Friday, December 28, 2012

Art Blog: The New Now - Part 2

OK, here is the rest of the story. In fact, it is perfect timing. We are approaching a new year. I am starting a new life. It is all good. You can believe it or not. I really don't care. I know this is very true. I lived it. It is the truth.

I have always had some kind of weird things happening to me. I have seen auras. I have seen spirits. I have seen extremely weird, nebulous visions. The first time I experienced any of this was when I was seven years old. I was sent by a Catholic nun to deliver something to the rectory. I walked alone between the school building and the attached rectory. The breezeway was stone with a fountain. I was kind of scared by the journey. Even though it was just a few steps, the sounds of the hollow hall and my tiny feet on the cobblestones, it set me back. I was weary. Then something happened. I can't really explain. All I know there was a flash, I stopped walking, and I felt safe. It was a strange thing, but it happened. I have always remembered this. It was the start of a lifetime of unusual events and abilities.

Over all my years, I have continued to have weird things happen. Like I said before, believe it or not. I know it really happens. I have seen auras. I have seen visions of people in the past. I have had dreams that come true. To me all this is fact. I have never attempted to develop any kind of skills beyond what was happening to me naturally. I don't want to be a psychic or anything like that. I just want to be Sheree who sees bizarre things every once in a while.

So this brings us to the NOW. I will call it the NEW NOW. My most recent hooky, spooky vision was a dozen weeks ago. I had been looking for a job for months. I had a few takers but I wasn't a wanter. Nothing seemed to fit. Then I got a call from a woman (my angel) who said they were looking for someone to create an art/technology program at their institution. I almost lost my footing. After nine months (the time it takes to create a new life) of trying to find a job for me, this call came out of the blue. I listened and agreed to meet with her on the appointment date. The night before our interview, I had a dream. It was a very vivid dream. In fact, I woke up the next morning with a perfect image in my head. It was so specific, I laid there thinking about it. Where had I seen this before? Why was I thinking of this image? I really pondered this image. What was it?

I was most taken by the architecture. Was it a church I had visited? What is this golden image of windows and struts? It was familiar, yet strange. I laid there in bed for about ten minutes working this vision in my head. Finally, I gave up and went on with the day. I had to prepare for my interview. I got ready and went to the address. I had to go to the security station first. I told them why I was there and they called the appropriate person. I sat and waited. The interviewer came and got me. I followed her to the building that was to be the work site. I entered the building and my jaw dropped. It was my dream. It was the same architecture. It was a building in which I had never seen before in real life, yet it showed up in my dream. I completed the interview and the rest is history.
I got the job.
This is the lobby of where I work now. Go figure. Believe what you want.



Click here for a peek at my NEW "DIGS"

Friday, November 30, 2012

Art Blog: My New Normal - Part 1

OK. Here is a start. I have so much to write. I have so much to tell. Some of it is almost unbelievable unless you really believe in spirits and higher powers. I will get to that later. In the meantime I have to tell you all the beginnings. I quit the job I had for over 18 years this past January. It was a weird, insane moment. I just had to do it. Despite loving this job for years, it had become a nightmare for me. It was so horrible, I would cry when I got home from work. I knew I had to do something to survive. So I quit.

Now what??? I spent the next few months wondering, plotting, and searching. I had bad feelings about teaching. I thought I hated it. I even told my friends, I will never teach again. This is how crazy I got during the past year. I just wanted to alleviate the emotional pain. After looking for some kind of non-teaching jobs for weeks and months, I printed out this note to myself.

I wasn't really sure what it meant; I just had a feeling. I just knew, I had to post it right in front of my face. I taped it to the window next to my computer. I looked at it every day as I looked for jobs. God is waiting? God is waiting for what? I kept asking myself that question, but held this sign with high regard. Then things started to happen. Some things were horrible. Now, I know they were the antithesis of what I was supposed to do. I had to experience what I DIDN'T want in order to understand what I did want. I get it now. As I moped around in my studio, I realized I missed teaching. I want my art room back. I wanted a place to call my own and do what I do best.
As soon as I got done thinking that thought, I got a phone call. I will write a full blog post about this soon. At that moment, it was as if God said "OK. That's all I needed." Long story short, I got hired to teach art and technology at a very cool place. I have spent the last four weeks being crazy frantic. I realized today, I want things to be back to the way I had built up over the years on my last job. I had created such a great art room and program. I want that NOW. However, I realize I have to give it time. In fact, that is part of the joy. Building a new program as God smiles down. God waited and I was ready. :-)


A new home.
A new normal.
I am not sure I will last another 18 years here. In fact, it is unlikely. However, I will give it my best shot. We will see. In the meantime, I am a happy teaching artist. I was sent here. I know it for sure. Stay tuned for the explanation. There is much more to this story and it will curl your toes.
Now, I am feeling out the NEW NORMAL.
BELIEVE.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Art Blog: EMPATHY

I am a huge LBGT supporter. I have always felt some kind of weird kinship and empathy for the Gay community. Maybe it is because I am an artist. There are so many gay artists. I have always been surrounded. I relate to them. Even though I am heterosexual, I feel some kind of similar spirit. I too feel like an outcast. I have never fit into our society in the traditional way. For some reason, I have been thinking about the movie "Longtime Companion" all day today. I remember the exact time I saw this film. I was teaching at a college. I had a morning class and an evening class. There was always a gap for me to go do something in the afternoon. One day in 1990, a local art movie theater was showing the movie "Longtime Companion". It was a film about the AIDS epidemic and a group of gay men in NY. I entered the theater early. I went straight down to the front row. I always sit right up front because it is never crowded.
The theater started to fill up and I noticed even the front row was getting full. Drag queens sat on either side of me. I turned around to look at the audience behind me. I was the only female in the theater. The movie started. We all watched the story unfold. It was funny, loving, and true. The end is tragic and sad. As the credits rolled, I lost it. I started to sob LOUD. With my head in my hands, I cried full on into my lap. The drag queens on each side of me grabbed me and said "It is OK honey. It is OK"! I have always remembered their kindness and sincerity. Maybe this is why I am a LGBT supporter.
We both have empathy.


Thursday, October 11, 2012

Art Blog: The GOOD Things

There are times when we panic and are frantic. This could be one of those times for me, but I choose NOT. Yesterday, I had another job interview. I am being selective. It might be to my own detriment. I mean, I need a job for sure. However, I have also come to a place when I want to call the shots. I am at a point when I think I deserve a happy job. In other words, I want to use my skills, but feel fulfilled when I get home at the end of the day. That is not asking too much. I do need an income for sure, but the amount of that income can be what I want it to be. I don't have to make oodles of money. My priority is to make enough to pay my bills and make art. It is that simple. I know how many $$$ that takes (meager by societal standards) and so we go.

Last night, I was sitting on the couch watching some inane reality show after doing art stuff. I was winding down and it hit me. I love my life right now. I really do. Yes, I certainly need more of an income, but the sky hasn't fallen yet. I had this grandiose feeling of well being. I kept thinking in my head "Everything is going to be OK Sheree. Just keep going and doing what you do."

In my daily life, I am gathering all kinds of new, weird, enlightening, and bizarre life experiences right now. It is kind of fun. I spent this morning working on three different art entries and I had the overwhelming feeling that this is the way it is supposed to be. Sheree the artist is being Sheree the artist. There is nothing wrong with that at all. I just need to get more cash flow and my life will be wonderful.

LOL

At least, I have my little art house. This is one of the good things. No, it is one of the BEST things. I am in there. I feel safe and protected. I have everything I need to survive. I just have to be able to pay for it. That will not be so hard. It just has to come and it will. I have faith.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Art Blog: Loose Ends

"All true artists, whether they know it or not,
create from a place of no-mind, from inner stillness."

-Eckhart Tolle

I read this quote and realized an irony. It seems logical to me that a head full of buzz would be capable of grandiose creativity. Maybe this isn't true. Recently my mind has been so full of chatter, it has become a deafening blast of sounds bouncing off every crevice of my skull. When this happens, I instinctually start to shut down. Over the years, I have developed a "restart" button that naturally protects me from going insane. LOL LOL

During the loud times, I see a pattern. First, I notice I stop talking (or typing) for a while. A few words dribble out here and there but for the most part, I become extremely anti-social. I do a lot of staring into space waiting for my mind to calm. Sometimes it takes hours, days, or weeks. In really challenging times, it might take a month or two. Luckily, I can feel and recognize when this is happening. I want to grab and shake myself while yelling "SNAP OUT OF IT!".

This blog post is the shake I need right now. Like I mentioned in a previous post, I want to go back to basics. I want fresh enthusiasm and new direction. I just don't know which way to turn. During some quiet time the past few days, I have wished for an inspired moment. I am a bit hand shy right now because all my "brilliant ideas" this past year have seemed to lead to dead ends. Also I know better than to wait for the proverbial lightening strike of inspiration, but I hesitate to start new art without something specific in mind. So today, I figured the only way to get the new ball rolling and picking up steam is to just paint to paint.

One of my bad art habits is starting things I never finish. I have a stockpile of work that are the beginnings of paintings waiting for completion. These loose ends sit around my studio staring at me. I never throw them away because some of my most cherished works were once abandoned and then resurrected. So right now in my attempt to get out of my own head, I gathered up some of the small works and decided to finish something! I will start on these little ones first. I have a number of biggies propped up being patient too. Hopefully if I start painting, I will reach that no-mind, inner stillness mentioned by Tolle. Poof! Creative juices will flow again.
Shhhhhhhh, be quiet and paint!

I bet every one of the artists reading this has bunches of "loose ends".
Get Er Done!!!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Art Blog: LOGICAL

Today while driving across the Howard Frankland Bridge going from St. Petersburg to Tampa, I was listening to the "oldies" station on the radio. A song came on and I was singing along, but this time I thought about the lyrics. I was so amazed because I realized even though it is an old song (1979), it still resonates today. I really thought about the lyrics and responded with a "WOW". I couldn't remember who performed this song, but I looked it up. Read the lyrics. This is so relevant to what is going on right NOW!

I relate to so many of the words:

" When I was young It seemed that life was so wonderful A miracle, oh it was beautiful, magical"

"There are times when all the world's asleep The questions run too deep for such a simple man Won't you please, please tell me what we've learned?"

"I know it sounds absurd but please tell me who I am"

This whole song should be our mantra today. Supertramp wrote about stuff before their time OR maybe what they said is timeless.

The Logical Song lyrics Songwriters: Davies, R; Hodgson, R;

When I was young It seemed that life was so wonderful A miracle, oh it was beautiful, magical And all the birds in the trees Well they'd be singing so happily Joyfully, playfully watching me But then they send me away To teach me how to be sensible Logical, responsible, practical And then they showed me a world Where I could be so dependable Clinical, intellectual, cynical There are times when all the world's asleep The questions run too deep for such a simple man Won't you please, please tell me what we've learned? I know it sounds absurd but please tell me who I am I say, "Now what would you say for they calling you a radical Liberal, fanatical, criminal?" Won't you sign up your name? We'd like to feel you're Acceptable, respectable, presentable, a vegetable Oh, ch-ch-check it out yeah At night when all the world's asleep The questions run so deep for such a simple man Won't you please, please tell me what we've learned? I know it sounds absurd but please tell me who I am Who I am, who I am, who I am 'Coz I'm feeling so illogical D-d-digital Oh, oh, oh, oh Unbelievable B-b-bloody marvelous


Click pic to watch video

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Art Blog: Back to BASICS

"How is this working for ya?" Dr. Phil

OK. Here we go again. Obviously, something is NOT working for me. I hate to even type this, but I can't GIVE my current art away. No sales, very little response. All my efforts seem dead in the water. I am not all that concerned because I do what I do, what I do, what I do. Yet, there is still a part of me that is freaking out right now. Consequently, I have become more introspective than usual.

I have been thinking about my retrospective art life and art work. I feel like I got derailed at some point. I remember in my young, naive days, I would paint/draw/sculpt whatever I wanted. I was so free. Then, I started college. I learned things. I stopped being who I really wanted to be because I wanted to fit in and be pertinent to the times. I have to admit, whenever I strayed, I felt a little bit of heat from my colleagues and patrons. If it didn't fit my "pattern" at the time, my work was dissed, shunned, or simply ignored. I feel the same way now.

For example, I remember when I started drawing in graphite after years of using acrylic and building sculptures. These drawings went over like a lead balloon.

Years later after doing a one person show that dealt with Xerox photos with journal dialogue, I came up with this painting out to of the blue. I have never shown it in public. It is hanging in my living room. At night, I sit and look at it. There is the real "Sheree the Artist" in there somewhere.

As I continued working, my style developed into some kind of wacky, assemblage style, over colorful, painting / mixed media work. I am not saying it is bad. I did it. I like it for what it is, but there is just something missing or more likely fake about these pieces.

Yesterday I got an email from a wonderful friend. She owns a number of my works. She sent me a photo of a detail from an installation, "Relationship 915" I did in the '80s. It is quite bizarre because I have been trying to get back to my roots. I want to get back to basics. I even bought graphite and have been studying (again) how to work in the genre of realism.
Did you notice a common thread over all the years. There is something about birds as a symbol that keeps popping up regardless of my style. I know why that is. For years and years in my youth, I had a recurring dream of flying. This started when I was very young. I always wanted to be a bird. I remember waking up from those dreams and my stomach would jump the same way it does when you go on a roller coaster. I didn't want the dream to end. I am not saying I want to create bird paintings and drawings right now. However, it is time for changes.

I still do want to FLY.


Click pic for view of "Relationship 915" detail drawing.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Art Blog: THIRD act

"It takes a long time to become young." Picasso

Tomorrow is my birthday. It is not a decade birthday but I am so close. In 12 months, I will hit another landmark. I am actually excited about it. You see, I don't mind aging. I am good with it. In fact most of my mentors have always been older. I have always pictured myself as an older artist, living life and loving it.

Recently, I saw Jane Fonda speak about aging. I have never been a Jane Fonda fan, so to speak, but what she said made a whole lot of sense to me. She spoke of a "longevity revolution". That is to say, we now live longer than any generation in history. In fact, we almost live another adult life because we have tagged on another 30 years or so. However, many of us still have the perception of the old paradigm. We live through youth, we live through middle age, then, we die. This isn't true anymore. Now, we get to live a new life as older adults. This doesn't have to be a bad thing at all. Back to my birthday: Other people seem more concerned with my age than I am. I get constant reminders from younger people that I am OLD. This is their problem, not mine.

Actually, I think it is more about their own perceptions of aging. Just as Jane states, when you are looking at aging from the outside, you have certain perceptions. However, when you are experiencing it, things look very differently. I have aged and I am just fine with it. My goodness, I have had a life! Other baby boomers out there might agree. We have lived during times of great history. Even my own history of accomplishment, failures, and successes has been mind blowing to me. I am almost at the door of the "third act". I have thought long and hard about this. I agree with Jane. Just recently, I have realized that fear is subsiding. I am not afraid to get old because I know I am just the same Sheree as I was before. I just have lots more wrinkles. BTW They don't "hurt". LOL

I love Jane's analogy about entropy. Yes, life is about birth and decay, but at least our human spirit is safe. Our spirit can be tamped down by life and stress. However ennui isn't a given at all. In reality, many of us (myself included) start to review our lives and see things very differently. We change our relationship to our past. Just like Maya Angelou said "When we know better, we do better." This is so true. It is important to "circle back" and see where we have been and where we are going next. This is what I am doing in this next year. As I approach my third act, I want to make things right in my mind and spirit.
I too want to become WHOLE.


Click pic to watch Jane's TED video about the "Third Act"

Monday, September 10, 2012

Art Blog: NEW DAY

Here is a our chance. We have a new day.
Aren't we lucky?
Click pic for detail view
(Photo Credit: coolpeoplecare.org)

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Art Blog: "WE MATTER"

We all ponder. We all ask life questions. I have been a little too deep for my own britches since I was a very little girl. I can remember being very young laying in the grass looking up at the sky and asking
"WHY, WHY, WHY?"
with my overdramatic, pre-kindergarten mind.


I still do that. Just now I tend to ask Facebook instead of the sky. LOL
I recently put up a post about feeling the art "blahs". It turned into a great discussion. There were all kinds of opinions and feedback. One suggested the book Van Gogh Blues. I am done with art self help books, but this title perked my curiosity. So I started researching. It is written my Eric Maisel. I read a few excerpts on Amazon.com of the book and watched a YouTube video in which he explains the theme of the book. His premise is artists (all creative types) want to "hold meaning afloat". He also mentions the specific condition of Existential Depression.

I had never heard those two words put together. I have heard of existentialism and of course, depression. I just never linked the two. I have fought biological depression my entire life. I got those genes from both sides of my family. I know about it and how to deal. However, I had never realized that some of this is the "existential" variety. I love that I now have an official name for the "art blahs".

So how do you treat this condition. Well, if you already know you aren't in medical trouble (You have seen a doctor/therapist), you can first eat right and exercise to rid yourself of some demons. Also, you can talk it out. Change your own inner dialogue about your choices in life and stop the "I am not worthy" rolling tape in your mind. I am so guilty of this. My rational self knows I am an artist of worth and I have worked long and hard to get to this point in my life. There is no logical reason for me to be feeling droopy or sad about being the artist I chose to be. However, sometimes we just need to talk it out. That is why I posted my thoughts on Facebook. This is a healthy thing.

It is kind of funny because we artists know in our hearts we really do matter. We all know there are times when we all question this fact. The best cure is to get back in there and be persistent. The mere act of creating can be tough, but the end result is a lifted spirit and feelings of accomplishment. Our tenacity will overcome any doubts and it also answers my original question; "WHY?"



"TENACITY"
wood, glass, acrylic
Click pic to see more of my newest "Habitats" Series

Friday, August 31, 2012

Art Blog: Soft Place to FALL

This has been an unbelievable year for me so far. I quit my teaching job and have been looking for a new, fresh start. It is all good. I have had a couple of "false alarms", but that is OK because I learned something from the experiences. In fact, it has been a wonderific last few months. I have learned to live "poor" again. That doesn't really bother me at all. I can do this, just as I have for many years before.

One thing that is different now is I realize my worth. I have mad skills. People always told me that and I would shrug their comments off. Despite awards and accolades, I just thought I was an ordinary artist/teacher. I wanted to do my jobs and live life. That was it.

Now, I have come to a time in my life in which the clock is ticking. If everything goes well, I might have twenty more good years. I realize this and want to make the best of it.

So what do I want? My desires are probably very similar to your own. I want a "SOFT PLACE TO FALL". In other words, I want a place to work in which I can work a long time. This place will appreciate my skills, love my creativity, and want me to use my enthusiasm and happiness to do a job well done. I want to do meaningful work that helps people. Also, I want to be allowed to laugh loud sometimes. LOL

That is it. That is all. I don't think this is asking too much. :-)


Just like this: A SOFT PLACE TO FALL
I know it will happen sooner or later. I just need to find the fit. I will too. Thank you Universe!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Art Blog: What HAPPENED?

“Don't cry because it's over. Smile because it happened.”

Dr. Seuss

Many years ago (25 to be exact), something traumatic happened to me. I was full of anxiety and trauma. I was offered an opportunity to go see a social worker for advice and guidance. It was a free program sponsored by the university I lived near at the time. I decided to take advantage of this opportunity because I was a hot mess with a tiny child in tow.

Each week, I would walk over to university mental health office and meet with her. Quickly she became aware of my artist status and took that into account during her psychological "readings". Some weeks were kind of boring. I just told her what I did and what I planned to do. However, there were days when I would walk into her office and she could read my face. The first words out of her mouth were "Sheree, what happened?"

During those years, I never really understood what was going on or why she asked me that. I didn't see the connection of my body language and my life experiences. I really didn't. In the meantime, I would tell her some sad story and she would give me tips on how to proceed.

Flash forward 25 years...............I get it now. In fact, when I get doomy and gloomy, I start off asking myself: "What happened Sheree?" This one question helps me to understand that I am reacting to external sources of my environment. I am not living in the now or using myself as my own reality. This past year has been more than difficult for me. I had to leave a job I love for bizarre reasons. I started to feel like a waif in the wind. Nothing has made sense for too many months. However, I got a new job that is a totally new experience for me. Yes I am sad I had to leave what I know, but I am happy I have this opportunity for new experiences. In fact, if I ask myself "What happened?", I could respond with words like
"SOMETHING REALLY GOOD!"


This painting is a perfect example of my feelings right not.

"NEW START"
Yes. Thank you Universe!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Art Blog: Remembering LOVE

I just got it! I mean the revelation hit me today. If you have followed me here, you know this is a blog about the emotionality of being an artist and a human being on this earth. I have been involved in a six month hell hole whirlwind of indecision and frustration. Thank goodness I have survived. I am well aware that I have been treading water and came up for breaths many times. There is a part of me that had faith, but there was another part that wanted to curse the Gods. I felt I deserved more and better.

I have nothing to really complain about at all. I mean, it could be a whole lot worse. I have a home. I eat well. I have enough art supplies to last for years. Even my library could keep me busy reading new books until I die. Yet, I still felt jilted. Am I spoiled? Why do I have such anger right now? I guess it is because I was given such a blessing and it is now gone. Back in 1993, I was thrust into a work position that was totally unexpected or desired. The job of teaching underprivileged , emotionally disturbed children came across my path and before I knew it, I was supposed to do this job. Oh. OK. whatever. I learned fast that I used art to teach these kids about LOVE under the umbrella of art and expression.

I did that for almost two decades. At the beginning of this year, I had to leave. It just wasn't working. All my desire to work to create more love and compassion in the world was blockaded by our environment and societal systems. Our world, our society has placed barriers that prevent teachers and caregivers a chance to truly change the world. Our open arms have been handcuffed.

So I was out of a job and began wandering. Where will I go next? What will happen? Well, it seems I have a new landing place now. I will speak about the details at a later date. However, I see a common denominator. My new job has all kinds of job duties and requirements. However, the one thing I learned is that the main ingredient of the job is really being able to spread the love and give attention to those in need. Now, I get it. It is the same kind of job, it just has different people involved. I will be doing the same thing but in a different way. I am so excited about this because I have so much love to give. I am eager to hug those around me and let them know it will all work out. It will.
I know, because I have lived it.


This is all that really matters.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Art Blog: FAITH

In some ways I don't even want to talk about this. All the drama and emotion are just too new. Also, I haven't signed on the dotted line so to speak. After going through months of rejection, there is a paranoid part of me. It isn't real yet. Let me step back a bit. Yes, I am an artist. Yes, I do not make enough money as an artist to pay all my bills. Yes, I have always had a day job. Yes, for decades I had a day job that paid well. Yes, I walked away from that day job because I just couldn't take the daily stress, harassment, and abuse. I gave it all up because I deserve more. I am not talking about money. I am talking about physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional well being. I mean, if you have money it is great, but if you feel like you want to die, that is not a good thing at all. In fact, money becomes unimportant and senseless. You don't need money in heaven.

So....................I just quit my (once upon a time) great job. Some people I know were freaked out. How could you do this Sheree? Are you crazy? No. I am not crazy at all. I just know for sure I want to "Live to Work", NOT "Work to Live". In other words, I am such a worker bee and I LOVE working. However, I do not want to work in a place that makes me sad, anxious, hating life, or myself. It just isn't worth it to me. I don't care how much money or benefits are offered. I am worth more than that. I feel this in my soul.

So I just went on a six month adventure of trying to figure out what I should do. I hoped and prayed everyday it would all work out. I had faith because my whole life has to do with divine intervention. I knew in my heart everything would be fine. Yet, there were moments I questioned God. After a few months, I almost wanted to curse the heavens. I mean, I was ready but nothing was happening. Be patient Sheree, be patient. That became my mantra.

Well, I got word today I got a job. It is a PERFECT job for me. PERFECT. The way I found this job is so bizarre. I applied. I was interviewed. It seems I was hired. I am still a bit skeptical because all the background checks and yadda yadda yadda have to be finished. I really have nothing to worry about because I know I am good. Still, there is that litte feeling of insecurity. I know for sure my guardian angel is waiting for kudos. I can hear her yelling at me now. "SAY WHAT?? I got you this job and there are no thank yous???" Yes, there will be huge thanks and gratitude when I am on the job in a couple of weeks. In fact, I will be so happy I will freak the angels out with my yells and screams of over exuberance. :-)


Friday, July 20, 2012

Art Blog: True to YOURSELF?

OK, it is time to write. I took a little time off because I needed to get all my "eggs in a basket". I have been all over the place in every way. Rationally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually, it is obvious I am going through an art life "passage". It is all good. I can go with that. In fact, I love challenge and turmoil. Since I am old enough to have a history of decades, I know how these bumps in the road can lead to great things (eventually).

I have been experimenting. I have been trying to find the answer to the artist lifestyle dilemma. I have never depended on art sales of any kind. I figured out a long time ago, that stress wasn't worth it. So, I have always had a day job to bring in bucks and made my art too. If it sold, great. If not, that was great too. I had my day job income.

Right now, I am between day jobs. I am having money troubles. So I really put the heat on and have been trying to cater to the "market". I have about five or six different kinds of art right now. Some are so esoteric and eclectic, it is likely they will never sell. Then, I have some newer stuff that is light, airy, and marketable. Most importantly, I am pricing it CHEAP. I just want to keep my head above water. I am slowly working towards doing outside shows (which I have never done or wanted to do.) Yet, I have to find some kind of middle ground.

At least, my "table work" is within the realm of my taste. I am not doing anything yet that feels like prostitution. I am just making what I make. I have my selling art and my REAL art. I don't want to go beyond this parameter. I know for sure I want to stay true to myself (money or not). Do you make art that isn't really YOURS just to sell or do you stick to your heart and create what is true to you?



This is in the probably will "never sell" category. It is part of my "Treasure Map" series. CLICK THE PIC to see a video about this series.
I will keep doing my own work regardless.
I have been an artist too long to cave into popular opinion.
My intuition is my truth.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Art Blog: Want FRIES with that ART?

Artists are scrambling to find new and innovative ways to have their art seen and sold. The number of galleries are dwindling and skyrocketing costs/commissions cause artists to rethink how they will get their work out of the studio. Hanging art in alternative venues like restaurants and businesses is not a new idea. However recently, there seems to be surge of interest in this practice. After seeing invitations and announcements about these kinds of "shows", I began to ask questions. I knew I would never show my work in a restaurant or club, but then I asked myself WHY? After thinking about this for a while, I came to some conclusions. However trying to be open minded, I asked other artists for their opinions too.

Claudia Olivos
"I had a horrible experience with all my paintings getting damaged. After 7 yrs, the restaurant owners dropped them off without warning.... lucky for us the rain came an hour after we got home; so, I guess it could have been worse. I had another experience which WAS good..BUT the owner was also an artist, that helps. Restaurants should be grateful for our art...never take commission...rather, we should be paid for our "decoration" just as musicians are paid for their services at a restaurant.... but that is wishful thinking...so at the very least, full payment for services is good. A restaurant should allow labels for the art, as well as allowing the artist to leave business cards at the front desk. (I had people report to me that my art labels were always taken down except when they knew I was visiting...also reports about one particular waiter who would tell everyone the paintings had been painted by him."

Cagney King
"You know...at first...I thought this was a great idea. Another clever way to get art out into the public, possibly promote the artist...so I checked out a few local cool restaurants that were getting into this pretty heavy. I sat down and ordered an appy and some suds and observed. The art on the walls was very cool. Right up my alley, urban, free flowing painted on cardboard mounted to wood frames of sorts. Very cool. Then it happened...a table at angle across began discussing the work more loudly than normal and after a bit of laughing and head shaking decided to fling their food at it like monkeys flinging their shite. I looked around in horror and gave them a most nasty stare to try to make them uncomfortable...it didn't work. I finished and before leaving let them know my opinion on their behavior and how appalling and uneducated I believed it to be. They apologized in the most UN-sincere of ways and I left to visit the bar on my way out and bring their antics to the attention of staff...on which they reacted in mock horror and said they would be sure to clean it up before the artist noticed. This establishment is in the artsy district and known for full support of artists and their work and I know they can't help it if the occasional group of monkeys come in...but that was enough for me. I kindly declined the offer to hang my work."

Marilyn Fenn
"I have hung shows of my work in several restaurants in the past. Nothing bad ever happened, but I never made a sale via those outlets, either. It was nice that some of my work got some additional local exposure (beyond art shows in art spaces), but after awhile, I started thinking that restaurants weren't a very good venue for selling art, and that perhaps it cheapened the perception of the work as "art." There are still a few restaurants, however, in which I would be happy to have my work hanging. These are better restaurants that usually show work by some of my favorite local painters, and so I would consider my work in good "company." These are also the type of places in which the type of behavior mentioned in Cagney's comment above would almost assuredly never take place."

Gabrielle Pascador
"As nice as it is to have an exhibition opportunity, people generally don't go to restaurants to look at art, just as people don't go to galleries to eat (although at some openings, I've seen otherwise). Also, I get a bit nervous when people are eating messy stuff or leaning book bags near my work."

Erika Allison
"I've had good experiences hanging in restaurants. I could actually say I've never had a BAD experience. However, I've always felt that I was decorating the restaurant's walls for free. Years ago, when I lived in the Chicago... I hung in several restaurants with little "success". I did finally sell a watercolor to a business - so then I was in a corporate collection! I moved here to Las Vegas about 5 years ago and wanted to become a part of the arts community - and have opportunities to show my work. An artist I knew invited me to show in an upscale local restaurant (as opposed to a restaurant on The Strip. I was hesitant, thinking I'd be decorating walls...but I went ahead because I did need to find venues, etc. The restaurant had a contract with the artist who invited me. She curated their exhibits. In the end I sold two $600 paintings. So, now, I have to quit babbling on about decorating the walls...LOL Yes, there was a contract and they covered the insurance."

Andrea Pawlisz
"Restaurants like to "exhibit" art because it's free decor. If they should happen to sell a piece, then they make a commission too. Other options are coffee houses or retail. I have done well at both. Any artist hanging art in any space outside their studio without a contract and inventory is not protected and does not value their work. It is the artists responsibility to work as a business, that is if they want to have success and be taken seriously."

Sheree Rensel
OK....Here is my take on this situation. One of the first things that comes to my mind is the idea of FREE art / restaurant decor. I see it this way. Restaurants / businesses spend big bucks on design for their establishments. I highly doubt that the lighting designer allows the restaurateur to hang his/her fixtures free with the idea that patrons will come in, admire them, and want to buy them. All kinds of art/craft goes into business decoration, but I don't think any of the other "artists" ask for nothing but a space to "advertise" or display their wares. Do you think the graphic designer created the menus for free in hopes of future sales or new clients? Did the interior designer work gratis in order to gain more business from those coming to the eatery? I think not. Yet, fine artists are supposed to give it up and then might even have to pay commission if something does sell. That doesn't make sense or seem fair to me. The business buys the rest of the decor, I think they should BUY the art too.

Secondly and probably the most emotionally charged reason I don't see this kind of art opportunity as a surefire win for artist is the possibility of damage. I have had my work damaged before and it is difficult to describe the feeling you get when you look at an artwork that is ruined. Maybe I feel so strongly because I put so much of myself into my work. It feels like someone hurt ME. If your work is in a gallery, there is a built in order and decorum. People know to respect the art. When you put your art in other types of venues, there isn't always that same kind of regard. That worries me.

If you are an artist, you can do what you choose to do. As you have read, showing in alternative venues can be great or terrible. There are many variables on which to base your own opinions. You have to decide for yourself. It is important to be creative, but you need to be careful too!

The artist "RC" allowed me to use this photo of one of his damaged paintings. His case is extreme. He lost 17 works to damage after they were displayed in a nightclub. Just looking at the ripped canvas makes my heart sink. THANK YOU to all the artists who submitted their opinions. I truly appreciate your help!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Art Blog: Dancing NAKED

" Art is changing. Again. Here. Now. Opportunities to witness this are rare, so attend and observe." Jerry Saltz

What does it mean to MAKE it as an artist? Most likely, there are as many answers to this question as there are artists on earth. This post comes on the heels of asking myself this question over and over again. I had one of my infamous ideas for a project which could take years to complete. In the meantime, I started to poke and prod the online soils to get opinions and comments. I asked:

" How many of you wish you could be a part of the NY/World art scene, but find yourself in mid-America showing at small galleries or community art venues or just online? If this sounds like you, why don't you take the plunge and move to a thriving art center or place where you can get more artist notoriety???"

After asking these questions, my FB page lit up like a Christmas tree. Artists were eager to respond. I am saving specific comment details for my aforementioned project. However, I can condense the flavor of the opinions into categories. Artists from around the country mentioned competition, the futility of the mere numbers of artists in NY, lack of art experience to the degree needed to enter the big leagues, living conditions/standard of living, contentment with a smaller, less known galleries, and of course, MONEY.

I will never move to NY or be a part of that scene. I can't see the benefit of it really. I never wanted it enough. The superficiality coupled with the smoke and mirrors of the NY art scene scares me. The cost to live there is astronomical. MOST artists make very little money and work numerous jobs to support their art career aspirations. I do that too, but with a lot less stress. Of course, there is no golden carrot hanging in front of my nose. I will never be shown in a world class gallery. I am not in the right circles to even get near that aspiration. Yet there are many NY artists who are close and hang onto the outer rim of those circles. They white knuckle it as they hold on for dear life. They have hope, but even they complain about holding on too long and/or too tight.

Enter this month's New York Magazine, April 30, 2012 issue "How to Make It in the Art World". This is such a wonderful collection of articles of the typical art scene B.S. and wonderment. Even though I am not there, I live vicariously. The devil whispers in my ear to read and keep up with the debauchery, while the angel on my other shoulder reminds me of the virtues. I eat up this stuff like a teenage girl watching Snooki on the "Shore". After this issue came out, I noticed Jerry Saltz's FB page posting apologies and explanations about the issue. He got hundreds of comments on his posts about his own writing and the entire publication. I read every comment and realized many things. One thing that hit me like a brick is except for the dangling carrot, even NY artists feel the same things as artists all over our country. If you review the threads it becomes obvious money (or lack of it) isn't really the only source of pain. Jerry Saltz said it best when he responded:

" You ask about me writing "How to Make it in the Art World." I do not think that there is such a thing as "IT." At all. No how; no way... You want to make money, you mean? Invent/make something that people want to pay a lot of money for, I suppose. I want you to be rich. But most artists, while they always say all they want is to have money, really just want to dance very naked in front of a lot of people. If you just want people's attention, I suppose you should invent or make something that will get you that attention ... IF you really really really really want one of those things, that's really all you have to do.... But artists want much much more... Or the ones I know do.. In the meantime know that the ONLY rule is that are no rules. I promise you this..."

DANCING NAKED. After reading this, my eyes opened wide. I understood something about myself and many other artists I know. Money has never been my motivation to make art, ever. When I read "while they always say all they want is to have money, really just want to dance very naked in front of a lot of people." I got it. He might as well have screamed this in my ear. It isn't about money at all. It is about attention followed by appreciation followed by a feeling of value followed by a fair amount of ego stroking followed by (hopefully) some bucks thrown in for good measure.

I think when and if any artist feels this, no matter where they are, where they create or show their art, they feel like they MADE it.

Click pic to see the NY MAGAZINE current issue on ART

Monday, April 23, 2012

Art Blog: HONESTY is the best policy?

I put this photo of some art I made in the past online today to accompany a Facebook post. After it loaded, I just sat there and looked at it. It was like looking at a photo of an old boyfriend. I remember when............... As I stared at this painting I realized what a liar I have become. I have been trying so hard to fit in and/or get some kind of response from any art community, I have lost myself. When I looked at this little collage, I thought "This is the real me. This is Sheree's real art." I stopped doing it because it was not popular. It did not sell. So goes the story of my life.

In the past year, I have tried so hard to fit into some kind of bizarre mold of my mind. I have tried to be a part of this or that "scene". I have tried to support others in hopes they would reciprocate. That didn't happen. In fact, I am basically in the same place I was a year or two ago. Oh, I have had things happen in my art life, but none of it had to do with my plan to try to fit into the local scene. I am still pretty much ignored here. Am I being too honest? Yes, probably so. Also, I have been trying so hard to be airy, fairy, Universal spirited. Let things just happen. Live in the moment. Be your authentic self. Well, I can't really be my true self. That gets me into too much trouble. I am too outspoken. I can't stand biting my tongue all the time. I am doing these bizarre art projects that have nothing to do with my real aesthetic. In other words, my big plan is a big flop.

I will be honest now. I am spitting a huge glob into the wind. My feelings have been hurt. I really wanted some acceptance for my art life in the past year. I was hoping to make friends and be invited into shows. I even tried to do work that could be appropriate and fit into the status quo art scene. This plan didn't work and I feel kind of foolish. I need to get back on track. My OWN track. I remember once seeing a video with Janet Fish and she was talking about her own art. She told of how she realized the art market preferred to collect male artist's work. She went on to say, when she realized this, she decided to make whatever she wanted. She had nothing to lose. I understand her point. I am not of her NY stature, but I understand the underlying logic.

I have nothing to lose either. For as much attention or appreciation I have received in the past year, I might as well make sculptures out of cockroach dung. I mean really. The skies have opened and I am free to do what I want. Why not. If nobody else cares, at least I can. I think a lockdown, painting marathon is in order. I bet I will create a bunch of art nobody cares about too. Nobody except me and that is all good.

I am just being honest.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Art Blog: BUY ART

I am just going about my art life. La Dee Da. La Dee Da. I really care about my blog, but I have been so busy, I haven't put aside the time to write. My next post on the burner is about whether artists should show their work in restaurants or other business venues. I have been thinking about this post for weeks!

In the meantime, I would just like a sign from the Universe. I have done so much right. I really have. I am just looking for little nudges. That's it. I am not asking for millions. A few bucks of art acknowledgement will do. If you can't buy originals, that is fine.


Support the arts.
Buy a print!
Thanks in advance!!
:-)

Friday, April 6, 2012

Art Blog: DESTINY / FATE

This is such a feel good story. It gives you faith and it allows you to know we all have a purpose in life. What we do with our drive and interests is up to us. We all have a destiny. Sometimes it helps to see and understand other artist's journeys to understand the possibilities of our own paths.

By pure happenstance, I was flipping through the TV channels last night. There just wasn't anything on worth watching. I landed on a documentary about the puppeteer, Kevin Clash. I kind of recognized him because he had been on other TV shows for brief moments. All his appearances had to do with puppets (blah, blah, blah). I knew he was a puppeteer due to Elmo fame. However, he never impressed me because he seemed so distant. His personality came off as harsh or boring. Boy oh boy, was I WRONG! This is why sound bites or tiny clips don't really tell the whole story. I was lucky to be able to view "Being Elmo: A Puppeteer's Journey" last night. It rocked my world.

Kevin had the gift and desire to be a puppeteer very early in his life. He knew it as a pre-teen when he eyed his father's raincoat with a fake fur lining. Kevin got the scissors and started cutting. He made his first puppet. Rather than become outraged and planning punishment, his parents were OK with this. His father said to "just ask" next time. This was the start of a fantastic, wonderful career at the age of 10. Kevin made many, many more puppets. He was driven. He would watch TV shows with puppets, not only for entertainment but for technical advice. In his teens, he already had a cadre of puppet characters all stored in his parent's bedroom on plastic shelves. He knew his fate and destiny was waiting.

Yes, there were struggles. Why would a boy want to make puppets instead of playing sports? Why? He was teased and taunted, but his focus was on his love of puppets. He just kept creating no matter what was said or thought. Lucky for him, he had parents who encouraged his "odd" interest. They knew he knew his purpose in life.

Kevin's life is like a grand dominoes game. Everything seemed to happen at the right time and place. He had done the work, people talked, and he got jobs. He met other famous puppeteers and quickly landed work as a puppeteer for Captain Kangaroo and then another series came his way. Meanwhile his idol, Jim Henson was inviting him to the big party. It took a while for things to work out, but Kevin finally was asked and agreed to join the elite Muppets club, Sesame Street and all. This was like Kevin's life lotto. Jim Henson? Really???? It all fell into place.

However the biggest domino fell when another puppeteer didn't like Elmo. When Elmo first arrived on the Sesame Street scene, he was kind of gruff and rough. The veteran puppeteer didn't like him. So, he threw it in Kevin's lap. With a lifetime of experience and understanding puppetry, Kevin thought long and hard about Elmo. Who is Elmo? What should he represent? He decided that Elmo represents LOVE. He loves life. He loves people. He loves YOU. Kevin changed the sound of Elmo's voice to a sweet, vulnerable, but energetic childlike creature. In fact, Elmo became an extension of Kevin's personality mixed with his parent's understanding. Kevin isn't harsh or boring at all. He is just shy and obsessed with his artistic vision. The rest is history.

However this is not the whole story by far. If you get a chance, try to find the entire video and watch it. It will show you how our life dreams are there for the taking. If we have the commitment, drive, and life energy to proceed and make our dreams come true, it is there for us. We just need to grab and hold on.



Being Elmo: A Puppeteer's Journey
Click pic to watch trailer
Kevin Clash is a remarkable, inspirational man.
Watch the documentary and you will understand why I am so in awe.
I mean really. I tear up just watching the trailer!!! :-)

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Art Blog: NEW Stories, LESS Lies

We are always searching for a better self. At least, we should be. I have been on a self improvement binge the past few months. Since I want to change around just about everything, I am looking inward. I am shakin up the bottle and making it fizz. I have been reading and listening to all kinds of spiritual and self help gurus. They all say about the same thing and I have heard it all before. However, I am listening with different ears now.

Two such inspirational speakers are Iyanla Vanzant and Tony Robbins. I love watching them and listening to their words. They always get my butt in gear to do more art, take on life, and to think about my potential. One thing they both have in common is the idea that we all have our "stories" or beliefs in which we define ourselves. Some of these stories we make up and put them in our heads in childhood. You might think "I was the smart child in the family!" or "I have a great sense of humor and can make anybody laugh!" Those are good stories. We can keep those. However, many times we tell ourselves negative things that are fallacies. We tell ourselves personal myths. For example, some people might think "I was born poor, so I will always be poor.", "I have tried every diet there is, I can't lose weight!" or "I am only a single parent and I can't ........." There are as many stories as people on earth. So many are lies and untruths. These kind of stories hold us back and hinder our lives.

I have a bunch of stories (LIES) I have told myself over the years. I won't get into the nitty gritty because they are too boring and stupid. One that is relevant to the present is I told myself for YEARS I had to keep a job I didn't like. My story went something like "I have to keep this job! I have to because if I don't, I will meet with financial ruin! People will think I am crazy to leave this career. [Even though I am miserable, life is supposed to be hard.] It would be a form of suicide to leave!" Well, I quit back in January and I have found out NONE of this is true. Yes, I am not rollin in dough. I still have to find ways to survive, but I am still standing nearly four months later. I don't see tragic gloom and doom on the horizon right now either.

I am really reflecting on life and finding that place inside me that has helped me survive all these years on earth. I have always known my own power. Even with silly stories floating around inside my head, I still manage to find the strength and the place in myself in which I have told myself one good story: "Sheree is a survivor!". That one is a keeper. Right now, I am working on new, TRUE stories for myself. I want to be able to recognize my authentic self and throw all the old stories away.


Have you taken a good look at yourself lately?
What are the stories you tell yourself?
Are they positive or negative? Do they help you gain speed and inspire your creativity?
If so, great. Tell me your story.
If not, make up a new story and tell me your new truths.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Art Blog: Back to REALITY

Well, I have had my fun. I have had no day job for two months now. I just decided to take some time off because I deserve it. It is kind of funny because I see a pattern here. Way back when I graduated from art school, I took an entire year off. Since it takes about 5ish years for a BFA and another 2 years for a MFA, I went to school straight though (including every summer). I cut the time down to about five years. When I got my diplomas, I went on a yearlong binge of doing NOTHING except.................well, we won't get into that part. LOL

I was tired. I felt deprived of fun. I just wanted to be a slacker for a while. I did and I was. However, an amazing thing happened. One day I woke up and there was a voice inside my head that said "You're done". From that moment on, I was Sheree the artist in high speed. I haven't stopped moving for over thirty years.

Go Sheree Go.

Needless to say, this hiatus was much shorter and a lot more tame. But I needed the time to sort things out and rejuvenate my art spirit. I think I am ready now. Actually, I don't have a choice. I have to work for the money and the activity. I hate not really moving around all day. I have been on my feet for decades and this sedentary, sit on your butt all day lifestyle isn't my thing. Even though I have worked on art during the past two months, I have not been active the way in which I am accustomed. I want to MOVE. A money job would be great but I am almost more interested in being active again. I miss that even more.

So it is over now. My goal for April is to FOCUS on my art and getting another job. I am ready. It is time to rejoin the world and get all my ducks in a row. I have loved this time to myself. I have had some great revelations and introspections. However, it is time to get back to LIFE.



This is a perfect example of why I need to get my butt in gear. If you click the pic, you will see my studio. Those photos are so old, it doesn't even look like my studio anymore. There is so much to do. It isn't just updating my website, but also updating my life in general.

I am lighting the fire NOW!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Art Blog: Don't Quit

"Don't Quit!" This could be a mantra for some artists. However for others (myself included), it isn't an option. Art is in our DNA. Still, we have discouraging moments. Our hands fling up in the air and we are fed up. It is emotionally hurtful and traumatic. It is hard to keep doing something over and over again with no positive response (especially cash flow).

So why do we keep going?
Why do we keep making?
Why do we continue being an artist?


To get answers, I went to the source. I asked artists these questions. It was interesting to see the variety of responses. Some were philosophical. Others were sales driven. The quotes that resonate for me the most are the ones that speak of passion. Instead of reading quotes from artists of the past. Here are some motivational words from artists of the here and NOW.

Erika Allison : " It's my "safe" place, my sane place. I always turn to my art when times get tough... I know it's where truth prevails."

Evelyn McCorristin-Peters: "What keeps me going no matter what's happening is that if I do nothing, nothing will happen. You HAVE to keep creating to open the possibilities. Doing nothing results in well, nothing."

Liz Ruest : " The act of creating something, of being lost in the possibilities, keeps bringing me back too, even if the current work isn't moving off the shelf."

Licorice Chalk : " I smothered my artistic tendencies for years and now I'm not going back to that no matter what. Making art makes me feel both futility and fruitfulness. It is what makes me feel like my life might be worth a damn."

Aura Rose: " Expressing creatively is just part of what I do ..."

Caroline Boyce: " It keeps me in that space I call my own...away from it all...its mine."

Michael Mayer : " I HAVE NOWHERE ELSE TO GO! ;)"

Rachel Morris : " It's the other way around for me - when things get rough, the only thing that SAVES me is art, and writing. Even if I'm too despondent to actually make anything, the knowledge that I can and will saves me. It's like having a suit of armor on, but on the inside."

Barbara J Carter : " It got so bad in 2008, I suddenly wasn't selling a damn thing. But I knew nothing was wrong with my work, in fact it was improving. Kept painting, kept doing the shows. Couldn't think of anything else to do, sure wasn't going to just stop creating! But I did start doing some part-time work (tutoring) to help the cash flow. Gratefully stopped a couple years later when things started picking up. Sales are much better now."

Kween Kristine: " Its just always been a passion for me, a drive that even when I threaten to forget it all, I am driven back to it..."

Carolyn Osborne : "I keep making art because it is a part of my being and I have to. I love it and it is my "blood".

Then lastly, my favorite response. These words make me smile because it sounds like something I would say.


Jenipher Chandley : " It's all I am and all I got."

All of these quotes are inspirational and all agree on one thing:
Don't quit! Stay TRUE to your artist self!

Thank you to all the artists who responded to my question! :-)



"True"
(Click pic for detail view)
Acrylic on Wood
$300.
Sheree Rensel

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Art Blog: Creative Process

What is she doing now?????
Welcome to Sheree the artist's world. Always up to something. It seems like she is a bit bonkers. Maybe she is by societal standards. Thank goodness she doesn't care. LOL



I watched the Oprah interview with Lady Gaga. At one point Oprah asked about Gaga's creative process. She told of how she needs to quiet her mind. She shuts everything off. There is no internet, TV, or unnecessary interactions. She also went on to say that she tends to be a bit self destructive during these times. Lucky for her, she has a very supportive family who understands her process. They are there to pick her up, if she falls.

I totally understand Gaga's words and explanation. I have a long history of going through a similar scenario. My creative process isn't much different than any other artist. There might be slight changes here and there, but we all go about it in similar ways. I am a little monster when it comes to being creative. I might go for weeks just living and going about my life business. However as the clock ticks there comes a moment when big time creativity calls. OMG!! Here we go again. I become moody. I become testy. I don't want to be around anybody or even speak to one soul. I am in that weird creative moment. I can't even call it thinking about art. It is more bizarre than that. I stare into space a lot. I sleep. I don't want to be a part of the world. I prepare art supplies and move them here or there, but do nothing. I touch the materials as if I want to absorb the ideas within them. It becomes bizarre, but magical all at the same time.

Since I have been an artist for decades, I understand this state of mind. I am not alarmed. I just go with the flow. I know when it is happening. I buckle up and hope I don't crash. So far, I have always come out of this in a good way. I might be miserable for days or weeks. I can even enter a state of mind in which I feel like there is no use. I am doomed. I can't get through this last crunch of an idea. I feel blocked. Then all of a sudden, it happens. I see visions. I have ideas. I see the whole, big picture. I understand the connections. It is almost like a puzzle coming together all at once. I see it clearly now. It is time to WORK.



So, it is important to be quiet sometimes.
You need to hear and feel your SELF.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Art Blog: Take AIM



"Machine Gun 1"
Acrylic on Handmade Paper, Mixed Media
(click pics for detail view)

As we march on into our future, we often (or at least should) have goals and dreams. If you don't have a target, you will never shoot the bull's-eye. I have been working on creating my target for a while now. It isn't as easy as I thought. I have been asking what I really want and what I don't want in my art life. I have made lists. I have started new projects and filed future project aspirations. I have text reminders hanging on many windows and walls of my house. I am pushing forward. I took aim and have been preparing to shoot. After a few "practice" rounds in the past two months, I realize I need to readjust the target a bit. It wasn't my aim that was faulty. I think it was the size of the target that was throwing off my first shots.

This weekend, I had more revelations. These new ideas and realizations gave me a really great nudge. Maybe it was the kickback from the guns I was shooting. One thing I realized was I am trying too hard to be something I am not and even more importantly, don't want to be. I have been trying to fit Sheree the (round) artist into a (square) art community hole. I have wasted time on things I really don't even care about if I look at the whole picture. Also, I am not thinking big enough. Why am I aiming so low? I am better than this. I won't go into the details but I was reminded that we all must surround ourselves with people who we admire and those who will give support back to you. Another important issue is to make sure your planned scenario includes your true self.

Don't try to be someone you aren't just to make it to this goal or that or bring you money, or notoriety. All this is worthless if you aren't going to be any happier. It would be like shooting yourself in the foot; you hit something, but it hurts! Why desire something that won't make a truly positive difference in your life? So, I had to rework my plan this weekend. This rethink is part of the process. I have a new target up and I have turned my gun around. I am ready to take aim once again just in a different direction.

Ready, Aim, FIRE!


(Click pic for detail view)
"Machine Gun 2"
Acrylic on Handmade Paper, Mixed Media
(click pics for detail view)

Friday, March 16, 2012

Art Blog: Artist / PATIENCE



"All in good time my sweetie, all in good time!"
The Wicked Witch of the West

I have always been driven. I have always made my art, but sometimes it took a back seat to a job which helped me make sure I could buy food, pay rent, or guarantee my daughter had her asthma meds, etc. We artists have to go with the flow and sometimes we sacrifice our first intentions just to keep our world going. I remember one time, this guy asked me out on a date. I was so poor at that time, I hadn't eaten out in a year or two. (The only good thing was I was really skinny back then! LOL) He asked me what I would like to do. I told him, I would love to go to McDonalds. LOL LOL LOL I mean, that is pitiful, but it was true at the time. I just wanted to taste french fries again.

That was years ago. The next chapter of my life involved a good paying job with money to blow (which I did). It was a good, fun ride for about 15 years. The last three years were awful. I felt like I was losing myself. Finally two months ago, I walked away. Even though the money was good, I need to be a happy artist. That is far more important to me than money.

Yeah Sheree, but what about the bills? I am asking myself that question every day right now. However, I am not in panic mode. During the tenure of my last job, I was known as a crazy achiever. I mean I worked around the clock for that job. It is a fact. My obsessive/compulsive work ethic did me well. I was very successful. Sometimes I would think, "If I put all this energy into my art life, I wonder what would happen?" Well, I got tired of thinking about this and now I am doing it.

BEWARE! When you want something in your life, things don't happen fast. In fact, you can drive yourself crazy looking at the clock each day waiting for good things to occur. TICK TICK TICK The main thing you have to have is PATIENCE. I will admit, this is not one of my strong points. I always want something to happen, NOW! This isn't how life works sometimes.

I have been a free agent since January 20. That was less than two months ago. There are moments I feel like a slacker. I feel this way because I am not punching a clock, but I am WORKING. I have accomplished so much in the last two months. I have made plans for my future. I have allowed myself time to mentally, emotionally, and spiritually readjust. I have started getting things together for gallery proposals. I have updated my website. I have marketed until I feel like I am annoying. I have worked on new blog posts and an application for an art residency. I have thought, sketched, and documented a whole new type of work waiting to be created. In other words, I have been very busy. While I was doing all this, surprises started to happen. First, I got an email saying one of my blog posts was listed on THE DAILY PAINTER blog. That was exciting!

(Click pic for detail view)


The very next day a local magazine was published and included an article and ads about my art. That was very cool too!



All this happened in the last eight weeks. I told you I was driven. So, if I keep this energy level up, more things will happen. More and More and MORE!
"All in good time my sweetie!" You just have to be patient.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Art Blog: The PLAN



PEPÓN OSORIO, artist

"We make plans and GOD laughs".

Yes, we have all heard that and I understand this saying in many ways. We have ideas about what should happen in our lives and then, things happen in a different way. Do you hear God laughing? I don't. I will be the first to admit, I have a very specific vision of how I wanted my art life to play out. Gosh, it has taken detours for sure. However, neither me or GOD are laughing right now. It is what it is. Now, we are both waiting to see what happens next.

I was on a certain road in my young art life. Then, life happened. I had to go with that flow. Now, I just jerked back the reins of my runaway horse. I am kicking my spurs into its side and yelling "Whoa Nelly!" Enough is enough! These past weeks, I have been getting all my art ponies in a row. I have been rethinking; I have been reorganizing; I have been rewriting my life scenario.

One thing I started was writing a business plan. I have always had this plan in my mind, but I have never written an official document. I started typing with gusto. However when it came down to writing my future aspirations and specific goals, I stopped cold. I had to put it away for a while because I really had to think about what I WANT to happen. I got a yellow pad out and started to brainstorm. Ironically, I could think of all kinds of things I didn't want.

None of these art things are bad. Personally, I just don't want to do them. If you are an artist who likes these things, good for you! I don't. I don't want to be a trendy, hip artist. I don't want to sell my art under a tent. I don't want to make or sell trinkets. I don't want to make art that is part of popular merchandising trends. I want to be a fine artist who is respected for my ideas and work. I want to show and sell via galleries or my website. I want to deal with art in an academic sense. I am a thinker and what to have that reputation.

OK. So now what? Making notes to apply to my business plan, I started thinking about when all these desires were real for me. When did I get off track? I know the answer to these questions. More importantly, I know how I thought and what I did back when I was heading in the right direction. I would spit in the wind with no rhyme or reason. I would plan on going or doing art projects without worrying about the how, whys, or wheres. I would just do it! I would take care of the details when the opportunities came. I want to do that again.

I am going to apply for a residency to work with PEPÓN OSORIO this summer. What a dream this would be. I love his work. I love the way he thinks. I love his artistic integrity. I respect everything about him. Yet despite these wonderful daydreams, I realize this whole idea is crazy. There would be so much to consider. Finances to make this happen, my daily bills are an issue, there is my house, my dog, etc. However, I know from experience if it is meant to be, it will happen. If it does, both me and GOD will laugh together. In fact, I will probably hear a voice from the sky saying:

"Well it is about time!!!



The thing that is most exciting about all these "crazy" thoughts is I just can't wait to see what happens. It is just like when you are young and have the future before you. I am not young, but I still have a future for which to reach. How fantastic!!
I am laughing already!

ADDENDUM: I was all excited about this opportunity. I got all my stuff together, filled out the application, and then, didn't mail it. The reason? I kept thinking about my dog, Little LuLu. I just couldn't stand the idea of leaving her somewhere else for nearly a month. I still want to find exciting (art) things to do, but it can't be at the expense of the one I love. :-)

Monday, March 12, 2012

Art Blog: What is YOUR Story?

Things are FINALLY starting to happen. I can feel it in the spring air. I have always been an artist. However, I have always had a day job too. Through the years, 99% of those jobs have been art educator type positions. I don't want or have that now on which to fall back. I have been dragging my feet trying to get some kind of outside work because I really want to give my art career a boost. I might not be able to live off my art sales, but I am going to at least get some kind of real income going here.

The past couple of months, I have been concentrating on my art as a business. Ironically, I have never really done that before. I mean, I didn't have to. I would go to work, get paid, buy art supplies, and I didn't care if I sold a piece or two when the blue moon shined.

I care now.

So I have started to really put my time and energy into practicing some of the stuff I have learned over the years about art marketing and really paying attention to what makes an artist successful monetarily. I have been looking, reading, watching, and thinking about how to go about this and what will/or/won't work.

An interesting thing happened a week or so ago. Along with all my other self improvement tasks, I started watching Tony Robbins videos. In one of them, he spoke about "your story". This idea isn't really new. It is the same idea as "you are what you think". I started wondering about the numerous stories I have conjured up about myself over the years. Some of them are true. Others are outright lies. One such story that has been in my head for decades is "my art doesn't sell". Along with this concept, I also fed myself other fallacies which explain the reasoning behind these B.S. thoughts: my art isn't in style; my art is too weird; nobody likes my art; yadda, yadda, yadda; ALL of this is B.S. The truth is I have sold my art before. In fact, I have sold a lot of art in my art life. Why have I set up this fence to prevent me from going all out? Why? Who cares. I am over that now.

Today, I had another great day of really paying attention to my art business. I crunched numbers; I put in orders; I brainstormed ideas about new marketing and product ideas. After nine hours of working non-stop, I decided to take a break. I had to go to the store to get something for dinner. While driving, it was like the heavens opened. I had this thought: "Sheree, you have been extremely successful at everything you have tried to do in your life. In fact, you have run against the odds. You can do this too!" I almost stopped the car when I realized this. This is the truth. No matter what is going on, I have the power to do very well at the things I try to do. I know this. It is proven. So, this is going to be my NEW STORY.

So what is your story? Do you tell yourself the truth or do you feed yourself fiction like I did?



Speaking of "stories", my "Lost Souls, Lonely Hearts" soft sculptures all have their own stories. They are on SALE too! Only $30 + $5 shipping. Click pic to see and read their stories. Have you ever met someone online like this?
Buy one now! WHAT A DEAL!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Art Blog: Artist PASSAGES



I remember when this book came out. In fact, I read it. I was so young and clueless, I didn't really understand it. WTF is she talking about here. Well, I am older now and I GET IT big time. I think you have to have decades under your belt to really get the gist of what Gail Sheehy was talking about back in the day.
Simply said, we all have segments of our life that are chronological "passages". Each one of those segments produce various results and realities. When I read the first book, I hadn't experienced any of this. Therefore, I put all the advice aside and dismissed it. I had no clue because I had never felt or experienced anything like what she was talking about.

I do now.

I have finally realized we all have our time. We all have our time to experience new and different things. We all have our time to work towards our goals which change with every age. We all have our time to sit back, see what we have accomplished, and be proud. This is not to say we are done. Oh no. We should just keep producing, creating, making, and doing what we do. We artists who have experienced this progression of life are lucky. If we have made it this far through the years, our longevity alone gives us clout. We know our strengths and weaknesses. We know what we can do. We know what works. We can act accordingly.

I know from personal experience, this is a sticky wicket. We can get crazy about the youngsters getting noticed. Wait a minute here??? I did that ten or twenty years ago! Believe me, it is all good. We all have our time. We all have our time to do what we need to do. If you are concerned about not getting noticed or the attention you deserve, you need to change the type of attention you expect. In other words, we all have our time but the type of attention paid might change with time. I bet the younger artists admire you or don't even know what to think. The decades are not under their belts yet. These life times may be dissimilar, but every decade is still very valuable. We are comparing apples and oranges. Different things.
You have your history. You have your documentation. You have your many, many years of hard work creating your identity as a hard working artist. You have your life experience. Life experience is a wonderful thing. The youngsters will have that too some day. Be content. You are just a step ahead. You know your way. Be happy with that. Now, get busy making the next segment of your life phenomenal.

This is your new PASSAGE.



"Language of the Birds"
Graphite on paper
Installation Detail
Just like the Language of the Birds, we have to decipher our own reality. Amongst the feathers and odd direction, we find a key. It is right there and will open up the paths to our way. Every decade of our lives are like this. It just changes and transforms. This is the way life is supposed to be.
Cherish it.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Art Blog: THOUGHTS to ACTION



This is my new desktop pic. I love it. I want to be there. In some ways, I am already there (mentally). Today I want to talk about turning thoughts into action. I have learned a lot in the last 24 hours. I guess I really didn't learn this. I have known it for a long time. Today, I was reminded to remember.

I am living a very weird roller coaster life right now. You have heard the saying "Stop the world, I want to get off!". Well, I have been having those moments lately. Yet, the schizoid part of me hears the theme from the ROCKY movie seconds after thinking my world is spinning out of control. I become super woman in my mind within minutes.

Case in point: Yesterday was a really crappy day. No jobs found for which to apply. I got a nasty email from someone telling me I wasn't up to snuff. THEN, my laptop started to freak out to the point of unusability. I knew my laptop was having some kind of graphic screen problems but it went really crazy yesterday morning. I couldn't even use it because the screen acted like it had hiccups. I would be on a website and the screen would be jumping up and down. I couldn't function. I shut it down and walked away. This was a bit devastating. My main computer died about three weeks ago. My laptop was my hold out. Now, that was gone too.

Like a fallen soldier, I turned everything off and flopped on the couch. I decided to sulk. I laid and looked at my art supplies ready to work on my new "Habitats" sculptures and thought "Screw it". I mindlessly clicked the remote control on the TV watching snippets of crime shows, daytime talk, and news. I wasn't even paying attention. I was just looking at the screen and thinking about how sucky the day had been.

After less than an hour, I got tired of being so morose. I starting thinking about the problems at hand. I worked them through my mind and suddenly, went into warrior mode. The day was not over! I decided to turn thoughts into action.

The first thing I did was to realize my new job will appear when it is supposed to appear. Then, I wrote a rebuttal to the nasty email (even though my screen was jumping up and down like it was trying out for the bungee Olympics.) Sent that.
THEN, the computer problems. I went into my room, changed my clothes, put a brush through my hair, grabbed my drunken, hiccupping laptop, and drove my car to the computer store. I met with a "geek" and he had me do the paperwork to send my laptop to the Sony Vaio hospital. Then, I walked over to the merchandise area. I already knew what I wanted. I told the guy "I want that!" He did the accounting and I was outta there.

I dragged the box into my computer room and got to work. Plugging, prodding, remembering passwords, gathering software discs, downloading, fixing preferences, etc. etc. Long story short, I was back online with a pretty, updated, new computer within an hour.

The moral of this story is I could have been still laying on my couch licking my wounds and wondering why the world is so crappy right now. I didn't. I thought a thought. I turned the thoughts into action. Now those same thoughts have turned into my new reality.

I am back to my techno normal. I love it. This is a lesson about how we can push emotions aside and use our rational brain cells to make things happen.
Also, this is a reminder to all of us. All we have to do is think of something.
This starts the potential for ACTION.
Our brains can take a part in miracles of our own making.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Art Blog: Getting back to ROOTS

Recently, I started a new series of drawings. The “Abundance” series is a mixture of colored pencil and digital work. Right now I am going through a state of the art “blahs”. If you look at my website, you can see evidence of artistic ADHD. I am all over the place in type of work and style. I don’t mind the seeming disconnect. I am interested in a lot of things and get bored doing the same kind of art work over and over again.



“Caboche”
Abundance Series
7” x 5”, colored pencil, digital, on rag paper

When I began work on these nature form studies, it gave me a mental nudge. I remembered my beginnings. From the earliest time of my art making processes, I was always interested in designs of nature. Slowly over the years, I drifted away from this direction. A few weeks ago as I drew, I wondered why. These drawings also made me think of my days working on sculpture. The shapes and obvious investigation of natural structure mimicked the lines and shapes of the 3-D work. Years ago, I created wood sculptures out of found wood scraps and twigs. I loved them. In fact, these works kept my interest for almost a decade. However, I had to stop making them due to lack of space.





I wanted to make them again. I still don’t have space, so I decided to make little versions using the same techniques. So here I go again. I am off into a new (old) direction. I love creating these new, small works. I am going back to my roots (pun intended).



There is a connection between all my different kinds of art work.
The running thread between them is they were all made by Sheree Rensel.