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! :-)

(Click pic for detail view)
Acrylic on Wood
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


"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


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.

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.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Art Blog: HAPPY is good!

Are you one of those people who don’t trust happiness? Are you always waiting for the other shoe to drop? If so, welcome to my world! I have had this totally bizarre and kind of uncomfortable feeling of joy in the past few days. It is wonderful, but I don’t trust it. In fact yesterday I thought “Gee, I feel so good right now, maybe I am getting sick(?) LOL LOL” It really isn’t funny. However, that is my quirky sense of humor taking hold.

I have been literally talking aloud to myself for the past 24 hours. It is just fine to feel happy. This is normal. This is fantastic. This is healthy! Yet, there is still a part of me full of distrust. Feeling happy is almost foreign to me. This is sad, but true. I have taken too long to connect to any kind of life joy. I admit some of this is my fault. Have you ever done this? Is it your fault?

The new configuration of my art life took off six weeks ago. The first 5 and ½ weeks were devoted to just getting my mental and emotional crap together. After running the same routine for 18 years, it was a shocker when it ended. I can actually sleep until 7AM now. Also, I can take time to think and plan art strategies. I can be introspective for the first time in decades. I can SEE things around me. I am just starting to notice silly daily occurances like the squirrels in my yard and the weeds growing. Yesterday I was outside and I saw a snake swivel through the grass and my dog LuLu started to chase it. She never caught it, but she stayed outside for an hour trying. I let her do this with a smile. Even she realizes our lives are in transition. We are both experiencing a new start.

A miracle has not happened. I still worry about finances and the $$$$ it takes to support my art life. However, I am going to do things differently now. It is going to be just fine because I am going to figure a way to work it out. I know this to be true. I can feel it in my heart and in my gut. This feeling is strong because I have lived through enough life to know and trust my own judgment and decisions. Now, I just have to LEARN and remember,
it is OK to be happy.

Life is blooming right now in my own backyard.
It always has.
The difference now is I am just starting to notice it.