because life doesn’t fit in a file folder

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?

Never Too Late To Make a Wish Come True

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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:

dandelions

stand proud & tall

cover the lawn

when they come

stand tall.

dandelions be proud flowers

stubborn too

dandelions

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!***

 

RASJACOBSON $20 ART GIVEAWAY 2017

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I’m celebrating the one year anniversary of my website! Seems like a good time for a giveaway!

To receive $20 in credit towards any inventory currently in my shop ~ and, believe me, I’m stocked for the holidays, just follow these simple instructions:

To enter:

1) LIKE RASJACOBSON ORIGINALS on Facebook or FOLLOW me on Instagram at @rasjacobson
2) On either/both pages, LIKE this photo
3) TAG 2 friends

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.

This giveaway is not sponsored, administered, endorsed or associated with Facebook or Instagram. By entering you confirm that you are 18+ years old, releasing Facebook and Instagram of any and all responsibility & agree to Facebook and Instagram’s terms of use. Void where prohibited by law. No purchase necessary.

 Have fun!
Every time you share my post, you help me spread my reach! I’m so grateful to all of you!

Becoming Real

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BECOMING REAL is a 16×20 multimedia painting featuring acrylic paint, vintage papers, oil pastels & colored pencils. Reproductions are available by request.

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.

At all.

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.

It’s a dream come true.

Tweet me at @rasjacobson and follow me on Facebook at rasjacobson originals.

Barn is Burnt Down

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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

now

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.

Press Release For My Art Show on 9/16/2017

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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.

• • •

Reproductions of this piece are available as wall art, on magnets & coasters, as well as porcelain trivet tiles.

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.

 

 

My First Gallery Event: THE HEALING of RASJACOBSON

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I’m going to be one of those artists who actually gets some love while I’m still ALIVE!

The opening is set for Saturday, September 16, 2017 between 6-9PM. at Whitman Works Gallery in Penfield, New York.

A small reception will be held, and – if I know me – there will be much weeping and hugging.

My greatest wish is that every person who is currently suffering the debilitating effects of benzodiazepeine withdrawal will see this and continue to hold on with the understanding that, eventually, the suffering ends. It ends. Healing is real, and it is proof that the Universe is truly looking out for each and every one of us.

I’m sharing the formal press release information here, in hopes that you will save the date on your calendars. I hope you will schedule me into your fall plans.

I am truly grateful for your support as I continue to rebuild my life.

•••

Whitman Works Company in Penfield, New York is pleased to present “THE STATE OF UNDRESS: THE HEALING OF RASJACOBSON”. This exhibit represents Renée Schuls-Jacobson’s on-going journey to mental health after becoming disabled as a result of improper treatment and withdrawal from a powerful anti-anxiety medication.

During her illness, Renée realized there was a profound disconnection between how she looked and how she felt. In speaking with others who admitted 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.

Renee’s art reflects the duality between appearance and reality. Her colorful crowd of characters is enigmatic. Despite her use of a cheerful color palette, her subjects often appear to be deep in thought, even a little sad. For the full story, read her bio at http://www.rasjacobson.store.

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 or online.

More information about the paintings is being made available on My Patreon Page where, for a minimum of $1 per month, you can read my entire story, as I write it, and receive special content that no one else can see.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SHE WANTS THE RAINBOW

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After taking Mindy Lacefield’s online class (Paint Like a Child), I was excited to incorporate some new techniques into my work.

The result? This adorable little blondie!

SHE WANTS THE RAINBOW is the latest in my collection of whimsigirls.

The quote, by Dolly Parton, reads:

“THE WAY I SEE IT, YOU WANT THE RAINBOW…YOU GOTTA PUT UP WITH THE RAIN.”

Signed and ready to hang, this 16×20 inch multimedia piece features layers of thick acrylic paint as well as color pencils, pastel crayons, oil markers & select papers.

If you’re interested in purchasing SHE WANTS THE RAINBOW, message me for details about pricing.

Remember! Original art makes a great gift – and doesn’t everyone know someone celebrating a new job, a new home, a wedding, confirmation, graduation, birthday and/or b’nai mitzvah this summer?

Check out more of my work HERE. Prices range from $5-$34!

Thank you for your continued support, everyone!

Sincerely,

 

 

 

 

PS: I apologize for the ugly watermarks. They do not appear on the actual artwork. Obviously.

Women Warriors: I Want to Paint Your Story

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MURIEL TAKES A SICK DAY, June 2016 • This painting was inspired by a woman I met at a private pool club. With her dark skin, her striking gray hair, and fantastic white, skirted bikini, I couldn’t help but to notice her. As we chatted, Muriel confessed she woke up that morning and realized she hadn’t taken a day off in 15 years. “I called in sick,” she said.  “I’ve worked hard to support my family,” she said. A single mother to one son, Muriel had scars on her abdomen from several surgeries, including a botched hysterectomy. “I used to be self-conscious about them, she said, shrugging, “Now I think of them as war wounds. I’m a freaking warrior,” she said, smiling.

We women are so hard on ourselves. We worry our breasts are too big or too small, our thighs are too thick, our wrinkles are too deep.

We all have insecurities, and we wear them like scars, trying to hide behind them, covering them up with makeup and high collars. We wish they would go away, assuming that if we didn’t have them, then we’d be happy.

This year, I’ve gotten really into nude figure drawing. And you know what I’ve discovered?

No body is perfect, but each body is stunning in its own way.

I’ve been inspired by the courage and confidence the models possess.

How is it that these women are so comfortable in their skin? I wondered.

“I’m actually not comfortable with the way I look in regular photographs,” one of the models confessed. But it’s different when I see myself depicted in a panting. I can’t believe that I inspire these great pieces of art. It makes me powerful,” she said, “like Leda or Venus or one of Cezanne’s ‘Seven Bathers.’”

In that moment, I hatched an idea.

The State of Undress Project was born when I realized that everyone has insecurities but it is possible to own them and reframe them as strengths.

When I was going thru the throes of benzodiazepine withdrawal, in addition to my physical and emotional pain, I was terribly ashamed. Our culture stigmatizes people who suffer from anxiety and depression, and rather than talk about what’s bothering us, we are encouraged to take pills to medicate our feelings of sadness and fear.

While I was healing, I decided to sharing My Benzo Story with anyone who would listen, mostly because I wanted to raise consciousness and try to help make sure that no one else went thru what I was going thru. Once I started to share about the specifics of my personal journey, women started to seek me out to share their stories. Not just women who had been damaged by benzodiazepines, but women who have other invisible issues: eating disorders depression, anxiety, rare autoimmune diseases; women who have endured grief and loss and pain.

For the last year, I’ve been painting colorful portraits & figure studies of women who identified themselves as living with invisible obstacles.

These women had to be willing to write up a short piece in which they clearly explain the invisible challenge they face — and they had to be willing to pose in some state of undress — so that I could paint their likeness resulting in an impressionistic piece of art.

Posing semi-clothed requires immense vulnerability, bravery, and trust. I feel fortunate that these woman trusted me with their stories and allowed me into their lives in this most intimate way.

I believe that every woman is beautiful, and I’ve collected the stories of women who understand that our flaws are part of who we are, women who are excited by the idea that they are helping me to create a collection of images depicting many kinds of female strength

It is my hope that during the process, each woman feels sexy and strong and empowered.

And that maybe, just maybe, they will come to believe that they are worthy of being the subject of a work of art.

Because each of us is a work of art.

Intrigued? Interested in participating? Contact me and we’ll get started.

tweet me @rasjacobson

Call Me RACHEL: #BOAW2018

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Last night, I started painting too late.

I was tired.

I tried to rest, but I saw her.

Fully formed.

So I had to get up and, at least, start her.

And then I couldn’t stop.

RACHEL is an 16×20 original featuring acrylic paint, vintage papers, oil pastels, colored pencils and one tiny gemstone right alongside her nose. Signed and ready to hang. Contact me if you’re interested in purchasing this or any of my work.

This is RACHEL.

My entire life, strangers have called me Rachel. It happens nearly every day.

For the purposes of brevity, let’s just say I understand Rachel. I understand what motivates her, what she needs, her insecurities and shortcomings. Rachel is kind of my alter ego, I guess. When I’m happy, you’ll know it. When I’m mad, you’ll know about that, too.

Consider the Biblical Rachel. To an outside observer, Rachel appeared to have everything in life—physical beauty, all the material things she needed, and the devotion of a loving husband. But Rachel wanted more. She had to have everything she wanted or life was not worth living. She was envious, selfish, peevish, fretful, discontented, and demanding.

I’ll own that I’m not the easiest person to be with in relationship.

I’m not a conventional girl.

I will not demur.

Like Rachel in the Torah, I have my own needs, aspirations and dreams. And while I’m happy to support the man in my life emotionally, I expect the same kind of affirmation, support and validation. I require a lot of affection.

I like how my RACHEL appears rather mermaid-ish, too. That wasn’t intentional, but it comes through loud and clear. It’s a dream of mine to eventually live closer to the ocean, and I crave the sun and the sea.

Truth be told, I often feel like a fish out of water and relate to these mythological creatures who choose to give up their lives in one place to follow the love to another place. Mermaids are known for their passionate singing and are forever blamed for luring men to the shallows, causing sailors to wreck their ships. But why should a woman be blamed for expressing herself? Why don’t folks think less of the men for losing focus and becoming distracted?

My entire life I’ve challenged social norms. People tell me I think too much. For what? A girl? Who would ever say that to a man? I’ve been told to be quiet and just be a go-along girl.

Never again.

My RACHEL is subversive.

She gets people to listen to her and she gets what she wants.

Plus she’s sexy as hell.

What name do people call you?

This post is part of The Beauty of a Woman BlogFest VII! To read more entries, and potentially win a fun prize, visit the fest page (link this to http://www.augustmclaughlin.com/beauty-woman-blogfest-vii/) on August’s McLaughlin’s site between today and 11pm PST March 9th.