Author: Nanette Zeller

Creatively travel this journey

And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.
~ Anais Nin

I’ve been thinking about you. This is a very, shall I say, interesting time to be an artist. I make art because it feeds my soul. I share it because I hope it brings joy or comfort to people who see it. I also find great satisfaction and purpose inspiring people with new skills. When I see the “aha” moment in my students, it gives me great satisfaction.

I’ve been a creative person my entire life and I’ve struggled along the way. I’ve lived through many years of self-criticism and doubt. I always I wanted to do more than make cute gifts for family and friends. I’ve always wanted to teach. When the arts and teaching finally connected for me, I knew I finally found my calling. It’s not been an easy journey but it has been fulfilling. Unfortunately, I discovered this later in my life and my time always just seems short.

And now, we are in a crisis that no one expected and very few have prepared for. As I’ve tried to ground myself these last couple months, I realize I’m not alone. Creative people need to create. It is were most find comfort and release from the negativity around them. When we get stuck artistically during challenging times, it’s counter-productive to what we need and can negatively exasperate our emotions.

As I connect with other professional artist and art agencies, I realize this global struggle is even more difficult for professional artists. Sadly, a majority of artists (2-D and 3-D artists, musicians, actors, etc) are pretty much without work. Most of us depend on outside events and venues for our livelihood. These theaters, galleries, trade-shows, schools, etc, are struggling too. Most are closed. These are places were normally crowds gather; when will it be safe to return? Even when they open, it is going to take a very long time before people are comfortable returning to these places they once loved. And, in turn, it is going to be a difficult journey for many professional artists. This concerns me, not only for my own personal and professional interests, but for those of my fellow artists and also for those of use who enjoy participating in these events. How do we participate and connect when we can’t meet? It’s is going to be a long journey for creative people.

Right now, the Internet seems the best way to connect and, as I mentioned in my blog last week, I am building online courses. I’m wondering what else can I do? I’m curious, what would you like to see from me? Do you want to know more about my process or why I create it? Do you want to watch me create or just see the finished project? Would you watch Facebook or Instagram Live feeds? Is there anything I do in my art that you would like to learn? Or do you want me to help encourage you through your own journey? I’m thinking of you and want to hear from you. Together we can creatively travel this journey.

 

 

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Look forward to

Week 9-thousand fifty-seven and I’m getting ready for the winter holidays. What?

I feel like I’m in a time-warp. I’ve been self-employed for a couple decades now. However, there is something different and strange about our current situation. I am really losing track of time. I can’t believe I’m writing another blog post today. Didn’t I just write one 2-days ago? Sure, I know its been longer than 2-days, but geesh, this time-warp feeling is messing with my brain.

What’s also adding to my confusion this past week is that I’ve been intently doing computer work. There’s nothing like staring at a computer screen for hours on end. Your eyes start crossing and your brain loses all sense of time. Although, I may be struggling to remember what day it is, I am super excited about my progress.

After months (or has it been years?) of planning, I’m thrilled to share that my very first online class will be available very soon. I’m in the final stages of editing. Each step of the development has been a huge learning curve for me. During the process I decided to demonstrate something simple. Many of you probably have made fabric postcards, but I know some haven’t. I use more than just fabric to create my designs, so I call my process Fabric Collage Postcards. Don’t mind the winter-theme of my class project, it’s never too early to start making greeting cards for the holidays. And besides, the process is the same no matter what theme you choose.

So, this week I’m giving you a teaser. And, I hope it gives you something to look forward to.

 

 

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Heavy training

Do you think about what gives you inspiration?
The last couple weeks I’ve been focusing a lot on computer work. I’ve been working on things like editing video, updating my Etsy store, taking online class on digital photo organization, and learning about other new (for me) online platforms. Times clearly have changed and it seems the future it going to be even more digital than it was. I’m trying to keep up with technology and fortunately I’m one of those left/right brain thinkers. I use to work in Internet technology, so it’s not too difficult for me to learn new technology.

What I’ve noticed though is my creative brain is getting a little lazy. When I have time, I find it more difficult to think of something creative to do. Maybe it’s because I’m engaging my left-brain so much that my right-brain has decided to take a break. Or, it’s more likely my right-brain isn’t getting as much use and is getting soft. You know, like when you don’t exercise and your belly starts feeling squishy. I have to start exercising my creative thinking a little more.

One of my favorite sources of inspiration is photography. I’ve always loved taking pictures and now that I carry a smart phone with me I’m always looking for a great images to capture. Working through the photo organization class has forced me into my gallery of pictures. I have thousands to inspire me. From little things, like a ball of moss to enormous things like the Grand Canyon, my collection is pretty impressive. The class is inspiring me to organize my photos, so I can better utilize them in my art. Organizing the photos is forcing me to look at them and is also inspiring me to make the art. So I guess my focus on the computer work isn’t really a waste of creative time. Maybe it’s more like a pre-workout warm-up before jumping into heavy training.

It takes time to learn

The last couple of weeks I’ve felt more motivation. Maybe it’s the weather. In NC, we’ve had fewer rainy days and relatively cooler weather for spring. In over 30 years living here, I think this is the nicest spring I’ve ever seen. I can open the windows and hear the birds sing.

Unfortunately I haven’t really enjoyed the weather as much as I’d like, because my motivation has mostly been focused on computer work. If you’ve looked at my website lately (nanettesewz.com), you may have seen that I added some new things, including a new about me page.

It also always bothered me how I set up hearing from me. If you wanted to subscribe to my weekly blog posts, you had to use a different sign up form than the one for my monthly NewZ-letter. Last week, I finally figured out how to combine the two. Let’s just say sometimes we procrastinate because we know the job is going to be a big project. This was true for this. It took me a couple days, but it’s there and seems to be working.

Last week, I also started editing the video for my first online class. Some of you who’ve known me awhile may be thinking, “she’s been talking about this for a long while.” Yes, another project I felt major procrastination. There’s a huge learning curve to this. In every step of the process, I have to research, learn, then implement. On Monday, I was so proud that after 4 hours of working, I completed the 20-second opening video. Yippee! I knew going into this that it would take time to learn. Until I become proficient with the tools, I can’t expect fast-paced progress. But!! ah ha! — Once I build one, the next one will be easier. I need to build a foundation to be more proficient and quicker.

Of course, I’m not happy about the situation we’re all in, but with fewer distractions I can focus on these technical projects. That’s a good thing. Sometimes I think we procrastinate because we’re just not ready for the effort it will take. I’m sure that’s how I’ve felt. What is “priority” on any given day? The answer can be a challenge to decide.

When learning new things, we want to be immediately good at them and wonder why it takes so long. We might even give up, because it takes too much effort. I’m sure you’ve even felt envy toward a person who’s “so talented” in what you’re trying to learn. Just remember, everyone was a beginner. Yes, there are those rare individuals who immediately display expert quality results after learning a new skill. Most of us aren’t so lucky. It takes time, effort and determination. If you really want to do something new, be patient with yourself. It takes time to learn.

 

 

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Knows she is loved

It’s spring in the Carolinas! The weather here has been very cooperative. Comfortably cool days mixed with sunshine and just enough rain. Trees are green and the flower colors are intense.

I’ve been doing a lot of computer work lately, it’s so nice to have the windows open and hear nature outside while I’m working. It’s important during these times to get some fresh air and take in the natural beauty around us. I find when I spend too many days, as my mom would say, “cooped up” I start losing momentum. Are you finding time for creativity and fresh air?

Speaking of mom, there’s another sign of spring…  In a little more than a week it will be Mother’s Day (Sunday, May 10, 2020). Maybe you have time to make something for your special lady. If not, I want to suggest that now is a great time to support artists, art businesses, local businesses. Here are some gift-giving ideas for you:

Buy Gift Certificates:
Across the country most small arts and craft businesses are closed. Many have online shops and a good majority sell gift certificates. Purchasing a gift certificate helps the independent business stay afloat and offers your gift recipient something to look forward to when things open back up. Maybe use the certificate to take a class together. Not only will you help the shop, but you’ll also help the instructor, learn a new skill, and create a special memory with your special lady.

One of my favorite local shops is ARTworks Vass. If you live in NC, it’s a fun place to visit to buy art and take classes.

Purchase Direct:
Maybe you can’t visit your mom because she lives far away or is stuck at home. Check to see if her favorite artist or local art/craft shop who sells online. There are many places to look for art and supplies. If mom is a creative, you could surprise her with new supplies from a local craft shop. Or visit her favorite artist’s website to see if they sell online. Places like Etsy and Red Bubble are great places to find art or supplies while supporting small businesses. This week I even added a few new things to my Etsy Store – NanetteSewz . Check it out, there might be something appropriate for your lovely mum (if you purchase from me, I’ll even include a hand-made gift card).

It’s time like these where we all can use a little lift in our spirits. Artist or small business they truly appreciate your support right now because their livelihood is affected by the pandemic shut down. But even more so, imagine the joy you’ll give your mom when she opens your gift and knows she is loved.

Create some amazing art

I hope this finds you well. It’s been a rough month for most of us. It’s surreal to think about how life has changed. I’ve been busy doing many things, but my motivation for sewing is lacking. I have reason to be making new art; I’m scheduled to participate in an art exhibit in June 2021. I’m doing a lot of things toward supporting my business but I’m just not creating textile pieces right now. Should I be worried that it feels like I’m procrastinating?

I’m keeping busy working on things. Catching up on computer work, spent a few days making face masks, and working on a few other ideas. But every time, I think about making art my brain seems to say…”nope!…not yet.” Maybe you’re feeling the same way too. One thing that’s helping is that I’m drawing. I set aside time almost every day to sketch. I don’t spend tons of time on this…at the very most an hour. When I sit down to draw, my intent is to sketch things that I’d like to incorporate into my art. Sometimes I work on refining my skills, like trying to draw birds. Other times, I’m trying to sketch an idea that I have that might turn into an art quilt. While sketching, I’m working out new ideas and that’s important.

Most of the time when I create, I have some vision of what I want to make. I sketch it out and then work through the process with fabric. This past month I’ve learned its ok to sketch out multiple ideas and then re-draw and refine them over several sessions. It’s preparation for when I get started stitching. Right now, my ideas (vision) is not clear in my head yet, so I’m “procrastinating” about starting to work with fabric. But then again, I’m not sitting idly by waiting for inspiration. So am I really procrastinating? Sketches are an important part of my process, and I’m seeing this practice as a very helpful.

I often come up with ideas that I’d like to pursue…and then forget about them. In the past, I would jot down the ideas in a list form, but having a visual sketch makes it more realistic. Months from now when I flip through my sketch book, I’ll SEE where I was planning to go with an idea. So, if you’re feeling unmotivated pull out a sketch book and start scribbling. It doesn’t have to be a good drawing or idea…just something you’ve been thinking about. As you work with your new sketch practice, your brain will start processing what you’ve drawn and come up with new ways to approach and idea. The next time you sit to sketch you’ll have a stronger visions to put on paper. So put it on paper, let it age a little and work on the idea some more. Keep at it! I have confidence we’ll both create some amazing art.

Heading to California

With all the craziness the past month, I realized I never shared some good news. My quilt “Goldfinch in my Garden” was selected to be part of the Sacred Threads “Backyard Escape” exhibit. Yay! I was also notified that it was selected to travel to International Quilt Festival (IQF) in Long Beach, California this summer. Double Yay!! I was told that if the quilt sells while it was traveling that 25% of the sale price would be given to the Shriners Hospital Children’s Burn Unit. Triple Yay! So wonderful to hear all of this!!

Why did I forget to tell you? Well the world has been crazy. Every day seems like a different “thing” to consider moving forward. Sometimes even just getting through the day is full of different ways of doing things. It’s an odd place to be to be an artist. While I’m excited to have this opportunity with IQF, in the back of my mind I wonder if it will really happen. So many exhibits are being cancelled because of the Corona virus. Some venues are using images of the exhibit to make virtual tours. It’s not the same as walking through a gallery or other exhibit, but at least the art is being seen. Even though I’m elated about this opportunity, I’m cautiously waiting to hear the decision of the organizers. And, everyone is waiting to hear what happens with this virus. Until I know better, no news is good news and the goldfinch is heading to California.

Goldfinch in my Garden” by Nanette S. Zeller
International Quilt Festival
July 9-11, 2020
Long Beach, California

for more information visit:
http://quilts.com/quilt-festival-long-beach.html

see the gallery of quilts heading to Long Beach
http://www.sacredthreadsquilts.com/html/backyardLongBeachGallery.html

Gonna be alright

Hard to believe that a month ago, I was hanging my artwork in a local gallery. I’ve been with this gallery for over a year. Last month they moved to a much bigger location where there’s more foot traffic in the center of the tourist heavy town of Pinehurst, NC.

When they officially re-opened at the new location, several pieces of my art quickly sold. Things looked ever so promising at One of a Kind Gallery. They did their best to stay open the next couple weeks, but it became very obvious with the Covid-19 pandemic that it was necessary to shut down….temporarily.

At the same time, I was extremely excited about my new teaching opportunity with ARTworks Vass in Vass, NC. My first class was scheduled for this coming Saturday. The classes have been re-scheduled for May 4th, but that’s all contingent on things out of our control. Everything seems to be in flux.

The good news is I’m starting to accept the new normal. I’m getting tired of sitting around and have started making progress on some personal goals. Although I normally work from home, this is somehow different? I cannot explain, but it is. I think we all are having some level of sadness, maybe even fear. Possibly you’re experiencing some boredom, maybe some challenges spending so much time at home, or feeling the stress of 24/7 captivity with your family unit.

When my dad was alive, I remember one time I called him worried about some issue happening in my life. I can’t remember exactly what it was, but anyway, he stopped me and said, “Nanette, everything will be OK. Everything has always worked out OK for you.” It’s times like this, that I remember that conversation. He was right then and to this day I can look back and see that it remains true. But, I also see that it’s true for all of us. It’s not that we don’t have bad days…I’ve had my share. But, we always seem to get past it and can look back to see that we made it through that dark time and came out ok. My point is we will get through this. It’s Ok to feel all the feelings you’re having, but it’s also important to find opportunities of joy. Look for things that are good about it. If you’re like me, before this happened I was stressing that I didn’t have enough time. I’m looking at this situation as an extra time is a gift. And, if you start feeling a little overwhelmed, close your eyes for a moment, think of being on a sunny beach, with a warm breeze. Then, think of Bob Marley and sing along with me “Don’t worry…’bout a thing….’cuz every little thing is gonna be alright.”

Go create something!

And so…life slowly crawls to a stop with this Covid-19 virus spreading through the United States (and world). I work from home, so things haven’t changed too much. But still, it all seems weird and surreal. Things seem kind of normal, but then again, they don’t. The last two weeks my brain has been in a shutdown. How about your’s?

I’ve talked to a number of friends who just say they’re not motivated. We’re creatives who have been offered a gift of time, but we’re not using it. I’ve been asking myself why. I did spend some time updating my website last week, but art still seems stubborn about appearing in my life right now.

I think part of it is the uncertainty. I had plans to be at a conference in Toronto last weekend…cancelled. I was scheduled to do a meet and greet at Artworks Vass, NC this weekend…cancelled. I was scheduled to teach a class next weekend…cancelled. The gallery where I show my art, One of a Kind Gallery in Pinehurst, NC, just moved to a new location. The first week after the move, things were going great. My artwork was selling and I need to make replacement pieces to fill the empty spaces. Well, they closed this week and will re-open …whenever.

I’m a professional artist and, just like everyone else, these closures change the way I work. The urgency of what I need to do is gone. My drive hasn’t been there. I’m in a serious slump…but I’m emerging. I think sometimes you have to embrace the funk when you’re in it. I realize I’m not alone and there’s plenty of people who are suffering far worse than I am. I am not complaining…but accepting that this really has impacted my thinking.

As I’ve talked to my friends, many of them have experienced the same feelings. We know how to count our blessing, but how do we move forward when there’s nothing to move forward towards? This week I realized that the answer is just DO something. Don’t stop because then, the crisis wins. I’m making progress and feeling the stubbornness get stronger. I must return to a practice of making art every single day. It’s like exercising. When you stop working out, you loose the motivation to work out. But, one day back at the gym and you’re remembering the joy it brings you. It’s the same with your art. If you’re feeling this slump, and it bothers you, then DO something! Anything! It doesn’t have to be a masterpiece, but with each piece you’ll get creatively stronger. The stronger you are, the more you’ll want to do. So stop looking at your computer and go create something!

Stay calm and create

We’re in some really weird times, aren’t we? As things get cancelled around me, I’ve been craving more creative time. If you’re like me, you find peace working on your projects. It’s important we stay calm right now. If creating things provides you with comfort, than you should be finding time for it in your life.

You don’t have to take on a big project. All you need are a few quick minutes in your day to reap the benefits. Here are some simple ideas to consider:

  • Find a little hand stitching, knitting, crochet, or simple sewing project to work on. Choose something that’s easy to grab and work on when you just have a few minutes.
  • Put out some paper or a sketchbook and use it for doodling.
  • Remember all those adult coloring books you collected over the past couple years (ok…well…maybe that was just me)? Pull one out and set it on table with some colored markers or pencils nearby. When you have a minute, start filling in an image. Mindless coloring is very meditative process.
  • When you’re looking for projects, select ones that don’t require “perfection” or “precision.” Your projects should be relaxing you, not adding more stress. Create without worrying about what “it” looks like. In the end, if you don’t like it, you can always cut it up into confetti-size pieces and toss it up in the air with glee.
  • When you’re working on a project, turn off the TV and put on some of your favorite music, or, better yet, work in silence. It will do your brain good.
  • If weather (and air quality) permits, find a place to create outdoors. Fresh air is reported to increase serotonin levels, so creating outside comes with an added bonus to feeling better.

We’ll get through this, just don’t forget to take time for you. Stay calm and create!