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.