Saturday, December 31, 2011


- break up, separate
-to change by disintegration
-to reduce by analysis
-to separate, to cause resolution
- to deal with successfully : clear up
-to find an answer
- make clear or understandable

As the fireworks boom and the new year starts, I should be mimicking Chicken Little. “The sky is falling; The sky is falling!!!!!” I am not going to do that though. I am sitting here all relaxed and waiting for the ball to drop. The ball will drop in Times Square for the New Year, but not drop on my life. I just know this to be true.
Rather than make grandiose statements about what I want to happen or not to happen in 2012, I am looking at what I have accomplished to this point. That is a lot. Back on January 1, 2011, I put up a blog post (removed now for whatever reason) that gave a list of wants for this past year.

I had an agenda. I am not really sure if I accomplished my resolutions or not. I am not sure 2011 was mine. I know I rented a second studio. I know I tried hard to be more social. I know I wanted to concentrate more on me, Sheree the artist. I closed down my ”Git Outta My Face Gallery” for that very reason. I want so much to support other artists, but it is time for me to support myself. I did this by making a bunch more art this year. I have entered new and promising realms with my new art. This is good. Yet, there is a little part of me that asks “Was 2011 yours, really?”
Yes. I think it was. As I frantically move stuff around and reorganize my space and life, one thing that is a terrific triumph is I quit my job. I have had that job for eighteen years. I never really wanted to be an art teacher. I don’t have a degree in art education. However in 1993, it sounded like a good idea. I had an opportunity. I had a ten year old daughter who needed health insurance. I had bills to pay. So I signed on the dotted line.

For the first few years, I was in heaven on earth. Seriously. I was in an “artist who teaches” situation that couldn’t be better. Then about eight years into this gig things started to sour. I kept the job because it was a good job. However around five years ago, I wanted out so bad. I wanted to do other things. I wanted to be an artist who worked a day job that allowed for me to still be an artist. I didn’t want to keep worrying about everything so much that I took the job home with me every night. I would dream (nightmares) about my job. It had to stop, but I was afraid.

I am not afraid anymore. I did it. I quit. I have no regrets either. I have no idea what will happen next. I do know things will be better. I want some kind of simplicity and peace in my art life. Striving for a new adventure will bring that calm to me. Yes, this is a scary proposition, but I am not afraid anymore. I have RESOLVED this one, very important issue in my life. Now, I just have to find a way to be healthy and happy. I will do that too.

Happy New Year!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Acrylic / Mixed Media on Canvas
8” x 6”
Sheree Rensel

Friday, December 30, 2011

Art Blog: DATE of Artwork?

As I packed up my car to the brim today moving out all the stuff from my second studio and moving it back to studio one, I just had to laugh. I filled up the back of my SUV with tons of furniture, paintings, and general art stuff. I used the front, passenger seat to hold a box of small, finished paintings. Right there next to me was the face of “Healthy, Wealthy, Wise?” I started this painting years ago. I have had it hanging in my downtown studio. As I sat driving with it looking at me, it felt like a reunion. At each stop light, I would primp and prod the surface of the painting. I wanted to rework one area. How can I do this? It is supposed to be a finished painting! Some paintings are never finished. I repaint paintings all the time. Get over it.

A work is done when we say it is done. However, times change and perceptions change. After looking at a work for a few years, it is OK to rework this area or that. It is part of the creative process. When I stopped to look at “Healthy”, there was something inside me urging me to do more work on this canvas. I wanted to update it a bit. This reminded me of another one of my pet peeves.

When you fill out art exhibition entry forms, there is usually a place which asks “DATE OF WORK”. I always put the year we are in right now. I figure if I put one, new brushstroke on the surface, it means I finished it today. I always wonder why they ask that question. I mean, how would that information be verified? Is the juror going to run a time check on your work? HUH? In other words, that question is stupid and makes no sense.

I have been an exhibition coordinator. I have worked in galleries. I have created exhibition prospectuses. I have this odd daydream. It takes place a long, long time ago. Some person organizing an art exhibition created a prospectus. That same prospectus has been copied over and over and over and over again for decades. The same questions are asked. The same information is gleaned. The only problem with it is nobody has bothered to ask:
In other words, I finished this painting this very moment.
YEP, it is done for now!

“Healthy, Wealthy, Wise?”
Acrylic / Mixed Media on Canvas
20” x 16”
Sheree Rensel
Click pic for detail view

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Art Blog: You NEVER Know

I have been involved in a number of vibrant and energetic art discussions online in recent days. I love this. Thank goodness for the internet! One of the topics under discussion is my project I am doing for Art House Coop. It is a sketchbook titled “Encyclopedia of Suicide”. This is my own concept. I have wanted to explore this issue for a long time. It is definitely a work in progress. Things are coming along very well. I am creating digital/mixed media pages and taking notes. However, I have realized this is a very touchy subject. I think I am hitting a nerve. People want to talk. People want to speculate. People are hurt. This is why I am interested in using this as a springboard for art research and an expressionistic idea.

First I have to say my book is not going to be morbid or gruesome in anyway. Per usual, I want to explore the emotional side of suicide. What? When? Where? How? WHY?????????? I have been interested in the issue of suicide since I was a child. I won’t go into details, but this phenomenon has touched me in many ways. So much so, when I see any video or news headline that mentions the taking of a life by one’s own hand, I have to look, read, and wonder. It isn’t hard for me to imagine this situation. I know and I think I understand. I have worked with emotionally impaired individuals most of my life. I have witnessed how they think.

After listening to others speak and comment, I have gathered the emotional detritus and remnants of emotional scars that remain after a death of a loved one. I cannot imagine their pain. One thing that is a continuing thread is the senseless nature of the act. So many people who decide to end their own lives have had very creative and productive lives. We see that. It is obvious to us. However inside the mind of an extremely depressed person, things aren't so easily recognized. There is an extreme emptiness and a feeling nobody REALLY cares.

This part is understandable. To those of us lucky enough to have some grasp of reality, it is still very difficult to understand and accept how others perceive us. We don’t even connect with the truth of what is going on at any given time. Most of us have our own thoughts about our own world and how we perceive it. We also have conjured up ideas about what others think about us. True or false, that is our own reality.

Someone sent me an email yesterday in response to a thank you note I had sent another artist. In my email, I mentioned I felt so lost and nearly artistically insane due to the lack of artist community support. In his response he said “You are not insane by any means and you probably have more people that admire your passions than you think.” This comment stopped me in my tracks. All of a sudden there was a fight between my rational and emotional brain. You never really know what others are thinking about you. There are people that see good in you. There are people who look up to you. There are people who want the same things you have in your art life.

You never really know.

The rational side knows this to be true. I have been lucky. I know I am a force to be reckoned with and have lived a good art life. My tenacity alone deserves praise. Yet in my (emotional) heart of hearts during these tough times, I start to wonder about my work and worth. This is why I can understand why someone would feels like there is no point anymore. The rational side of our minds and being loses out to our emotions which at times skew our perceptions.

Work in Progress
“Encyclopedia of Suicide”
Sheree Rensel

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Art Blog: Change is GOOD!

I knew a woman once who changed the arrangement of her house constantly. When I visited her, I would notice every room had changes. These differences were daily events. Every room would be unrecognizable from one week to the next. It was almost as if every day of the week was a day to move furniture from one room to another. Even her knick knacks would flit from the living room to the family room and/or bathroom. Stuff on the walls would be in a new place. Some things would disappear all together. It was so bizarre to me. I always wondered why she wasn’t satisfied with her choices. Was there some kind of neurotic impulse that made her want to redesign her world every day?

I suppose this trait was hard for me to understand because I am completely the opposite. I am the other end of that neurotic spectrum. Every time I have a new space to live or work, I put everything in its place and it stays there for YEARS. I mean, I never, ever move anything. On rare occasion, I might rearrange something old to fit in something new. However, I have to really want to live with that new thing.

I am not sure why I am like this. It might have to do with the insecurity of my childhood. It seemed like we were always on the run. We moved from house to house. Nothing was ever in its place for long, including me. I am no shrink. All I know is I don’t like change at all. I have lived in only two places since moving to Florida and the only reason I moved that one time was to go from renter to owner. When I got to this house, I put everything where I wanted it and it has been exactly the same for ten years.

This is why I am about to have a panic attack right now. I have to be out of my downtown studio by next Sunday. I started hauling stuff back to my home studio and immediately started to freak out. It is like trying to fit a round peg into a square hole. I have too much stuff. I hauled a few nonessential pieces of junk furniture to the curb. That made a bit of room. Now, I have to rearrange my floor plan. I don’t like this feeling of change at all. However, it is helping me by chanting “Change is GOOD, change is good, change is good”…as I push stuff from one place to another. One thing for sure is wherever I find spaces for all this stuff, I am not moving a thing for another ten years!!!!!!

Breath, Sheree, Breath!

Change is GOOD! At least, I have found a spot to put my flats cabinet!

Another GREAT thing is I have a way to get my biggest wall back.
I needed that to work on my new, large “Treasure Maps”
…………Keep breathing.

Opps, while moving furniture around I found this spot that was under my easel. Paint on the floor is fine in an artist’s studio, but this is gross. I will tackle that project after I have more things in order.

Just take it one step at a time and it will be all good! I can’t WAIT to post the “after” photos.
That will mean this nightmare is OVER!

"Change is good, change is good, change is good...............

Monday, December 26, 2011


I was reminded today of a very important phenomenon. At one time I was FEARLESS. Yes, I was younger then. I had this fierce hunger of WANTING. If I wanted something, nothing would stop me. I would do everything I could to get it. I am still like that, but there is a difference. I think too much now.

I am not sure if it is age, experience, or life wisdom that is making me more cautious. I am analyzing this now. This post started writing itself a few days ago. I was looking at my “jobs” file and noticed I still hadn’t applied to a somewhat local college for a adjunct studio art position. I put it off because it was across the bay and it would take me an hour to drive to my job. That isn’t an optimal situation, but then I remembered the old days. OMG!! I was so hungry and eager back then, I would have driven 100 miles to work if I could teach college level. In fact, I did exactly that. I was teaching at two colleges and an art center all at the same time. As schedules fall, I was in a predicament. On Wednesdays, I had to work all three jobs on the same day and had to drive 100+ miles round trip to hit them all on any given Wednesday. I did it too. I was that driven (pun intended).

I think too much now. I have gotten into the habit of too much time to weigh out everything. I analyze, poke, and prod all the good and bad of every situation. Having the same job for over a decade has nurtured a lame kind of agoraphobia. I feel safe in my little art cave going to my little art job which I hate. It is time for change, big time. Back then, I WANTED it. I wanted it bad. I would do whatever it took for change to happen. It worked too.

I was reminded of this today. I sent out an art exhibition entry form. I entered works from my “Treasure Map” series. Ironically, these paintings are about the exact thing for which I speak now. They are about the times in our lives. They are about the ways we change and see things in new ways. They are about the times and places in which we find ourselves. After sending the entry off, I started thinking about being so cautious and careful. I don’t like being afraid. When I was younger I was fearless and nothing stopped me. I want some of that moxie back. BTW I applied for the adjunct job.
I will just have to get new tires for my car.

“Ice Road”
Acrylic on Canvas
24” x 36”
Sheree Rensel
Click pic for detail view

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Art Blog: We Are What We Think

We all do it. You know you do. We all have our “mind tape” mantras. Those are the thoughts and feelings that run ramped in our minds. Some of it is good. The praises we sing to ourselves keep us moving and thriving. However, there are times when that continual negative song plays over and over in your head. You want to scream “STOP IT!”

Now that I am rearranging my life, I am more introverted and introspective than normal. I am thinking and rethinking things. I am planning and prodding schemes. I am trying to figure out how I got here and where I go now. One thing that has reared its ugly head is negative self talk. You wouldn’t believe all the nasty things I start thinking, but quickly squash. One great thing about life experience is that I realize when negative thought patterns are happening and how to redirect attempts at self sabotage.

We are what we think. If you keep telling yourself you aren’t worthy, it is likely not much worthwhile will happen. If you think poor, abundance will find others to bless. Nowadays, it is very difficult to keep your chin up and spit in the wind of gloom and doom. I said it is difficult, but not impossible. You (and I) have to just keep moving and know everything will work out in some way, shape, or form. The most powerful way to keep those positive embers burning is to really care for yourself. Take pride in what you do even if you think nobody else does. One of my great mantras right now is “It only takes ONE!” I am rolling this tape everyday in my head in regards to my job search. However, it can be applied to all things that bolster our spirit. It only takes one to make us smile. It only takes one to make us happy. It only takes one to keep our lives active and productive.
That ONE is YOU.

Sheree Rensel
Acrylic / Mixed media
Click pic for detail (available for sale)

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Art Blog: GAMES Artists Play

I hate game shows. I can’t click the remote fast enough when any kind of “win megabucks” idiocy comes on the screen. I will admit. The other day I did watch a few minutes of the new “Who’s Still Standing” quiz show. I just wanted to see someone drop through the floor after losing. That is sophomoric, but funny. It was. I have been known to watch Jeopardy, but that is a different kind of animal. At least it keeps my brain cells moving.

A couple of years ago when Bravo announced the new show “Work of Art”, I was really interested. I thought it would be so exciting and informative to see artists work. I thought it would be a great chance for the public to really see artists in action. I thought it would be a true inside view of what it means to be an artist and how the art world works. I was wrong. That first season kept my attention for less than half the season. I ended up watching it in the same way I watch Biggest Loser. I watch the first episode or two and then watch the last ten minute of the finale show. I just wanted to see who wins. I didn’t care about all the stuff in between.

This is exactly how I approached Work of Art season 2. I would start to watch and accidentlly fall asleep (literally) or I would get so frustrated with the “blah, blah, blah of the artists or the yadda, yadda, yadda of the judges, I would just turn the channel. There would be times I couldn’t stand the stupidity of it. I mean ALL of it.

This isn’t good. I mean, I have been an artist all my life. I keep up with the art world machine. I worship other artists. Yet, I found Work of Art not only boring, but it pulled my understanding of art and artists off the pedestal. In fact, when I watched the season finale last night I realized this is a game show. If you think about it everything is the same with minor adjustments. Instead of giving a “final answer” to win the bucks, you have to make some pile of junk and then explain why it isn’t a pile of junk. I guess that is their final answer. LOL

Think about how similar Work of Art is to other reality, quiz, or competition shows. Instead of running to the train station ala Amazing Race contestants, the artists run around Manhattan looking for just the right art supplies or suckers to buy their instantaneously created crap. Work of Art always has their golden girls or boys. Each would have a lucky night to be the star of the show for that given episode. There were moments while watching WoA, I expected Drew Carey to pop out from behind one of the gallery walls and announce YOU ARE THE NEXT CONTESTANT ON PRICE IS RIGHT! I can’t compare WoA to “Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?”. I think we all know the answer to that question. However, there is a kinship with the Wheel of Fortune. I mean isn’t that what being the next GREAT ARTIST is really about in the art world. The WoA artists stand in line for days, sit through interviews, and have their art scrutinized, poked, and prodded. Then some of them get picked to spin that wheel. They laugh, they cry, there are good sports and bad. Then in the end there is the million dollar winner (or in this case, $100K).
Oh boy, oh boy. Hip hip hooray and a pocket full of bologna.

During the final “crit”, I watched the three artists left on the show. I had a flashback to when I checked out the “Who’s Still Standing” show. I was kind of hoping the floor would give out from under them and they would all disappear. I don’t mean just the artists either. LOL

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Art Blog: BE an ARTIST

I remember a few years ago, I really wanted to finish my Ph.D. in Ed. Technology. I had started doctoral work in 2001, but then after a year I realized I was getting into so much debt, I needed to stop. I loved every minute of this experience. I love learning and taking classes. I excel and that makes me happy. Debt does not make me happy, so I stopped.

A few years later, I decided to try to find a way to make it happen. I would give it a second try. I just needed money. So I called around and made inquiries. I contacted one graduate school financial advisor via email to ask about grants and scholarships. I sent off an email that in condensed form said "HELP ME!" A day or so later, my telephone rang. It was the financial advisor working for the university.

Now before I go on, let me tell those of you who don't know. Financial advisors for universities are almost in the same category as bill collectors or used car salesmen. They are all balls and moxie. They are trained and toned at selling the product and getting you to sign on any dotted line that really isn't in your favor. I answered the phone and started talking to her. She started off by saying "Sheree, I realize you want to find a way to help pay to finish your grad degree, but I saw your artist link on your email. I went there. You are an artist. Why don't you BE AN ARTIST?" There was a very pregnant pause. I could hardly speak or respond. Her statement stunned me. Isn't she supposed to con me into some kind of impossible educational opportunity that will cost me more money than I can make before I die? Instead, words of golden truth came from her mouth. I ended the conversation with a quiet "OK" and left it that.

Flash forward five years: This morning in the shower, I kept coming up with one ART idea after another. I almost jumped out of the shower to grab a pen and paper. I need to write this stuff down! I thought "Wow, I am on fire today! I am experiencing a creative explosion!" The ideas were coming so fast and furious. I realized the cloud of LIFE was lifting. Even though it has only been a few days since I made my U TURN and quit my day job which was sucking the life out of me, the fuzz has already started to turn into crystal. I can see. I am an artist once again.

Now Sheree stands to the plate to drive the point home. For those of you who are artists or have some kind of passion that plays second fiddle to your day job, you have to make it work. I had a dream situation for about 15 years. However, that job changed so dramatically, I lost my artist identity. I brought the day job home. I dreamt about it. I worried about it. It was all consuming. This is not good. In fact, this is not acceptable. So now I have to find another way to support me and my art. I will. Everything will be OK. It will all work out because I have a mind of an artist.

This is my signature painting "Mind of an Artist"
It wasn't planned, it just happened.
I love it so much, I will never sell it.
It represents ME and everything I am.
What is on your MIND?
Click pic for detail

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Art Blog: Our Most Valuable ASSET

Here we go again..........I have a truckload of teaching stuff stashed in one room and then today, I started cleaning out my second studio. Since my first studio is small, I sit and look at the boxes and realize I have too much STUFF. It is time to get rid of some of it or I won't be able to make art. There won't be room.

It feels good to start to gather everything and put it in one place. It is like I am callin in the chips. I want to see it all together and decide what is really important to me. The rest has to go. One thing that I am learning fast is what is really important in my life. We all accumulate objects, stuff, and things constantly. Over time the pile gets bigger and bigger and bigger. We think we NEED this stuff. We really don't. One thing I notice as I sort though the piles are what I consider a priority. I will never get rid of any art supplies or anything I can use to be creative. I notice I get rid of utilitarian items first. I don't need that 4th fan or the 5th bookshelf from the Salvation Army. I don't need tons of jars and zillions of containers in which to CONTAIN things. (I will admit, I have some kind of weird box and container fetish. Shoeboxes, cigar boxes, plastic tubs, pencil cases, wood boxes of any kind, etc.) It is like a sickness. I have EMPTY boxes and butter tubs that I seem to want to hold on to just because I might have something to
put in them one day................DUH!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Seeing all this junk in one place makes me realize, see, and be able to touch my assets. Meager, but at least I have accumulated things that represent a life. LOL Yet, as I look at the boxes and piles of stuff, I realize so much of this is meaningless in the true sense of my world. Yes, I have lots of stuff to make art. I have a place to put the stuff. I have a history with all this stuff.

However, none of it means as much to me as ME. I am my truest asset. As long as I can walk, talk, think, and smile, that is the most important thing to me. I can get more or less stuff. ME is a one time deal. WE are our most important asset. I hope you remember this. In the meantime, I have to start to clean and organize once again. Here we go. I have to attack the piles of STUFF....................

I haven't had time to make a new studio mess video. Here is an old one. It is all the same. LOL Click pic to see how I clean up messes!!!!!!!!!! LOL

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Art Blog: Don't Worry, Be Happy

I quit my job yesterday. I quit my job yesterday. I quit my job yesterday. Shhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, be quiet Sheree. Stop it. I am sitting here trying to enjoy the external silence, but my mind is screaming loudly. I can't believe I did this. FINALLY! This has been a long time coming. I just didn't make it happen sooner. I blame myself. I have worked in the same room for over 18 years. One time I did a time study and realized I had spent more time in that one room than anywhere else in my entire life. My last day there will be January 20, 2012. Wow.

Even though this is such a huge risk, I don't care. I had to do this for my own well being. I am not going to go into specifics, but this past year has been a beat down. Seriously, I have felt like I am being tasered on the hour. My nerves are shot. I haven't been able to sleep. I have been getting terrible headaches. I can't really do a great job because of the circumstances. I know myself very well. I am a Type-A, worker bee. I thrive on achievement. If I can't do wonderful work in at least a minimally, appreciative environment then Sheree isn't happy.

So now it is time to get Sheree happy again.

One of the very positive things I noticed this morning is there is an actual ending. I have a specific date when it will be over. I wonder what will happen next? It is almost like I have gotten my future back. Some might say I wrecked my future by quitting. I don't see it that way at all. I see a blank canvas (of life) waiting for me to fill it up with new marks and colors.

I am not in panic mode yet. I might not ever allow myself to get anxious about this life decision. I have been taking care of myself for a very long time. I doubt I would let anything bad happen to me at this point. I saw this "short life" quote on Facebook today. It says exactly what I feel right now. When I am done with my QUIET time, I am going to shout this quote as loud as I can and then smile because it is the truth!


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Art Blog: There is a Season

I remember when I was younger and just starting to make my way into the art world. I was just as puffed up as any beginning artist. I was going to change the world! It is interesting to see how things have panned out in my art life. I am not complaining. I have had a great art life so far.

No, I am not in major museums or showing at Art Basel right now. I am just an artist making art and knowing I should continue to do so. Nobody is celebrating me. There are no high fives or accolades. I am just an artist doing what I am supposed to do. That is: MAKE ART. In other words, I am in the artist’s 99%. I am just like most other artists.

When I was working towards my first art degree, one artist among others Georgia O’Keefe was all the rage. In 1970, the Whitney Museum of American Art exhibited the Georgia O'Keeffe Retrospective Exhibition. This was big news back then and we all heard about it. It was her first major show since 1946. In other words, it took 24 years for her work to be shown in a grand and respectable way. 24 years! Let’s not mention the Stieglitz connection. No. Let’s pretend. Her works were shown at the Whitney just because she was Georgia and her works were brilliant. YES. Let’s think that.

Within just a couple of years, things started to sour for Georgia. She started to lose her eyesight. Enter, Juan Hamilton, the young artist assistant. There was all kinds of drama and speculation with this scenario. I don’t care about any of it. What I always wondered about was the isolation of Ghost Ranch and how she shut the world out during her later years.

Now, I relate. When I first started to learn about Georgia, I just couldn’t get it. I could not understand being all alone in the desert of New Mexico. However, I was young, naïve, and in my twenties. The social aspects of any artist’s life were in full force. I needed the drama and action of every art opening I could attend. I needed those human connections. I needed the praise. I needed the commotion of being an artist in full color. Georgia didn’t need that. I didn’t understand how she could stand to be so isolated back then. I do now.

All that social stuff is meaningless to me now. I sure don’t live on anything near akin to Ghost Ranch. In fact, I live in a neighborhood of a midsize city. However, there have been days when I actually posted signs on my front door saying: “GO AWAY!” I just don’t need any of the attention anymore. I want to be alone art wise. I am over that social hump I guess. Just like everything else in life, there is a season. I am in the season of introspection, self appreciation, creativity, and WHO CARES WHAT OTHERS think. I am not that unusual. I think there are others who might understand. I know for sure Georgia would be giving me a high five right now.

What do you really want out of your art life?
Tell me.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Art Blog: What INSPIRES You?

One of the things that has bothered me in recent years is the lack of true art inspiration. It might just be my own problem. It might be my age (been there, done that). It might be that I have seen so much art, my brain if full now. I don’t know.

In recent months, I have tried in a diligent way to peruse and search for art that makes the hair on my arms stand up. This experience is rare to nil right now. What is going on here? I don’t know. Maybe I am just a stick-in-the-mud curmudgeon. Maybe I am becoming an artistic Andy Rooney or something. I really don’t know.

I remember a time when I would go to New York for the weekend and visit museums. OMG!! Standing in front of Picasso’s
Guernica made me weak in the knees. Seriously, I really felt like I was witnessing a miracle. I might as well been standing in the Lourdes grotto seeing a vision of the Virgin Mary. That is the magnitude of my awe. Could it be that this was an experience felt because I was so young and inexperienced? I long for that feeling again.

I had visceral feelings when I viewed any Antoni Tàpies painting too. I am not even sure why. I know I love the texture and complicated, simplicity of his work. Yet, my own work is so different. Still, I love it and get such a gut reaction when I see it.

I guess what I am talking about is the longing for inspiration in a very deep way. I am not talking about wanting to be inspired to do my own work. I do that regardless. I am really speaking about a yearning to feel the heroic nature of art. I long for the feeling for art on high. It is not just a product you sell on Etsy. It is not something you make to sell under a tent. It isn't even something that is sold at a pretentious art fair to collectors who have more money than true interest in art. It is something so much more than that. It is a spiritual, emotional, and physical phenomenon that takes you to a new and better place.

Yes. I know you can’t take that to the bank. I know times and mind sets have changed. Still, I want that feeling again. Maybe I am an old lady with old ideas. I guess I am uselessly old school. I don’t care. I love seeing art that makes me want to make more art of my own because I want someone, even one person to feel that feeling when they see something I have created.

I will shut up and leave you all with one more inspirational piece. This one might be of great value to my psyche because I have taken the time to learn about the artist and her life. When I see her work, I shake with admiration. I can only wish I could measure up. She lived for her art life, good and bad. There were many other lovers, but the winner was named ART. Alice Neel is one of my art heros.

What art inspires you? What art makes you quiver? Think about it.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Art Blog: Having it ALL?

It is hard for me to write right now. So many things are buzzing around my head. I signed the check for my LAST month of studio 2 rent. I am being pulled in every direction. I LOVE my downtown studio, but in many ways I can’t see the point. For economic reasons alone (Suze Orman would kill me!), it isn't a feasible decision to keep it. I can’t get into all the other details, but just like the rest of my art life, it is time for a change.

This is easy in one way. I have two studios. One is my downtown St. Pete Studio 2. The other is my Studio 1. This one is attached to my house. I actually work at my home studio more. It is far more convenient and practical. Yet, there is this little voice inside me that continues to whine. I am ignoring it. I have signed the check and put the note in the envelope saying “I am not renewing my lease.”

It is so weird and ironic. I had this exact studio in 2001. After a year, I left because I bought a house with an attached studio space. I couldn’t afford both. Last December I realized I had the studio at my house, but I have become a hermit of an artist. I did participate in art exhibitions and lived out my art life, but I was not part of any art scene at all. This is why I rented my downtown studio. I wanted to be a part of some kind of art community. I wanted to be a bit more social and be more visual in my St. Pete home. I am not sure my year long experiment was a success. Yes, I have made a few art friends and contacts. Yet, I confirmed that I am not a social creature and that will never change. I love the quiet and loneliness of my home studio. I don’t regret my ArtLofts experience at all. I learned about myself. I am just fine, do quite well, and in some ways do better living my eremite lifestyle.

In fact, this is one of the reasons I decided to ditch studio 2. I am what I am. I like being alone and that is OK. I keep saying I am looking for a new life. Downsizing, looking for a new job, prepping for changes and most importantly, taking care of me is paramount. This little change will help to open the door to new things to come into my art life. This is what makes Sheree healthy and happy.

“Red Cross”
Acrylic on Canvas
10” x 8”
Sheree Rensel
(Click pic for detail)

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Art Blog: Embers at the Emerald

As my art life journey proceeds, I stop and catch glimpses of the sights and sounds of my current St. Pete world. This past year, I have spent a lot of time downtown at my studio trying to stop the relentless feeling of being an odd duck in this tropical pond. I have had an open mind and embraced the things that I favor. I love driving down Central Ave. It has a history and atmosphere that I love. I was heartbroken when I read reviews of the recent art fair held here last week. A few exhibitors wrote things like:

“The neighborhood is a business district that looks like its seen better days, like maybe 50 years ago. The storefronts on the block I was set up on were a mix of vintage clothing, tattoos, a used record store and a quick mart advertising "cigarettes and beer!"

After reading that I screamed “SHUT UP!!” Well, actually there were a few curse words too, but I will leave those out here. This is one of the reasons I have never felt comfortable down here in touristville. It is too nicey, nicey, prim, proper, and kind of boring for lack of better words. (Remember, I am still a gritty, industrial Dee-troit old girl. I am of the era of “Kick Out the Jams Mother F……..”…you know the rest. I like “rough around the edges”.) LOL In fact, those same old buildings, alternative shops run by tattooed, purple haired proprietors is a cool thing about downtown St. Pete. At least I think so.

Shortly after reading the negative reviews, synchronicity struck again. Somebody on Facebook put out a photo album of an artist meetup downtown. I looked at the photos and flashes of my own past rushed at me. I remember my days in Detroit art bars surrounded by all my young, brash, artist friends. That was long ago. We were so puffed up and ready to take on the world. The pics of the St. Pete artists reminded me of loving art for art sake. Back then we all felt so edgy and bold. There was a kind of boastful spirit when we would identify ourselves as ARTISTS. I still exude that same pretense to this day.

Ironically, this morning I got a FB invite to an art opening. The show is called “ArtWars at the Emerald”. It is the same artists I saw in the photo album. As I watched the promotional video, I smirked as each young artist explained what art is to them. I love their boldness and even their naïveté is refreshing. It dawned on me as I watched. This is one thing St. Petersburg needs. It needs more verve and spark. I see these young artists as the warm, glowing embers that could ignite a whole new heatwave of art thinking here in the ‘burg. I am not expecting a bonfire, but a few fresh flames would be good to see. I wish them all great good luck with their show and their art lives. If you live in the area, check out their upcoming exhibition. Details below:

(Click to watch video)

“ArtWars at the Emerald”
Friday, January 27, 2012 at 8:00pm
The Emerald Bar
550 Central Avenue
Saint Petersburg, FL 33701

Friday, November 25, 2011

Art Blog: Connecting the Dots

Social media and networking was made for me. I hate socializing in real life. I don’t like talking to people in the flesh. I get flustered and self conscious. I don’t even use a telephone. Typing and reading is my thing. Also, I find an online life to be useful while living alone by allowing myself to be part of reality (albeit skewed).

For me, my online life works like any other form of life. I talk, I visit, I see. I experience. There is even serendipity. There are moments that occur that are meant to happen at that moment. For me there are no coincidences. Everything happens for a reason and I see it online all the time. For example, I have been going through the hell of self examination and reevaluation lately. My mindset has been more brutal than ever before. It is a sign of the times. I have gone back and forth in my mind, over and over: new job/old job, new art/old art, Florida/pack a backpack and get the hell outta here, Give up art/die? It goes on and on. I mean, I am really beating myself up with too many decisions to make and feel miserable that I can’t make one.

Then I see a post from Rick Becker on Facebook. He poses the question: “What is the point of art?” This is a totally valid question, but I read more into it. I turned the table on myself. What is the point of art, Sheree? Well to me a point is a dot and that is what I am busy doing right now. I am connecting dots until I find my way to my future. I am tracing from "Plan A" to "Plan whatever" while trying to figure out what the picture will be. The point of art for me is being Sheree. Without art, there is no Sheree. That is the easy answer for me.

As I read the comments and thought more, I saw a post about the artist Nina Di Vita. Serendipity strikes again. Trying to stay positive and dreaming about my own future art, I started to visualize a whole new series of work. I think my “THANKFUL” painting put me on a new path. When I went to Nina’s website, something hit me. No, I don’t want to do work like hers. I can’t. I am Sheree and do my own work. However, there was an essence there that spoke to me. It told me I am on the right track. Dots connected!

After writing a few more comments on FB, I looked up and realized even though it is painful and frustrating at times, connecting-the-dots of life is a necessary endeavor. We have to do this to find our way. We have to continue to do what we do best to evolve into ourselves. We have to connect-the-dots to see the whole picture.
That is the POINT and I am THANKFUL.

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

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Art Blog: MOOD (Disorders?)

PREFACE: (I posted this entry weeks ago and then took it down. I had a few impeding job applications out there. I wanted to be a bit more discreet. Now, I have NOTHING pending, so let her roll…………….)

I don’t go to therapists anymore. I did at one time. I tried it. I realized it wasn’t really for me. I was told there wasn’t anything wrong with me except I had a diagnosis of “Mood Disorders NOS”. I am sure you understand the mood disorders part. The NOS means “Not otherwise specified”. Shrinks use this label when you just don’t fit into any particular category. Your issues are nebulous and indefinable. Whatever…………………… Yes. I am an odd duck even when it comes to psychiatry.

I have my own thoughts about psycho babble, I do agree with the mood disorder thing. They got that right. My moods are all over the place. I can’t even pin them down. One day I am so happy and then something will happen and I can get so low I become a zombie. I remember one therapist who would greet me at the door and say “Sheree, what happened?” She could see it on my face. It was then when I started to realize that life events were affecting me in ways that changed my world in bizarre and tortured ways. Seriously. Inside my head, I have a constant battle of happy and all too, too terrible sadness.

I mean scary sad.

The great part of all of this is that I know the program. I understand how I am. I understand how I think. I understand how I feel. I am old enough, experienced enough, and wise enough to know what is happening and knowing how to deal with it. The strange thing is the older I get, the harder it gets. I don’t know if this is a physiological thing or just coincidence. What I do know is that I spend a whole lot of time thinking way too much about my artist happiness and battling a seemingly, never-ending, relentless struggle with the demons. I just want to find my art comfort zone. Is that asking too much?

The world is a crazy place right now. I can’t even begin to describe how my world (and your world?) is rocking right now. I am not even sure all my coping skills are still relevant. I am just going day to day trying to find happiness and a way to survive using my tried and very true skills. This is an odd search. I guess it is an “NOS” endeavor. The smile on my face and happiness in my heart is still “Not otherwise specified”.

I think I need clarification. Maybe the work and terrifically, arduous effort I am putting into changing my life will help. We will see………………………………….

(Click pic for detail)
Yes. I have a mind of an artist and I am glad. This is ONE thing I am absolutely sure. I am thankful to be an artist.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Art Blog: Perspectives of Thought

It only took three days and I am back to being Sheree. At least, I am thinking rationally again. I write all this blog stuff for me, but I would hope one or two of you will learn from my mistakes and the good parts too. I realized today “perspective of thought” means so much. I got up all perky and bushy tailed this morning. After taking the dog out, I logged onto Facebook. The first thing I saw was this:

courtesy of Andrew Crane. He is one of my FAVORITE artists on earth. He posted this photo and it hit me like a brick. I needed to hear (SEE) this.

Off to shower to get ready for the day. I had an appointment to go to Vincent House (What a great place with such a great cause. DONATE if you can!). I had applied for a job there, but there was no job for me. This is OK though because I got a tour and it helped me to see and confirm what I want to do with the rest of my life. Besides being an artist, I want to continue to work with people with emotional and mental disabilities. The tour helped me realize this.

I felt so good after the tour. I went on my way with a smile on my face to do more “get ‘er done” tasks like the eye doctor appointment and new glasses. Between me, the ophthalmologist, and the glasses salesperson, I don’t know who talked more. We all had a great time talking about life in general. I ordered my new glasses and had my old ones fixed $$$$. I left there still smiling because I got a new perspective on things.

Of course my status as an artist came up in the conversations all morning and afternoon. Also, discussion about my work as an art educator work came up too. The eye doctor had a lot to say about this. He sends his three boys to private school. At this point, I couldn’t even defend the public system. I just nodded and said “Good choice!

I came home after all this and doing a few other errands. I was thinking as I stepped up step by step onto the front porch of my art house, there is a big, wide world out there. Judging from all my people connections I made today, it dawned on me: the world likes Sheree and sees her positive nature and attributes. Being so busy, anxious, and enveloped in such an awful environment all the time, I forget about this.

As I sit here now I realize “Everything WILL be ALRIGHT!” I just have to take the time to realize the positives and negatives, weigh everything out, find the time to sort them out rationally, and then ultimately find my new life. ALSO. I have to stop isolating myself. I need to get out and remember there is a whole other world out there.

“Perspectival Response”
Sheree Rensel
Graphite on Paper

(Click pic to see detail)

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Art Blog: ART MODE

I made a big mistake today. I really tried. However, it back fired big time. I am officially on day job vacation. At least this is what is says on paper. In my mind, I am still on “artist doing day work for money to survive as an artist” MODE. I know this state of mind very well. Ordinarily, I plan ahead. I take at least a day to chill out from the duties of the job and then, slowly but surely creep into ART MODE. I couldn’t do this today because of the timing.

There are all kinds of art things going on in my environment and I really wanted to hop on the bandwagon. However, I wasn’t ready to be an art cheerleader and exude the energy necessary to toss my art pom poms to and fro. In fact, I was fried. I got up really early and trudged downtown. I did the dirty deed. I went to my studio, set up to work, and then, went out to see what was going on downstairs. There were two art fairs going on simultaneously. I had to see what was going on down there. So I did.

The bags under my eyes and slow pace told me to give it up. Who are you kidding Sheree?

I walked about 5 blocks worth. I saw all kinds of art fair art. This is important to me because I have been thinking of doing the art fair circuit even though I have never done that before. As I walked on and took notes, I could physically feel myself melting. It was something like visual and artistic overload. I walked back to my own studio and wondered what to do.

My solution was to leave, get groceries, and go home. After a few hours, I went into my home studio and started working. I wanted to start to bring together a piece I have been working on (in my mind) for five years or more. I have this vision, but I have never completed it. This is common for me. I have all these ideas in my head. I just hope to live long enough to finish most of them.

Anyway, I wanted to work on “MoneyMas”. This is a mixed media piece I have had in my mind for years. It is time to make it now. It is so funny because sometimes people will ask me how I start my work. Well, at times I put a blank canvas in front of me and start painting. Other times, I have a vision of a work and then, try to assemble the piece as I visualize it. In this case, it is the latter. I know what “MoneyMas” is supposed to be about and look like. I just haven’t made it yet. I am doing that now.

As for being in ART MODE, it is coming even as a type this. It takes time for artists to switch from day job gear to artist gear. I know this very well. ART MODE is my friend and I love every minute of it. I just have to realize it takes a little time to appear. I feel it coming now. This is a good thing.

I wonder what the finished piece will look like???

(Click pic to see detail of the parts) Then, stay tuned for the finished piece. I want to get this done in less than two weeks. I wonder if I will make it??? Ohoooo The Suspense!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Art Blog: Wondering WHY?

Have you ever sat in your studio all alone, gazed at your work, and wondered WHY you were given this talent but so few appreciate it or seem to care? I guess I am thinking in a money sense. I mean if your work is as good as you think, why don’t you have more sales? That is a rhetorical question. The quality of your work has nothing to do with it really. There are all kinds of variables involved. However, I have had those moments in which I want to shake my fist at GOD. WHY did you make me an artist if I can’t survive through this hard and devoted work? Of course, there are no immediate answers. Lightning does not come down and strike. Usually, I just cool off, pick up my paintbrush, and paint more.

I am feeling this same way right now about my life in general. I have worked so hard and accomplished so much. If you read this blog, you know I want to rearrange my life. I want things to be different. I want new challenges. I have done the work and have my supplies. My educational and experience arsenals are full. I am ready for the next new adventure! I have prepared for the opportunities to come. I am ready. Apparently the UNIVERSE thinks otherwise.

I was flipping through my old videos and I found one called “Finding Myself”. I watched it. This video is dated 2008. I couldn’t believe I was saying the same things then as I am STILL saying today. Believe me; I have been trying to find my new life. I have files and files of applications, vision boards, and secret messages to myself about how I want my future to be. It has been THREE years. I can’t believe this. However, the proof is in the date stamp. This boggles my mind.

Yesterday, I sent out another application. It was for a great job. It was a perfect job for me. Besides being a visual artist, I am a wordsmith. All day today, I thought about the possibilities. I envisioned myself doing the job. I have a history of knowing about the employer. I have experience doing this type of work. I knew for sure, this was (I thought) a sign. Well. This afternoon, I got a rejection email. Wow, I think that is a record!! I got rejected in less than 24 hours. Wowy Zowy! LOL NOT

I know for sure I could do this job with awesomeness attached. The employer thought otherwise. This is fine. They need and want what they need and want. So, I am still standing in the same place. I am standing in the same place. I am STILL standing in the same place and I am wondering WHY? I am not wondering why I got rejected from this one job. I am wondering why I have been rejected from three years worth of job applications. I am wondering why I have so much to offer with proven success and nobody wants me. Nobody cares. NOBODY.

Hmmmmmmmmmm…………I am not going to continue to whine and cry. I speak of a sculpture titled “TRUTH” in this video. I know the truth. The truth is I know I have done everything I could do to be prepared for a wonderful future. The truth is I have past experience and talent that is amazing. The truth is I have to be patient for a longer time. I might not like this, but it is the truth.

Also, I have to stop wondering why. I don’t think there is a logical answer. All I know is: it is what it is. Wondering why just makes me crazy and sad. The truth is nothing makes sense. I cannot make sense out of nonsense. This is what I have learned so far in my long life of energy, achievements, and accomplishments. Wondering why is a moot point. So my solution right now is to just cool off, pick up my paintbrush, and paint more.

Wondering why is useless.

(Click pic to watch my vlog)

OH! P.S. Thank you Gilda Snowden for writing an arm hair raising reference letter for me. I was wrong. Some people do care. Thank you Gilda.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Art Blog: HONORABLE Artist

How did I get to this place? As I told you many blog posts ago, I knew I was going to be an artist as soon as I learned to speak. Maybe before, I just couldn’t express it verbally. Since this is true, I have been an artist a LONG time. I have been doing a lot of reminiscing lately. I have been looking back on all I have done as an artist and wondering what the hell will come next.

One thing that enters into this introspective mix is how our world has changed over my many years. The way I was taught and the way I feel about life is so different now than then. One thing that is bothering me greatly is the state of ART right now. Maybe I am looking in the wrong places or I am not thinking clearly, but my definition of being an artist seems to be under fire or at least swept under a rug.

I have always thought being an artist is a high honor. It is an intellectual pursuit. It was a way for me to express my interpretations of the world and share them with others. Being an artist is about creating reflections of our society, the good and bad. Being an artist is being about thinking and telling the truth. Selling art has always been the dribble of icing on the cake. However, I have never been the type of artist who wanted to mass produce trinkets or trite illustrations just to make a living. I have always known that was not my priority. The kind of art I make doesn’t fit that mold. That is just fine with me. This is why I am a teaching artist and there was always an art community surrounding me who understood my philosophies because they were of the same ilk. They, just like the small audience who appreciates my art are on the same wavelength. These are my people.

Now, I see an insurgence of young and new artists who have their own philosophies about being an artist. They seem to be consumed by ideals of marketing and product. This is fine too. However at times, I feel alienated and isolated. What happened to the high ideals of art making that I have lived with for decades. Have I been wrong, stupid, and foolish?

This week while wallowing in my own self analysis, I turned on PBS and watched “American Masters”. The featured artist was dancer/choreographer Bill T. Jones. The program documented Mr. Jones’ work on his production about “Lincoln” as described in the NY Daily News article: 'Bill T. Jones: A Good Man'

As I watched the film, I had to sit up straight. My eyes opened wide and I recognized him. Just watching him work and hearing him talk made me realize the honor of being an artist. He is an “artist’s artist”. His work may be unusual and his audience may be smaller than a dancer on a pop culture TV show, but he is an artist with a steady focus and integrity. He is a thinker. He tells truths. He is consumed with the creation of his art work. Despite obstacles, the temptations of mass production, and the lack of “Twitter” approved praise of popular culture, his visions stay strong and his work proceeds. He is an honorable artist. I am on his wavelength. HE is one of my people.

As the documentary ended, I didn’t feel alone anymore.

I love watching Bill T. Jones. This is one of my favorite video clips. I could watch it a million times and never get tired of it. He is a true master artist.

(Click pic to see Bill T. Jones in action)

Saturday, November 5, 2011


Have you ever run away from home? I have. In fact, I think I have run away many times throughout my life. The first time, I was seventeen years old. I had graduated from high school. The summer had started and I was waiting very impatiently to turn eighteen in the fall so I could leave home (legally). One summer evening, I wanted to go out with friends. I called the “parent” at work and she said “NO”. I got so ticked off that I told my sisters, I was leaving. They gave me every penny in their piggy banks. I walked out the door with knapsack full of clothes and a sock full of change. I didn’t know where I was going. I just wanted it to end. So I walked a few miles, then caught a cab. I told the cabbie to drive me to this building downtown. I had heard about a place for teen runaways. He took me there. I stayed there four days. They fed me and it was pretty nice, but I hooked up with some kids who wanted to hit the road. I went with them.

That was a stupid, awful decision. There were seven of us. We were all sixteen or seventeen years old, broke, and dirty. We were a ragtag bunch. The plan was to hitchhike to Colorado. Yet as I look back I realize we weren’t even headed in the right direction!!! LOL Leaving from downtown Detroit, we headed northeast. We ended up park hopping the first few nights. We panhandled enough change for meals at fast food places and then, slept under the trees. The third night, things started to unravel. One kid left and the others were up to no good. I didn’t want to get into trouble so I stayed in this park all alone the entire night. The next morning, the sun was coming up over a lake next to the park. As I watched the light hit the waves, a police car pulled up. That was the end of that. They took me to the clink and called the parent. My week long adventure was over.

There have been other times I have just spit in the wind and taken off to parts unknown. If I was in a situation that wasn’t working for me, I would just pack a bag and leave. I guess I am thinking about this now because I have that same feeling. Things are not working and I want to hit the road to find a new life. However, I can’t do that as easily anymore. I have all the accoutrements of a settled life. In other words, I have too much STUFF. I would need a whole lot more than one bag to pack.

There is a part of me that wants to chuck it all, pack that one bag, and start walking. I can imagine becoming an old vagabond. Sheree the Hobo! LOL This isn’t very realistic. I am not seventeen anymore and hopefully, I am far smarter. I guess this is a new life lesson. Instead of running away, what can I do differently to solve this problem? The suspense of coming up with the answer is weighing on me every day. What will happen next? Stay tuned…

“Blue Burden”
(Work in Progress)
Digital / Mixed Media
“Encyclopedia of Suicide”
Arthouse Sketchbook page
Sheree Rensel
(Click pic for detail)

Blog - Bob Ragland Art Career Coach

Blog - Bob Ragland Art Career Coach

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Art Blog: Cha CHING!

I am done. At least for now, I am done throwing money into the art “black hole”. I am over it. I feel like I am throwing dollar bills into the air and they are swirling and spinning around and I can’t catch even one of them. I am done.

We artists have to think rationally at least on occasion. I hate this premise. I really do. I like Sheree’s “pie in the sky” art dreams much better. However, somebody or something just woke me up. I am not going to apply for any more juried shows for a while. I am not becoming a "member" of art organizations either. I am not even going to spend money on too much supplies when nothing sells anyway. I am going to put myself in hiatus. It just doesn’t make sense right now. I hate this idea, but I slapped myself into reality. Even though I don’t like counting pennies and being economically reasonable when it comes to art, there has to be a line drawn in the sand. I am crossing it now. STOP SHEREE!

I know I am not alone. For those artists who see their reflection here, please chime into the conversation. I am guilty. I want to show my work and one way to show my work is to be included in juried shows. However it seems that lately, these juried shows are a bit suspect. Now before you give me all kinds of great advice about juried shows, I must tell you I have been entering juried shows since the early 70’s. I know about juried shows. In fact, I have been a juror for quite a few juried shows. I know how things work. Yet, there is something going on that is very different now. I really feel that many venues are promoting juried shows for the sake of the venue and not the artists or their work. I just have this feeling.

I visited an art venue and they were hawking their newest prospectus. The person handed me one and then the people at the venue began to talk amongst themselves. One person said something about the juried show and another responded with “Cha-CHING”. In other words, they were interested in the money it brought in for the venue. That isn’t wrong, but the smirk on their faces was troubling to me.

It is so funny because just over two years ago, I started Git Outta My Face Gallery with the intention of helping artists promote their work at no cost to the artists. I bankrolled the whole deal. Even though my intentions were good and honest, the gallery fizzled out. It will close in coming weeks and it is sad in a lot of ways. I tried. Some artists tried, but there wasn’t enough interest I guess.

This is water under the bridge. I just want artists to realize that all that glitters is not gold. Like I said “I am done.” At least, I am steering clear from throwing money away on things that rival Las Vegas odds. I am not a gambler. I can’t afford to be. I am an artist.

“All That Glitters”
Acrylic / Mixed media on canvas

(Click pic for detail)

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Art Blog: SCARY: New Start

I haven’t been writing on my blog much because I am looking for a new life. I figured I better lay low for a while. Well my new life is not happening like I wish it would and I felt I needed to write.

So I will.

I want to begin again, so to speak. I want to do something different. I will always be an artist, but my day job needs to change. I already have my place in heaven. I have already done very good work for society and art. Despite my life plans, somehow, some way I ended up teaching. This was never my dream, really. However, it has worked out very well for more than twenty years. I went with the flow. All the while I have maintained my artist’s work and did the teaching thing. I did both very well too. But now it is time for a change.

I LOVE teaching. I really do. Every so often I have a day that is so wonderful. I am up there telling the students about this artist or that and how art relates to their lives……….I have moments of joy (or I should say mere seconds) that make me realize I am doing the right thing. However, every so often those seconds of recognition don’t compare to all the hours spent fighting to teach and not being able to do a great job. If you follow this blog, you all ready know I teach difficult kids. I have loved that so much. I am their people. However, our society has changed so much; my students are reflecting that change. I can’t do this anymore at least in the same environment I have devoted the past eighteen years. It is just too difficult and emotionally damaging. I want to teach and that is almost impossible due to systemic mandates and decisions beyond my control. So be it. It is time to move on………

This makes me so sad. I feel beaten down. I go to work in the morning with enthusiasm and by the end of the day my knees are literally weak and the life is sucked from my body. I have been yelled at, harassed, tormented, and have been surrounded by violence. I don’t want to live this life anymore. Like I said, it is sad because I have loved it for so long, but I don’t love it anymore.

The biggest problem I am having besides not being able to find an alternative job is my feelings of uselessness and doubt. I am a really great teacher. That has been proven. Despite great success, I feel like I have put all these years in to something and now, it is meaningless. I know that is not rational, but I really feel that way.

I want to start again. I want something new. I want something fresh. I want a job in which I can transfer all my organizational, technology, teaching, and administrative skills into another form. I want a job in which I am appreciated even if that only means I still feel enthusiastic at the end of the day. I am a happy person and smile a lot usually. This is not true anymore and I hate it. I want to be happy again and for silly me, that isn't asking much. I have so much to offer. I have so many skills and attributes. I have a long history of success after another success. But now, I feel beaten down. I don’t have my usual confidence. This is why I know it is time for a new start………..a fresh start.

The SCARY part is what if nobody cares or what if change doesn’t come? Ordinarily, I would spit in the wind and know everything will be fine. This isn’t in my head right now. I don't have the strength. I am trying to be positive, but I even doubt myself at this point.


“New Start”
Acrylic on Arches
18” x 24”
Sheree Rensel
(Click pic for detail)

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Art Blog: LIVE before you die

I learned something today. Maybe I knew this all along, but it is good to be reminded. It is a sad day. Steve Jobs died. Hanging on the wall in front of me as I sit and type this is an "Appleholic Award". I got this silly, little award in the shape of a CD years ago. I have always been an APPLE girl. To hear of Mr. Jobs death makes me realize it is an end of an era.

Reading about his life, I got a little nudge. He lived a really great life. He was a true genius and his brilliance has touched all of us. One thing I read today struck me hard. Here is an excerpt from Steve Jobs' 2005 Stanford Commencement Address. Read this and think about your own life. I am doing that right now.

"No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don’t want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary."


Friday, July 29, 2011

Art Blog: Technoholic?

Can you remember before you ever owned a computer? Can you really remember? For me it is a vague memory. I have been working with technology on the job since 1980. However, I didn’t own my first personal computer until 1996. Those were the days you had to pay over $3. per hour to use AOL. I knew I was in trouble the first months of internet trolling. I was getting AOL bills in the hundreds of dollars each month. It was crazy.

In retrospect, I see that time as the beginnings of a new and strange habit. It quickly consumed me. I sat at that old Mac and typed until dawn. Nowadays, my techno behavior is pretty much the same. However, it is much more intense and at times, frightening.
So am I an addict?

Just like many of you who are reading this right now, I have wondered about how technology has such a hold on me. However, I quiver to think of myself as an addict. Most of us think addicts are useless people who accomplish very little in their lives because they are too busy using a habit forming substance. We visualize a dark eyed, unbathed, slob on the street corner looking for his/her next hit. That is not us, right?

Ask yourself these questions:
1. Have you had any problems in your life due to your technology use?
2. Has your use of technology caused you any family trouble?
3. Have you stopped taking time to explore other interests because you are too busy online?
4. Do you feel frantic and have heart palpitations if you lose your cell phone or don’t have your iPad within reach?
5. Have you missed events or appointments because you would rather stay online?
6. Do you have a feverish urge to find the newest techno gadgets so you can be the first to show and amaze your friends?
7. Do you ever peek at your FB or G+ profile page to REMEMBER what you wrote the night before?
8. Is technology the first thing you think of in the morning and the last thing you think about at night?
9. Do you ever have a gut feeling you are devoting too much time to technology?

Last but not least:
10. Have you ever tried to go a day WITHOUT technology? Were
you successful?

How many of those questions did you answer YES to? I don’t have an answer or rating scale as to how many YES answers make you an addict, but at least I have you thinking.

The main thing to realize is that we can be addicted to anything. We are creatures who develop habits, some good and some bad. To categorize something as a negative addiction there is a primary criteria:
Does it cause you harm?

THINK ABOUT IT. Are you a technoholic?

“Bartender, would you pass me a flash drive?”

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Art Blog: Judgment Day

JUDGMENT: a formal utterance of an authoritative opinion

I am wondering why so many feel the need to judge others. Does it promote a feeling of self worth? “YES, I AM BETTER THAN THEM!”

I think this is so sad. This is a topic that really bothers me. It is so easy to tear down others for their looks, appearance, or their state in life. I think social media venues make it even easier to let loose and have at it. “THEY” are stupid or ugly. “WE” think it is not right!

Hold your horses. I know from experience we don’t know the whole story. Everyone is not like you or me. All the people in the world have not had the advantages that maybe you or I have been afforded. If I dress a mess, it could be for many different reasons. Do you care to ask why before judging me?

I know for sure there are people who can’t afford stylish clothes. I know for sure there are people who don’t have a washing machine. I know for sure there are people who have never had the opportunity to be taught “societal standards”. They just do what they can do.

So am I too old or ugly to be in public? What do you think? Should society judge me? Who will make the rules about this? Opps, I am wearing my paint pants today because I just came from my studio. “OMG, she looks homeless!!” or “She has so many wrinkles, she is repulsive!!” Is that what you would think? Should I be shunned or condemned online? In other words, if you decide to judge others, you should at LEAST find out the true story or think about how others judge you! Is it fair or good or right? More importantly, I wonder why it is your place or my place or anybodies place to make a judgment about ANYBODY.

Look in the mirror.

So I look at this crowd and I could say any one of these things :

“I hate that orange shirt she is wearing!”

“He is too old to be in a race. Why is he even there?”

“She looks old and ugly.”

“Her legs and butt are fat. She isn’t a runner!”

Do you get the idea? This is so silly and so, so sad. Why are we doing this to each other? It needs to stop. Are you ready, willing, and able? If so, society will be a much better and far more loving place.


Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Art Blog: ROCKY, Where are you?

It is that time again. I realized I am on about a five year cycle. My weight goes up and down and up and down and.....over and over again. The pattern is all too predictable. I get to a point in which I can't stand myself; I hate the way I look; I feel like crap; I don't even like to move. THEN, (do you hear the Rocky Music? Da da da da....) I get fed up and do something about it.

I know the drill all too well. I clean the refrigerator and cabinets of all the EVIL food. I sort through my collection of fitness DVDs. I dust off the treadmill and spinner. Then I get to work. It takes months for me to get right again, but it always works as long as I do the work.

This time I have a slight problem. I don't think I have ever been as heavy or out of shape as I am now. I should have hit rock bottom about ten pounds ago. The scary part is I don't care.
This is so terrible.
ROCKY, where are you??????

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Art Blog: Demographics

I love my art life. I love painting. I love creating. I love being able to say “I am an artist!” However, I HATE the business of art. I am not a social creature. I have a very difficult time talking to people about my art. I am not a social butterfly and put very little effort into accruing art social connections. I get flustered if someone expresses interest in buying anything. I have a tendency to make work that is so personal, I feel like they are asking to buy my first born child. I know this is ridiculous. I have worked years on this very troubling issue. I need to sell in order to make more; it is that simple.

I have sold a lot of art in my life time. Almost all my sales have been through galleries. I wasn’t there for the wheelin and dealin. I just showed up to pick up the check. For the past few years, I haven’t been associated with any gallery. I wanted to be a free agent but that has been so difficult for me.

When I rented my ArtLofts studio in downtown St. Petersburg a few months ago, one of the motivations was to push myself out there. I kept telling myself, “If you wanna show and sell your work, you have to stop hiding SHEREE!”. So I did the dirty deed and rented another more visible studio. I have been in this new studio for six months. I have worked there a lot, but I have not taken advantage of situations that involved the public studio visits. I feared those nights and would not attend. Even thinking about having people come in and out of my studio made me feel dizzy and panic stricken. I made this month’s event my deadline. I needed to do it or forget this extra studio rent.

Well, I did do it and had a wonderful time. In order to allay some of my neurotic fears, I made a game of it. I opened my studio door; I set up a laptop with my own art videos playing and sat outside my studio door. Every so often, I would pop into my studio to talk in short spurts with people looking at my art. If I felt anxious, I would walk out and take a breather (LITERALLY).

I learned so much tonight. I had such a great reaction from the patrons. I was really surprised. I had a great deal of optimistic feedback and quite a few rave reviews. I had some really wonderful conversations. I got some fantastic leads. Also, I got an understanding of my demographics. This is the part that shocks me the most. It seems my art appeals to youngerish people or those who are a bit more edgy. During the open studio I saw so many people in my own age group, walk into my studio and then walk out. That is just fine. What really amazed me is how people in their 20’s/30’s would stay in there and talk and point and laugh and really get into my art. This was so interesting to me. I had never thought about who my “audience” is.

I don’t know what any of this means. I haven’t had time to think about it. I know I find it so ironic, but pleased with this qualitative data. I must be doing something right. At least I know, if younger people seem to “get” my art, I know I am not turning into an old, fuddy, duddy artist. That sounds good to me!!!

Click pic to see what others saw in my studio tonight. I made this video a few days ago, sans people. It all came together this month. It felt good and right. I figured out, I can do this. It is MY work and I am sticking to it!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011


DATE: July 4, 2011
HEADLINE: “Studio Studio” Online Art Exhibition

“STUDIO STUDIO” exhibition featured at the “Git Outta My Face” gallery is now open and will be online July-September, 2011.
“Studio Studio is a thinking show. It allows the viewers to see inside the artist's inner sanctum, their studio. The concept is simple, but informative. Artists sent their thoughts and photos of their workspaces to me via email. This exhibition is a compilation of this correspondence.

We invite you to take the time to read and look in hopes you will find interest in one important part of artists lives: The studio is where it all happens.

Coordinated by Sheree Rensel, the exhibition includes the work of eighteen artists: John Adkins, Erika Allison, Robin Borland, Jack Breit, Michael Chomick, Trisha Clarkin, Boo Ehrsam, Amy Lennard Gmelin, Tamara Kane, Christine Laikind, Shauna Lee Lange, Rachel Morris, Gabrielle Pescador, Sheree Rensel, Louise Janet Schlachter, Gilda Snowden, Tricia Soderberg, and Vhilo-artist.

Click pic to see our show!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Art Blog: WHY Git Outta My Face?

About two years ago, I decided to create an online gallery. I did. It has been very successful in my mind and I truly believe it is a great idea. Tonight, we will be opening our SEVENTH show! Hooray for that! I wanted to create an art website that was about “art for arts sake” and allow artists a simple venue to show their work (at NO cost to them). It was just another option to promote their work for free. Meanwhile, I would have something to do that made me feel like I was doing something productive art wise.

Before I created the site, I needed a name. I came up with “Git Outta My Face” gallery. There is a very special reason for this and I want to tell you about it. However before I do, I want to tell you that this name has proven to be problematic to some. Certain people think it is too confrontational or too weird. They won’t show or submit art just because of the name. This is because they don’t understand why it is named this.

I teach. I teach hard kids. Almost every day at my day job, I hear the words “Git Outta My Face!!!”. I hear those words because the kids want to pretend they don’t want to hear. This phrase is their “I don’t want to deal with it.” mantra. It is a way for them to shove away any attempt for understanding or thinking about new life ways. I started relating this to art. I know for sure, I hear so many silly opinions about art and artists, there have been times I too have wanted to just say “Git Outta My Face!” This phrase could be my defense/coping mechanism. I didn’t want to hear it because I was too interested in spending my time to make art. I don’t want to deal with some of the crazy perceptions about art and artists. Instead I too, would like to scream “Git Outta My Face!”.

So I guess the name of my gallery is saying what it needs to say. Git outta my face if you don’t take the time, effort, find joy, or expend emotional enthusiasm to embrace ART. It is that simple.

Now, the really great news: Our seventh show is called “Studio Studio”. It is the best show our gallery has ever had. It is a bit conceptual in that it asks artists to speak about their studios. Now that I have created the show, I know it is a GOOD show. It is introspective and allows the viewers to get into the minds of artists.

Click pic to go to our gallery.

Our seventh show will open in a few hours. Take the time to look and think.
Also, you are welcome to look through the archives. I hope you will consider entering a show in the future. We are on a mission here.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Art Blog: FLOAT

I have one dream that has reoccurred over the span of my lifetime. I am about eleven years old and I start running down the sidewalk in front of my house. Suddenly, I lift off and I am flying over my neighborhood. I love this dream. Even though decades have passed, I still dream that same dream. I love the feeling when I wake up. I can feel the tickle in my stomach. I know what it feels like to FLY.
It wasn’t until today that I realized I am not really flying in the dream at all. I realized this during this exchange:

In the FB conversation, I referred to water. Boo responded with the “float” concept. Almost immediately, I had a vision that let go of the water and thought of the air. As Boo stated, this is really about control. She hit the nail on the head big time. I am a control freak and I admit it. I have tried to work on this for a very long time. Yet, when I realized this wasn’t really about me in the water, but in the sky, I saw things in a totally new way.

You see, I had never realized until now that my flying dream wasn’t really about flying at all. My arms don’t flap or I don’t struggle to get momentum. I just FLOAT around and look down at the world. I am at peace. When I have this dream, there is a feeling of calm which rushes over me. I let it happen. I don’t manipulate my direction or fuss because I am not going this way or that. I just ride it out. I FLOAT until I wake up and feel happy.

So now, I have to take that dream and make it a reality. Like I have said before in previous posts: “Let it go and SURRENDER”. I am seeing connections here. Maybe that is because I am practicing my FLOAT.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Art Blog: QR HAPPY!

My dad loved to do magic tricks. His favorites involved using a fake thumb to amaze and mesmerize. It worked for me. I would laugh and be amazed every time. He loved my appreciation. Consequently, he did stupid magic tricks for me every time I would come to his house.

I miss those tricks. I really miss how I would giggle. Nothing has made me laugh like this in years. It was only until QR codes came to be, that I would laugh the same way. You would think being a “techie”, I would be jaded and be over the “WOW” factor. When I first started using QR codes, the magic trick effect came back. I have no idea why, but when I use the QR code app on my iPad, I laugh in awe every time! Just like my silly giggles when my dad would do some kind of lame magic trick, I watch QR codes direct an app to a specific website and wonder. I always think:

You have the code.

You scan the code.

Like MAGIC, it goes to the website. Is that too cool or what?

Monday, June 27, 2011

Art Blog: The Thin Line

I have been thinking about this blog post for the past week. I have been writing it in my head over and over again. My last post was about SURRENDER. At the time, I was thinking of letting go of some of the anxious thoughts swirling in my mind right now. In that same post, I wrote:
“Years ago, I made the decision to abide by at least one mantra:
“If it doesn’t feel good, don’t do it!”

This quote is bothering me right now and ties into the thesis of this post. The question of the day is:
“What is the difference between surrendering and giving up?”
This question popped into my mind because in order to calm my thoughts and fears this week, I would say to myself “just surrender”. I am trying to teach myself to relax and give up so much of my time I waste on worries. Yet ironically, I realized this frenetic anxiety is the kinetic energy that has gotten me to this point. Generally, my life is really good. Art wise, I am going great guns right now. However, there are some unmentionable life circumstances that need to change. This is the source of the crazy voices in my head.

I do want to surrender to this nervosity and feelings of panic whenever I try to think of solutions to make my life happier. However, I will admit there is a thin line between surrendering and giving up completely. I still have to be on top of things and make things happen. I just have to figure out a way to do this without the anguish and stress. So my solution is to decree that I will not think about any of this stuff until mid-July. It is my major art time now. I don’t want to ruin it. I will allow myself to start to worry again July 18th. At that time, I will give myself specific hours or days to work on all the stuff that is causing me tension and torment. I have to laugh. I am making myself sound like a cliché: the mentally tortured artist. I am not tortured or a cliché. I am just trying to figure out art life stuff. I bet a lot of you try to do the same things.

In the meantime, I want to share one of my newest pieces. I have finished about 8 paintings in the past month and a half. I think that is a record for me. I am a pokey puppy painter most of the time. I am not surprised by this current zeal. Despite all my fear about the future, I have a huge case of ART FEVER!

"I always said I would die before I went to rehab."
Acrylic / Mixed Media on Canvas
Sheree Rensel