Thursday, May 26, 2011

Art Blog: BE STILL

If you are an artist, you know this feeling. You get done with one or more works you have spent lots of time trying to finish. Finally, they are real. There is no more to do. You are proud that you accomplished your art goal. You are proud of the outcome. THEN, there is that voice…….

In my case, I packed up my recent works for a show and sent them away. This made the voice even louder, NOW WHAT? I have many art options. I have a number of different series started. I have paintings in my studio that call to me. However if you are an artist, you know this feeling too…….. Unless you get involved and spend time with particular works, you lose momentum. You forget where you wanted to go or what the next step should be. These questions will only be answered by spending time with those pieces. It is like getting to know a long lost friend. Once you see them and start talking, eventually you realize the next step of your continued friendship. Things become clearer.

Sometimes my clarity comes while I am asleep. I am not a sleep expert, but we all know there are different sleep phases. I love the one that is shortly after I lie down and start to drift off. Last night, I was worried about my art. As things wind down work wise, I know I am going to dive into hours of art making. As I started to go to sleep last night, I visualized some of my works in progress. The vision seemed to go on and on. It was presented in my mind in full color. I was given direction by my sleepy mind. It didn’t solve all my concerns, but it gave me a start. It gave me a reminder of my direction and purpose.

What do you want to say Sheree? That is the true question. I will answer it. Right now, it is important for me to be still. I need to be quiet. The answers are right here. I just have to listen.


Monday, May 23, 2011

Art Blog: Just Keep Moving……..

I went into work today. I had 12 days left. Times like this are like the twilight zone. I know. I have been doing this a long time. All the major projects are done. My deadlines have been met. On my “To Do” list there is a whole lot about packing and cleaning. However, I can’t really do that because during the next two weeks, we might need this or that supplies wise. So, it is like a time of hurry up and wait.

I was so bluesy today. I am not sure what has brought on this mood. I think I know. Besides getting little to no reaction to my student project DVDs I spent days creating, I had another thought that hit me like a bolt of lightning this afternoon. After wandering around my office and classroom today trying to figure out what to do, I got so bored. I actually felt fatigue taking over my body. I felt beat down after work. It is so easy to feel discouragement nowadays. A weird feeling of dread and that nobody really CARES about the most important things is so obvious.

Despite this, I ran in the house and greeted my puppy. I started to take her outside but a half done project sitting in my kitchen caught my eye. I started working on it right there at my sink. Poor Little LuLu just looked at me as if to say “HEY. HEY, Mommy??? I need to go out.” I snapped back to reality and stopped scraping my project just so I could open the back door. Then I got back to work and started scraping away.

I am working on a kind of silly project. I am making another ART BUBBLE. I make art bubbles for mail art shows. It made me giggle because I attacked it as soon as I walked in the door. THEN I realized something I already knew, but needed this confirmation. I need to have something going on all the time. I need deadlines. I need tangible goals. I need to know I am being productive. I need to feel appreciated even if it is only by ME. Intermittently now, I am feeling like asking “What is the point (to everything???)

Therefore, I need to know there is a reason to keep moving. My ART BUBBLES are silly, but at least they give me a purpose.

Here is a quick, shot of my newest, crazy ART BUBBLE.

I will post more later. If you are interested in what is an ART BUBBLE, here is a vid about one of my mail art works. In retrospect, this one is tame compared to this weird one I am making now. It is kind of sick (in a good way). LOL

I realized as long as I am working on something and have the feeling of moving forward, I am OK.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Art Blog: Perseverance

YEP. These are hard times. I hate to tell you this, but it might get even harder. Artists are just one tiny part of society. Everybody feels the pain of difficult times. Maybe artists feel it more intensely. I don’t know. I do know there are a whole lot of sad and discontented artists out there right now. I have noticed a particular and peculiar angst being expressed here, there, and everywhere. Even though I tone down the reality that I am an “artist/educator”, I am really thankful I have a day job at the moment. I feel for those artists who are trying to live off their art. Good luck with that. I wish you well. Really…………..

The real thesis of this post is about hanging on. I might not be the BEST artist (whatever that means), but at least I can say I have hung in there. If I wanted to count, I suppose I have been a working artist for more than……….ahhhh, let me think…………almost FORTY years! Forget I said that………LOL LOL It is true though. I just keep crankin the stuff out regardless of the times, turmoil, or my mood.

It has never mattered that I don’t sell enough to pay my bills. It has never mattered that I spend oodles of money on art supplies with no logical return. To me, my art is a necessity. I need to make art like I need food or water or air. I just do it and make it happen. To me, it is more important than anything. My art allows me to speak. My art is my venue to say what I need to say. To me, this is a privilege. Do you see why my feelings for art are so strong? I have to live this way or I would melt into a puddle of doom.

It is my nature. Is it yours?

"...battle between prosecution and defense is also a battle between emotion and reason"

Acrylic / Mixed Media on Wood

Sheree Rensel

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


It is HERE!!!! Calling all artists!!!!!!!!!! CALL FOR ENTRIES, CALL FOR ARTISTS "Studio Studio" The prospectus can be found by clicking the photo (below).

This is going to be a very great, interesting show. It gives artists an opportunity to express their feelings about their studios/workspace.

ALL ARTISTS worldwide are encouraged to send their images and ideas. PLEASE ENTER!! :-)

With YOUR help and entries, this show will be really good!!!

Click pic and scroll down to CALL FOR ENTRIES. The prospectus is there!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Art Blog: Impending DOOM?

The irony of all this is uncanny. Besides being an artist, I also teach. I have taught in just about every kind of circumstance over the last 30+ years. I have taught art to babies to seniors. Every kind of person and/or art medium you can imagine, I have taught. This year was for sure my BEST teaching year. In fact, it was my best art life year ever. I have had everything I need to juggle the life of an artist and an educator. My teaching position this year was heavenly. Yes, there are always challenges because I teach kids with big time challenges. However, it has never been better.

My art life has thrived. For the past year, I have felt I really had a handle on my juggling skills. Documentation proves I have my art life and educator life in good form. Life is good again.
Well…… it?

I thought it was. However, things are changing fast. There is so much gloom and doom being expressed during my days right now. I have to tread softly here. I can’t tell you the whole story, but to be honest, I am shocked I still have a job right now.

Yet, I may be one of the last standing, but this is not a good scenario either. My world will change drastically next year. I can’t even imagine how it will be. This concerns me greatly. I keep waiting for the “bad news”. I am ready.

I have lived through DOOM. I know what it looks like. I know what it feels like. It is not fun. I have also learned DOOM might not be as disastrous as my mind might want to think. I am prepared. If I got word things will change for me in a way that will make it too difficult to be successful at what I do, I will have to make huge life changes. I might not be able to live the life I live now. That is OK with me. Maybe downsizing isn’t such an awful thing.

My needs are relatively easy. I can live in a smaller space. I don’t need as much as I have. As long as I can keep making art and pay for food and a place to live, I will be fine. I don’t fear doom anymore. I know I will survive. I know this because I have done all this before.


What is happening in our world now?

I guess we will ALL see……………………

Monday, May 9, 2011


I remember it so well. It took me a long time to understand it, but now I do. Long ago, something was going on in my life and it made me so crazy, I started going to a therapist. I am not really into the idea of analysis (at least with other people involved). However, I needed to do something at the time because I felt my world had fallen apart and I couldn’t find the glue to put it back together. So, I made the appointment. I went.

I told my story. She “got” me in some weird way. Each week when I would go into the office, she could tell my mood. With me, there is no gray area. Either I am manically giddy or I am doomsday sad. On the sad days, she would always greet me with a question: “What happened………..?”

I would tell her. Then she would ask more questions. Inevitably, I would say something like “I can’t believe this person did this to me! I can’t believe it! I would never do that to them!” She would listen and hold back a smirk. She would always respond “Sheree, THEY are not you and you are not them.” After she said this, I would look at her and try to understand what she meant. I was very young back then. I really didn’t get it. I do now though.

Even though the years have flown by and I still suffer when I am disappointed by the actions of others, I finally understand what she meant. I am a workaholic, Type A personality. I make no apologies for that. I love working and producing stuff. No matter the situation, I have to be putting in 1000% worth of energy and it is always for some kind of good cause. Then when I get done, there is often an anti-climax. I expect a BOOM of response! Instead, I get a meager bump, if that.

The result is I feel stupid for putting so much effort and excitement into something. I feel foolish for making it seem so meaningful. I feel like there is something wrong with me because I cared so much.

WRONG SHEREE! Just like “she” told you: “THEY are not you and you are not them.” If I care so much, want to do the right thing, put time and energy into life, good for me. If others don’t want to do that, it is just fine and dandy. If they don’t see the importance or passion, it is what it is. They are not me and I am not them.

Therefore, the moral of this story is I will be me and you should be you and they can be whoever they want to be.

“Me As You”

Click pic to see detail view
Mixed media

By Sheree Rensel

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Art Blog: Times of GOOD and PLENTY

I don’t know if it is my age or just plain life circumstances, but I am very reflective these days. One thing that has been on my mind a lot lately is trying so very hard to be in the moment. So often all of us are so busy and waiting for the NEXT thing to happen, we don’t even know what is going on right now! We haven’t taken time to stop, think, and look at what is really going on around us.

We have all heard of the expression “there are good times and bad times”. Right now our world is going crazy. It would be so easy to think things are really awful. Maybe this is why I decided to write about this. I am trying to apply my life lessons learned.

I have been dabbling with the idea of entering an installation show down here at a Florida venue. It sounds so enticing. Back years ago, I did installation art. I loved it. However, times were so different then. I had more space. I lived were there were more galleries that would allow you to do installations. Also to defray the cost of doing installations, galleries would give artists “stipends”. Remember those??? I (and probably many other artists at that time) didn’t realize how lucky we were. “THEY” would give you money to do a work of art??? Say what? Yes, they did. It isn’t like that anymore.

Similarly, the art scene was so vibrant and extravagant. I went to openings that had full spreads of food. I remember sticking stuff in my pockets for tomorrow’s lunch. It seemed money wasn’t an object. We were living the high life and we didn’t even know it. At least, I didn’t realize how we artists were so lucky back then. I didn’t realize our good fortune because I wasn’t in the moment. Also, I didn’t have the cycles of life behind me yet. I had no other reality to which to compare.

So now I am trying to look around, watch, and understand my 2011 reality. There are no stipends for installations shows. There are very few gala openings with a banquet of food. There are even fewer art buyers who pay hundreds and thousands for art work. This seems so sad. However, it is what it is. The ironic twist to this story is I like now better. Even though I have had the good fortune to live through an era of GOOD AND PLENTY, I find my life now to be far more gratifying. Times are good for me because I have finally learned to try to be in the moment and notice the good parts. This is skill that needs to be honed, but I am getting better at it!

“Language of the Birds”
Click pic for larger view

Mixed media

By Sheree Rensel

I picked this work to represent this post because it represents a time when I didn’t have a clue about the MOMENT. I love this piece. I did a series of three works that were similar. It was a strong series. However, I was so interested in going on to the next thing; I lost the continuity and potential of this idea. I am taking a relook at this now. I am trying to be in the moment.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Art Blog: KEITH

It took me a few days. I had to think about all this. I felt so wounded and sad. This is how much he meant to me. I am ready to speak now.

I remember that very first time I saw Keith. I didn’t like him. I didn’t want to hear about him at all. He was being introduced by a professor that was part of the “good ole boy” network. I was a bit militant back then, so I didn’t want to acknowledge or accept another rave about some MALE artist who was being inducted into the club. Screw that. So I cleaned my brushes or daydreamed during the introduction. NOPE. I wasn’t going to have any of it.

This guy kept hanging around. I saw him everywhere. He would be lurking around the art department administration area. Then, I would see him in the Old Main painting studio. Another time, I would see him at an art opening. I thought he was cute. He was so little. I like little.

Despite his genius that I am sure he was aware of, he was never loud or obnoxiously outspoken. He would only speak when it seemed necessary. When he did speak, there was a glowing light coming from his mouth. It was like a glowing beam of brilliance. This is why he finally caught my ear. His words were deep, substantial, and worth the listen. Keith was all about creativity, concepts, thinking outside of the box, pushing art to new levels and limits. He made my head turn, finally. I realized this wasn’t about gender. This was about ART. He won me over.

We were never great friends. He went his way; I went mine. Yet he never left my mind. He was such an outstanding person. I've thought about him for decades. I always wondered what happened to him. I wondered what he was doing. Our lives brushed against each other and I didn’t realize years ago how he was one of many people whose brush would BRISTLE me. His art life energy was contagious. I accepted the infection with open arms.

So the moral of this story is to get on with IT. Whatever “it” is, do it now. I will always remember Keith and what he stood for. Of course when I die, that memory will fade along with me. That is why I am writing this all down now. We all affect each other. Whether you realize it or not, our sheer presence and actions can help to change people. Keith did that to me.

I hope you will all remember this and pass it along. This is how memories stay alive.

Keith Aoki


Photo Credit: Dirk Bakker, Detroit Institute of Arts