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