Saturday, February 26, 2011


I can remember when I first started to feel my “art legs”. I was a teenager. I would paint all the time. I would paint while in school. I would paint after school. I would paint on weekends. I would paint into the wee hours of the night. It wasn’t about product. It wasn’t about career. It wasn’t about money. It was about obsession. I just had to do it BECAUSE…………….

Flash forward to a few years later. One of my best professors in college introduced me to “Outsider Art”. David Barr, a spectacular artist, taught at Macomb College. Boy did I luck out! Between having him and Jim Pallas as my primary instructors, I felt (and still do) not worthy. I hit the art educator jackpot during those learning years. Dave was interested and an advocate of naïve artists. I was so young and inexperienced; I really didn’t know what he was talking about during all those slide shows in which he shared information about untrained, obscure, and unknown artists who just made art for art’s sake. I really didn’t get it back then. I do now.

As the decades have passed, I have always been mesmerized by the work of outsiders. I wish I was one, but I have far too much schooling to qualify. However yesterday, while viewing a James Kalm video, I realized the idea of naïve artists and their work habits have had an effect on me for my entire art life. The reason I have always admired outsiders is because they have an unrelenting obsession for art. Most often, even their imagery is obsessive. I love and admire this quality in their work.

As I watched the JK “Outsider Art Show” video, it hit me like a brick. This is one thing that is missing in my art life now. There are no obsessive qualities. I am not making work obsessively. Nor is the imagery in my work obsessive. This is why I feel my work right now is just too boring. I need to ramp up the energy. I want my work to exude OBSESSION in every way possible. This will be my next goal.

Thank you Mr. Kalm for offering these visual glimpses
and keeping me THINKING!

Click pic to see the James Kalm video.


Chad Wooters said...

For a long time, I wished to be monomaniacal, to be driven relentlessly in pursuit of something anything, the Howard Roark of architecture, Captain Ahab with his white whale. But I couldn't make myself get obsessed. What seems to be happening is this. Age has brought me a perspective that allows me to see that only a handful of things really matter to me. Thankfully painting is one of them. Obessetion has no pleasure in it. But focus brings joy and comfort to the heart.

artjas said...

You hit the nail on the head. I wonder how many other artists go through periods of "Lack Obsessive Passion To Create"

Sheree Rensel said...

I understand what you are saying completely. For me, I think age has a lot to do with the "slowing" of obsession too, but in a different way. Now, I have so many things to do and think about, it is very difficult to be totally focused on one thing or another. I am still an obsessive person. It is just divided up into bits now. Thanks for commenting!

Sheree Rensel said...

artjas, Oh I think MANY artists lack obsession. Some artists never, ever have been obsessed. That must be a strange feeling because I love the sensation of being relentless. I want more of it in my life! :-) Thanks for your input!