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 “Shhh..be 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