I can’t speak for her, but I would guess Dr. Grandin would agree. We are not creative in our pursuit of excellence. We don't value or take into consideration individual talents. We don’t see the forest for the trees.

This is so sad to me.

“School Uniforms”
Sheree Rensel
Acrylic on Canvas/Mixed Media
8” X 10”
Click pic for detailed view

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Art Blog: Technicolor!

I know for sure some of you will not understand this post. That is OK. Maybe you can glean information from my experience. I remember when we watched TV and movies in black and white. I remember this because I lived through it.

I have a feeling the movie “Wizard of Oz” will be the subject of many of my future posts. It seems I have come to the conclusion this movie is like a metaphor for my life. I have known that for a long time. Check out my ”Emerald City” installation at the Michigan Gallery back in the 80’s.

I have always related to Dorothy. She was on a quest for truth and self realization. I respect this and relate to it wholeheartedly. Lately, these thoughts, beliefs, and sensations have been coming to the surface full force. It doesn’t surprise me.
In the past ten months, I have had a hard time. One thing after another has happened. Yes, my dog died as many of you know. However, his death was just one thing added to a mix of hellish events. Being a depressive by nature, I am actually shocked I am still able to type this.

The only thing that keeps me going right now is my art and an unexpected job change. Every Wednesday, I have to travel and teach another school population. This is so strange, but true to me. I have worked at the same place for 16 years. This new situation boggles my mind. However, I truly believe the UNIVERSE gave me this change to make me see life in Technicolor again. In other words, I have seen life in past months in values of white, gray, and black. It hasn’t been a pretty world. When I was driving home yesterday from my other job, I saw things in color again. It was just like when Dorothy opened the door leading to Munchkin Land. The sensation took me aback. I felt it. As I drove the streets of downtown Saint Petersburg, I saw color again. TECHNICOLOR!

I guess this is just a simple message to all of you who experience depression. I want to tell you that no matter how terrible you feel at any given moment, some tiny thing can happen and change all of your perceptions. There is HOPE! You can and will see the world in TECHNICOLOR again.
I know. I have.

Just wait. The world will be colorful and bright again. It will!
You just have to be patient.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Art Blog: Twitter ART Fun!!!

This is a silly post. However, I had to share it with you. I bought a shirt off “ZAZZLE”. It is my very own TWITTER art follower shirt. They took SOME of my followers and printed their Twitter icons on the shirt. Here it is:

This is the whole shirt. OK, but………..look closer at the detail view!

The front shows a grid of some of my Twitter followers with my Twitter name above the grid. COOL!

Now, here is the flip side. I LOVE THE BACK!!

Is this cool or what? LOVE IT!!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Art Blog: Gambler / That RISK

I have mentioned often how I love getting older. I really do. I feel far more secure and understand my world far more clearly than decades ago. I have said many times how I would not want to be 20 or 30 years old again. However, I realized this week how there are advantages to being young. Besides the obvious attributes like youth and vitality, I remember when I would take risks without a second thought. Now, I hesitate, deliberate, postpone, and haggle with myself when I contemplate any kind of action or behavior that is remotely risky. Why?

I was working on my website this week after scanning some slides of past work. I wanted this old work to be on my website, so I can see the progression of my art life. After finishing a page showing “Gambler / That Risk”, I just sat there and stared at that piece like I had never seen it before. I remember my life when I created this work. I was poor as dirt. I had a preschool daughter. We rented a ghetto, studio apartment. We lived hand to mouth. I thought nothing of quitting one job and trying to find another. Yep. I was footloose and fancy free. I even had the NERVE to apply and attend a month long residency in Vermont. I shipped the kid over to her paternal grandmother and got on a plane with only nickels in my pocket. What was I thinking? Ironically, that was probably one of the best months of my life. At that time, I didn’t even see it as a risk.

Fast forward to now: I don’t think I would ever do anything like that now. I am paralyzed with fear. I would worry about this and that and everything else. My house? My job? Money? What if? What if? What if? This part of getting older is very boring and frustrating.

Now, I feel I have too much to lose.

Chapter 5 of the “The Joy Diet” by Martha Beck challenges readers with exercises to promote risk taking. I NEED to do this work in the worst way. However, I am so filled with anxiety right now, it is difficult for me to think clearly, let alone tackle new and foreign ground. To be honest, I am having such a hard time dealing with the status quo, I feel like if I twitch wrong, I am going to implode! As I read the chapter, I became more anxious with each paragraph. My internal mind tape is blasting my brain. Right now, negative self talk is on full volume constantly. I have been in this mental state before but never to this magnitude.

This current inner turmoil, angst, and adverse reaction to the “Risk” chapter are all related. My emotional psyche is screaming at me right now because this is exactly what I need to do. It is time to let go of this mantra of fear “What if?” and embrace a new anthem:
“What if I don’t?”

“Gambler / That Risk”
Sheree Rensel
Mixed Media
48” x 20” x 24”
Click pic for detailed view

Friday, October 23, 2009

Art Blog: SOUPY

Soupy Sales died this week. This is heartbreaking news to me. Soupy Sales was one of my heroes. You all know how impressionable we are in very early childhood. Soupy was one of my mentors. Soupy started in Detroit. I did too. I watched him, Pookie, and White Fang’s every move during my formative years. At one point in the late 50’s, my dad took me down to the “Lunch with Soupy” set to watch and interact with the cast. Even though I was a tiny child, I remember that day clearly. Soupy was my kind of guy. I watched him every chance I could get. “LUNCH WITH SOUPY” was one TV show that I didn’t want to miss. He was one of my idols.

Of course when I heard the news of his death I was so sad. I wanted to write a little blog post as a tribute to him. I wanted to include at least one piece of video from one of his shows. I started to watch YouTube clips of Soupy. Now as an adult, I realize how outrageously progressive Soupy was. Also, I understand why I think the way I do. Soupy and I had a similar kind of sense of humor. I didn't realize that until now and it is obvious to me how he made an impact on my life. He was far before his time.

Now remember, these clips were more than forty years ago. If he had started in this era, he could have been a YouTube sensation! His shows were full of double entendre, inside (ADULT) jokes, snide remarks, TV set silliness, and filmmaking mayhem! Now remember, this is late 50’s / early 60’s. It is almost as if he could see the future and was doing the footwork.
I love you Soupy.
I carry your influences in my life and art.
I thank you for this.

Click pic to watch Soupy and Pookie in action!

“Soupy and Pookie”
RIP Soupy Sales

Thursday, October 22, 2009


I was born an artist. It is in my genes.
I know this for sure.

When I was four years old, my Dad came to pick me up for a weekend visit. My parents were divorced and I looked forward to being with my daddy each week. We were kindred spirits. That particular weekend, before our planned outing, he told me he had to stop at “Uncle Lefty’s” house. Lefty was his brother and my uncle. When we got to his house in downtown Detroit, I was told to stand and wait in the vestibule. Since I was a very obedient kid, I would normally stand still until told to move. I didn’t obey that day. After my dad left my sight, I moved towards the French doors leading to the living room. I opened the doors and was hit with the wafting smell of what I now know to be turpentine and oil paints. I stood there looking at the large room. There was no furniture. The walls were lined with canvases and there was an easel with taboret in the middle of the room. I just stood there looking. Then my four year old mind thought this thought:

“I don’t know what he is doing in here, but I want to do it too!”

The rest is history. I did just that. I became an artist. Unfortunately, my Uncle Lefty gave up art shortly after my discovery of his work. He got married, had kids, and worked in a factory the rest of his life. His own artistic pursuits were forgotten except for garage Halloween extravaganzas!

None of my family is close. We were never told about our family history. In fact, I didn’t learn about my paternal grandmother’s talents until after I had my M.F.A. The discovery was quite by accident. My father was drunk and he told me a story about his mother painting murals in churches in Illinois. I had never heard that before. It was so shocking to me. However, it reaffirmed my belief that art is in my blood.

We all have the ability to be creative. I have noticed the controversy of “nature or nurture” comes up all the time when I watch art videos.
Are we born artists or is the artist created through study and practice?
I really believe we all have the attributes to be artists and we are meant to create. However, I also believe it is a matter of degree. I think we have varying aptitudes to utilize our creative skills. For example, I am creative but I could never sew a dress or play concert piano. This is not just because I have not spent the time to study how to do either. I don’t have the aptitude to excel in fiber work or music. I know this because I have tried to learn both. I know for sure, you could lock me in a room for decades and I would never be able to compose music like Phillip Glass. However, I excel at creating with certain visual art materials. I know sculptors who can’t draw. I know writers who can’t sing. So it goes.

What do you think? Are artists born or made??

Click pic of detail view
“When the Bubble Bursts”
Sheree Rensel
Digital Mixed Media Collage

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Art Blog: Creativity Sans Paint

“You need chaos in your soul to give birth to a dancing star.” Nietzsche

Chapter 4 of the “The Joy Diet” by Martha Beck is about creativity. When I realized this was the next topic, I almost skipped the chapter. I have always been creative in everything I do. In fact, my life right now is the culmination of all my creative endeavors. Of course, my art is concrete proof of my creativity. However, I have CREATED my life as it is now. Therefore, I know the power I have to make things happen through thinking outside of the box, changing, rearranging, and making action plans.

When I began to read chapter four I became very uncomfortable. I realized I needed to link my creativity to the desires I have expressed via chapter three. I immediately thought: “This is too much too soon for me!!!” I have stated my primary desires as:
So what will it take for me to feel this way??? I nearly laughed out loud when I started to do the exercises suggested by Beck in the creativity chapter. One of them is to perseverate on my enemy. When I started to do this, I realized my worst enemy at the moment doesn’t value or appreciate me.

OH! A-HA! Bingo!!!

Ordinarily, I shut people like that out of my life. In this particular case, I can’t. At least, I cannot remove her from my routine at this moment. This is where I need to let my creative talents work for me and let them shine. I just have to think and find a way to change things around so I can surround myself with loving, caring people. This includes me. I need to create a new status quo so I can love myself again.

I need to remind myself of how to think big. I need to remember how to stretch my plans and think in new ways. Right now, I am in this little artist/art educator cardboard box and I feel myself clawing and scratching the sides of the container. I want out. But how can I do it???
This is exactly what Beck is referring to in this chapter. It is time to apply my creative skills to make the changes I need to make. I can think of many things to do, but they scare me. Ironically, the next chapter’s topic is RISK.
Double BINGO!!!!

Click pic for detail view
“Mind of the Artist”
Sheree Rensel
24” X 24”
Mixed Media
This is piece is my signature work. I love it and will never sell it. It is the epitome of what I want my work to say. MIND of the ARTIST. Now I have to use my artist’s mind to rearrange my art LIFE.

Thursday, October 15, 2009


Damn it!!! Damn! Damn! Damn!! It never goes away. I will be the first to report; I have not been the same person since August 10, 2009. I lost my Gizmo that day. Of course it was traumatic, but oh geesh, I never realized how it would have such a terrible effect on me. Besides experiencing major depression, I don’t even want to make art because I am so lonely in my studio. This is not good! I know. I have written about this before. It might seem so weird to some of you. It was a frigin dog!! However, you have to walk in my shoes.

I live alone. Gizmo was my only pal. We were together all the time. We did things together. We ate together. We watched TV together. We worked in the studio together. He was my sidekick. It just never occurred to me he wouldn’t be here forever. Seriously, I guess that was just not a thought I could comprehend. My bad.

Well, he has been gone months now. I went through what I thought was a mourning period and began to look for a new dog. I have had one bad experience after another. I started to look for another Yorkie. That isn’t going to happen though. Every Yorkie I see reminds me of my Gizmo. So I decided to get a “blond” Cairn terrier”. This aspiration has turned out to be a dismal experience. This particular dog breed isn’t hard to find, but finding a cream to wheaten colored Cairn is a bit more difficult. I have been smoozed, hassled, insulted, and lied to by rescue shelters and breeders. I am almost out of energy now and my depression is getting more intense.

All I know is I have to find a new dog soon. I want a dog to name “Little Lu Lu”. I know she is out there somewhere. I can see her now. She has blond, spiky hair. She has short legs and a stocky little body. She is just like me. I just have to find her. I know I will eventually, but the waiting is killing me.

Click pic to see Gizmo the studio dog!!!

Like I say in one of the photo captions: “Oh my Gizmo! You were my "studio doggie" for almost 13 years! You are in art heaven now. I love you and miss you so much. I know you are looking down on me. Help me find a new doggie. I don't want to replace you.
I want to have another studio dog to make you proud!"

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Art Blog: DESIRE

The third chapter of “The Joy Diet” by Martha Beck is about desire. This might be one of the most DIFFICULT topics in the book for me. In fact, this is one of my problems right now. I have no idea what I want to happen now. Well, I didn’t know until this week. I have been struggling and have experienced a weird kind of panic for the past year about this very issue.


I have always been goal oriented. From a very early age, I made lists of goals and desires on a regular basis. Despite any obstacles, I would trudge on and accomplish my goals. After high school, I remember working in a factory and telling other workers I wanted to go to college, get a B.F.A. and M.F.A. They laughed at me. They knew I had no money. Yet, I just kept plugging away with my eyes on the prize. Six years later, I had both. This didn’t surprise me.
Then, I wanted to BE an artist. I accomplished that goal and have continued to BE for the past thirty years. Another goal was to make sure my daughter would grow up to be a smart, productive, interesting individual. Well, she is 26 years old now and I am in awe.

Then there was the HOUSE thing. For decades, I would visit people who owned their own homes. This was an elusive goal. Being perpetually single on purpose, I never seemed to have the money to buy my own house. Well, I finally accomplished that eight years ago. I have an extraordinary, art house now. I love it so much. It is my treasure.

I suppose one of the most significant DESIRES of my life is to be able to support myself and still be an artist. For the past two decades, I have done that via my own art production and teaching. It has been a grand ride. I chose teaching because I didn’t want to have to make art that only satisfied the customer (and not my own creative intentions). I have never had a problem with people buying my art. Of course, I love that. However, I have never wanted to have to make art to customer specifications. I have never been into making art to accommodate the masses. In other words, if I make something and they buy it, that is a wonderful thing. I am not interested in producing art just so people buy it. Therefore, I teach to pay my bills. That is what has worked for me until now.
You see, I have always been in situations in which my artist status and teaching status have comingled. I have been lucky. All my employment situations in the past twenty years have encouraged me and have expressed pride in the fact I am an artist; I am a great teacher; and I was an important part of their staff. Things are different now.
So now what? What do I DESIRE?

In a twist of fate, I have been sent to work part time at another school this year. This week after one class ended, I was cleaning up and one of the students who had just left my room came running to the door. He peaked in through the door window and smiled a huge smile. I waved and smiled back. I felt so happy at that moment. I realized what I really want now. Eureka!!! The light bulb moment happened!

"Gimme Some"
Acrylic on Canvas
8" X 10"
Click pic for detailed view

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Art Blog: Life AFTER

I love being on the UP SWING. I can always tell when I am on the right track because things start happening and they seem to converge. Everything starts to line up in order. I know I am cognizant of the “moment” and I am going with the flow. Oh yes! Hooray! Finally!! Hallelujah!!!!

This is a blog post for all of you who are afraid of change. I am right there with you. I have fought making things different. In some kind of neurotic, bizarre way, I have dug my heels in deep and held onto the status quo. I have been so set in my ways for the past 16 years, I feared any changes. Surprisingly, it just took two weeks for me to change my mind. I now realize change is GOOD! I am having such a blast. In fact, I am having so much fun; I can’t wait for MORE change!

My ears always perk up when I hear advice like “Find something you love and do it. You will be able to make a living at it.” Of course we artists all think “Oh, OK. I will make art and make my bucks!” Well, a long time ago, I realized I did not want to sacrifice my own art visions to make a living. I decided my money maker would be teaching. I am very good at it and it has provided an unbelievable living for me. Unfortunately, my daily life as an art educator has experienced a rough and rocky road lately. I really thought my teaching days were over. This upset me but I was ready to let it go.

The weird thing is the UNIVERSE has provided me with another chance and a new experience. I realize I am meant to keep teaching. I love teaching almost as much as I love being an artist. I am so glad I have come to this realization.

Today I had brand new students. One group was five and six year olds. About 15 minutes into the lesson, one little girl looked at me and said “Ms. Rensel, you are HYPER!” I laughed so loud! I looked at her and said “Yep! I am hyper and that is a good thing!!!” LOL LOL

I created this digital sketch ten years ago. It was about how I related to myself as a child. My adult self was speaking to my child self. As my job duties have changed in the past month, I realize, I am right back to this same place. I teach new and different kids. I want to tell them the same things I have told myself.
I know what you feel.
I feel what you know.
I am here for you.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Art Blog: Pretty LIES

Just like the song “Last Time I Saw Richard” by Joni Mitchell, my life has been a series of pretty lies. There is some weird irony here. Just like the story the lyric tells, my first and best love was named Richard and we met in Detroit. I have always loved this song. Ironically, it has turned out to be my life story. It all came true. He was a good guy. He really was. In fact, he was the man I lost to my own stupidity. I don’t regret it. I needed to move on to new and higher adventures. I did just that. He went on to marry his “figure skater”. Just like the song goes on to say there have been many times I have sung these words to myself:

“Im gonna blow this damn candle out
I dont want nobody comin over to my table
I got nothing to talk to anybody about
All good dreamers pass this way some day
Hidin behind bottles in dark cafes”

Another part of the song that has always stayed with me and repeats in my head over and over is:

“You like roses and kisses and pretty men to tell you
All those pretty lies, pretty lies
When you gonna realize they’re only pretty lies
Only pretty lies, just pretty lies”

My Richard would tell me this all the time. He was right. I did. I left him and went on to get my pretty man who was a total jerk. However, the most troubling thing is I can’t blame any man for anything in my life. I have been single 90% of my life. Yet, I continue to uphold my pretty lies even without the men around. Yes. I lie to myself every day.

The second chapter of “The Joy Diet” is about truth. I set out to admit some of the LIES I tell myself. I picked one lie for each day of the past week:

1. LIE: It doesn’t really matter what I eat.
TRUTH: It matters immensely!
2. LIE: I get enough exercise just through daily routine.
3. LIE: My emotions are uncontrollable.
TRUTH: I’m can control feelings.
4. LIE: My spiritual habits are sufficient.
TRUTH: My spirit is withering.
5. LIE: I’m challenging my mind fully.
TRUTH: My mind is hungry.
6. LIE: I am stuck at my current job.
TRUTH: What I do is my choice.
7. LIE: I can see no future for me.
TRUTH: The future is yours Sheree.

These little confessions are just the tip of the iceberg. One thing I have accomplished this week while thinking about my own lies is that it is my own energy and force that creates my life. I can’t blame anything that happens to me on any other person. It is time to let all the pretty lies go away.
This is my life and that is the TRUTH.

Acrylic on Wood
19” X 15”
Click pic to see detailed view

Friday, October 2, 2009

Art Blog: VIBES

Some people will read this and not have a clue what I am talking about at all. That is OK. I am speaking to those who might understand. I am a sensitive artist. I react to my environment. I take in the vibrations of the people who surround me. I can even see auras. I know, I know. This sounds so hooky, spooky. It is not. I am very aware on every sensual level and all the aspects of situations I am in at any given moment. If you don’t believe it or understand, I am sorry. It is what it is.

All through the 1980’s I lived in the “Cultural Center” of Detroit. This area of Detroit is very near downtown. It is ruddy and urban. You can’t be a sissy if you choose to live there. However, one of the wonderful things about the cultural center is the arts are glorified. Recently, I have been thinking about my current situation. I compare it to various times in my life that were very different. When I lived in Detroit, just about everyone I was associated with was either an artist or an arts advocate. It was a wonderful existence. It was a magical world. My art was supported and my status as an artist was a given. There was no question.

When I moved to Florida in 1991, I was immersed into the “real” world. Nobody I met cared about art or even knew about what art was. Then, I was hired by my current employer and things changed. Suddenly after two years of mental, spiritual, and emotional discomfort, I finally had people who understood who I was and what I did. It was a wonderful situation and I felt all the good VIBES.

I continued to work in this environment for the next 16 years. I went to my day job every day. I felt appreciated and valued. The arts were special and I have been there to provide this component of life into the environment. I did a great job too.

Now things have changed. I am having flashbacks to 1992. My current environment does not support ART. The auras I see around people surrounding me are monochromatic and scary. This is so uncomfortable; I am having a difficult time accepting the status quo. However, I know the vibrations I feel and see will change. I just need to work to change my situation. If I do that, the vibes will change too.

Things are shaking right now. (BAD VIBRATIONS) It feels out of control. I know for sure this too shall pass. In fact, I am looking for nice, quiet, peaceful vibes and glowing auras.
I will find them.
I will.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Art Blog: REACH!

I learned a great lesson today. I learned that FEAR of the unknown is nothing to fear at all. Sometimes we push aside opportunities that might change the status quo. I know I have. It is all so comfortable to stay put. We tend to resist change because it will disturb our current reality. It will kick up dust and we might have to cough.

I learned a great lesson today. I learned that change is good. The status quo is comfortable and safe. However, this condition doesn’t mean we are happy. No. It means we are set in our ways. That’s it. Most of us like that set feeling. I know I have in the past. In fact, I have held onto the SAME for all too long. I need changes in order to grow as a person and artist.

I learned a great lesson today. I learned that it is time for me to REACH for new opportunities. It is time for me to REACH for a new reality. It is time for me to REACH my true potential. The status quo is oh so comfortable and safe. However, we all have to REACH for new and challenging opportunities in our art lives. I am doing this right now. Think about this.
Maybe you could do this too.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Art Blog: NOTHINGness

“To do nothing at all is the most difficult thing in the world, the most difficult and the most intellectual”
Oscar Wilde

This week’s “menu item” on the JOY DIET is to do nothing. That is, do NOTHING for 15 minutes per day this week. Do you know what a difficult assignment this is for me? I am a hyperactive, Type A personality with constantly racing thoughts. I don’t think I have ever experienced doing NOTHING.

Here are my thoughts right after I achieved the first fifteen minutes of doing nothing:
I set the timer for 15 minutes, lay on the couch, and closed my eyes. The first thing I noticed was all sounds coming from outside. I told my mind to “ quiet”. That lasted a few seconds. My mind was racing again and thinking about all the stuff I had accomplished earlier in the day. Again, I told myself “Stop. Try to be still.” That worked for a few seconds and then I began thinking of all the things I wanted to do after this “nothingness” time was over. At that point, I couldn’t stand it, I peeked at the timer. I still had 7 minutes left. I closed my eyes again and tried so hard to just stop thinking. I was unsuccessful. I realized doing NOTHING was going to take a lot of practice! When the timer went off, I was relieved!

Throughout the week, I practiced doing more nothing. I never felt I achieved the perfect state of nothingness, but at least I felt a little more grounded. One thing that came to mind during this week’s assignment was how I can use a variation of this technique in my art work.

When I make art, there has always been a feeling that I am conduit for a higher source of energy. In other words, I often feel that I am not making my art all by myself. I feel there is some kind of great director guiding me. In order to feel this way, I have to be in tune with my art emotions and art spirit. When I am in this state, the creative ideas flow. Recently, I have been having a hard time getting ideas. I have been grappling for new directions. I saw this quote.

"I shut my eyes in order to see." Paul Gauguin

I realized how doing nothing with a marker in hand might be the answer to finding a new path in my work. I decided to sit in silence, put a blindfold on my eyes, try not to think about anything, and just let my hand draw. Of course, the drawings looked like chicken scratch but I think there is something to this method. I am going to continue practicing doing my “nothing drawings” and see where this may lead.

"Nothing Drawing #10"

During a 15 minute drawing nothing session, I do about a dozen drawings. What is interesting to me is the fact that during these drawing stints, it isn’t until I reach the tenth or eleventh drawing, I start to feel free and quiet. It is as if it takes my mind at least 12 minutes to let go. It is fine the drawings don’t look like anything. Remember, they are drawings of NOTHING.
Click pic to see the Nothing Drawings created during one fifteen minute session.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Art Blog: Artist’s Stories

I love reading biographies about artists. Actually I prefer autobiographies because you get the story from the artist’s perspective. Biographies written by others tend to be slanted this way or that. Interpretations contain embellishments or are swayed by the author’s viewpoint. I don’t like that.

For instance, last week I watched the new movie about Georgia O’Keefe on television. I had high hopes and anticipations for this movie. I was disappointed. Like so many Hollywood efforts, the film was less about Georgia’s art and wonderful contribution to art history and more about her sappy relationship with Stieglitz. I could see where the story was going during the first half hour but I continued to watch for the mere purpose of being able to confirm my disgust with this video version of her life.

Recently, I featured an artist on my blog, Vhilo. I have decided to feature other artists on the blog from time to time. I love reading what they have to say about their art and art life. This is a small effort to let them tell their own stories. This week, I want to feature, Erika Allison. I noticed her work online and really enjoyed it. I asked her to write a little bio for this blog.

ARTIST BIO (written by Erika)
Erika Allison
Erika was born and raised in St. Louis. She started taking art classes at age 11 and was painting by 12. She was serious about her art right from the beginning. She attended Kansas University Summer Art and Music Camp on scholarship after eighth grade. She continued her art education at Drake University, majoring in art. She worked at an ad agency in Norfolk VA, and then took off a few years to do the “mother thing”.
She re-entered the art scene by taking studio classes and making representational watercolors. She showed and sold her work at numerous Chicago outdoor festivals, as well as entering national competitions. She had work accepted in the Salmagundi Club non-members exhibition, Catherine Lorillard Wolfe non-members exhibition, and several watercolor society shows.
Erika moved to rural Minnesota in 1988. She and her husband/collaborator worked in clay and did national outdoor festivals across the country - a lifestyle in itself! Working in clay introduced her to her love of texture. She really missed painting and got back to that while still working in clay. She chose to work in the abstract for her paintings, focusing on strong design and texture, including mixed media. Some shows would show clay, some would be paintings and some shows would show both media.
Major life changes including a divorce and quitting the outdoor festivals precipitated her move to Las Vegas, NV, where her two daughters live. She continues to paint with oils and mixed media on panel. She prefers the hard surface because it works best for adding mixed media and found pieces, as well as subtracting pieces of the painting surface to create a non-rectangular shape. She likes mixed media because all the “rules” are out the window. She does what she wants with her mediums. Her inspiration is the obvious and the absurd in life. There is no end to the possibilities!
She just had her first Las Vegas show and feels that it has validated her as a Las Vegas artist. The Las Vegas arts scene is vibrant and growing. It’s an exciting place to be.

"Caused by Human Activity"
Oil and mixed media on panel
24" x 24" x 2"
Click pic to see more of Allison’s work

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Art Blog: Fighting ENNUI

What happens when everything seems boring? I am not saying all things are annoying or insignificant to me at all. I am just asking the question.

I have been thinking about life and how each passing year or decade brings different perspectives. I remember my twenties. Everything was new. I had the art fever. I wanted to try every media and create 24/7. I was like a baby learning about the art world.

In my thirties, it was my time to achieve. I avidly searched and worked to find venues for my work. I wanted so much to be a part of the art world. I was very successful at this. I loved all the shows and the openings. I loved the press. I loved the feeling I was somebody.

My forties brought a new vision. Things started to settle. I still worked continually on my art and sought out connections. Networking was important to me. I went to gallery openings. I started to learn about local movers and shakers. Yet, I decided the local scene was not really compatible with my own work. I searched beyond the city/state/country boundaries and found other ways to show my work. This was during the onset of the internet. It was perfect timing for me.

I am in my fifties now. Don’t feel sorry for me. In fact, I think this is the best time of my life so far. However, there is a very significant change going on right now. I really don’t have any interest in going to art shows or art openings. When I do that, I leave galleries without any kind of inspiration or glorious vibes. I have been there done that for over thirty years. I have seen more art in my lifetime then anybody needs to see. I savor all my art viewing memories, but I think my mind is too full of art images. I just don’t think any more will fit into my brain.

Maybe ennui has set in. Maybe I am just weary and dissatisfied with art now. NO. On the contrary, I am so jazzed and excited about art right now. The difference is I am concerned with my own art. MY ART. It is time for me again. It is time for me to be the art baby I once was. Things are all new to me. You see when you get to a certain age; you feel the need to be rejuvenated. As long as I am energized by my own art making and my own search for ideas, it will never be boring. This is a good thing.
My time is now and that isn’t boring at all!

Art Blog: ALIVE

Here is a pic of my newest “baby”.

Sheree Rensel
Acrylic on Canvas
24” x 24”
Click pic for detail view

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Art Blog: In Search of JOY

You know I just love synchronicity! I love it when things start to unfold before my eyes and I see all the interconnections of events taking place in my life. It is like a concrete representation of PERFECT TIMING! Today I logged onto Twitter and saw a tweet by @ArtVisions. She mentioned she was participating in a book club of sorts. The group is reading “The Joy Diet” by Martha Beck. Jamie Ridler’s blog The Next Chapter: The Joy Diet is hosting this book group. Blog members just started reading the book this week. I bought it and I am going to join in the fun. I really NEED some joy right now!

Actually, I want to rephrase this. I need to SEE the joy in my life right now. Yes, believe it or not, I do have a lot of things for which to be thankful and I have things that bring me bliss every day. I am just not paying attention. This is where the synchronicity stuff comes into play. I was already thinking about this when I started my “Me Bootcamp”. If you read this blog, you know all kinds of stuff started happening to me right after I declared this effort. Ironically for a little over a month now, I have been experiencing the whirling tailspin of sadness, frustration, and depression. Needless to say, this is a drag. It feels terrible. However, I have been so determined in the past couple of weeks to fight the fight and turn my attitude around.

This week we had open house at my job. I had guests in the art studio. Some of them were small children running around ooooing and ahhhing at the art. I joined them and scurried around giggling and being silly. Kids love me. It must be something about my personality. By the end of the visit, these kids were hugging and holding onto me. They think I am a strange, crazy, fun, oldish lady. After they left, I realized how I felt so happy when we were playing together. I felt myself smiling and laughing. I was actually aware of the feeling of joy.

So much of my life is filled with feelings of delight and well being. Not acknowledging these feelings is my own fault. If you have ever been a “moody” person, you might understand. Once a negative mood takes hold, it is almost as if we spend energy keeping the gray clouds positioned directly over our heads. This is why depression is so tiring. I realize this about myself. I have to retrain myself to let these blue moods go and become cognizant of all the great things happening to me right now, every moment, every day. I am really going to try to do this! I think this book will help give me a running start. We will see!

Misbehaviorists Series On SALE Now! $175.
Sheree Rensel
Acrylic on Canvas
8” X 10”

Thursday, September 10, 2009


As many of you know, my day job involves working with students who are tough, street kids. The reason I have been able to survive for the past 16 years working with these darlings is because I am a street kid too. I have spent a lot of years walking the streets of DEE-troit. Even as a teenager, I hitchhiked alone all over Detroit. Oh the stories I could tell!!! Thinking of this now sends shivers up my spine. I put myself is so much danger back then.

Even as I grew a bit older, my tiny daughter and I roamed the streets amongst all kinds of unsavory characters. I was never afraid. I looked thugs straight in the eyes. If a text bubble appeared over their heads, it would read “She would be too much trouble!”. They would be right. I am small, but if it came down to it, I would be like a rabid Chihuahua. Believe me, I would fight to the death. Criminal types usually know and can feel who to target. It isn’t my type of person.

In other words if you push me, I push back. This is a terrible trait to have in these times of being “politically correct”. I am not. I never have been and never will be. I say what I want and if it rocks boats, oh well. I am honest.
I am never mean or unreasonable. If I say things that make other people shrink, it is because my words speak the truth others are afraid to say. In some ways, I see this as such a great attribute to have. I feel proud that I don’t fear speaking about what is really going on and not pretending. I am not interested in speaking fiction or spout out soothing words that land like kisses on someone’s butt. I just can’t do that.

Even if my mouth causes me to be shunned or blackballed, that is fine with me. I speak with good intention and stand up for my rights and the causes of others. If I lose the people who disagree, so be it. They were never my friends anyway.

“I am BAD”
Sheree Rensel
Acrylic on Canvas
8” X 10”
Click pic for detail view

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Art Blog: The PERFECT Storm

Sometimes I make myself laugh. Sheree World is a very funny place sometimes. Last month, I decided to do my “Me Bootcamp”. Little did I know that all hell would break out just after the announcement of this new phase of self-improvement. First my dog died. Then I returned to my day job and found that for the first time in my life changes have made going to work nearly unbearable. I am fighting tooth and nail with the symptoms of depression. This is wearing me out both physically and mentally. Yesterday I realized I am coping by just zoning out. I laid on the couch and watched television reruns all day yesterday. However as night fell, I had had enough. I went to bed early and must have dreamt about my survival skills. In fact as soon as I woke up, I thought “This is a PERFECT STORM”.

I have mentioned here before how the Universe hits you on the head to help you learn life lessons. WELL, I am being hit on the head with a huge, heavy mallet right now. No wonder I feel dazed. This morning I remembered a collage I created called “Hurricane Brain”. I wondered if I had a picture of it on my computer. When I searched I found these words from one of the first posts on this blog back in January of 2007:

“It is time of emotional drama. I am not talking about “screaming, pushing, punching the walls” kind of drama. Oh no, I don’t allow that into my life. However, I have been experiencing an emotional drama of the introverted ilk. My mind is the eye of the hurricane. Thoughts run wild while my rational mind stands by with a lasso. I am trying very hard to rein things in right now.
Life passages are awesome albeit crappy. Those moments in which you see the crossroads cause unexplainable distress and pain, but I have learned to say “THANK YOU”. I have to be appreciative and know the Universe will provide as it always has. These times of confusion end up being the times that force action into play. In fact, I am so glad for the abundance in my life. I have been so fortunate. I have had so much success and good fortune. However, that doesn’t stop me from striving to be the best artist I can be. That is why I was born and put on this earth. I just have to keep moving forward!”

Those words and feelings were the impetus to start blogging again. It helped too. I have accomplished so much in the last two and a half years. There has been a whole lot of good going on here. In fact, the trauma of that time has been fixed. Now, I have a new set of challenges.

I keep thinking of my good friend Terry who is an awesome person and testament to self determination. He always signs his comments and emails with the words “STAY STRONG”. Last night I thought of those words, but I realized in order to stay strong, I have to BE STRONG first. This is my boot camp assignment this week. I have to start building up my emotional, physical, spiritual, and mental strength again. I will need this power for the new changes coming. I will get through this perfect storm. I need to keep moving and steering my own ship until the winds subside and I see the glint of the sun coming through the clouds. I can do this.

“Hurricane Brain”
Sheree Rensel
Mixed Media Collage
24” X 24”
Click pic for detail view

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Art Blog: Qualitative versus Quantitative

A few years back, I started to work on my Ph.D. It was such an eye opening experience. At that point, I had 10 years of college credit under my belt. I had the obligatory Associates degree, Bachelor of Fine Arts degree, Master of Fine Arts degree, two years to get art educator certified, another two years to get special education certified, and then I was on my way to earning more credits towards my Ph.D. I loved being in a doctorate program. I really loved it. I was doing so well. Then the bills started piling up. I had to stop because I was so worried I would never be able to pay the cost before I died! I let it go. Maybe I will finish when I when the lottery.

The point of this post is not about the absurd cost of trying to be well educated. Actually, I want to speak about something I learned during my doctorate work. When you get to that level of education, it is all about research. There are two kinds of research: Qualitative versus Quantitative. The second describes when you can quantify your findings. For example, I could write about how the results of my tests prove 78% did this when I did that. In other words, quantitative research deals with exact numbers. It is objective. Another example could be the Olympic runner ran this time. There is no way you can refute the time. It is solid. However, if you are talking about the score a gymnast gets while doing a workout or how does the TOP CHEF score after preparing a meal? That is another story. There is a subjective component to this score. In other words, there are people’s opinions that are in play. This is part of life. This is part of data gathering. However whenever subjectivity is involved, that is qualitative data.

While in the doctorate program, I found myself very securely in the qualitative category. So much of what I do and am interested in, depends on observation, my interpretations, and gathering past research to support my opinions. This is why qualitative research is a sticky wicket.
I am talking about all this now because it relates to a situation I am in right now. I find myself in an environment that is all about brass tacks. We need to count widgets. I am supposed to conform to the norm. I can’t. I don’t live in that kind of world.

The irony is that the students I teach everyday don’t live in that world either. We are all a subjective bunch. “One size does NOT fit all” for any of us.
This is why I feel very sad right now. I feel frustrated the world doesn’t understand why I feel like crap. We are not widgets.


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Art Blog: Blue Jeans?

This is such bullshit. Sorry for my language, but I can’t help it. I have been an artist since the 70’s. Yes, I am that old. I have been an art educator since 1980. I cannot remember a time when my teaching dress code has ever been an issue. GeesssH!! I am artist for crying out loud! I have 30 years of jeans and T-shirts in my closet. Despite this fashion faux pas, I have managed to help students of every demographic category LEARN and learn well. We have won awards. We have strutted our stuff. We have done REALLY GOOD!

I have been told I cannot wear blue jeans while teaching. It isn’t “professional”. Well………………………I wear jeans because I am the kind of person who gets down and dirty. I am not a “pointer”. That is what I call art educators who come to work in a suit or precious clothes, and POINT at students: “You do this. You do that, etc,” never touching or feeling the materials. They do not get on the floor and paint or help kids mix plaster or show them how to work the potter’s wheel in a real life manner.

I am not that kind of artist or art educator. When I work with students, it is the same as if we were working in my studio. Would I wear dress pants in my studio?

This is just another example of how so many people in society have no idea what we do as artists. This is an example of how our society doesn’t understand the arts AT ALL! They have no clue. This is very sad. I have to say and admit, the demand to wear dress clothes is offensive to me. It really is. I am not one of THOSE kinds of people. When my day is done, you know I have worked and experienced life. I am not a “POINTER”.

I am a working ARTIST!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Art Blog: Art WORDLE

Click pic to go make your own “ART WORDLE”!

P.S. If you make a wordle and don't want to save it to their gallery, simply open up your wordle in a separate window (button on lower left). Then, take a screen print of it. You can resize and save your "wordle" to your desktop. :-)

Monday, August 17, 2009

Art Blog: Passion

This has been one of the hardest weeks of my life. I had no idea how horrible it could be to see a friend slowly decline and die. It just never occurred to me that any life could change at any given moment. Even though I might occasionally complain about one thing or another, I have to admit overall, my art life is pretty damn good. Nothing prepared me for the changes this week. I didn’t want anything like this to happen. Right now, the former status quo seems pretty good. I wish I could go back and make things the way I want them to be. I can’t. This is a part of life.

All this is so weird. There is a little voice in my head that says “For goodness sake Sheree, it was a dog! Get over it!” Yes, it was a dog, but that dog and I spent more than 4000 days together. He was my little, art studio buddy. Since my daughter left home about 5 years ago, it was all about me and him. We did everything together. We were an art team. This is why I feel like I am going crazy right now. I keep hearing my own voice yelling “Studio, Studio!” You see that was the alert that I was going out to make art. When he heard those words, he came running and almost knocked the studio door down. He knew what that meant. I keep thinking that he is in another room and I want to go look for him. Every time I hear any kind of ticking sound outside or on TV, I look up. I think it is his nails tapping on the hard wood floors. When I turn on the vacumn, he doesn’t freak out. There is no one to bark at the mailman. When I am out in the yard, I keep thinking he well come out from behind a tree. It takes a second for me to snap back to reality. He is gone now.

I had one really great experience this week. I had already bought a primo ticket to a Dave Matthews Band concert. This is a ritual for me. I go every year. This is MY band. However, I sat here on Wednesday morning and didn’t want to go. I finally picked myself up and went. It was really great.

The thing I thought about most at the concert was how DMB has such passion. Every member of the group is a true artist. They all exude PASSION. As I watch videos of their performances, I realize this is really what it is all about. Life can suck. Life is what it is. The most important thing is to pick yourself up and muster the PASSION for life that we all need.
I am trying to do that right now.

You don't have to watch any video.
Take my word.
They work up a sweat and take no prisoners.
They are my kind of people!!!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Art Blog: In Loving Memory



You see I found this dog at a "puppy mill" pet shop. He was a very sad sack. He was a Yorkie, but he HUGE for a toy dog. He was very raggedy for such a "glamorous" breed. Instead of silky long hair, he was scruffy looking all the time. Just like a four-year-old little boy, he always looked like he just got done eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich while sitting in a mud puddle.

When he was a "toddler", he had all kinds of physical and emotional problems. He was born Unilateral Cryptorchid. That means he only had one testicle. That made him unbreedable as a pedigree dog. He had intestinal problems for the first six months of his life so the shop kept him caged. This rendered him "severely emotionally disturbed". He attacked everyone until he was six years old!! He was just a mean little, snotty dog. For some reason, he liked me. Ironically, I teach severely emotionally disturbed kids. I guess he instinctively knew I always root for the "underdog" (Pun intended).

So I bought him. Now the wizzlewolf part.....

A few weeks later I got the papers from the American Kennel Club. LOL LOL LOL They needed a fancy show name for this dog. They didn't know he was a WRECK and would never be in any shows. However, I thought about it and it came to me.
This was EXACTLY what this dog needed: SELF ESTEEM!!!! So I made up the very regal title like those you hear during dog shows:

"Gizmo, Wizard of Wizzlewolf"

I realized the "wizzlewolf" part was really like me: silly, humorous, yet strong and courageous. So I became the wizzlewolf to his wizard!!

EPILOGUE: That was nearly 13 years ago. Yesterday, “Gizmo Wizard of Wizzlewolf” left this life. I am sure he is now working as a helper in heaven’s art studio. I already miss him more than I can express, but I know he is a happy angel dog now.

I will always love you Giz.
You have been a true, loving friend.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Art Blog: Ssshhhhhhh

I have decided to take a little break until August 15th. I am in desperate need of quiet time. Some things are happening around here and I feel like I am walking on broken glass. I will explain later. I will resume posting next week. I just need a huge TIME OUT!
The clock starts ticking NOW.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Art Blog: Taking Your Own Pulse

This post is dedicated to “Tina”, the sole commenter on my last post. THANK YOU TINA!

Sometimes it is necessary to just stop and look around.
We all need to feel our own pulse sometimes!

I think I hit a nerve with my last entry. It was pretty much ignored or at least, it wasn’t received well. As stated, I got one comment on the entry. I did get a few tweets. Most of those comments wished me well, but had an undercurrent of condolences. I had to go back and reread what I wrote because I wondered why the responses made it seem like I was in some kind of trouble. I am not.

Yesterday, I did feel miserable. I had exercised too much at the beginning of the week. My neck was stiff from lifting kettlebells. The rest of my body was cursing the treadmill and spinner. This was expected. Even the fact I was a tad crabby is part of the deal. I knew this would happen because this isn’t my first “Me Bootcamp”. I have done makeovers before and there is a very specific process and cycle you have to go through to get to the good stuff.

Whenever you are trying to move your life along and check your own pulse, if there isn’t any discomfort it means nothing is changing. I am sorry I can’t report about lollipops and rainbows yet. I will get there. Until then, there will be some ups and downs and all arounds. That is a GOOD thing.

Right now, I am shaking up the bottle and making it fizz. That’s all. If you have never done this, you should try it sometime. This two week stint is just a start. The last time I did a “Me Bootcamp” it took about ten months for me to look around and see bright and shiny newness in my life. It takes a while for the soda to really POP. However when it does, it is like a magical fountain of fizzy delight! This is why condolences are not in order here. This is a very positive event in my life. I am happy I am taking steps to move my life forward.

Artwise: I went back and looked at my January 1st resolutions. I wanted to remember what I wanted to do with my art this year. Like I said, I am taking the pulse. As I look at my list of art goals for 2009, I am doing pretty darn well! At this point, I have been in nine shows this year. I will make that goal. I haven’t submitted my own CDs yet. However, I created Twitter 140 exhibition and I sent out 12 proposal packages for that shindig. I have collected the sculpture components to begin work on my sculpture series. I have joined two more community art groups. That is not working out all that well, but at least I took those steps. Finally, my “Me Bootcamp” is a concrete plan to help make myself a happy, healthy artist. Hmmmmm….I guess I am pretty much on target!

Believe me. I am NOT getting ready to jump off a cliff or anything! LOL LOL
To clarify, my “Me Bootcamp” is like climbing UP a mountain and being able to look down. Once I get up to the summit, I have a new panoramic vision. That is what this is all about.
It is a GOOD thing.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Art Blog: “ME” Bootcamp

Why do we keep doing the same things over and over even though they don’t bring happiness to our lives?
Are the fears of change and insecurity that powerful?

I have just about two weeks left of my “vacation”. Well, the past few months have not been a vacation. I have worked my ass off. I really mean the break from my day job will end. Seeing the light at the end of this summer tunnel has brought on the annual feelings of anxiety. This will be my 17th year doing the same things over and over at my day job. Obviously, it couldn’t be that bad. I mean, nobody is forcing me to keep driving there every morning. Nevertheless, I still feel this twinge of discomfort.

My nervous anticipation is heightened because there will be many changes at my job this year. I am not really good with change. (Obviously, if I embraced change, I would have switched jobs by now!! LOL LOL) Understanding how I am and how I can be, I decided to take the bull by the horns and do some soul searching for the next two weeks.

I call this plan the “ME BOOTCAMP”. In order to galvanize my emotional self, I want to get myself back into a routine. I am readjusting my eating habits. I am hitting the fitness bandwagon hard and taking care of my physical needs. I am making efforts to read and stimulate my brain. I plan on revisiting my spiritual side via candles, music, and meditation. I have started a new journal. I want to gain a state of equipoise and balance. I really want to tackle my fear of uncertainty. Also, I need to think about what I want to do with the rest of my life.

Seriously. I am suffering from “BeenThereDoneThatitis”. Every time I start thinking of things I might want to do, it seems boring to me. I have done it before. I don’t really have any goals other than to eat today. At the moment, apathy reigns in my life. I don’t really have any kind of grand desires or ambitions right now. This is even true for my art. I am going through a stage in which I want to make art, but I don’t want to enter shows. I don’t want to try to sell it. I don’t CARE about any of that right now. I guess that is one of my predicaments. I don’t see the point anymore.

Let me explain. Years ago, I can remember living my art life feverishly. I made art with a speed and passion that created sparks. There was always another exhibition deadline. There was always the next step and goal for which to reach. Now, I make all this art and there are no great shows. There are few deadlines and even less sales. I shouldn't complain. I have accomplished a whole lot in my life so far. Yet now, I feel like there is no future.
This is not good.

So what is a girl to do? It is so easy for me to list the things I do NOT want to do. I don’t want to travel. I don’t want to take part in any kind of social activities. I don’t want to leave St. Petersburg or my little art house. I do want to continue to make art here, but I am not really seeing the rationale of that choice. I do want to work a day job that is fulfilling and for a good cause. I just don’t want the stress and negativity that goes along with my current position.
This is why I am taking the next couple of weeks to think about all this stuff. In essence, I want to figure out what I want to be when I grow up all over again.


Sunday, August 2, 2009

Art Blog: The Eleventh Hour

I remember when I was in kindergarten. We only had to go to school for half days in that first year. My day started at 12:00 noon. I loved going to school. I would sit and wait with great anticipation every morning. I never missed a day. However in my five year old mind, I became curious about what it was like to be “absent”. I didn’t really know the exact meaning of the word yet. I did hear the teacher say it aloud when she marked the roll each day. Roger is ABSENT. Mary is ABSENT. Sheree is PRESENT. Etc.

One day I decided I wanted to see what it felt like to be absent. I told my mother I didn’t feel so good. I didn’t want to go to school. She said “OK”. I lay in bed most of the morning. Boredom set in and I wandered into the kitchen. We had a clock on the stove. I looked at the clock. It was 11:55AM. I watched the clock tick closer to noon. When the big hand almost touched the 12, I screamed “I WANT TO GO TO SCHOOL!!!!” LOL LOL LOL LOL Quickly, I threw some clothes on and hightailed it down the street. I wasn’t absent that day.

I thought of this “eleventh hour” change of heart memory this weekend. On August 1st I was supposed to have the prospectus done for the “Git Outta My Face” an online exhibition I am curating. The original theme of the show was going to be artistic responses to FaceBook and social media. I took notes and began the prospectus. I have had a video promo out for the show for weeks. It was not very well accepted. Despite the lack of response, I trudged on and started writing the prospectus. However, I put it aside and let it sit for a week. Late on the night of July 31st, I started to finish it at the eleventh hour. I sat and looked at the clock once again and thought “I have to get this done!” However, it felt like too much work. I wasn’t feeling it! I realized I didn’t like this show idea either. I don’t like Facebook. I just can’t get into it. It reminds me of one of those animated billboards advertising an endless stream of things I don’t want to buy. It is just boring to me.

Eureka! If this idea is boring to me, how can I put all the work and effort into putting on a show in which I have no interest? Duh! Therefore, I am shelving this theme. I have a much better idea for the show. The new theme is far more interesting to me. I hope it will be of interest to artists too!

“Get Outta My Face”
Online exhibition prospectus will be posted SOON.

Friday, July 24, 2009


"Yesterday I was a dog. Today I'm a dog. Tomorrow I'll probably still be a dog. Sigh! There's so little hope for advancement."
Charles M. Schulz

The art world is like a microcosm of the whole world. Just like all societies there is a social structure. I suppose you could say artists are divided into “classes” (upper, middle, and lower)? However, I think of grouping artists in a different way. I think of them as being like packs of dogs.

For example, there are the show dogs. Those fancy, smancy dogs who take part in the high end dog shows. Working dogs are those artists who relentlessly work in their studio oblivious to the outside world. Then, there are the hunting dogs. Those are the artists who do less creating and more sniffing around for art career opportunities. Let’s not forget the terriers! I imagine those to be the cheery, energetic artists who crank out gewgaws to sell on internet craft websites.

Sporting artists, opps I mean dogs keep a few paintings stored in the bedroom closet. They create just enough to call themselves artists. I guess they like the title. Of course, the service dogs would be the artists who make art for a cause. With relentless generosity, they create and give their work to save humanity.

The reason I started thinking about this is because I got an email yesterday. It was from a French Poodle. Her words nipped and nudged trying to put me in my place. She insinuated I was not good enough for her “pack”. LOL LOL LOL Well. This might be true in her eyes, but I know better.

You see I am a street dog. Yes. I don’t have a pedigree or a fancy collar. I have never been pampered nor had a rich daddy to buy me gourmet food. I have roamed free on the streets and learned how to survive on my own. I have a muscular burl from running wild. I am an alpha dog and gather other artist mutts along the way. We mingle and find art adventures together. We are a motley crew and have no problem with that. We know how to survive because we have to find our own way.
I am not sure you could say the same thing “Gigi”.

Photo credit: H.C. Barley

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


I can't really write a coherent blog post right now. I am so excited and anxious. In fact, I am near delirium. I will be better tomorrow. I just got word our Twitter 140 art exhibition got picked up in a gallery in Arizona. I cannot express how this makes me feel. I am so happy. I am so relieved. It is funny. I just sent the proposal CDs out last Friday. I guess this is why I am in a state of quasi-shock!

Meanwhile, I have been studying for my annual Dave Matthews pilgrimage. I am studying the words of all the songs on the new album "Big Whiskey and the GrooGrux King". This song seems so befitting right now.

"Funny The Way It Is"
Lying in the park on a beautiful day,
sunshine in the grass, and the children play.
Siren’s passing, fire engine red,
someone’s house is burning down on a day like this?

The evening comes and we’re hanging out,
On the front step, and a car rolls by with the windows rolled down,
And that war song is playing, “why can’t we be friends?”
Someone is screaming and crying in the apartment upstairs

Funny the way it is, if you think about it
Somebody’s going hungry and someone else is eating out
Funny the way it is, not right or wrong
Somebody’s heart is broken and it becomes your favorite song

the way your mouth feels in your lovers kiss
Like a pretty bird on a breeze or water to a fish
A bomb blast brings a building crashing to the floor
You can hear the laughter, while the children play “war”

Funny the way it is, if you think about it
one kid walks 10 miles to school, another’s dropping out
Funny the way it is, not right or wrong
On a soldier’s last breath his baby’s being born

Standing on a bridge, watch the water passing under me
It must’ve been much harder when there was no bridge, just water
Now the world is small. Remember how it used to be,
with mountains and oceans and winters and rivers and stars?

Watch the sky, the jet planes, so far out of my reach
Is there someone up there looking down on me?
Boy chase a bird, so close but every time
He’ll never catch her, but he can’t stop trying

Funny the way it is, if you think about it
one kid walks 10 miles to school, another’s dropping out
Funny the way it is, not right or wrong
on a soldier’s last breath his baby’s being born
Funny the way it is, nor right or wrong
Somebody’s broken heart becomes your favorite song
Funny the way it is, if you think about it
A kid walks 10 miles to school, another’s dropping out.

Standing on a bridge, watch the water passing under me
It must’ve been much harder when there was no bridge, just water
Now the world is small. Remember how it used to be,
with mountains and oceans and winters and rivers and stars?

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Art Blog: Artists and Motivation

“It’s not so much where my motivation comes from but rather how it manages to survive.” ~~ Louise Bourgeois

This post has been a long time coming. I am so thankful the time is here! The mission of this blog has always been to speak about the emotional aspects of being an artist. I didn’t want to go the “scholarly” route. I figured there are enough of those kinds of blogs around. Besides, I think speaking on how it feels to be an artist is far more relevant to artist’s true lives.

If you are a reader of this blog, you know I have been coordinating a twitter art show titled “Twitter 140”. I have lost track of how much time I have spent on this project in the past months. I don’t care. I wanted to do it. Why? Why would anybody volunteer to pull all-nighters, run around like a crazy person trying to get every tidbit of data out of artists, send countless TWEET announcements, write updates on the exhibition blog, and spend lots of money on office supplies/postage just to get the proposal out into the world? Why would anybody want to do this?

This show means more than you know to me. Really! Even if we get rejected from every gallery, I will still be happy because I know we all did our best. The reason I feel so strongly about coordinating this exhibition is because in the past couple of years I have been taking MY LIFE back. I realized it is my time to do all the things I love doing. No matter what life has brought my way, I have never, ever stopped being an artist. However, we all have to pick and choose our priorities as we try to survive our art worlds. All I could handle in the past decade was raising the kid, working my day job, taking care of my art house, and creating my art. Whew! That kept me plenty busy. Yet, I missed doing some of the other things I love doing and do well.

Along with being an artist, I have lots of experience curating and coordinating exhibitions. I love thinking of ideas and creating shows! I haven’t done that in a long time and realized I missed it. This twitter show idea came to me and I decided to run with it. It was a perfect fit.

I love coordinating and curating concept exhibitions that are cutting edge for the time. For example, I remember back in 1989 having to fight for my “A Day Without Art” AIDS exhibition. Literally, I had to nudge, yell, and scream to explain why this show was important to our gallery and community. The show came to fruition. It is interesting looking at this flyer now. It is like a “who’s who” of Detroit art. I can’t believe that was TWENTY years ago!

Another “sign of the times” type show idea came to me in 1990. I called it “FAX the FACTS”. The requirement for that show was all the art had to be faxed to the gallery. This sounds so tame now. Back then, some people asked what is a “FAX machine”? Seriously. Even this flyer makes me laugh because I had to “cut and paste” it together by hand! Every gallery coordinator had to have a good pair of scissors, a bottle of glue, press on letters, and a typewriter! We didn’t have a computer that could do stuff like this back then! LOL LOL

The show was a success. I was so proud of myself. I loved that feeling of making something happen. I still do. This is why I am creating Twitter 140. I am motivated to do this work because it makes me feel like I am accomplishing something for the best cause of my life: ART.

Click pics for detail views

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Art Blog: Mortality

I think it is rather common that once you get to a certain age, it hits you. This isn’t going to last forever. Of course, this revelation is startling at first. In the past few years, I have thought about this frequently. I look at all the stuff, collections, and projects all around my home and studio. I realize I could drop dead tomorrow. We just never know. Sometimes, I wonder what will happen to all this junk.

I have written about atree3 (Margaret Fabrizio) a number of times on this blog. I love watching her videos because she is funny, interesting, and creative. Also, she has a sharp wit and endless wisdom. I admire her so much. She is turning 80 next March. She just put out two new videos about her “Loose Ends Project”. She has decided to try to organize her life and legacy. I will let her explain. She does this so well. As you watch, think about how this relates to your own life.
Do you have any “loose ends”?

Part 1 = atree3

Part 2 = atree3