Friday, December 31, 2010


Happy New Year to you ALL!! I have happy news. "Git Outta My Face Gallery" is entering it's second year!!

Starting off the New YEAR 2011! You are invited to participate: Call to artists: "RESOLVED!"

Send one .jpg of original artwork that represents a "resolution" you have already RESOLVED during your lifetime! Send image to:
To see the online gallery, go to:

Have a happy and safe New Year!


Monday, December 20, 2010


The older I get, the more I realize how I am the same regardless of my age. Of course I have learned and see things differently now. However if I paid attention when I was younger, I would have been able to predict some of my future. Old habits die hard. I might be wiser, but I do some of the same ole things to this day.

One old habit is I HIDE. When I was a young girl, I would escape the world. I really didn’t like reality. It was just too harsh and disappointing. I would find a quiet spot and make stuff. I would ignore everything that was going on around me, turn off external sensory mode, avoid people, and focus in on what I was creating at any given moment. Of course, I rarely had many friends. Yet, that didn’t matter to me. If I was happy all alone making my stuff, I was all good! World be damned!

When I was a teenager, I had my own bedroom which could of, should have been called a studio. I would build, glue, paint, tear, draw, write, and do all things creative while life went on outside my bedroom door. It was my haven. I loved it in there.

Now I am all grown up and I am still in that bedroom. It has just transformed into a whole house. I get home each day from my day job, lock the doors, and shut out the world once again. I never go anywhere except to Office Depot and the grocery story. Both of these places are a half mile from home. I go days without talking to a human being. I could fill my time all alone easily. I have things to do!

Lately, this isolation has been bothering me. I have spoken of it before. I gotta get myself out there or at least make some kind of attempt to be part of the world before I die. Intentionally, I am setting myself up for this challenge. Recently, I have volunteered at a local gallery. I have another gallery sitting gig on Wednesday. Also, I am actually applying to be in show across the bay. OMG!! It is in TAMPA!! Yikes. That means if I get any work accepted I have to drive across THAT bridge! Sheree, get over it!! LOL

I have no idea why I have chosen to live within a 5 mile radius of my house for more than ten years (except for my once a year jaunts to Tampa to see Dave Matthews Band and Orlando to go to the FL Ed Technology Conference). I do those two trips because I want it bad. Otherwise, I guess I am in my comfort zone. I am safe here. Even though I love being alone and never get lonely, I see the weirdness in this habit. This is why I am trying to do something about it. Then yesterday, I ordered Chinese food. This was my fortune:

I almost fell over when I read this.
I guess I gotta get “on the road again”!

Sunday, December 12, 2010


I gallery sat for three hours last night. It was one of the longest three hour stints of my life. The boredom factor is partially my own fault. I have become so accustomed to doing whatever I want when I want, the idea of having to stay in one place for three hours with basically nothing to do except people watch almost made me crawl out of my skin. When one of the gallery workers came to lock up at closing time, I almost hugged him. I couldn’t get out of there fast enough.
However, I want to do this again. No. I am not a glutton for punishment. I realize this was a learning experience. Also, it was therapeutic. I need to get myself back out and start participating in life, that is, ART LIFE. Very few people know Sheree the artist in St. Petersburg. That is OK because I take responsibility and haven’t made an effort to know them either. LOL I have been just fine working all alone in my little Tyrone Blvd. art house making things that fly off to this show or that. Then come back home and become fixtures on my walls floor to ceiling. I have only made half baked attempts to hard sell or even try to get the work out. I guess it is because I have been there, done that. Apparently, the thrill is gone.
Yet just like that long lecture in school that you thought would never end, I sat listening to the tick, tick, tick of time dragging on at the gallery, but had the opportunity to THINK and LEARN. I watched the gallery patrons as they looked at art in the gallery. I took mental notes of what they were drawn to and whose work was appealing to them. One thing I noticed was so many knew the artists whose work was in the show. Their approval of the work wasn’t so much about the quality of the work. It was more about the quality of their relationship with the artist. Some visitors went down the line and stated out loud “Oh this is “Bob’s” work! Oh there is another “Jane” painting! My paintings went pretty much unnoticed because nobody knows “Sheree”. Maybe I should work on that.
Another thing that has resulted by actually leaving my safe, comfortable art homestead is I got a jolt of art adrenaline. I woke up this morning full of ideas of what I should do next and how I should do it. I even got bunches of ideas for blog topics for which I want to speak. In other words, it has put a little fire under me. One thing I know for sure is I have to start making some smaller things with more affordable prices. Last night, there were quite a few patrons, yet I only sold two handmade greeting cards by a local artist. That is a sign of the times. Most people who want to support the arts can’t buy art for thousands. They can handle a few dollars here and there. So it is back to the drawing board (literally) for me. My strategy for now is to concentrate on making some affordable items not only to sell, but to help get my name out into this community. Sounds like a win/win plan to me.

CLICK PIC TO SEE more of Sheree Rensel's art.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


It all started a few days ago when I just threw in the towel. I can’t keep doing this. It is ridiculous. I feel like a hamster on a wheel, running and running and running. I am going nowhere fast. Two days ago, I just STOPPED.

I have been trying to make up for last year. We all need really crappy years like this once in a while to remind us of the GOOD times. However for some weird reason, I have been in a panic mode. It seems I want to make up for lost time or something. I really don’t know why I have been intentionally burning the candle at both ends. I do know for sure if I keep this up, I am going to fry myself crispy. My bad.

So two days ago, I took a moment to just say “no more”. Despite the feeling I need to work my butt off for my job, I decided not to anymore. I have to use time when I am not at work to do my REAL work. I want to focus on my art and I refuse to let this desire drift farther and farther away. I think the vision of my hand reaching to grab it before it floats away forever is the reason I am putting an end to my day job work mania. This is not to say I will flounder or become a bad employee. It just means I will work (very well) during the times they are paying me. All the other hours are mine, all mine. Any artist who has a day job to support themselves knows exactly what I am talking about here. I know. You know. We both know.

The first step of action was to start to DESTRESS. I got out my candles and watched them flicker for the past two nights. It is ironic. Get it: Candles burning at both ends, sit and watch candles to destress? Ok. So I have a way to go yet. LOL LOL

Last night, I decided to turn on my Lava lamp and just watch the bubbles float. It took every morsel of energy in my body to just calm down and relax for a change. I laughed at the globs and blobs as they drifted up and down. I thought “I need this……..”

Today I spent the day shopping. I bought a gift for a friend. I bought all kinds of things to cook for Thanksgiving dinner. I bought some art supplies. I just browsed through stores I haven’t been in for years. I kept telling myself it is OK Sheree to enjoy your life right now. You don’t have to prove a damn thing.

When I got home from shopping, I pulled out a huge, weird ornament I found on sale and hung it in my purple computer room. It reminds of how THANKFUL I am. I am thankful to be an artist; I am thankful to have a job; I am thankful to be able to possess candles, Lava lamps, and ornaments; I am thankful I have a nice, comfortable house to enjoy my silly and stupid treasures. I am thankful I can afford to have a computer to type this post. I am thankful I live in a calm, peaceful environment. LuLu (my pup) and I get along just fine. We are thriving on the tranquility of our home.

In other words, I am THANKFUL for my life as it is.

Good and bad, it is mine and I treasure it.

It is the season to look at stupid, but pretty (in its own way) holiday crap. This purple baby will hang in my home year round. Welcome to our family of bizarre but interesting ephemera! :-)

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

An Artist’s Flaw

Some of you will understand this. Some of you will not. Either way, I am just putting it out there because I have thought about this for decades. Artists are not perfect. They have so many great attributes. Yet, sometimes things go awry. We can act and feel differently at times. We are unique. This is not a good or bad thing. It just IS.

One thing that has concerned me about my artist’s life is how relationships have been so hard or non-existent. I just thought I was defective. Seriously, my entire life I haven’t cared if I had relationships or had close bonds. If other people appeared in my life, it was just an ancillary thing. They are there, they will go away soon. Relationships have never been important to me. As long as I was alone with me and my art, I was fine. I know. I know. This sounds so sad and terrible. However, I am telling the truth.

I have held the guilt of my miserable, antisocial attitude for years. However, I have been enlightened and realized this is not something unique to Sheree Rensel the artist. As I watch Alice Neel videos, she mentions being this way too. She speaks on issues of relationships with men and even the fact she was more interested in her art than her children. How could she say that???????? I know some of you are probably shocked and appalled. I am not. I get it.

Then I watched a Philip Glass bio video. It was so sad that he and his wife had to split. The wife explained that Mr. Glass is just too focused on his work. It seems he loved having a family, but he didn’t spend enough time to nurture and help his family grow to be strong. He was too busy making his art. I get this too. I didn't think he was a bad guy at all. I think his circumstance is sad, but I understand the dilemma. I really do get this.

It isn’t that certain people (artists) are heartless or self centered. It is just some of us are so focused on what we do and want to accomplish, everything and everybody becomes invisible. It is a drive that is almost unexplainable unless you feel it yourself.

I do and I apologize to all those in my life that I have ignored. I can’t help it. This is just the way I am.

Sometimes artist’s brains are on eternal FOCUS.

We can’t help that.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Should Art Be A Competition?

I have been thinking about this question all week. I posed the question on my FACEBOOK wall to stir up discussion. We all have our own experiences and opinions about this topic. Life is a competition. Why not include ART in that scheme? I am an artist. My art is just as vital and valuable as any other human who takes the time to create. However in the art life scheme of things, it gets thrown to the jurors (lambs or wolves?) who sit before our work as grand judges. Who are they to decide?

The whole idea of art as competition rubs me the wrong way. In recent years, I have steered clear of any shows that reeked of the idea of “art as sport” "who will win the trophy?" kind of deals. “I AM BETTER THAN YOU ARE!! NONNY NONNY POO POO!” I am just over that part of my art life. In the past, it did me well. I have won my share of “best” of this, that, and the other. I have won the pots of gold. That isn’t really important to me anymore because I know I am the best I can be.

Also, I have been a judge and part of art juries. I know how it works. If the exhibition is local, it is obvious whose art is whose. Thus, the judge often picks the artists with names or their friends. If the show is national, the jury will pick their SUBJECTIVE choices. Usually, these decisions fulfill some kind of personal agenda. The judgment could be based on the kind of art they like, the kind of art they do, the kind of art the gallery wants to show, etc. etc. When you get rejected it might not have anything to do with the quality of your art at all.

Actually, the reason this question has been bothering me has very little to do with what I just wrote. As an art educator, I am expected to enter the art of my students in a few exhibitions throughout the year. The most recent option is a show for 3rd to 5th graders. Some of you know I work with kids with emotional and behavior issues at a special ed school. There are very few students in that grade bracket, but we worked away on our projects trying to illustrate the theme. We have worked a month on these drawings with computer typed stories. We are allowed five entries. Since getting these kids to produce ANYTHING is a true miracle the fact I had five kids complete the project made us do a happy dance. We managed to get our exhibition worthy pieces together and submitted them.

On Tuesday, our five pieces will be “JURIED” in or out of this elementary art show. This bothers me to no end. How am I going to tell any one or two or three or four or five kids……”SORRY, your work got rejected. They didn’t want your art in the art show.” The whole idea of having to break the news to them just freaks me out. They already have rejection issues. Now their art might be rejected too? I just don’t like the idea at all. Yes, it is important to teach kids about life, but there should be time for them to create and express without the fear of being judged. That is why this art as competition idea drives me NUTS!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Art Blog: Social Butterfly, NOT

I am sure that you have heard or figured out for yourself that those who do well in the arts aren’t necessarily the most talented or brilliant at creating. Of course, there is some artistic quality there, but it doesn’t have to be the best (whatever that is). On the contrary, in order to be successful you have to have a wide skill set of other abilities above and beyond your creative endeavors.

I read an artist’s blog post today in which the artist expressed lament that she wasn’t a “salesperson”. She just wanted to make art. Don’t we all? However, that is unrealistic. I should know. I am a hoarder of my own art. It isn’t that I don’t want to sell, it is just that I don’t have those skills in me. Despite seeming gregarious in public, it is all an act with me. I am actually painfully shy. It is difficult for me to explain my art verbally, let alone sell it. Don’t misunderstand. I know what my art is about. I can write about it all day long, but to stand in front of a person and say the words. NOPE.

Another trait many successful artists exert is their social personality. I have mentioned before I don’t feel like I fit into my current art environment. I don’t have any art friends here. Yet, I don’t push myself out to make art friends either. There is the rub. I don’t like openings. I don’t like being in crowds. I don’t like chit chat or small talk. I guess I am doomed. LOL

So if an artist’s skill set is unbalanced, the best thing to do is to work on your weaker skills. I am never going to be the life of the party or be able to sell anybody swamp land, but I can at least try to be a little bit more social, get out to galleries more, and practice talking to people. This might sound so easy, but it will take a lot of work on my part. I am willing to make this my new goal. We will see what happens………

Will Sheree ever be a social butterfly? NO.
I just have to work with what I have and do the best I can.
Sounds like a plan.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Art Blog: Be Careful What You Wish For

This has been the strangest year and an even stranger summer. I have been diddlin away the time trying to figure out what is next for Sheree. I have done the work. I have collected data, researched, and have tons of documentation. I am ready for a change.

Finally the skies opened up. FINALLY. There was a job position open that I have yearned for the past (almost) twenty years. I thought to myself “Sheree, this is it. This is IT! The Universe is coming through for you right now!” I gathered my data, sent appropriate emails, I ironed my interview suit, I reviewed my accomplishments, and I went in there with a huge smile and enthusiasm fit for a clown on the opening night of the circus. I was ready and very willing to do whatever it took to get this job. I wanted it and wanted it bad.

I thought.

You see, when you have thoughts of what you want, they are partially dreams. Dreams aren’t real. They are an illusion. Despite accepting this rational, I forged on with bells attached. I was ready to ding dong ding! “Look at me and I promise I will be the best of the best just for you!”

I thought the interview went very well. However, there were all kinds of red flags aflying. I ignored them. I was into it. I didn’t want to pay attention to the down sides. I just wanted to make it work. I mean, this was the opportunity for change at all cost; any cost!

After the interview, I drove home a bit deflated. I knew I really didn’t want to go in this direction. However, I had already told a friend “This is either the opportunity I have always dreamed of or the Universe is sticking its tongue out at me right now waiting to say “Gottcha!!!!”.

The night after the interview, I had multiple nightmares about this potential job. I actually woke up in cold sweats. However, EGO came into play. At that point, I wanted the job for two reasons. It would offer me a new experience and I could say I got the job (even though I didn't want the job, but EGO is a powerful thing!) That next morning I wrote a thank you email despite sending a handmade thank you card snail mail. At that point, I was into doing the right thing. Even though my authentic self was screaming at me “NO NO NO Sheree! NO!!!!” I thought “I am into it now, so I have to just go full tilt.” After sending that last email, I sat and waited. What will be will be.

The next morning I woke up and took the dog outside. I came back in and logged on to my email. I got a response: “I have decided to recommend another candidate for the position.” My first reaction as I looked at those words was “WHAT????????????????”. However less than 5 seconds later, I thought “Thank God!!”

No the Universe didn’t play a trick on me at all. It allowed me to hear and experience the realities of my dream job. It showed me in full color that this is not a job I want at all. This isn’t even the direction I should be looking. Just like always, the Universe has taken care of me. It reminded me that I should just have faith and things will always work out. It always does and always will. In the meantime, I wish the candidate hired lots of luck and I hope they love the job. I hope it is just right for them!

“Found Faith”
Sheree Rensel
Click on pic for detail view

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Art Blog: Artist's Delight

Among other reoccurring images and objects in my work are chairs. I have no idea why. They just pop up here, there, and everywhere.

Today I was going through my book shelf looking for a book. I found another book I hadn’t picked up in years. The book was “A Life in the Arts” by Eric Maisel. I had read this book long ago. I decided to flip through it again. One thing that perked my interest is the topic of why artists choose the medium they choose.

I am a painter and this hit home with me in a timely way. Just yesterday, I was sitting on my living room floor and my eyes became fixed on a little painted chair I have on the side of the room. I wasn’t really looking at the whole chair. My eyes were transfixed on a few paint strokes along the side. I just sat there and looked at these small, drippy, colorful stokes. I was amazed just by the vision. It occurred to me then that just the mere sight of paint which reveals the hand of an artist gives me pure delight.

As artists we tend to use more than one media. At least, I do. I will digitally create one minute and then work on a mixed media assemblage the next. However, there is just something about painting that always draws me in. It is where I live. It makes me feel alive. It is part of me.
This is why I chose to be a painter.

Paint makes me feel happy.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Art Blog: Cha-Cha Changes

OK. I won’t be a cry baby! I am functioning. I am faking it until I am making it. I am a pro at that. However, things are not right and I don’t like the wrongness of things now.

I don’t have to tell anybody, this is a very hard time. It is really hard. Besides being uncomfortable in my own art skin, I am continually bombarded with reminders things are not well in the world. Never in my life have I felt things so strong and deep.

I have been on teaching hiatus for the past few weeks. I needed this. Normally, I accelerate and get right into making mega art. Ordinarily, I pull out all the stops. Not only do I work in my studio as usual, but I add all kinds of new projects. I make art videos; I send out art applications; I enter shows; I make art CDs; I do, I do, I do. This summer is different. I am very introspective and physically frozen.

It is kind of scary for me. I tend to stare into space a lot. The only ambition I have is to sit and think. I find myself feeling ”comfortably numb” as Pink Floyd said. I dream and think and try to figure out what the hell is going on in my mind and life. I haven’t gotten any specific answers yet. However, things are hopeful.

Last night in one of my self induced, meditative stupors, I watched the show “INTERVENTION” on TV. I love this show because I come for a long ancestral line of ……………, well, you get the idea. Anyway, during the actual intervention scene, one of the interventionists, Jeff VanVonderen, listened as one of the participants spoke. The guy was full of yadda yadda yadda. Jeff cut him off and said “Yeah well, whatcha gonna do about it??” For the first time in weeks, I actually perked up. Just watching his mouth say those words made me ask myself “Yeah SHEREE, so whatcha gonna DO about it?”

I went to sleep and woke up this morning with an entirely new plan. I have no idea how this will all pan out. I have no idea what will happen in my future. All I know is I am DOING something about it!
Jeff would be proud!

Things are going to be a CHANGING. I think this is a red letter day. I really do.

Click pic for detail view

Monday, July 12, 2010

Call for Artists / Call for Entries


Call for entries, Call for artists!
“All in the Face – Interpretations of Beauty”
exhibition will be featured at the
Git Outta My Face online gallery
August – September 2010.
Enter your work now!
Deadline July 25, 2010
No entry fee or cost to artists.


Saturday, July 10, 2010


I know things are so hard right now for many people. The economy has left many devastated. Everyone is feeling the $$$ pinch. However, I got a reality check this week. As I told you in the last post, I have been working on an ancestry project. I have been snooping around the web, getting photos from relatives, and listening to stories I have never heard before about my lineage.

I finally got a chance to ask questions about very early memories of my life. I can remember things as far back as the age of two. One of those memories involved being at a church. It just had to be a Pentecostal church, because I remember the sounds. Every time I see a Pentecostal service on TV, I am reminded of this memory. I can remember the “Jesus” fans waving and the noise was so outrageous, I tuned it out. I just watched those fans swaying back and forth, back and forth. (In fact, I now think this is going to be the premise for a new art project. I want to make a series of church fans.)

Anyway, I related this memory to my aunt and she confirmed it. This confirmation made me so happy because sometimes I think my memories are fictitious. I feared I was rewriting history via my imagination. When we spoke of the scenario of this memory, she mentioned details. One detail was going to my Great Grandma Bowling’s out house. OUT HOUSE?? Say what? For some reason, that statement just shook me to the core. Of course they had out houses back then.
Why are you so shocked Sheree?

Simultaneous to this conversation, I was receiving photos of my relatives. Some of them are in very bad shape. I wanted to fix them up and make them new again. I worked on this one.

Grandma Nancy holding Uncle Darwin circa 1927

After I was done, I just sat here and looked at the photo. Look at the environment and setting. This was only two generations ago. My mind wandered and I realized how far we have come. This is not only about me and my relatives. WE as American people have worked so hard for decades and decades to improve our lives. The economic difficulties we are experiencing today are nothing compared to what our past relatives had to endure.
Flash forward to my own meager, but bright and shiny little bungalow. I live here in full color. I even have a bathroom!!

We need to check our own realities. We all have to realize life can be so hard and has the potential to be extremely difficult (especially for our ancestors). We need to thank them for bringing us to this point in our lives and history.

Each time I go into my “Flamingo Room” bathroom, I am going to think about Grandma Bowling’s outhouse.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Art Blog: Are you FAMOUS yet?

The thesis of this blog post started with the photo of Myrtle.

Great Grandma Myrtle Sandusky Webb 1882-1968

You see all of a sudden, I have started to piece together my lineage. This is a strange task. My family is very disjointed. Thankfully, my aunt (sister of my dad) contacted me on Father’s Day and sent me some family pictures. This started the conversation. For the past week, she has filled in a lot of gaps with stories and photos. I have taken it from there.

One of the most fascinating thoughts I have had is how our society today is SO DIFFERENT from decades before. Let’s take Myrtle. When I got this picture, the first thing I thought was she looked so unhappy and depressed. When I told my aunt of my observation she told me: Myrtle never had a job (except to raise children) and she never could drive a car. Hmmmmmmmmmmmm. This made me think.

I started imagining living during another era. Let’s take early 1900’s. Obviously, there was no technology or internet. There was no television. There wasn’t much of anything except living in a house, taking care of kids, and going to church on Sunday. That is it. I started to compare this with my life and all our lives now.
We clamor for our 15 minutes of fame. We chant “Pick Me, Pick ME” via internet websites, Facebook, and/or Twitter posts. We want recognition.

We want FAME. Yet, I have to step back and think of Myrtle. She had a quiet, ordinary life. Among her many life achievements, she helped to make ME. I think that is outstanding!!! LOL

Regarding Myrtle’s lack of choices, I started thinking about how lucky I really am. I remember being 16 years old. I just wanted freedom. I worked at a dry cleaners and my coworker told me her father was throwing away their family car. My eyes got big and I asked if he would sell it to me. He did for $50. Being the artist I am, I went to the store and bought bunches of yellow-orange and red-orange spray paint. I painted that car and it became my ticket to freedom.

Life couldn’t get better at that point. I had a job; I had a car; I was a budding artist; I was FREE!

Maybe FAME isn’t the issue. Maybe we just want to be loved and feel the love of life. We all want attention. NOWADAYS, we want fame and to be recognized by someone, anyone!
Well, I am paying attention to your life now Grandma. I think you are famous because you lived your life the best you could.
I am one of the products.
You did good!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010


I know this already. Yes. I know all this in my heart of hearts. However like so many of you, I ignored my own knowledge and went on my way. I have been a lost GIRL. I have allowed myself to lose my way. I have been like a little girl in the woods and I have lost track of where I was going or where my destination was supposed to be. Oh well. We live and learn.

The thing I KNOW for sure is that life is full of moments. We can pay attention or ignore. Despite our own actions, we are immersed in these illusive moments that can change our life (for the good or bad). I have had quite a few of these “moments” this year.

I have felt like I was in the middle of a whirlpool. I kept waiting for someone to throw me a life vest. However I now realize that was not in the plan. I realized today that waiting on help from someone else was not in the moment. I was tossed swirling round and round and I was supposed to figure out how to stop MYself from twirling.

THEN, something happened. FINALLY! It was not my doing. I contributed to the energy of change, but I had no idea if anything would happen. Well, today it did. In ONE MOMENT, I got news; then, my attitude and life changed. In ONE MOMENT something happened that knocked my whole present and future on it’s ass. In ONE MOMENT something happened that makes me feel like Sheree again.

Despite the feelings of glee, I am mad at myself in a strange way. Why did I allow life circumstances to throw me for such a grand loop? I am not joking here. I have been in the “dead zone” for months. Yes, I have maintained and continued to move, but it has been similar to the zombies in the “Night of the Living Dead”. I just kept moving slow and scary. Shame on me. Yet, I did the best I could do at the time.

Even though most of my life is online, I have lots of art that has never been shown anywhere. I made it, set it on a shelf, and that was the end of it. I guess it was supposed to be for me. “The GIRL I never was or will be” is one of those pieces. It sits in my house for me to pass by and admire. I think it might be so personal; I have never put it in a show. Who knows? It doesn’t matter anyway. One thing I know for sure in this ONE MOMENT “GIRL” reminds me of who I really am. I am that girl and I am the way I am supposed to be in this MOMENT.

Click pic for detail view

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Art Blog: Hand of the Artist

My mind has been swirling the past few days. I am in the “art zone”. I have been reviewing old work, nodding to current work, and thinking very deliberately about future work. I won’t go into the nitty gritty about the trials and tribulations of my art path. I just thought of writing about one of the motivations of my work right now.

I think it is interesting that artists allow public opinion to affect the progress of their work. I am guilty. Tell me an artist who hasn’t thought things like “What will sell?”, “Why didn’t this series get any kind of positive feedback?” “Is my work taken seriously?” The reason artists can get caught up in this whirlpool of spiraling thought is because we are so isolated as we work. We do the work and put it out there for the world to see. Then we wait for reaction.
This is a double edged sword. It can be gratifying or devastating. Everything depends on the artist’s own self esteem and intelligence. Who is judging you? Who is giving you advice or opinions? Who is trashing or supporting your work? Think about these things. It is important because if the people giving you feedback which may or may not change your creative path are not individuals with the experience and knowledge to give a valid opinion, why are you listening to them?

My current mantra for my work is “simplicity”. I want the work to be interesting but “quiet” in a certain way. It might make a momentary noise and then there is a silence. I would hope this is when the viewer is quiet too or decides to make a slight sound. However, I am not interested in making art right now that will make people roar with reaction. I am just not.

While thinking about future work, I thought about an unfinished series of graphite drawings called ”Modern Fairytales”. They are simple, narrative, graphite drawings. I did those years ago and when they got no public response, I tucked them away. Out of sight, Out of mind. I rediscovered them recently and thought of continuing on with this work. I put a few online this week and was told they are cool or interesting or whatever. However, the comment that struck me the most was referring to transforming the work digitally: “scan them in and play with them in Photoshop and make them so much more!”

I hated that suggestion, but I realized we are all about that train of thought in our society right now. Digital. Digital. Digital. I totally disagree. First, realize that I am a digital person. I am “digital” all day long. Practically my entire life is online. I even teach technology! However, there comes a time when digital is not the answer to everything. All things do not need to be digital to be better, worse, or (fill in the blank).

Then, I had a EUREKA moment. One reason I want to make art that is just "simple" art is because I want to maintain some kind of semblance of the “hand of the artist”. I see so much stuff now that is derivative, pop oriented, or so obviously DIGITAL, it bores me. I can see a day when fine art sans technology will be seen as a foreign, but nostalgic commodity. Maybe this is why I reacted with such distain to the comment.

Digital is wonderful. I LOVE technology. However, we have to understand that “new” is not necessarily better. It is like comparing apples and oranges. We can have both and it is OK. We all have to remember that “all that glitters is not gold”. New is not necessarily better than old.
It is just different and that is fine.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Art Blog: Art Life CHOICES

“Perspectival Response”
Graphite on Paper

This drawing is about looking at things in a new way. It is about taking a new perspective. It is about contemplation. It is about searching for the light bulb moments in your life.

This past year has been like no other. Every one of us has to experience life and all the ebbs and flows that go with it. I wasn’t ready for this shift in the tide. However, I am starting to put it all together with a lot of self reflection and deliberation. All I know is I need to make a DECISION.

So what is the problem? I have never had any problem at all with decisions. Ordinarily, I think of the issue, have a thought, and then act on it. So what is the big deal? The real problem is I have been so blindsided by the events of the past year, I have been rendered stunned. I couldn’t make a decision because I didn’t really know what was happening!
Today I had to go out and do dreaded yard work. I hate yard work, but it is a necessary evil.

As I worked and got dirty, I kept thinking and thinking and thinking. One thought lead to another and POOF! I made a decision. I kept thinking about my so called “art life” and laughed. This is not the kind of art life I want or have ever wanted. I decided to do a bit of accounting. What are the good things now?

My daughter is all grown up, happy, and thriving. CHECK!

I have had the experience of teaching for many years and I have had much great success. CHECK!

I have finally got the house I always wanted and love dearly. CHECK!

My ART life should be better, but I am doing new art stuff that makes me happy. My new online ”Git Outta My Face Gallery is one of those things that makes me smile. CHECK!

So while I was on my knees pulling weeds and planting new flowers, I was haunted by this photo of my old studio.

Despite the mess and chaos, my daughter learned to walk in this room. She struggled to take steps as she walked over found objects and hammers. She did it though. I struggled too during this era. I had to deal with a precarious financial status, but things always seemed to work out. Go figure.

As I dug my bare hands into the soil working on my new flower bed, I realized it always works out for me. I feel stupid for having doubts. I want this old art life back. I want to learn to walk again surrounded by wonderful, creative energy. I want that for myself now. I just need to make it work.

I have made a decision.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Art Blog: Art BIZNESS

The dominoes are starting to fall. The dots are starting to connect. It is so funny how things happen as life plays out; you see how it starts to make some kind of bizarre sense. Weeks before Father’s day, I was working on a video and had a flash back of sitting with my dad while he showed me how to edit Super 8 film. I was around 13 years old and I loved learning about how to cut film and tape it back together. Even though that is such an old school memory, I can relate it to my life and times now. I suppose this is why I had the flashback. If my dad were alive today, he would be in awe. He could sit and watch me edit without a reel to reel editor. He would be so amazed. He would be a top gun YouTube kinda guy. Too bad he didn’t live to see what is happening now.

Another connect the dots moment came a few days ago while I was working on my new computer tutor business. I realized that thinking “everything happens for a reason” has some truth. I didn’t seek out the opportunity to teach art. It found me and just happened. However, I realized that if it weren’t for teaching, I would never have had the opportunity to learn all I know about technology.
Dominoes fall. Connect another bunch of dots.

I have launched my “Wizzle Workz” company. I am taking it slow and easy. Considering I have worked on all kinds of stuff: starting a business plan, organizing advertisements, promoting, etc. etc. for the past three days, I can say I see something promising. It just makes so much sense. I have tutored before and my favorite clients were artists. I loved showing them how to do techno things. I loved it. However, I saw this endeavor as a passing hobby. Well now, I see it as a viable business concept and a good one at that. Also, it is time for Sheree to make money to survive. I tend to be overly generous. I tend to give it all away. I can’t do that anymore. I need to have a means to support myself. This business endeavor might help to solve this problem.

The one thing I have to remember is to just keep plugging away. I tend to go off on these elusive, creative, light bulb moments and within days, I am distracted and move on to other things. I want to see “Wizzle Workz” through even if it takes years. This is the perfect time for me to set up my computer art sideline job.
It is a perfect time for ME to knock over some dominoes
and connect a whole lot of dots!!

I really want to work with artists. However, I would love to work with anyone who needs help with computer skills. I know of many people who want to learn, but it seems overwhelming. That is why there are computer tutors like me. I can teach them!

I can teach anybody!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Art Blog: Come Back Angels!

“If you chase away the demons. the angels will fly away too."

“Dad and Sheree”

Happy Father’s Day!
For me, this is the hardest holiday. I love my dad so much. He died years ago. We are so alike. Sometimes, when I laugh, tell a story, or look down at my hands, I pause. I remind myself of my own father. Even my "creative" genes come from him. Every Father’s Day, I do a kind of denial dance. I want to remember, but I don’t. It is just all too weird and painful. I think I act like I don’t remember for the sake of my own survival.

This morning when I woke up, it hit me. Father’s Day! I told myself then to just keep busy and don’t think about it. I refused to get upset. Chasing away the demons is my specialty. However today, my aunt sent me some pictures of my dad, I have never seen before. Then, I got another unexpected email from a mystery relative. That is when I crashed.

I am fine now and busy licking my wounds, but it is so interesting to me. I find it amazing that our pasts drive our lives no matter how old we get. Every time I think I have it together, something happens that proves I am not as strong as I think I am. Like I have said before, our lives are full of lessons. I guess this is one I still have to learn. I will keep trying until I get it right. In the meantime, I want to wish a happy holiday to all of the dads out there. I want you to realize your children will remember everything you do and say for decades to come.
It will affect their lives.

Happy Father’s Day!
Grandpa, Daddy (left boy), and Uncle (right boy)
I have to teach myself to remember and appreciate the GOOD parts of my past so the angels will stay around.

P.S. It is so funny I got to see that top photo today. Look at the expression on my face. I wasn't a happy camper in that photo. In fact, the expression on my face then seems to be the same one I have today!!!
Oh geesh!!!! LOL LOL LOL LOL

Friday, June 18, 2010

Art Blog: Positive ENERGY!

It is so funny how things happen. During good times or bad times, things just proceed. We take each moment as it comes. For some of us, we analyze those moments and feel the vibes. Things are really crappy for me right now. YES. I said it! These times are……………(you can insert any negative words you want here). I am on damage control and trying to zone out. This past week, I did just that as I mindlessly trolled Facebook.

An artist I know Mary Loziniak put up a link for a newly, finished necklace. I am NOT a jewelry person. I do wear a lot of beads, but that is the hippie in me. I don’t do lots of babbles. I never have because it gets in the way when I work. That being said, I saw Mary’s “Mad Hatter’s Necklace”. It is related to Alice in Wonderland. Well, I am Sheree in Wonderland right now. I have fallen down the hole and I am trying to make sense of the world. When I saw this necklace, I had to have it. It represented so many things to me; it signifies my life and my times right now. The necklace arrived and I love it even more than I thought I would. It stands as a symbol of who I am and where I am going.
It is all good.

THEN, there is Facebook’s Freida Kahlo.
Again. Another Facebook friend. I watch her posts and love every one of them. She lives in the vicinity of all my old haunts when I lived in Michigan. I love reading her posts, but most importantly, I love her spirit. She is always so effervescent, alive, and hopeful. She resembles all the things I am not right now. I saw one of her posts this week that excitedly announced a teaching job interview she attended. She was so full of spirit and wanted the job so much. I admire that energy and desire. I really do. I remember when I was that way. I really hope Jeanette (aka: Freida) gets the job of her dreams!

I want to feel that way again. I want to be alive with hope and have a fervor for life. I really do. So maybe I am gleaning that energy from my online friends. Maybe we should all do that. We need to help each other. We need to support each other. We need to understand that we are all there for each other in more ways than one.


Jeanette Locher
Click Jeanette's name to go to her website
Your spirit and energy touches my heart.
You have such great VIBES!!

I thank you for that!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Art Blog: So DAMN Lucky!

This is why I believe in UNIVERSAL principles. Even though I am a Dave Matthews groupie, there have been certain songs I have missed over the years. Maybe I heard them, but I didn’t pay attention. Well, I am paying attention now.

“So Damn Lucky” Dave Matthews
Everything's different
With my head in the clouds
I hit this corner
With my foot on the gas
I started sliding, I lose it
Everything's different just like that

Oh my God, wait and see
What will soon become of me?
Frozen heart
Screaming wheels
Does that screaming come from me?

I need to hear this NOW. I need to use these words as a catalyst to obtaining my new life and dreams. Yes, my head is in the clouds right now. I hit the corner and put my foot on the gas.

The reference to “starting to slide” is funny to me. I made the decision to move to Florida during a minute or two long slide on ice while on the expressway in Detroit. I thought “If I get out of this alive, I am moving to Florida!” Well, I did and I did.

All this is history and water under the bridge. I am only interested in the NOW. I am sliding again. The wheels are screaming. I know for sure the sounds come from me. I have to do things differently. I just don’t know what or how. It is ironic because my deadline to make a decision is the end of July. I have reservations to go see Dave Matthews July 28th. The night of that concert will be my deadline. Hmmmmmmmm.

Yes. The Universe works in strange ways, but I am going to trust it. Things have always worked out for me in the most unusual ways. I have to have faith.
I do.

It will be all good. I have to believe this.

Art Blog: Magic Wand! PRESTO!

I have been working, working, working. NO. Not art working YET. I have had to deal with the studio mess brought on by moving 17 years worth of STUFF into my studio. I was very worried. I thought "How am I going to pull this off?" It is kind of funny because I have a lot of neurotic tendencies that are at odds with each other. I am a natural hoarder and pack rat. Show me an artist who is not! However, I am also an “order freak”. It isn't that I need total cleanliness, but I need things neat. I need things to have some kind of order and organization. If you put both traits together, you end up with a crazy, looney person pacing around in circles talking jibberish if things seem awry.

Since I am old enough to have experience with this tendency to suffer bouts of mental illness and know the drill, I knew I was about to start jabbering and pacing at any moment after taking the photos of my wrecked studio. I had a friend come over on Friday and even he scrunched his nose and lifted his eyebrows. He knows me well enough, I think he even got worried.

WELL!! I got out my magic wand and a load of adrenaline. I cleaned closets, I filled trash barrels, and hoisted crap up onto the loft. I got it done. It is like MAGIC!! I am ready to paint again!!

Three days ago, my studio looked like this. I wrote about it on my blog. Click pic to see more pics of the disaster.

However, I took out my magic wand and PRESTO CHANGO!!
Click the pic of my “LuLu” to see the transformation!
P.S. The rest of my house is all neat and tidy too. I have to have order!!!

I made a new studio photo for my website.
It features “Little LuLu” the Studio Wonder dog!! (When you get to my studio webpage, scroll down to see current pic!)

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Art Blog: Moving on UP!

A-ha! I didn’t tell you I had a loft in my studio! Yesterday, I wrote about moving 17 years worth of junk from work into my studio. I put pics on my last post of the resulting disaster area. I didn’t tell you about the loft above my studio. So when in doubt, move everything UP! The reason I didn’t mention it is because it is a total hassle getting up there. I wondered if I was going to be able to swing this. Also every time I do start to climb up there, I feel like I should call “Billy the Exterminator from Vex Con” before I venture up into that dark, creepy space.

However, this morning I did the dirty deed. I got my trusty ladder out of my shed, put my boots on, grabbed a flashlight, and got a surge of courage. This overflow of guts made me smile. SHEREE is back! In fact, if things don’t work out, maybe BILLY will give me a job!!! LOL LOL

I started piling boxes on a table, climbed up on the table, reached up, and pushed each box up on the ledge until it got full. Then I marched up the ladder and threw them back into the dirty, nasty crawl space. Every so often, I would use my flashlight and pan the space for moving creatures. It was quiet and still. A few years ago, I spent 3 grand to close off the soffits and fascias. I see now, that was money well spent.

Today, I realized all this transition and change is a really good thing and has its perks. Not only am I storing all my job stuff, but I am reorganizing my studio too. Do I really need 20 years worth of collage materials when I rarely do collage anymore? Or do I need boxes and boxes of wood scraps when I don’t have room to work 3-D? The garbage dumpster is full and ready for tomorrow’s pick up.

However, there is a limit. I understand it when hoarders tell of the magical power and sentimental value of an object. I threw away a metal toolbox I carried around Wayne State University all through my undergrad and graduate school years. It was all rusted and nasty. I dropped in the dumpster and looked at it laying there with the other trash. I could hear a voice in my mind saying “It is garbage. You don’t need it. It is rusted. It isn’t even usable anymore!” I looked at it one more time and shut the dumpster lid. Then, I took steps toward my studio door and ran back to the dumpster to fish it out of there. I couldn’t do it! Just looking at this forlorn piece of trash brings back so many memories. So what if it is rusted? I am getting kind of rusty too!! LOL

Not done yet, but we are making progress!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Art Blog: Boot Straps!

OK. Get it together Sheree! You are doing IT again. NOPE NOPE NOPE! We are going to do it differently now. Take a deep breath. Breathe. Calm down. Think.

It is finally over. I did it! I have moved every single shed of my belongings out of my job site. I have wanted to do this for years. The biggest problem is what am I going to do with 17 years worth of STUFF? My studio is wrecked. I have to start figuring out what to do and how to find a place for this junk so I can function. Organizing is one of my specialties, but this is a bit overwhelming.

To add fuel to the fire, I am in ART MODE right now. I want to start a new series of paintings. Actually, I am not sure about that either. Do I continue with the series I have been doing or start fresh? Stay tuned for the answer to that question in future posts. Also, I am thinking about my next job. I have no idea whatsoever where I will be (job wise) in two months or if I will be anywhere. I am working on starting my business “WIZZLE WORKZ”, but this is going to take some doing because I want to make it official, legal, and right. I have no idea what will happen.
Gulp. Breath, Sheree Breath.

I am not going to let anxiety get me again. I am not going through all this self inflicted drama. Rome does not have to be built in a day. Things will all work out. In fact, instead of letting myself mentally spin, burn, and crash land, I am going to make a sincere effort to believe everything is just ducky. I have lots of things to do and I need to concentrate on the positive. I am picking myself up by the boot straps and getting busy. Also, I will look forward to what is coming next. I don’t need to know what that is. It will be revealed without my fret or meddling.

Right now the paramount goal is just to BE.

“How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time!”
Time to get to work Sheree!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Art Blog: Full Circle

My last post mentioned some of my childhood experiences and feelings. I have been reflecting a lot lately. I am noticing how things come full circle. All of us have the signs and symbols of our life come at us when we are young. It is up to us to choose what we want to do with this information.

This is weird. When I was a very young girl, I was such an entrepreneur. I would think of all kinds of ways to make money. Like I said in the last post, I charged kids to see Santa. I collected admission to see backyard puppet shows. I even constructed a “Candy Store” in my front yard and sold candy to neighborhood kids. I had this die hard, Trumpesque mentality. I was going to make money no matter what. I did too! I always had a pocket of bucks to buy crepe paper to decorate my bike or art supplies to create my next painting. I just did that without a thought.

For some reason over the years, I lost that spunk. I got scared. Just today, I thought about how I am not a risk taker. I need stability in my life. That is why I have always worked 9 to 5 or whatever hours a regular job required. I have gone to work, done a great job, and then come home and painted like a mad woman. Yet, I don’t even like selling my paintings. Those dollar signs just didn’t mean that much to me anymore.

Well…………I am preparing for a change. I decided to make a teaching portfolio to showcase my teaching skills and accomplishments. This took me months. Hey! I was documenting almost twenty years!!! I made a hard copy and an abridged digital version. After it was all done, I looked at them sitting on the table. I didn’t think “WOW, you have done such a great job!” Instead I thought “Sheree, you have skills and people would like to learn those skills!” This observation was confirmed today when I went around flashing my digital portfolio CD. Mouths dropped. I was asked “Did you do that yourself?” I realized there are a lot of people in the world who might like to know how to make a document (hard copy or digital or both) for whatever reasons. This reminded me of when my friend Dawn asked me about a poster I was using to teach. She asked where I got it. Before I could answer, she said “You made that didn’t you?” Yep, I made it. Dawn Fisher is one artist who has been encouraging me to expand my horizons. She is right too. I know how to do a whole lot of things. Now, I want to find people who want to learn how to do this too. I want to teach them.

So Sheree’s next adventure is to open a new business. It is called “WIZZLE WORKZ”. I am a combination artist, computer tutor, and designer. Of course, I could make stuff for you, but I like the idea of teaching you how to do it yourself. It is kind of like the saying:

“Give a man a fish; you have fed him for today. Teach a man to fish; and you have fed him for a lifetime”—Author unknown

If I can find enough people who want to learn to make their own digital stuff, WIZZLE WORKZ could be a success. If that happens, I will feel as happy as when I ran my candy store. Like I said before, sometimes life comes full circle.

This is like looking at my life in pictures. These digital and hard copy documents represent the last 17 years of my life. Yes, I have done a whole lot, but these two documents represent my future too. It isn’t really about what is in them. It is more about, how I made them. Stay tuned!

Friday, April 30, 2010

Art Blog: Our ART ROOTS

Today, I was preparing a movie set. I had a big “floral” student made acrylic painting and hung it as a back drop. Then, I started to place vases of fake flowers around to give it a 3-D garden feel. I imagined the actors sitting in front of the backdrop amongst the flowers. The movie would be about the “seeds of success”. Basically, we are going to make a short video about setting goals and watching them grow.

As I hung the backdrop it was like Déjà vu all over again. I can remember being in elementary school and setting up scenarios. I was the kid on the block who would do weird, creative things. I was always looking for a new creative angle or project. Puppet shows were a main stay in my backyard. Dressing all the neighborhood kids in hand me down clothes, decorating their bikes, and scheduling a bike parade was one of my specialties. There was also the time, I convinced a neighbor boy to dress up like Santa. I decorated my basement as a “winter wonderland” and charged kids a dime to enter. All proceeds would go into a raffle kitty and the winner would win a giant candy cane. I got into trouble for that because a neighbor mom was outraged I was charging to see Santa. Looking back, I realize I was ahead of my time. How much does it cost to sit on Santa’s lap nowadays???

As I prepped the backdrop for our little video, I realized I have been doing this same job all my life except I get a few more dimes. Even though it is more than 45 years later, I am still doing the same kinds of things. I was telling someone today about how I would order art catalogs when I was a little girl just so I could go through them page by page. I might not buy anything. Instead, those catalogs helped me learn about art supplies, what was available for artists to use, and what you could make if you used them. This is how I taught myself to be an artist long before I matriculated into any art school.

The point I am making is that so much of what and who we are has always been there. Some us chose to express our attributes very early in life and if we are lucky. We are allowed to continue to do what we do best as we grow up, out, and into old age. Now, I only wish I had a basement. I think I could do an even better “winter wonderland” now. LOL

This is the backdrop we are using for our video. It is so amusing for me to look at because this 10’ x 4’ painting. It was painted by children; I acted as facilitator. It makes me laugh because this is exactly the way I would have painted this painting when I was ten or eleven years old. In other words, our art roots are ever present. It is good when we think about them once in a while.
Click pic to see detail view

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Art Blog: The Place of ART

Where do we stand? As human beings, Americans (most of us anyway) and artists, where do we fit? I will be honest. I am a hot mess right now. I have been thinking and thinking. I have been analyzing my every art move. I am sure some of this writing will sound disjointed and bizarre. That is because I am really struggling to understand what is going on right now in our art world.

Last night, I was delighted to watch Art 21, fifth edition. Cindy Sherman spoke about her work over the years. Then there was another artist. I am not going to mention any name. I just remember that he pulled himself through a puddle of white paint and made some kind of bizarre body trail across the room. OK. I didn’t give up watching. There was more. I forgot it.

Then there are artists like me. At this point, I feel like I am an art nobody. Despite working for decades, my work is just my work. There isn’t much to say about it really. I just have created a lot of stuff. I would hope somebody relates to it. Maybe so. Maybe not. That is a moot point because I will continue to make art regardless of the world climate. However there is a very real part of me that asks

“Why make more? What is the point?”
I bet there are some of you have thought the SAME THING!

I have to ask this question.
Where does our art fit into this world right now?

One of the problems I see as so obvious is that I will not underprice my work. I have sold much work over my art life. However, it seems most art similar to my “level” is being bought now on the “cheap”. I can’t do that. If you figure materials cost and time spent doing the work, why would an artist sell for pennies? Huh? I have no interest in that. It is kind of sadly weird right now. The average person can’t buy my real art. Hmmm.

I am not asking for that much. My day job is teaching. Teacher’s salaries are awful compared to other professions. However, if I ever tried to make my teacher salary via art sales I would be in huge trouble. Oh, I could do this if I started painting assembly line pet portraits or Florida landscapes. I am not about any of that. I kind of think many underprice their art because they want to say they SOLD. Well, I have been there done that. I have no interest in that ego boost. I think I need to find a happy medium. I know I will never be heralded as an artist of the stature of those on Art 21. However, I am not ever going to be a pet portrait artist or a painter of big eyed girls. I am somewhere in this weird, nebulous middle.
It is a strange place to be.

So what is the answer?
I think I know, but don’t want to acknowledge it.

What do you think? What is the answer?

I end with my piece “World Watching”.
I feel this way right now. The world watches. It sees.

Will ART be in its vision?
Click pic to see entire piece

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Art Blog: Phil Kutno, Master Artist

I actually got my ass off the couch and went somewhere last night. I talk about it on my new blog: St. Pete Peeps. I went to the Tampa Bay Blues Festival. I had a great time.

When I first entered the gates, I was on a mission to get a beer. On my way down the midway, I noticed an artist’s booth. Normally, I save my browsing for later. When I see the work at artists at street fairs and festivals, I go in, look at the work, and give a little nod of approval. Then get another beer. This time was different. Something drew me into the tent. As soon as I entered, I looked to the left. There was a wall of gorgeous, beautiful, and masterful drawings. The work actually took my breath away! This little hippiesque type guy sat in the middle of the booth. This was
Phil Kutno, the artist.

I struck up a conversation and told him that his work was phenomenal. It is so rare to see work of such high caliber and skill at a festival. He had prints of the drawings and lots of celebrity paintings/drawings throughout his tent. I told him I wanted to write about him on my blog. He gave me his card and I am following through with my promise. If you are on Facebook, you can become his “fan” at Phil Kutno Studios.

Also, I have posted his website link below. The sad part is online photos of his work doesn’t do it justice. Standing in front of each piece in person (albeit they are very well done prints), you can see all the tiny, intricate, and elegant details. Even on his website, you miss the up close experience. However, his studio gallery online is worth a look. Be prepared to be awestruck by his pencil work. Maybe someday you will be lucky like me and see Phil hanging out in his art booth at a festival near you!

“The Juggler”
Phil Kutno
Click pic to Phil’s website!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Art Blog: Robert Crumb – Genesis

"Keep On Truckin" By Robert Crumb

“Keep on truckin” seems to be my motto these days. I just figure if I keep moving and doing and creating, I will get to the end of this bizarre tunnel in which I have found myself wandering. I have fond memories of this "Keep on Truckin" image. It was created in 1968 by artist Robert Crumb. Like other rebellious, hippie-wannabee teens of the era, that logo became a tribal badge of honor. We wore it well.

I lost interest in Crumb’s work over the years. I have never liked comics and Crumb’s use of stereotypes and sexist imagery didn’t help to keep my attention. Back in the mid 90’s, I remember going to see the documentary “Crumb” and I wanted to walk out because some parts were so sophomoric and disturbing to me. However now, his work has poked me once again all these decades later. His recent accomplishment, “Book of Genesis” is a true eye opener. The drawings from the book are being shown now at David Zwirner Gallery.

I am not at all religious or even close to being a bible thumper, but looking at this book from an art standpoint is mind blowing. The graphic details and mastery of imagery is truly amazing. The sheer volume of work is unbelievable. Yes, this book keeps Crumb’s raunch intact. The illustrations depict all the titillation, sex, and violence associated with his work. However, the Bible is full of that kind of stuff. Crumb just put it in pictures!

“Book of Genesis” by Robert Crumb
Click pic to see some of the pages close up

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Art Blog: “Mad Men of ART”

Periodically, I go on art video watching jags. I like to think of them as a kind of feeding frenzy of art ideas. When I get hungry, I put in a DVD and end up watching two, three, or four in a row. This can go on for days. I have quite a collection of art vids. Yet, I tend to watch certain movies over and over again. This week, I have bombarded my eyes and mind with those relating primarily to modern art of the 20th century.

One video I watched was “Painters Painting”. To be honest, there isn’t much painting going on in this lengthy video. Sit down artist interviews are the running theme. This video was made in 1972. It concentrates on the history of the New York art scene, 1940-1970. I have seen snippets of some of the footage before which has been included in other videos. However, this film gives me the chance to see the interviews in their entirety.

As I watched this movie, I became increasingly uncomfortable. I started to squirm and feel anxious. About half way through the viewing, I realized it seemed so bizarre to hear all these MEN talk. Where are the women in this movie? There are twenty-one artists/dealers featured in this film. All of them are men and there is one female artist. Most of the scenes reminded me so much of the television show, “Mad Men”. Yes, things were really like that. The one woman artist is Helen Frankenthaler. During the brief interview with Frankenthaler who was dressed in a smart, tailored suit akin to a Barbie stewardess uniform, I anticipated someone stopping the interview so she could go get the film crew coffee!

For those who read this and want to balk, I will say I agree art shouldn’t be about gender. That isn’t a criterion. However, we all have differing points of view and ALL includes men and women. When Frankenthaler was asked about being a “female artist”, she said something like “well, it isn’t about being female, it is about being an artist”. That is all well and good, but I would have liked to see her jump up and scream at the videographer and ask “YEAH! Why am I the only woman artist in this movie?!!!!” She didn’t do that. She just sat there like a lady with her nylon clad legs crossed so elegantly. Too bad.

I wish we could rewrite art history. I would like to see this film again, but including the female painters of the time. With all the austere bravado of the dialogue in this film announcing “portraits of ourselves”, “the new American art”, “national art”, “the best artists”, “American Artists” making “high art”, I really don’t understand how they didn’t see they were excluding half of the artists of these generations. However, as I look at current art book and video selections, I continue to squirm. Yes, things are a bit different now, but have we come a “LONG” way baby?
I don’t think so.

Click pic to see movie trailer

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Art Blog: Herb and Dorothy

Can you imagine our world if there were more people like Herb and Dorothy Vogel? Their entire lives have been devoted to supporting art and artists. They are not rich people. In fact, Herb worked much of his life at the post office. Dorothy was a librarian. In the movie, “Herb and Dorothy”, she tells of how they paid the bills with her paycheck and they saved Herb’s salary to buy art. Over the decades, they amassed a huge collection of contemporary art.

I think the most interesting part of their story is they never took advantage of the art or artists. During the art boom of the 80’s, it would have been so easy for them to pack some of their stuff up, auction it off, and live the high life. They did not. Instead, they took their job as “caretakers” of the cultural treasures even so far as to cover some work hanging in their one bedroom apartment with blankets. They didn’t want to take the chance of anything to get faded or damaged by light. In fact, they never sold any of the work. They are now in the process of GIVING it away to the National Gallery of Art.
It is rare to find people who are just as passionate about art as artists can be. They are such phenomenal people. They are like art “patron” saints.

If you get the chance, try to see the movie “Herb and Dorothy”. The video gives you the opportunity to feel the NY art scene over past decades. Also while watching the Vogel’s going to openings, studios, or sitting at their kitchen table, you realize they are not only wonderful art collectors, they seem to be such delightful human beings.
We need more people like this in the world!

“Herb and Dorothy”
Arthouse Films
Click pic to see movie trailer

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Art Blog: Creativity in Forms

I am absolutely exhausted. I have already been repeatedly reminded this week that the feeling of being overwhelmed is just that: a feeling. I had planned on starting work on my teaching portfolio Monday. Instead, on Saturday I started sorting, making piles, scanning, setting up pages, and printing until I ran out of ink two times. A trip to Office Depot and a couple hundred dollars later, I was back on track. I am so glad I started it a bit early. I was overwhelmed by the sight of all the work. Where do I start? It was like the question: HOW DO YOU EAT AN ELEPHANT? The answer: ONE BITE AT A TIME!

After working all day Sunday and Monday, I got it together. I am not finished but at least, it has taken shape. I put it aside today because I had to get my FACE IT 5 online exhibition up and loaded on the web. Again, I felt overwhelmed this morning. Then I took one bite and then another and then….eleven hours later, I am almost done. I just have to get the artists to follow through and proof. Then tomorrow, I will put the final touches on the web pages and put it online at midnight. Then………… I will get back to my portfolio work and the zillion other projects I have going.


No, I am no fool. I just love being creative. I realized today that our creativity takes so many forms. When I started working on designing the FACE IT 5 show, I sat and thought, “What do I want it to look like?” It is like making an artwork. The only difference is you are using HTML instead of paint or wood or whatever. The same kind of thing happens when I make portfolio pages or any kind of graphics work. It is so similar to when I create a painting. I start with a blank canvas (the page) and create a composition with a message.

One thing I know for sure is no matter what the form, creativity takes a lot of time, effort, and energy. Like I said, I am exhausted. I haven’t picked up a brush today, but thinking, typing, arranging, and rearranging has beaten me today. Also, the stress of having to get things done by deadlines is very tiring too.
I am so glad I am on vacation(?) LOL LOL

Here is a sneak peek of our FACE IT 5 exhibition.


Jason Barre

YEP, Jason is one of the artists! However, you will have to wait to “click on pic”. The show is top secret until April 1st!!