Monday, March 28, 2011


If you were brought up Catholic, you are always Catholic. All the dogma is drilled into every cell of your body. Your personality and conscientiousness takes on that moral character whether you like it or not. It never goes away either. To this day as I flip through TV channels, if I come across a station airing the Dominican nuns reciting the rosary, I pause and watch. It is like a deer in the headlights. “Hail Mary, full of grace………yadda yadda yadda………over and over and over again. I can’t help it. It is part of my blood.

You know I believe it is a Yin/Yang world. There are positives and negatives for everything. There is nothing wrong when I watch the nuns and analyze their black and white habits, their clean faces, and their zombie stares. There is some kind of weird comfort that vision gives me. However, the other side of the Catholic coin reveals haunting paranoia and what I call “worryism”.

Today as I drove back from my studio, it started to rain. The first thing I thought of is the “BOOK”! I have been working on the school yearbook and even though I backed it up via external hard drive, I started having all kinds of weird and bizarre thoughts. PARANOIA reared its ugly head. I started the “What if” thing. What if my house burned down and all my computer files were destroyed? What if all the work I did this weekend couldn’t be recovered? What if I had to start all over again? What if my computer AND my external hard drive got fried? What if…What if….WHAT IF???? BOO if you are reading this, I know I should read my PRONOIA book right now!! LOL LOL

Did you notice how my imagined catastrophe didn’t cause me to worry about my own stuff? I didn’t worry about my own house or my possessions. I worried about a little school yearbook file. That is how devoted I am to my causes. Sometimes, I wonder about myself. Why do you care so much Sheree? I don’t really know. All I do know is I cared enough to get home and burn a bunch more back up CDs to save all the yearbook files. So now, it will be OK. At least I have these. I am going out and put them in my car, now. I have to do this just in case a jet hits my house. You just never know!

There is only one other thing besides my day job to which I am this devoted. It is the process of making my ART. Nothing else matters to me as long as I can make art. I don’t care if other people don’t care. I care about my art. I care about things that are important to me. Those things might be small and insignificant to some, but they mean the world to me.

I know this is crazy, but I am Catholic. LOL LOL

So now I light a candle and pray to the Universe. I will chant like a nun “Hail Mary full of grace………..” Let all this “book” stuff be over soon and let it all turn out right. I know it will, but my paranoia is bothering me. Oh yes….Take that away too!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Art Blog: TIME is the issue

We are all on this earth for whatever time we are allotted. I never thought I would live this long. I really didn’t. For some reason, I had it in my mind that if I could live long enough to see my daughter graduate from high school (or college??), I would be good to go. She did both to the tune of about six years ago. Who would of thought?

Of course, I appreciate my “stay”. She is a grown woman now with her own life. That is just dandy. However, I realize now I have the rest of this unexpected life I will have to live. OK. So now what?

NOW, I am going to continue to be the artist I have always been sans the maternal ties. I never was a mother type. That is OK. Not all women are meant to be mommies. I am going about my ART LIFE business per usual just as I have been doing for the last (how many??) decades.

One of the most exciting things is times are so different from when I became an artist. We now have technology and social networking. We can talk and interact with artists all over the world. I LOVE this. It has paid off big time for me. Also, it helps me stay in touch with my roots and my true self. I talk to other artists. I get to see their work. Sometimes, I give advice. I try to help them get through life bumps. After all, I have been there, done that.
The only thing I don’t like about technology and the internet is when people say things they would never say in person. There is absolutely no reason to be mean or disrespectful to other artists. EVER. We are all in this together. There is no need for negativity, fear, or jealousy. There really isn’t. If one of us does well; we ALL do well.

This is why I refuse to take part in anything that doesn’t promote artist’s success. There may be people who want to manipulate us all. Don’t let them. I for one know from a long life of living: none of us has time for any of that. If anyone tries to manipulate you, just say “No Thank You”. Our lives are too short. We don't have the time for any of that. We need to use our energy and TIME for creating the POSITIVE.

Just sayin………………………

Mixed Media Soft Sculpture
Sheree Rensel

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Art Blog: The BIG Picture

For any of you who read this blog, you already know this. I am an analyzer. I over think everything. I pull and prod at my thoughts every day. Add that to my “artist’s mentality” and we have a brew that will steam. I wonder about this and I worry about that. One thing I have been thinking about lately is the weird dilemma of not being able to do my best at everything I try to do all the time.

If I have something to do, I am there 100%. I will work through the night to get the job done. I have often identified myself as a workaholic. This issue I am having now is the realization; I just can’t be great at what I do here, there, and everywhere at the same time. I have struggled with this issue a long time. I keep fighting the truth. I have finally come to the conclusion, it just can’t happen.

A few posts ago, I spoke of being in “art mode”. I love it when I am there. It is where I belong. I wish I could stay there all the time. However, I have to pull my head out of the clouds at times to face reality. I have to go to work at my day job. I have to give the energy it takes to support my job which supports my art.
There are times I get resentful. However, I have to remind myself of the PLAN.

I made a choice a long time ago. I decided I didn’t want to worry all the time about selling my art. I knew even back then, I was not willing to make art for the pure reason of selling it. I think of art in a very different way. When I realized this, I made plans to work around this obstacle. I make art. I love selling it, but I want a way to support it with the least amount of stress. ENTER: Sheree the teacher.

So, I have Sheree in “art mode” at times. Then, there is Sheree in “teacher mode” at other times. I wish the two modes could meld into one, but that hasn’t happened and it won’t. I live two lives. I can’t be the best at everything at the same time. There is a time for this “mode” and then a time for that “mode”. I am ready to say that is OK because like a bird flying high in the sky, I love my bird's eye view. I finally see the BIG PICTURE.

“Bird’s Eye View”
Graphite on Paper
Sheree Rensel

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Art Blog: Time of FEAR

I am always tuned into things happening in unison. Synchronicity is a wonderful thing. It makes me perk up. It makes me listen. It makes me take my life pulse. This week was a real doozy. Life events happened in such a perfect procession of weird, uncanny, parallel, and bizarre situations, I didn’t just perk up; I jolted forward in my chair.

I see these events as little life lessons or tests. I think the Universe sends me life exams to see if I really, really believe in what I think I have learned. This week I was a star student. I didn’t flinch once. I didn’t panic. I didn’t want to scream. I just watched as it all went down. I stood back and watched others melt down. It wasn’t pretty. It is so sad. None of this was about me. I have lived and FINALLY learned to save my energy to circumvent the negative and grab the positive brass ring. If it isn’t visible now, it will be the next turn of the merry-go-round.

So much scary stuff is going on in the world right now. The economy sucks. There is world strife. The whole globe is feeling the unrest to our bones. Even in my little art life UNIVERSE, I feel how people are so scared. I see how people are living on the edge of their lives in FEAR. They base there opinions on the "WHAT IF" factor. Even though I don't agree with that strategy, I understand why they chose to think this way.

So many things seem to be going wrong in the world right now. However, I realized this week as I sat calmly watching as others ranted and raved, spewing out their fear based opinions, I am not going there with them. I am strangely calm. Of course, I hate some of the status quo. I don’t like the way certain people think. Yet, there is this feeling inside me that knows and trusts my long life of experiences. Things always work in cycles. The pendulum will swing back eventually. In the meantime, I refuse to see things in such dark colors. I refuse to attack the innocent because I feel afraid. I refuse to live my life in FEAR.

“Fear of the Unknown”
Mixed Media on Arches
Sheree Rensel

Monday, March 14, 2011

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Wednesday, March 9, 2011


I was born in Detroit. So what? I lived in Detroit until I was 38 years old. So what? I fled Detroit because I was bored, needed to experience life in a new way, and wanted to feel warm. LOL

So what?

Working on my current art series “Treasure Maps”, I have realized my Detroit roots will never go away. They are there and they will stay. It is part of what makes me Sheree. I am not a palm tree girl or a beach babe. Despite living here in Florida for almost twenty years, I still feel like a Michigander. I still have the beads of water from Lake Erie and Lake Huron streaming down my body. I still have the guts and gall of anyone who walks tall down a street in the seediest part of downtown Detroit, looks at thugs, and with our eyes say to them “I dare you.” Nobody bothered me while I was in Detroit because I had the “look”.

Tonight something happened that made me realize my “look” has been a good thing and a benefit for most of my life. For whatever reason, I send out a body language signal that says “She would be just too much trouble.” I have known danger has been close, but once eye contact is made, we all move on.
Nothing happening here………….

It is weird because I feel sorry for those that have lived more privileged lives. They have missed out. They have never known urban life. They have never known how to talk to the homeless or street corner hoods. They don’t know how to relate to all the different kinds of people of the world. I for one can speak to a homeless person on the corner, an elderly person pulling a cart, a teenager with his newest tattoo or a University professor. Take your pick. I am “multi-lingual”. Also, I am not afraid or have a preference for any group of people. NOPE. We are all one. That is why I am a proud to be an IMPORT of Detroit. It taught me how to live and survive.

DETROIT It will never go away. This is the fabric from which I am made. It has taken me this long to say, I am glad. I am proud. Detroit has done me good. It has made me Sheree and that is a very cool thing! :-)
Click pic for larger view of "The River".

Monday, March 7, 2011

Art Blog: Girls Can’t (WHAT?) IWD

International Women’s Day

I have written about this before. I know this to be true because as I type, I am feeling that “Déjà vu” all over again feeling. I don’t care. If I am writing it again, it is because it needs to be said again. Until things change, I will write it over and over and over again.

I remember it so well. I was a freshman in college. I took a class called “Women in Literature”. I was so, so young. As I think back now, I realize I really didn’t have a clue about life or the world. All I knew was I needed college credit and this sounded like a cool class. As my naïve self sat in a desk, I looked around the room. There were all kinds of women sitting around me. There were those who dressed in long dresses and sandals. The girl over there had a wool plaid shirt above her worn out jeans and construction boots. There was the woman with the dreads that I admired. There were all kinds of women. The instructor started talking and there were rants and outrage. It was a loud cacophony. I just sat there wondering why everyone seemed so upset. Why aren’t we talking about literature? I really didn’t understand. I really didn’t.

I was raised by a single, female parent who happened to be a workaholic. She raised three girls and never mentioned we couldn’t be anything we wanted to be. So as I sat in that college classroom, I really didn’t understand the reason for the outrage and indignity. It wasn’t until I got older and more life experienced that I had my “Ah-HAH” moment.

I get it now. As we get older we start to do a life inventory. NOW, I remember when I couldn’t be a safety patrol girl in elementary school because I wasn’t a boy. Mr. Thames, my 8th grade Science teacher didn’t really explain details when he told me I couldn’t be in the “Rocket Club”. Also, I finally understand why my high school counselor was so disturbed and resistant when I demanded to be in Physics and Electronics even though I would be the only girl. I didn’t get the female connection. I just thought I was different.

I am really glad I was clueless in my first year of college. I am glad because it means that no experience up until that time stopped me from doing what I wanted to do. None of those “girls can’t” experiences have stopped me from doing whatever. NEVER. Of course, I now see how the inequity of women plays a role in our every, everyday lives. There is always a way to circumvent the barricades. It might not be right. It might not be fair. However, it is the way of the world until woman and girls get equality. This is why I am typing these words right now.

I have been so lucky in my life. I have always admired prominent older women in the arts. I recently put up this photo on Facebook. It is a true reflection of my top 8 artistic mentors. Seven of them are women. I am proud of these women because they cut a path on which I walk now. I am hoping I am doing the same for the young, female artists reading this now.
Also, I am hoping these young artists won’t have to write a blog post like this in years to come. Let this stop!

Here are the first eight of my mentor list. I love this list. These have been my mentors for decades. I am lucky to have a group of so many strong women who worked their entire lives as productive, powerful artists. Click pic to see a larger version of this pic. Can you name them?

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Art Blog: STOP the Worldigig

I worked in my studio today. Artistically, I am all over the place. I have a bunch of new stuff started. I am trying very hard to FOCUS. I have this series and that series and whatever series going on simultaneously. My mind is racing here, there, and everywhere. Then I thought about the studio walk next Saturday. Against my nature, I thought it would be a good idea to have this day be the day I actually open my studio to “people”. YIKES! This is not my thing at all. I didn't get the social gene. However, that is one of the reasons I got my second “public” studio. I feel the need to be more visible and social because it seems like the right thing to do. (?????)

So today, I worked on some new stuff and started to prep for my gallery walk open studio. You are all invited if you are in the area:

You have no idea what it takes for me to say you are all INVITED. The reason is wacky and nonsensical in a weird way. While I was in my studio today, I remembered I had to make signage for all my work. I needed titles and price tags. I almost hyperventilated thinking about doing this. Why? It is because I am in a different head space right now. I just want to be around my current work. Things are going so fast and furious right now; I just want to stop the world-igig!

I don’t want to be thinking about prices or marketing or talking sales. I just don’t. In fact, this is the very reason I teach. I knew a long time ago there would be times I didn’t want to be worried about making art sales to pay the rent. Sometimes, artists just need to reflect and think and plan their next moves. This is one of those times for me.

As the anxiety built and I made lists in my notebook about which signs to make, I just stopped. I am great at self analysis. I asked myself why I was in panic mode. It is because I don’t want to be worried about selling stuff right now! (CLARIFICATION: In this economy, I don't want to put prices on work that are less than the amount I value my work. I would rather KEEP IT right now.) The voice in my head said “Then don’t sell it!” As soon as I thought those words, I relaxed. Yes. I won’t. I don’t have to do anything I don’t want to do. So I came home, found a frame, and made this sign:

I know this is kind of crazy, but I am an artist. What do you expect? LOL

Click pic to see my current works in progress. (Facebook login required)

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Art Blog: Visual Vigilance

This morning I was sitting at a traffic light watching the sunrise sky. The clouds were a muted steel color with a shocking pink top outline. There was a cerulean blue edge punctuating the bottom of each elongated misty bulk. As the light changed and I turned the corner, I realized, I am in ART MODE. This is so good. It is so wonderful. It has been a long time coming. This past year has been a bear. I never thought I would return to my “NORMAL”. I think I am almost back there and could not be happier.

I am very aware when I am in the gear of “artist”. It is similar to that moment in Wizard of Oz when Dorothy opens the door of her house after the tornado. It goes from grays to full, technicolor. This is the way things feel for me now. I am back to seeing things again. I have “visual vigilance” or really, HYPER vigilance!

Everything I see pops out at me in a way that makes me think or ask questions and wonder how I can use it in my art. These mental acrobatic moments could come while watching my lava lamp. What does that shape look like? When I look at the sky, I can’t help but wonder what would happen if I used a Photoshop filter to nudge, shift, or caress the original image I see. I might look at a butterfly with fresh new eyes and see the miracle of nature. Or I might just look down at the restaurant below my studio and think about the menu or the people who will eat there today or wonder about the lives of all the individuals in our world.

Yes. I am in art mode. I am being visually vigilant. It feels good. I feel like myself again. I feel like Sheree the artist.

Click pic to enlarge

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Art Blog: True FREEDOM

Did you ever watch the news stories about the “LOTTO winners”? As they stand with huge smiles on their faces while holding the oversize check for their millions, envy drools out of every pore of my body. I wish them well, but I am always jealous. I really am. The same feeling comes when I see a story about an artist who is doing this big exhibition or is on the cover of that magazine. Some of them have money and it is not from selling art. They were rich or had money connections before any of this. In fact those links helped to make their art life the reality it is at that moment.

Before this starts sounding like sour grapes, I request you read on. I have more to say. This post isn’t really about money at all. It is about freedom. As I divide my time between money job and art job, I feel frustrated. Currently, I love my money job. This is great thing. It could be far worse. I know. However, I work and work and work all day doing the things that need to be done for all the others and wish with a huge heart I could be doing what I really want to do FIRST. That isn’t possible. I have to keep plugging away doing what I do to make a buck to support my art life.

It would be easy to say: “Why don’t you just sell your art and be a full time artist?” Well…………..let me ask you this question. How many homes have you been in lately that have their walls filled with original art? How many? This is a rhetorical question. I already know. I know for sure the answer doesn’t reflect the amount of money that equals my day job unless I started a flamingo painting assembly line studio. This is why I get anxious sometimes.

Back a long time ago in 1988, I was a resident at Vermont Studio Center. I was there for one month. It was January and snowing like hell. I hate snow and cold, but this was worth it. I didn’t have any money back then. However, during those four, short weeks, I had no bills. I had no extra, day job. I had food. I had shelter. I had art supplies. The only thing required was I was supposed to make art. That was it. Boy did I ever make art!!! I think that was probably one of the best and most productive months of my life. Being creative and making art was my primary job for those four weeks. I took it so seriously and it worked. Not only did I feel the satisfaction of art production, but for the first and only time in my life, I felt pure FREEDOM.

I long for that feeling again.