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