Friday, February 21, 2014

Art Blog: Stay HUNGRY

If you live a long artist's life, there will come a time when you might feel like you have seen and done it all. At some point early on, hopefully, you have signs of success. You are on the right track. Your future is bright. Then, time starts wearing you down. You love the success you have felt, but then, you need to keep being creative. If you stray from your original ideas and work, it might be the end of success. At least, you have to find a new audience for your new and different work.

I watched a documentary about Jimi Hendrix, "Hear My Train A-Coming" , on PBS this week. It shook my bones to the core. Unfortunately, Jimi Hendrix did not live a long life, but he lived long enough to understand what being an artist means. When I watched, I was reminded about creativity at the genius level. There is nobody who can compare to Jimi. Simply, he was unique. Jimi was left handed and he used guitars making accommodations. However, he also could take at normally strung guitar, flip it upside down, and play. He had to play mentally backwards. This is like "Big Bang" genius. Can you imagine the brain cells required to do this? He was one of a kind for sure.

The thing that struck me most while I watched his story is how he had unfettered motivation during his brief, but spectacular, creative career. He had a mission. He didn't waiver. He just kept working, practicing, and stayed focused. In fact, some of the commentators in the documentary mentioned how devoted he was to his art. One said that Jimi had his guitar with him all the time. He even put it on before he left the bedroom in the morning. He was that driven. This news made me drool. I would love to be that dedicated to my own art. I can see myself making breakfast with paintbrushes in my hand.

In one scene in the video, an interviewer asks him why he changes the way he plays some early songs differently during concerts. Some fans don't like the change. He responded directly. He said artists need to create and even if they have a familiar hit, artists want to improve, improvise, and extend the original. He continued by adding
"Artist need to stay hungry." .

I agree.

Click pic for more info about this wonderful documentary.

Thursday, February 13, 2014


The other day I had a little scare. When you get to be a certain age, you are constantly aware of getting older and all the stuff that may or may not come with age. Currently, I am making art. To help make ends meet, I am working as a substitute teacher. I really like subbing because I can design my own schedule. The only downside is the pay is so low, I am still looking for a real job. Meanwhile, I walked into a school the other day. Here in St. Pete, many of the schools have recently been rebuilt. I have noticed that there is a cookie cutter look to many of the schools. The same architecture has been used for a myriad of schools in different locations.

So on this particular day, I drove up and started walking into the school. It felt familiar, but I wasn't really sure where I was. I felt this weird feeling of déjà vu all over again. Had I been there before or not? The movie title "If this is Tuesday, it must be Belgium" came to mind. I had been to 10 different schools in ten days and my head was obviously spinning. I didn't like that feeling at all. It reminded me of my childhood. We moved too much. I would come home from school and be literally told to pack my stuff. The next day, I would be in a new home and new school. It scared me. Now, I feel the same way. I have no place to call home. I don't belong anywhere.

I got set up in my sub classroom and waited for the kids to arrive. The first student walked in and said "HI Ms. Rensel!!". I turned and asked how she knew my name. She said you were our sub in another class last week! It was at that moment I realized I needed to do something different. I didn't even realize I had been at that location before, let alone subbed these same kids. This is not good.

In my mind, I started freaking out. I mean, am I getting dementia or just spacing out? Upon reflection, I realized it is none of the above. I just don't have a place to settle now and it is really doing a number on my brain. After all, I worked in the same room for 19 years. No wonder I am getting lost now. I feel the exact same way about my art life. I have spent the last two years trying to become one with the local art scene. Slowly but surely, I have realized I will never belong to the local art community. St. Pete is a medium size "small town". Everyone knows everybody. They or their parents went to the same schools. The art scene is not academic, but more product oriented. Despite my attempts to fit in, I now realize it will never happen. I am not from here. Nor are my ideas about art similar to the majority of those involved in the arts here. I am not talking better or worse. It is more like comparing apples and oranges.

So now, I am ditching all the strategies I have been using for the past 24 months. I have decided to turn off and tune into a new way of survival. First, I have to find a stable job in the educational realm. Then, I have to make my art, but think in terms of my own experiences and desires. I have had so much success in art. Now it is time to find a new place to BELONG. In order to do that, I need to think bigger. Also, I need to realize the power of my own heart. Home is right here. I just need to find the door.

I just need to find my new "house".
Then, I will feel like I belong again.
Click pic to hear CSNY sing "Our House"