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.
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!
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.
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.”
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. )
I joined a gym. What? I eat eat right. I work out.
What I Didn’t Do
I said I wanted to find a boyfriendjoin 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.
A few weeks ago, I traveled to New York City and had the opportunity to catch up with an old college friend. We lose touch with each other from time to time, but she always makes it easy to reconnect. So I’m sitting in this little cafe sipping artisanal hot chocolate, when JD shows up carrying this bundle.
“Sorry I’m late,” she says setting the bundle on the chair. “You been here long?”
I reassure her that she’s not late. She isn’t looking at me. She’s unwrapping and unzipping. And she’s kind of doing this sing-songy thing that I’ve never heard her do before, but y’know, we haven’t seen each other in a while, so what do I know. But then the bundle turns out to have arms and legs and a precious face. And I learn that my friend has adopted this baby. At fifty years old, my friend is finally a mother.
JD lets me hold her daughter.
Y’all, it’s been forever since I’ve held a baby.
And she smells sooooo good.
And she falls asleep in my arms.
When my friend goes to the bathroom, I take several million photos of her daughter and I just know that eventually I will paint something to honor this amazing thing that my friend has done.
Inspired by the visit with my friend and her new daughter, I’ve been working on something since Thanksgiving and this morning I woke up early to finish it. and I wanted to share it with you. The writing in the background is an excerpt of a poem that I wrote while JD and I were students together in college. I think it was written in response to something I’d read by Lucille Clifton or bell hooks or some other feminist poet. It reads:
stand proud & tall
cover the lawn
when they come
dandelions be proud flowers
always grow back.
Some See Wish is a 24×36″ multimedia piece featuring acrylic paint, oil pastels, colored pencils, vintage papers, antique stamps, and a few strategically placed gemstones. If you’re interested in this piece andwould like to see it in greater detail (or if you’d like to see any of my work), you can find me on my website at RASJACOBSON or shoot me a message. (Prints are just $10 + S&H.)
It’s never too late to make your dreams come true.
In 10 words or less, tell me what baby-step you’ve taken to keep moving in the direction of your dreams?
***Help me to continue my work as an independent artist by sharing this post!***
Giveaway ends November 25, 2017 at 11:59PM PST. Winner will be announced by November 26th on IG, Facebook and on this blog. Winner will be chosen at random. Fake or giveaway accounts will not be considered. Giveaway open to residents of the continental US & Canada only.
Every time you share my post, you help me spread my reach! I’m so grateful to all of you!
I loved teaching at Metairie Park Country Day School.
Especially in November.
By November, my students had finished reading the first novel of the year. They’d written their first five-paragraph essays and finished their first creative projects, (which were always amazing). By then, they had a pretty good understanding of my expectations, and I knew enough about their individual personalities to feel a wonderful kind of connectedness in the classroom.
CONFESSION: The other reason I loved November in New Orleans is a little more selfish.
Starting around Thanksgiving, MPCDS parents and students started leaving gifts for me on my desk.
Pies and brownies, cookies and baked hams. Gifts cards. Once, I even received a handmade sweater!
These shows of appreciation really mattered to me, especially since my salary was a little light on the green back in the day.
My fave gifts were always the ones that paired a little yummy somethin’ along with somethin’ that came from the heart.
When I became a parent myself, I remembered the generosity of my students and their parents. And while I was committed to giving my son’s teachers great gifts, I often found myself scrambling to get something at the last minute… and not loving the gifts that I gave.
I have the perfect solution.
The teacher gift bundle.
Let me hook you up with SEVEN of my most popular 6×6 reproductions… paired with fabulous high quality chocolates, all carefully packaged. (I’ll even include handwritten notes, if you tell me what you’d like me to write!)
And did I mention FREE SHIPPING?
All for $120.
Click here to place your order and take the stress out of holiday gift giving for the teachers in your life.
Order by November 30, 2016 to receive this offer.
You’ll be glad you did.
Obviously, my 6×6 wall art can be given to anyone, not just teachers. They also make great gifts for mothers, sisters, wives & daughters! Collect them all!
Dancing is when you tear your heart out and rise out of your body to hang suspended between the worlds. ~ Rumi
People who know me well know I dance wherever I go. Because I’m always shaking and shimmying, people think I’m showing off. I’ve been accused of wanting attention.
The truth is I can’t hold still.
Dancing is my oldest coping mechanism. Before there was art or writing, there was dance.
These days, I dance at the gym. All the time.
I can’t help it. Whether I’m in the dance studio, the weight room, or the treadmill, I simply have to move.
Dancing is who I am.
(I may have forgotten about my body for a while, but I’m back in it now. Full force.)
Yesterday, I was talking to a trainer at the gym who told me I exude “amazing positive energy.” He said I appear confident and happy and like I have it all together. Even on Facebook, he said.
“If that’s true,” I said, “how come no one talks to me? Or asks me out?”
“You’re intimidating,” he said.
It’s a terrible irony. Stunning really.
To fill myself up, I dance…but because I feel comfortable in my body, I end up isolated because people see me as unapproachable. Intimidating.
It’s a weird kind of “splitting.” The world does not see me as I truly am. They don’t see me as insecure, or wounded. The world doesn’t see how I’ve been hurt. It’s invisible. It’s always been like this, and I think it’s why I often feel so misunderstood.
As a kid, many of my teachers had low expectations for me. My intellect was neither valued nor appreciated. But I‘m not stupid. I’m smart and ambitious. I have aspirations, and I continue to move in the direction of my dreams.
Learning about the way I am perceived helps me realize I have to work hard to be seen and heard. I suppose this means I’ll spend the rest of my life swirling in circles, squawking out my desires & scribbling out my words in hopes of being better understood.
Four years ago, after weaning off a powerful anti-anxiety medication, I had a seizure in my kitchen.
Lying on my back, I stared up at the ceiling, baffled by what was happening to me.
For months, I suffered hundreds of physical and emotional symptoms that kept me locked in a state of constant terror.
No one knew how to help me.
In February of 2014, I flew out to Arizona, to The Meadows of Wickenburg, a rehabilitation facility where I watched shattered people heal…while I remained terribly ill.
No matter what I did, my brain remained scrambled.
I had absolutely no evidence that I’d ever heal.
While in rehab, I spent a lot of time in the art room. I painted a tree and a house and a bird. A boy told me my picture was pretty, so I gave it to him.
Back in Rochester, I kept painting: hearts & animals, monsters & sad-faced girls.
My paintings got bigger and bigger. I created The State of Undress Project and connected with dozens of people, exchanging life stories and forging friendships.
Three years have passed, and I just had my very first art opening. People I’d previously only “known” online showed up and introduce themselves in person. A childhood friend I hadn’t seen in over 30 years drove over an hour to be there. My parents were there, old friends and new, and I felt loved and supported by everyone who was in attendance.
Sitting here this morning, I received payment for a commissioned painting I have not yet painted. People are buying my work. They tell me they like my goofy videos. I have travel plans to look forward to. Work plans. Artist friends who generously answer my newbie questions. Patrons who are actively collecting my paintings, if you can believe it. And yesterday, a new artist friend asked me for advice.
Recently, after completing a whimsical painting of a funny looking critter, my cousin commented that he reminded her of The Velveteen Rabbit, a book I’d many years before. Upon revisiting it, I see what she means. The book offers many lovely themes, but the one that had the most resonance for me is its reminder that It’s Important to be Real.
(Rabbit doesn’t need the garden rabbits to tell him he’s Real, and he doesn’t need the Boy to keep loving him in order to stay that way. Once he recognizes his own Realness, the Rabbit has the confidence to be his own person.)
It sounds like it’s easy, this ‘being real’ business.
But it isn’t.
And I see it now, how I’d fallen off my path.
How I’d stopped creating, stopped loving, stopped trusting the voices that guide me.
How I was surviving but not thriving.
How I was spending my days living the way others wanted me to live.
A way that wasn’t my way.
How I’d stopped being real.
The Velveteen Rabbit also reminded me to remember the people who have helped me.
(Even after he’s Real and living with the garden rabbits, the Rabbit still comes back to visit the Boy whose love gave him life. He could have easily forgotten the Boy, living in Rabbit-land, but he doesn’t. The Velveteen Rabbit teaches us to never forget the people who made us who we are, even when we’re living in two different worlds.
So I’m thanking all of you: my parents, my family, my friends ~ new and old ~ my patrons, my followers… (Even those of you who have hurt me ~ and you know who you are ~ you taught me something. I may be a slow learner, but I’ve definitely learned from you. Better late than never, eh?
It’s time to stop focusing on the past.
Why? Because it’s happening.
I’m becoming real: a full-time creative who gets to express herself in color and words.
Last night, I was feeling really good about the way my students’ writing is progressing. On my drive home, I noticed the moon hovering in the sky, like a giant apricot. The evening felt ripe and delicious.
I remembered a snippet of verse from the 17th century poet Mizuta Masahide.
the burn is burnt down
i can see the moon.
In the elevator on my way up to my apartment, I began to feel it.
My muse, kicking in, nudging me to paint from these bits of inspiration: the moon & the verse.
Over the last 4 years, there have been many losses.
Benozo withdrawal and divorce delivered serious blows resulting in enormous personal losses.
But I see it now.
How, if you just hold on, eventually things begin to change.
My health is returning, and I’m seeing the blessings that come out of the wreckage.
Like this painting stuff.
It’s still miraculous to me, this becoming who I am stuff.
So last night, I was up until 1 AM painting this:
I felt good about her, but I knew she wasn’t finished.
Something was missing.
This morning, when I looked at her, I knew exactly what needed to be done ~ and it is with this new clarity that I added a few extra touches. Do you see the difference?
It feels right, this intuitive way of painting.
These days, I apply what I learn in my painting practice to my life.
And I know this: If I’m feeling stuck, after a short break, the answer will come.
(And isn’t that always the case?)
What lessons have you learned recently?
Please follow me on Facebook. Every share helps me to expand my reach.
Here is the official press release which I’m sending out to anyone and everyone here in Rochester. If anyone has contacts at the New York Times, the LA Times, or the Chicago Tribune, I sure would like to get some national exposure. This is not about selling paintings. It’s about raising awareness about the dangers of psychiatric drugs. So many people are suffering in silence right this very moment, their voices unheard. I’m grateful to be able to use my art as a vehicle to share my story, which is the story for so many of us.
• • •
ARTIST TO DISPLAY WORKS IN “THE STATE OF UNDRESS” PROJECT AT WHITMAN WORKS COMPANY OPENING SEPTEMBER 16, 2017
Renée Schuls-Jacobson’s Art Represents her Healing Journey
Toward Mental Wellness & the Struggle of Others With Invisible Challenges
August 1, 2017 – Rochester, NY – Whitman Works Company in Penfield, New York is pleased to present “THE STATE OF UNDRESS PROJECT: THE HEALING OF RASJACOBSON”. The exhibit’s opening will take place September 16th with a reception from 6:00-9:00 p.m. at 1826 Penfield Road, Penfield, NY. This exhibit represents Renée Schuls-Jacobson’s on-going healing journey after becoming disabled as a result of improper treatment and withdrawal from a powerful anti-anxiety medication.
During her illness, Jacobson realized there was a profound disconnection between how she looked and how she felt. While speaking with others who were willing to admit that they, too, were struggling to overcome invisible obstacles of their own, she became interested in the tension between outward appearance and internal reality, creating impressionistic portraits based on the stories people shared.
As a result, Jacobson’s art reflects this duality, and her colorful crowd of characters is enigmatic. Despite her use of a cheerful color palette, her subjects often appear deep in thought, even a little sad.
Jacobson hopes her artwork (and the accompanying non-fiction narratives) will allow people to speak more freely about their own insecurities and invisible disabilities which are, to some degree, present in all of us. She also seeks to educate the public about the dangers associated with psychotropic drugs, like the one she was prescribed.
The artist will be in residence for the opening of the exhibit on September 16, 2017 from 6 PM to 9 PM.The show will continue in the Whitman Works Company Gallery through October 7th. Regular gallery hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 11 AM – 6 PM. For additional information please visit the gallery shop in person at the address above or online at www.whitmanworks.com.
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