because life doesn’t fit in a file folder

It’s All About Social Action, People!

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Photo credit to Chuck Hajec.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock this week, you probably know that I made the cover of Rochester Magazine. The article was beautifully reported by journalist Sandra Parker and photographed/videoed by Jamie Germano.

In case you’ve missed it, you can read the story & watch the video HERE.

Also this Friday, Studio 254 is participating in Art for Action – a building wide initiative at The Hungerford Building, where individual studios are supporting different non-for-profit organizations.

On May 4th, 100% of my proceeds will go to WILLOW, a local agency that supports survivors of domestic abuse.🌸 (Not long ago, I found myself in need of their services, and I’m so very glad they were there.) Please bring your sample-sized toiletries & monetary donations to Studio 254 to The Hungerford between 5-9pm.

I’m also offering limited edition #METOO posters for a $5 donation, with all proceeds to go to WILLOW.

Hope to see a bunch of you there!

What good things are going on in YOUR life?

Rochester Magazine, May 2018

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You’ve heard the BIG news. And the BIGGER news.

But the BIGGEST news?

Y’all . . .I made the cover of Rochester Magazine this month.

I. Cannot. Even!

When I was initially approached to be the focus of an article, I was thrilled because – if nothing else – I try to use my art to reach people who have been damaged by benzodiazepines. I want them to understand that it does get easier; it just takes a very long time. If I’m remembered for nothing else, I hope it is in the area of advocacy for reform when it comes to psychotropic drugs.

But you know what else I want to be remembered for?

Being a super model at the age of FIFTY?!

Thanks to photographer, Jamie Germano, for a great photoshoot… and for airbrushing away all my wrinkles; to Sandra Parker for writing the copy; and to Mark Liu for having faith in my story. Copies are available at Wegmans and Barnes & Nobel starting today!

PS: I hope you will check out my story and share your reaction with me here and/or on Facebook.

Thank you all sooooo very much for continuing to support me on this crazy, magical journey that is my life.

 

 

xoxoRASJ

The 411 from 585: BIG news from RASJACOBSON, Part I

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Remember, the poor, little, red-haired orphan who held onto hope, always believing “the sun would come out…tomorrow?” Yeah, well…I’ve been clinging to Annie’s words for the last few years, and I’m happy to report that I finally, FINALLY seem to be coming out of it.

This week, the sun appears to be seriously shining.

First off, I’m participating in the Mayday! Underground art & craft show at The Village Gate in Rochester this Saturday, April 28 in the Atrium between 10-4PM.

Mother’s Day is coming up, and I want to encourage everyone to support your local small businesses owners.

I’ll have lots of affordable reproductions and original work, too. And there are soooo many talented vendors at this thing.

Can’t make it? You can always make purchases directly from my website at www.rasjacobson.store.

PS: I’m curious. What kinds of things are your prone to buy at these kinds of festivals? 

Stay tuned for PART II…

 

 

 

xoxoRASJ

The 411 from 585: BIGGER news from RASJACOBSON, Part 2

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Yesterday I told you some BIG news.

Today, I’d like to share some even BIGGER news.

I was recently featured in a beautiful photo essay created by local photographer, Jess Kamens. Jess and I met at an art festival this winter, where we immediately enjoyed an easy connection. I hope you’ll CLICK HERE to see the amazing job she did documenting my creative process.

There are over 30 photographs in which Jess capture photos of “little vignettes” that I didn’t even know existed.

(My fave photo taken by Jess Kamens Photography – www.jessrk.com/blog/reneetheartist)

If you’re looking for a photographer to do something different for your upcoming event – of it you’re a business owner who’d like to be featured in her blog (like I was), check in with Jess at jessicakamens@gmail.com. If she could do this for me, just imagine what she could do for you.

xoxoRASJ

 

In Search of Creative Community: My First Art Linkup

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For years, I thought of myself as a writer, and I used my blog to link up with other aspiring writers.

I don’t know why but, for some strange reason, I hadn’t thought to try to do the same thing with art.

This morning I stumbled onto Art Journaling monthly, ~ which I hope will connect me to a whole community of artists (and maybe art collectors, too).

This month’s challenge is SPRING, and I thought I’d share this painting.

I wasn’t ready to sell this piece right away. Different from most of my artwork, it features a whimsical landscape, rather than a portrait. Normally, I sell my work fairly quickly after completing a project, so I was surprised when I found I was having trouble letting this one go. A dear artist friend suggested that I not be so quick to sell it. “It’s like a baby,” he said. You made it. Why don’t you enjoy it yourself for a while?” And so I hung it up over my computer desk, and I looked at it every day for nearly a year. Then one afternoon, I looked up and was like: Time to let this one go now. And so I did.

I’m thrilled to announce that MOODGARDEN is on its way to Israel. I hope to be able to visit it (and its beautiful owner) one day.

MOODGARDEN is available in a high resolution 12×12 print. Click on the photo to be transported to my online store.

Like all my artwork, this piece features layers of thin paint in some areas and heavily applied in other areas.

Have a beautiful day, everyone. Spring is on the way!

Art Journal Journey

(It’s been a while. I hope I did this right.)

 

Unapologetically Ambitious

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This 9×12 multimedia original features acrylic paint, vintage papers, colored pencils and oil pastels. Click on the photo to see more of my work.

A few months back, my son came home, and I had him to myself for seven glorious hours.

I reserved time at Radio Social, a cool local club where we bowled and played Jenga with oversized rectangular blocks. I took him to get a haircut and non-essential provisions at Target. Over flautas and a brisket burrito, we smiled and laughed – and I was just so thankful to be alive.

“I’m proud of you,” my son said. “You never give up.”

After he left, I thought about his words. When I was bedridden and suffering from the prolonged symptoms of post acute withdrawal syndrome, I wanted to quit. I didn’t think I would ever heal.

Four and a half years later, I am so glad that I held on.

It stuns me how the trajectory of my life completely changed when I got sick. When I was cognitively scrambled ~ unable to read or write or do very much at all ~ I had to dig deep and find something to pass the hours.

I continue to be amazed that people are buying my art, that the things I do and say influence others ~ and most importantly, that I have people in my life that I care about and who care about me.

And yet.

There’s still so much I want to accomplish.

Now that I am mostly healed from my iatrogenic injury, I’m aware that time is short and I want to make a difference.

I’ve always been ambitious.

When I was a wee thing, I painted rocks, put them in a bag, and set out to show them to my neighbors. One woman was particularly kind. Mrs. Silverman turned over each painted rock in her hands and insisted in paying me a quarter for one of my creations. I remember being shocked about being offered money ~ and also feeling proud. Feeling confident, I wandered up and down the street, trying to sell my wares. My efforts were partially motivated by a desire for financial independence ~ my parents wouldn’t buy me that Tiffany Taylor doll, and I had to figure out how to get her somehow. But more than the doll, I had a profound need for people to see what I’d done.

I wanted the recognition.

I needed it.

These days, little has changed.

As one of my former students said in one of his recent blog posts: “I just want to make stuff and I want people to see it.”

Thank you for putting it out there, Kurt Indovina.

I’m internally motivated, yes.

But I also like a little validation.

That’s a lie.

I like to receive a lot of validation.

Creating art in isolation gets lonely, which is why I’m so appreciative when people leave a comment or hit LIKE, or interact with me when I am LIVE on Facebook.

So I’m owning it unapologetically.

I’m a creative.

An artist and a writer. A teacher & an activist.

And a wanna-be superstar.

I want my family to be proud of me.

And I want to be remembered as a prolific artist who made the world a little more beautiful, one painting at a time.

What do you want to be remembered for?

My New & Improved Eyebrows: My Experience with Microblading

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I know y’all will say I looked fine, but before microblading my brows were very fine. Practically invisible, and it bothered me.

Over the last few years, my eyebrows have become a little sparse – okay, a lot sparse – and in the summer they get so blonde they practically disappear. The missing ends made me look angry, and I just didn’t like it.

Recently, my morning routine started to involve wax and powder, pencils, two different brushes and lots of time.

“You should try microblading,” suggested my friend, turning her head to show me her perfectly sculpted eyebrows.

At the time, I’d never heard of it, but after doing a little research, I learned that microblading is a treatment where a technician tattoos tiny lines that look like eyebrows onto your face using a small tool with nine tiny blades. It takes two visits under the knife (and roughly $400-$500), but the promise is that you’ll wake up with perfect eyebrows every morning for one to three years.

THE PROCESS

Before I ever went under the knife, I had a loooooong telephone conversation with Noelia Contreras, a microblading technician at Madonna OBGYN in Rochester, New York.

I know what you’re thinking: You went to a gynecologist to get your eyebrows done? And the answer is…kind of. Over the last few years, Madonna OBGYN has expanded her practice to include all kinds of specialized services for women including therapeutic massage, cosmetic procedures like Botox, Rejuviderm, and more.

Anyway, I asked Noelia seventeen bazillion questions and told her that my goal was fuller eyebrows that wouldn’t need any upkeep in the morning.

After she answered all my questions, I felt confident about booking my first appointment during which time Noelia mapped out my eyebrows with ink, which allowed her to see where they needed the most work.

Many people opt for lidocaine at this point, but I pressed on without any numbing agent at all. (Keep in mind: I have a very high tolerance for physical pain. In seventh grade, I pierced my own ear with a needle. I’ve had laser hair removal and sat thru extensive, complicated dental work without Novocain. My son was born via vacuum extraction without any pain medication; and, not for nothing, but I endured thirty months of benzodiazepine withdrawal. 

So anyway, I’m lying on my back with my eyes closed, and Noelia is sitting to my right. We’re listening to an Oldies Station on Pandora, and she’s tearing up my face with a tiny blade. And all this is consensual.

And while I didn’t experience any physical pain, I will say it was kinda weird hearing Noelia scraping the lines into my eyebrows. It felt like she was making ridiculously long, random marks on my face when, in fact, she was in complete control of the procedure the whole time and was basically coloring in the lines.

Once the incisions were made, Noelia applied a dye she’d created to match my brow color. After a few minutes of allowing it to settle into my skin, she wiped the excess away and I was free to go about my day with new and improved eyebrows.

(NOTE: You have to go back one month later to repeat all this again — and the second appointment is just like the first.)

AFTERWARDS

Taking care of the microbladed area is similar to tattoo care, if a bit more intensive. I was supposed to:

  • Avoid getting the area wet for up to 10 days, which includes keeping your face dry during a shower. (I absolutely failed at this. I have no idea if this negatively impacted the results.)
  • Avoid makeup for at least two weeks because the pigments are still settling into the shallow cuts. (Easy peasy. I don’t wear a lot of makeup in the first place.)
  • Avoid picking at scabs, tugging, or itching the eyebrow area. (No problem.)
  • Avoid sunshine, saunas, swimming, and excessive sweating until the area is completely healed and you have a follow-up appointment. (Check.)
  • Keep your hair away from your brow line and be careful how you sleep on your pillow. (That’s what barrettes are for.)
  • Apply the special serum provided by your technician twice a day. (I actually loved the stuff my technician provided, and I would have slathered it all over my face. I have to find out what it was.)

THE VERDICT

Two weeks after the second session, I have to say, I’m very happy with the results.

I have eyebrows!

I would definitely recommend microblading to someone who has sparse hair and spends a lot of time filling in her eyebrows. That being said, microblading is expensive, so if you only spend a few minutes each day touching up your brows and you have a low tolerance for pain, you might do better to stick with makeup.

If you’d like to talk to Noelia, you can reach her at Madonna OBGYN at 585-698-7077.

{DISCLAIMER: I did not receive any free products or services in exchange for this post. I was intrigued about microblading and decided to write something about the experience on my own volition.}

What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever done for beauty’s sake?

 

 

SHE REMEMBERED WHO SHE WAS AND THE GAME CHANGED

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Prints available at www.rasjacobson.store

 

‘When boys hit girls, it means they like you,” she told me,

and it all went downhill from there

because slowly

over time, i learned my place

much as any dog learns the rules

i did what was expected every time

reached inside his pants pocket to retrieve the money he owed me for babysitting,

let him touch my legs in exchange for a few extra bonus points on a quiz

gave him that blowjob so he wouldn’t break up with me.

I didn’t know what to say or do back then,

when he told me he’d put something in my drink to help me relax

and another he pushed himself inside me even though i told him to stop.

and years later

when he said the length of my skirt gave him the impression i wanted to have sex

and he groped me in the kitchen while his wife was in the other room

and he sent pictures of his penis before i knew his last name

i automatically lowered my eyes, like a puppy who just shit the rug

as if i’d done something wrong

because i accepted all of this as normal

until

another he

different from all the hes before him

brought me to an isolated place by the water

a romantic gesture, i thought

until he casually mentioned

his ex girlfriend’s body

had been found

in the exact spot

we were sitting

and i knew he was going to kill me, too

unless i figured something out pretty damn fast

and in that moment

I remembered

who I was

& the game changed.

I realized

my silence made me complicit

made the hes think

I was saying yes when what I meant was

No.

Hell no.

FUCK NO.

&

GET THE FUCK AWAY FROM ME!

so I fought for my

self

in a way that I never did before

because my pain should not be linked to anyone’s pleasure

(especially not his)

and what the hell kind of madness is that?

steeping our daughters

in shame

from the moment we are old enough to walk.

Cross your legs, that’s not ladylike, girls don’t act that way, stop embarrassing me.

We take on the burden of being a woman, the guilt

we carry when our hips curve too much, when our skin

is too soft, when our eyes hold too much light

and our voice is louder than the softest timber. We teach our daughters

the way they dress, the way they walk, the way they hold themselves

are the things that could offend the kind of men who will violate them.

We teach them to gussy up and subdue themselves

until they fit into a box.

And then we teach them that girls who do not fit in that box

are the kind of girls that men like to hurt.

We use words like slut, and whore and tramp to teach our daughters

what could happen to them if they are too wild, too free, too spirited.

We teach them to treat their bodies like a crime scene before a crime has even been committed.

We teach them we live in the best country, a fair country, a country with equal rights for all.

We teach them they are lucky to live with such wonderful freedoms.

We teach them this is Truth.

But these are lies.

And none of it is harmless.

And all of it leaves a mark.

 

• • •

I was brought up to believe that men and women are equal, that all of us are as strong or as weak as we believe ourselves to be. The thing is it’s not true. Not yet, anyways. As women, it’s easy to feel powerless. (Nearly all of our institutions are designed to make us feel that way.)

It’s hard standing up on the daily for what is right. It’s downright exhausting.

Women, remember who you are are.

Who you were born to be.

Stop being a doormat.

Speak up.

And keep speaking up until you get what you want.

What were you brought up to believe about men and women? If you leave a comment, I promise I’ll respond to you. Eventually.

2017: Professional Goals In Review

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Confession

I’ve never been a particularly “goal oriented” person.

Don’t get me wrong. I get shit done.

But it’s not always intentional.

It’s always been more like: I want this and I go after it.

(I usually get it, too.)

This last year, I decided to be more intentional about everything.

Partially born out of a need to track my progress after an iatrogenic brain injury, I’ve found that writing things down has helped me to realize that I accomplished a lot of personal and professional goals this year.

I set quite a few goals for myself this year, and I’m pleased to see that I’ve met every single one.

2017 Goals In Review

Make 200 sales. In 2017, I sold more than 400 pieces of art to 207 individual people, including over 50 original paintings.

Grow my social media engagement. I’ve increased my presence on Instagram, Twitter and even LinkedIn. Facebook is still my preferred site. I started the year with just under 300 followers on my RASJACOBSON ORIGINALS FACEBOOK PAGE, and I’ve grown to 690 followers as of today. More important than the numbers, my followers are quite interactive: helping me create titles for new artwork, giving me opinions, and helping to gauge general interest of particular products. I started producing short videos and have taken a liking to painting LIVE thanks to everyone’s kind comments and sense of humor about my lack of professionalism when things don’t go as planned.

Develop a website with a user-friendly interface. Did it and it changed everything. Sales increased 200%. People really want to see and buy in the fewest number of clicks possible.

Have a curated gallery show. In September, I showed at Whitman Works Company. It was well attended, and I felt validated. Owner, Derek Darling, went the extra mile to help me realize my vision for the opening.

Participate in First Fridays at The Hungerford Building. I was in attendance for 11 out of 12 of them, when I couldn’t be there one of the women with whom I share space handled my sales. The Collective in Studio 254 is comprised of eight deliciously collaborative women, and I feel lucky to know each of them.

Get featured in traditional media. I made it into CITY NEWS in print and online, right before my gallery opening. I’d still like to be interviewed for Rochester Women Magazine and I’m hoping that one day artist Cordell Cordaro will notice me and feature me in his beautiful magazine ARTHOUSE PRESS, available now in Barnes & Noble stores all over the country.

Post one blog a month. Phew. (((wipes brow))) I did it, but it wasn’t easy. Not all my posts were art related, but that’s not all I’m about. I mean, I live in this frickin’ crazy-ass world so how can I not comment on what’s going on right now. Oy.

Use my art to raise attention to the dangers of benzodiazepines. The side effects associated with benzodiazepine withdrawal are horrifying and hard to articulate. At 52 months off, I’m grateful to have improved. I don’t know what the mechanism is with these drugs, but when a person takes Valium or Klonopin or Ativan or Xanax, that person behaves much as a functional alcoholic would. Initially, you’re productive enough so no one says much. But after a while, the drugs stop working, and then you have a secondary problem on top of whatever reason you started the drugs in the first place. And that is everything that is wrong with the world today.

(I could go on and on about this. And I will. In 2018. )

Outside of my artwork, I’ve continued teaching memoir classes at Writers & Books; organized & hosted several public readings ~ there’s one tonight at Writers & Books at 7pm-9pm; and I’ve continued to help people edit and publish their own stories and prepare them for publication.

I joined a gym. What? I eat eat right. I work out.

What I Didn’t Do

I said I wanted to find a boyfriend  join a networking group. I did. I attended two meetings. And then I fell off the wagon. That being said, I connected with so many local artists in real life and folks online, too. So technically, I was networking…just in a different way. This is one of the things I plan to be more diligent about in 2018. I’ve even rescheduled my art classes so that I can attend Marketing Mondays.

Thank you all from sticking with me as I figure out my new normal.

For celebrating my successes and helping me remember everything is happening the way it’s supposed to happen. Slowly, organically.

That I don’t have to know everything right now.

That the sky isn’t falling.

That I’m going to be better than okay.

What’s ONE thing you accomplished in 2017?

Want to see my work, click HERE

ME TOO: WE MUST CONTINUE TO TELL OUR STORIES

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Harvey Weinstein, Al Franken, Louie C.K., Matt Lauer, Donald Trump. . .

We, women, have been too quiet for too long, laughing when we should have been shouting. We dismissed inappropriate behavior and in doing so, we inadvertently allowed it. Now we see how important it is to confront bad behavior.

And the only way to make change is to speak up.

I’ve done it before, and I’m doing it again now.

Because it’s important.

In 1985, a man I cared about forced me to have sex.

It was not consensual.

“He wouldn’t stop when I asked him to stop,” I told my friends.

But no one knew what to say.

My own mother told me I’d “asked” for it.

Here’s what I needed to hear: That is terrible! It’s not your fault. You didn’t do anything wrong. He was only thinking of himself. You’re not alone. You’re going to be okay. What do you need? How can I help you?

The entire trajectory of my life was altered by that single event.

I wish I could say that that night was the only incidence in which I was encouraged to dismiss inappropriate behavior of the men around me.

But it was not.

We live in a culture that has allowed men to behave badly.

We have tolerated discrimination, assault, rape.

We are seeing it now, how our silence has protected our perpetrators.

Being “nice” has not served us well.

Yesterday, a friend suggested I create a piece of art that says “ME TOO” on it. Inspired, I shared the idea with another friend and together we collaborated to create this image.

Because we’re all in this together.

There’s one helluva planetary correction happening, people.

Change is coming.

Keep sharing your stories.

People are finally listening.

If you’d like to pre-order a 12×18 print for $10 + S&H, leave a comment or message me at rasjacobson.ny@gmail.com. 

If you relate to this post, please type ME TOO in the comments.