Tuesday, January 31, 2012


Most artists have minds that frantically buzz and roam from one thing to another FAST. Our right brain tendencies are wonderful in the creative arena, but troublesome while living in a left brain world. Knowing this, I honed my skills of structure and routine a long time ago. I forced myself to become a taskmaster of my own days. I had to concentrate on these skills because I could fall into “Sheree’s La La Land of the Mind” in a literal heartbeat.

Lucky for me, I am a Virgo. Those of us art types that are under that astrological sign are fortunate in some ways. We have bunches of creativity, but we also have perfectionism and are as detail oriented as accountants. This is the part of me I reigned in when I started working in art administration. I taught myself to make lists, charts, schedules, and any other means of organization to keep me focused. I have to keep my life structured or I will flitter too much time away and get lost in my own daydreams.

I find myself falling down the rabbit hole right now. When I left my job a little over a week ago, I told myself to just take two weeks OFF and do nothing. I have worked day jobs all my life. I deserve to just lie on the couch and dream for at least a few days. However, this isn’t working for me. Besides the fact I am too hyperactive to become a temporary slacker, I find the down time causes me to become too anxious. Instead of dreaming grand thoughts of my art life, I am frantically thinking about my current unemployment. Without any kind of regimentation in my life, I tend to squander time while my mind and heart races. So, I have to get some kind of control here.

I am sitting here in the same clothes I had on days ago. I started working on one of my drawing series and I quickly became obsessed with that. I got five drawings done in three days. However, it is like I am an art zombie now. Dishes are piled up; I still haven’t cleaned up the moving mess; my hair looks like the fur of a stray dog. I am one hot mess.

Therefore, today I am making a strict routine. My first step is to take a shower and put some clean clothes on. Then, I am going to actually get into the car and take care of some long overdue errands. When I get home, I am going to make a chart, a graph, or any kind of list that states a specific routine. I am even going to include meal, exercise, and bed times. All this will help take some of the anxiety away and help me get back on the track to thinking of a positive future.

How do you maintain a ROUTINE in your art life?

“Use Your Brain”
Acrylic/Mixed Media
10” x 8”, Paint wrap, No frame needed
$95. (Free Shipping)
Sheree Rensel
Click pic for detail view

Friday, January 27, 2012

Art Blog: Chicken or the IDEA?

I never have been a fan of artist’s statements. It just seems like so much blah, blah, blah. Back in my university days, the statement was imperative. You had to be able to speak about your work or you would fail. Through the years, I have been asked for artist statements for exhibition purposes and even job applications. I always come up with something to say. It is good to verbalize what you are doing art wise.

So which comes first: the chicken or the egg? Many times I have been asked how I come up with ideas for my art. People have asked me if I have a vision or just start painting or what. I always tell them it differs in every situation. Sometimes, it all comes together at the same time. I have the ideas, images, and explanation all at once. This is rare. Other times, I begin work and each brush stroke or mark starts to reveal the reasoning behind the purpose.

Most often, when I make art, I always have a rationale playing over and over in my head while I am working on a series or when I start a new work. Usually, I write the words after the fact. However, today I was hit in the head by reality. I have had this idea for a series on my mind for years. Every so often it would pop up again and again. I would brush it off and tell myself I would get to it. It is about the idea of ABUNDANCE and food. The germ of the idea came long ago as I pushed my grocery cart through the produce aisle at the store. I looked at the plethora of food we Americans have access to every day. The image colors, variety, and the sheer abundance have haunted me for years. I supposed it weighed on me too. How could there be hungry people when we have all this food available to us?

I finally started working on this idea earlier this week. Each day, I would play with ideas, mixing/matching images and techniques. I want to continue to work with a digital/drawing process I started to develop recently while working on my “Encyclopedia of Suicide” series. I put that series on hold for a while because I was getting so much resistance. That is kind of a good thing. In fact, it indicates the power of the idea. However, I want to work on something else right now because I don’t have the strength to defend that series at the moment. I need something less controversial. So, I want to work on this idea of abundance using photography, digital prints, and colored pencil.

Today, I worked on this stuff for about eight hours. I finally had to stop. I felt like I was running in place and getting nowhere. I would work, tear things up, print again, draw again, tear things up………AGAIN. It is not time wasted. It was time trying to figure out WHAT AM I DOING HERE? I want to know the why, when, where, what, and how of my artistic direction. This has made me realize one of the reasons artists need statements. As I plod along on this new series, I have to start to formulate some kind of verbal rationale in order to help figure out the reasons behind this new series. As I work and write and work and write, it will start to come together.

So what comes first the chicken or the idea?

Do you write out a statement before or after you make the art?

Today's work.
I have no idea where this is going, but that is OK!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Art Blog: Learning to RELAX

I have never been an “OHM” type person. I wish I was. That is on my bucket list. I am trying and aspire to become one with the UNIVERSE and just be calm, relaxed, and have faith everything happens for a reason. I want so much to believe this. Also, I want to be in some kind of nebulous, spiritual place that I can just learn to calm down and take each moment with gratitude and soothing anticipation. I am not there yet.

This is the first day I am officially without a day job. I wish I could say I am handling it like a yoga master; I am not. I have made plans of action. I have plans A-Z. The first pre-A plan was to just chill out this weekend. Starting Monday, I have to organize my studio and house due to all the moves I have made in the past few weeks. It is clutter city. I can’t stand it. I am freaking out because there is just too much STUFF. Next on the agenda is to keep looking for a new job. This is a given. I will just keep applying until someone wants me and realizes I am such a great catch.

We will see……………

This morning I woke up and was frantic with energy. I started art marketing at 7:30am like there was no tomorrow. I have been at it all day and I am exhausted. I realized I was kind of out of control. This is why I thought of “OHMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM”. Here I am all alone and trying too hard to make things happen. This is my nature. The irony is due to past experience I know things will happen the way they are supposed to happen. I know for sure I am making connections and strange, but wonderful things are lining up before my eyes. I just have to trust.

So I guess this is a time for more life learning. I need to learn how to trust; I need to learn how to relax; I need to learn how to know everything will be fine because I won’t have it any other way.

You have a proven track record Sheree.
You just need to believe in yourself.

Acrylic / Mixed Media on Canvas
24” x 24”
Sheree Rensel
Contact: wizzlewolf@aol.com
Click pic for detail view

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Art Blog: Artist’s Intuition

I have always respected my intuition. It has been right 99.9% of the time. I haven’t always acknowledged this stellar record. Shame on me! There have been times when I knew the truth, but I ignored it. This happened because of fear. Now, I am starting to listen and realize if my gut tells me something, LISTEN.

Today was the very last day I had with my current students. I have been in that same room with the blue floor for more than eighteen years. As the day ended, I felt no sadness. One student told me she wanted to cry. I said “No, don’t cry. It is all good for both of us.” During the final moments of the day, I was packing up some of my last things and there was a knock on the door. When I answered, I was told this is the “new” teacher. She wanted to see the room. I welcomed her with open arms. I gave her a tour and explained as much as I could explain in an hour. I wished her well. I really do.


I am so sentimental. I cry during Hallmark commercials. I didn’t cry today because I know my decision to find a new life is right and true. I signed on to do this job in 1993. It was a wonderful job and an artist’s dream opportunity. Times have changed. Systems have changed. I found myself being required to do things that were just not in the spirit of my art educator mentality the past few months.


I have always been one to live my life with a simple motto:

If it doesn’t feel good, DON’T do it!

I haven't felt good about my art job life for a while now. I decided I just don’t want to do it anymore. Ironically, I have a series of paintings which express the images and statements of my students. One painting is titled
This is how I feel right now. My intuition is in full force. NOBODY can make you do what you don’t want to do. That is a fact. So, I won’t. I am taking my toys and tools to a new playground now.
It feels good. Nuf said.


Click pic for detail view

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Art Blog: Artist-In-Residence

It just hit me. What am I going to do next week? I will be officially unemployed!!! Not to worry. If you know me or have read this blog before, you know I am a totally Type A, workaholic, control freak, doer of good deeds, and "don’t stop till you drop" type of person. I am going to be busy for sure. Of course, I will be looking for a new job, but I started thinking about this self imposed transition. I started making lists and plans, per usual. One thing that came to mind is a few weeks of PURE art.

There would be nothing better to help me to mend and rejuvenate from the last 18 years of dedicated duty I gave to my past job. I need to think of something special to help me get motivated about life again. I remembered when I went to Vermont Studio Center years ago. That was probably one of the best months of my life. I wish I could go there again. I was a true artist that month. I wandered around Vermont, ate three meals a day (that was weird) and had a schedule to go to my studio and make art EVERYDAY! What a concept! Artist residencies and fellowships are so wonderful. If you can apply and get accepted, DO IT. It is beyond fantastic!

I can’t apply for any residency now. I have too many bills and I have to plan for survival. Besides, you have to apply early. There is no time for that now. Yet there was a part of me that kept thinking. I want to just take a few weeks to make art and work on myself. I want to mend and energize. I can do this. Despite no job, I can last monetarily for a few months, so why not do it? I want to take time to get healthy in every way before I begin my new life journey.

Then, it hit me. WHY NOT? Why not have my own art residency here at my own studio. I can create a schedule, plan, and make an agenda. I am really good at that kind of organizing. As long as I have a schedule printed out and planned, I will stick to it. I am a Virgo, you know. LOL First things first though. I have moved out of my downtown studio and my art classroom so for the first week sans job, I have to get my art house organized. It currently looks like a hoarder lives here. that has to stop. Then, I can plan for a month of pure ART and being an artist. Sheree needs that.

So I will be here during the month of February. I am doing the “Sheree Rensel, Artist-In-Residence” gig of my own design. I know come March 1st, I will be healthier, happier, have new art started, and be ready to take on my new art life. It may mean working at the hardware store, making art, and trying to figure out how to pay all my bills. Yet, I am not really worried.

I have had a hard life, but it is so weird; I have always landed on my feet.
MEOW! :-)
Click pics for detail views

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Art Blog: Missed (MONEY) Opportunities

“Your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine your altitude” Zig Ziglar

I started writing this post in my head a few years ago. I was sitting in a very expensive front row seat at a Dave Matthews Band concert. Despite being frugal by nature, I would always splurge on a DMB ticket. There was a woman sitting next to me. She was about my age, but that (and DMB) seemed to be the only thing we had in common. She was wearing very extravagant, designer clothes. She had diamonds and jewels on every finger. It was very obvious; she was doing well in the wealth department. Her upper class ($$$) stature alone made me feel like I was sitting next to an unknown creature. I have never been familiar with having lots of money.

While we sat waiting for the show to start, I struck up a conversation. She told me that this would be her fourth or fifth DMB concert that year. She went on to introduce me to her son sitting next to her. She said they “follow” DMB all around the world. I said something stupid like “WOW”. After that, I just smiled and shut down the conversation. I mean, I couldn’t top that! We continued to wait and smile. She got up to go get a drink. Her son started talking to me and he told me his mom has three homes in three different countries. They hop around the world most of the year enjoying their favorite music. I think I said “WOW” again.

After the concert was over, I was driving back to the hotel. I thought about the rich lady and her son. Three houses, huh? Hopping around the world, huh? It was about that moment I wanted to stop the car and kick myself. Designer clothes, jewels, houses, traveling…………. She probably owns ART too. Yet, I sat there and said nothing to her about my life as an artist. I didn’t try to promote myself or my art at all. I was intimidated or just shy or dumb. LOL I missed a golden opportunity.

Sheree dropped the ball.

Honestly, this kind of missed money opportunity has happened to me a lot. It doesn’t even occur to me to try to SELL my own art. I have sold a lot of art in my life, but 90% (at least) has been sold in gallery situations. I have never honed the skills of salesmanship. I never had to or wanted to worry about the money side of art. This past year, I had people in my studio numerous times and my attempts to move my work out of my studio was totally lack luster and without fanfare. My salesmanship genes seemed to be dormant.

Well, I am going to change this. Lesson has been learned. I need to wake up my gregarious nature and go for the gold. Last night, I was enduring an art opening (my hell) and I was hiding in the corner. After an hour of torture, I finally realized I had to STOP this now. I make all this art and it is starting to look like I am an art hoarder. Not knowing how to start developing my new attitude, I went to the familiar. I grabbed my iPad and looked up the famous salesman, Zig Ziglar. After reading some of his words for about fifteen minutes, I jumped up and started talking to people. One woman was admiring one of my paintings and I engaged her in conversation. After laughing and listening to her say “I should put this in my office”. The words just popped out of my mouth and I responded “YES!! You should! Buy it for your office!”
Then, she did. OMG!!! I was so shocked.

I still have a whole lot to learn and many people skills to hone, but at least this is a start. I am going to be ultra aware of these opportunities to engage with potential collectors. It isn’t just for the money either. It feels good to know my art is being appreciated.

Have you ever missed opportunities?

Click pic for detail view

Friday, January 13, 2012

Art Blog: Artistic ROOTS

I hurt myself today. I have no idea how, but I have a bum leg at the moment. So I am hobbling around, dragging my foot here and there. Been there, done this. I will be fine if I stop trying to hobble. Ignore the pain is my motto. So I will. I was working on one of my “art signs”. It is stuff I make that is cool and affordable. This is still a work in progress. Then, I turned to wash a brush and I saw the spider plant babies I put in a jar just a week ago. I saw they are already growing roots! Nature is so amazing.

My wandering mind made me think about how we are all a part of nature. We have all grown roots too. Things are crazy for me now and I am extra introspective. I realized how I am at a crossroads. I have no idea what will happen next, but I do know what happened before this. I started thinking about my artistic roots. I knew I was going to be an artist when I was a very little girl. I would watch my dad make stuff. He was a maker and I wanted to be a maker too. He worked with vinyl and these shiny rivets. I remember him making these weird, wood plagues when I was of preschool age. His brother was a painter. I knew this too. Even at four years old, I knew art was my destiny. I got their genes.

Shortly after this, my dad left with a “pretty woman”. I didn’t really get to spend time with him again until I was 13 years old. That year, he bought me an oil painting set. Despite our distance and alienation, he knew I was one of them. He knew. During that year I spent with him, I painted on the front porch of his house. Then, I was told I had to leave. The “pretty woman” wanted me gone. So I vanished back to the mother-land.

Despite the transplantation, I kept painting. I wish I was in documentation mode back then. I would love to see some of my first awful paintings again. I have no photos though. So sad. There was a drippy, cat eyes painting which someone bought for about $20. I also remember a pastel drawing of our dog “Yum Yum”. That was cool. I really thought that was GREAT ART! LOL There were all kinds of paintings and drawings that were made during my high school days. One cliché “swans on a lake” was sold for $50. I thought I won the lottery!

I can remember the very first “real” painting I did. I mean real in the sense I REALLY felt like an artist. I was fifteen. I did a copy of “Jesus on the Mount”. I don’t have a photo of it. I wish I did. However, I know it was so horrible. I had turned it into a near circus scene. The colors were very bright and garish. Despite this, I thought I was a REAL artist after the completion of this work. Some religious person bought it from me and I was so, so proud. I think that was the moment my art career started. I had accomplished my goal. I wanted to be an artist and this one painting made me feel like I was on my way.

Now decades and decades later, I want that feeling again. I want to feel like an artist and be on my way once again.

I am not religious, but maybe there is some kind of symbolism here(?) Say an art prayer for me.
How did you become an artist?

Wednesday, January 11, 2012


This post is dedicated to all the people who want to redesign their lives. It is so scary and precarious. However, I truly believe in the end it will be worth it.

I walked into a room today at work and people looked at me in a strange way. I stopped in my tracks and said “I know why you are staring; I am SMILING and you don’t recognize me!!” LOL LOL LOL I don’t know why I am smiling in some ways. I shouldn’t be. Some might think I just threw my life down the toilet. I don’t believe this to be true at all. Oh yes, I am at risk big time. There is the possibility I could lose everything I have worked so hard to accrue for all my years on earth. That is possible, but not probable.

I have lived on this earth for a long time. I have worked most of my life. I am a “bread winner”. I have worked very, very hard too. Yet, there is a little part of me that is amazed I have made it this far. I got through college and university without rich parents. I raised a kid all by myself. I have held the home fort all alone for decades. I have gotten awards for doing what I do best: art and educating. Who would have thought??

Yet, I decided to throw in the towel on my middle class salary and look for other opportunities. How dare I? How could I do this? It is such a gamble and so risky. Money has never been my motivator. Happiness and contentment trump wealth for me. It always has. I figure (I hope), I have a few more decades in me and I want to go out with a BANG! I want to be the true SHEREE once again. You see, I had the stuff. I had an OK job and a credit rating. However, I am so unhappy it was obvious it is time for a redo. I want to give myself the opportunity for the real Sheree to show her stuff once again. I will too given the opportunity!

I am facing total uncertainty. I have never been to Vegas. I have never played a gambler’s hand, so to speak. I am now. Deal those cards! I am ready to win or fold. I just have to take this risk. I have to because I want to smile again.

One of the best things that happened today is a colleague came up to me and said she admired my courage. She said there are others who wish they could do the same thing. They will not move on because they are afraid. I am not afraid. Well, I am a little afraid. However, I am not going to let FEAR rule my life.

“Gambler / That Risk”
Mixed Media
Variable size
Sheree Rensel
Click pic for detail view

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Art Blog: Envisioning The Future

OK. I think I have a whole lot of years still left in me. So now what? We all wonder about what the future will hold. I know I do. However I realized the other day, maybe that wonder should turn into a solid vision of what I want and need to happen in my future. I came to this realization due to a simple Facebook comment.

Bob Ragland who has been a great online friend and mentor left a comment that included these words: “SEE BEYOND THE PRESENT MOMENT PLEASE.” That statement took me aback. I thought I was thinking of my future and leaving the present behind. Am I? Maybe not. After thinking for a few days, I saw things from a new perspective. I asked myself “If I could design my future, what would it look like?”

We should all do this. I mean we can’t predict the future, but we sure can try to arrange and be prepared to do what we want to do. It is like a Bucket List, but more specific. My bucket list includes working and working hard. That is my best asset. Of course, I will always be and continue to be an artist. However, I want a job too. I thrive on having duties, assignments, and work to do. That is my nature. I am an art and job juggler. I thrive on that kind of achievement and stress. I want that to continue.

So what do I envision for myself? I know my strengths and weaknesses. I know what I do very well. I am a Type-A worker bee. I love to organize, innovate, and manage. You say any word and I can think of a myriad of ideas for an art program, lesson, or art exhibition. I love to use technology to make miracles happen. I am a show stopper. I can get up in front of a group of people and put on a show. You give me a subject area and I will talk, make people laugh, and think. I am a natural teacher. No matter where I am or what I am doing, I am always in teaching mode. I love to share knowledge. Most importantly, I love to share my life of art with others. The passion I exude is obvious.

So, I want all that in my future. I want to be able to share all my skills and dreams with others. I want to program, manage, use technology, teach (on my terms), write, be a public speaker, and be a terrific asset to a public service organization. I have done this all before with accolades. I want to do it again and again. Meanwhile, I will continue to be a proud artist while I work away for others too.

So WHAT is your vision of your future?
What do you do best?

“Imagine Magic”
Acrylic / Mixed Media on Canvas
8” x 8”
Sheree Rensel
Click pic for detail view