As a new person

The last few days, I’ve been digging through my digital photos and I’m flooded with ideas. I love birds and I’m not in any short supply of inspiration. I can easily set up my camera and take pictures of my backyard (yes…every spring, the red-headed woodpeckers visit my feeders).

Where do you find inspiration? I think it’s important to look around you. I take a lot of pictures that inspire me. Looking back, I’m not always sure why I took a photo, but I knew the scene held my interest for awhile and I had to capture it.

Digging through my photos was a reflective practice. I was able to see where I’ve been and who I am now. What interested me 10 years ago is not the same as what interests me now. There are definitely common threads that have carried along through the years (e.g., birds). However, I noticed that there’s a certain level of refinement that has occurred.

We change with each new thing we learn and experience. These changes may be subtle, but over time the cumulative effects can be significant. Your source of inspiration is very likely to be changing over-time too.

It’s important to reflect on these changes, because they say something about what you like to do. If you’re doing something because you’ve always done it, that doesn’t mean that you enjoy doing it. It’s important to reflect on the balance between what you love to do and what you’re good at. I like to think with each new revolution around the sun, we are traveling as a new person.

 

Take care of you!

For a good portion of my adult life, I’ve worked at home. So you would think that working from home last year would be a piece of cake. It wasn’t. Everything I envisioned was altered and I had to find the energy to keep moving, which included frequently changing plans (I know you can relate to this). Toward the end of the year, I found some motivation to work on online classes and YouTube videos. I’m making plans for more. The techie nerd in me enjoys playing with the technology. I am inspired by this new direction.

Dear husband and I were spending so much time at home, we began seeing what needed fixing around the house. Since our schedule was going to be slow during December, we decided to replace the flooring in our offices (aka spare bedrooms). We had to pack everything up and move it out so all the rooms were completely empty. It felt like we were moving out. Of course while the rooms were empty — might as well paint, right? Six weeks later, I’m still unpacking. I’m re-staging my rooms to start fresh for 2021 and letting go of the old. I’m donating my unwanted items to charity. It feels good to let go of the extra baggage.

I’m also paying attention to how I feel. I love the idea of starting over, it’s exciting. But, I also realize it makes me a bit anxious too, mostly because things aren’t in their usually place. Things aren’t “normal.” This seems odd, because I’m not a very tidy person. What I’m realizing is I like order in my chaos. It drives me crazy when I can’t find something I need. So even if my desk looks a bit messy … I know where everything is! Well, until half of my stuff is still packed in boxes. ARGH!!

The good news is I’m slowly finding order again. In the “cleansing,” I’ve discovered that I need to spend more time enjoying life and focus on short term goals. There’s too much that can happen between now and anything too far out. Shoot, even plans for tomorrow can easily be disrupted. I’ve also realized my anxiety about things not being normal, isn’t just about my house. It’s about the world.

The pandemic has changed things. The things we once took for normal, aren’t. The things we thought were in a certain place are misplaced or missing (e.g, family, work, school, health, etc.). If you are feeling anxious, know that you aren’t alone. Reach out to friends, family or find an online community (Zoom has been a savior for many of us). Spend time with your thoughts, less time on social media and do something you love. Focus on today, walk in the sunshine, dance to your favorite music, make art!  Just hang in there and remember to take care of you.

Just keep going, no feeling is final

Today is the last day of 2020 … tomorrow it will all be hindsight (pun intended).

It’s been a challenging year and more so, a challenging month. Forgive my absence. I took some much needed time off to address a few issues in my home and now I’m slowing returning to normal daily operations. But, it’s still not normal… is it?

This year truly has taken a toll on all of us. Some more seriously than others. This time of year I usually reflect on where I’ve been and where I’m heading — but this time it seems more weighted than most. My next moves are being taken with caution. I can’t easily express my emotions and concerns, but I know I have to continue moving. I suspect you feel this too.

The 1st day of January, 2020, I was on a plane heading to an out of state wedding. I had 2 more trips before everything shut down in March. I’m fortunate for the good fortunes in my life, but I’m also sad for all that I’ve lost. I plan to do more self-reflection in 2021. This quote by Rainier Maria Rilke, reflects my feelings best:

“Let Everything Happen to you: Beauty and Terror.
Just keep going, No feeling is Final.”
~ Rainer Maria Rilke ~

Stay well and have a happy New Year!

Count my blessings

Sometimes life is like a pile of scraps. A heap of bits and pieces. Tiny shards of bigger projects or dreams.

My studio is a mess. We’re taking time this month to do some much needed renovations around the house. Although my life feels a bit chaotic right now, I keep the vision that things will be better when we move past this.

My studio space (a spare bedroom) is a mess. Everything is getting packed up in boxes and moved out. I’ve delivered 2 carloads of stuff to the local Restore and there will be more visits to come. I’m not a minimalist, but when you don’t move in 14 years, stuff starts piling up.  I think it’s a genetic trait because my siblings are collectors too.

Most of what I keep are treasures to me. The bits and bobs may be packed away in a box…but when I find them, I’m flooded with happy memories. Some things find there way out of my life via trips to the donation centers. Then other things, the box gets shut and put away until our next encounter.

Not to be forgotten in all of this is my art/textile supplies! These items are treasures at a much different level. If you’re reading this maybe you can relate to this type of — shall we say — “curating.” Patterns, books, yarn, fabric, paints, markers, rulers, threads and scissors!! I may not use some of these items for a few years, but when I need them I’m happy to know I don’t have to go shopping. For example, the “I’m over it” fabric became useful making masks this year. And… all the wool I’ve collected found itself resurrected as a felting class! My former years as an avid cross stitcher paid off when I discovered slow stitching and mindful mending. I have plenty of floss to keep me busy.

As I reflect on all that I have, I’m reminded, as always,  to count my blessings.

 


 

Be thankful for all of it

Happy Thanksgiving!
This holiday is a reminder that we’re almost finished with this crazy year. YES!

Have you tried to look through your photos from last year? This photo was taken a year ago at a quilt guild were I was lecturing and teaching. Looking at it I realize this was the last time I did an in-person lecture.

I look back at my photos and feel bombarded with emotions. I was appearing on Quilting Arts TV and published in their magazine. I had work in an art gallery that was selling. I was teaching classes and lecturing. I was also feeling emotionally fit and physically strong. I was enjoying life traveling, going on vacation and seeing family (something I haven’t done very much in my life). Life was good.

If I could go back in time a year ago, what would I tell myself about the future. Although I’m sad about all the disappointments that happened this year, I can only think to say “be thankful.” I’m thankful for my health and a loving supportive husband. I’m thankful for my talents and passion for textile arts, because sometimes it’s the only thing that keeps me moving. I’m thankful I can continue to laugh, sing (not well…but that’s not the point!) and I can adapt to new situations. I’m also thankful for you! Thank you for continuing to read these posts and support my art. I appreciate you!!

As we reflect on what has been and what is yet to come, let’s be thankful for all of it.

 

 

Be kind to you!

Tenacity…is my word for today. The Cambridge Dictionary defines it as “the determination to continue what you are doing.” With just a few more weeks left, I think most of us could use this word to describe how we got through this year.

Over the last 8 months, I’ve had many conversations with creative friends about how we are surviving these times. Tenacious describes each of us. Sometimes it is as basic as the having motivation to get out of bed. Other times it is having the chutzpah to change direction, move out of our comfort level or learn new skills.

I can honestly say, I have many levels of motivation this year. I find the solution is self-care. It is OK to have a bad day, week or month. You’re not alone, we all have them. The tenacity comes from recognizing how you feel and, at your own pace, continue to move toward a goal.

What do you want? How do you get there? Even simple tasks can be broken down into manageable pieces and accomplished in steps to challenge yourself to move forward. Keep in mind, if it doesn’t go as planned, just start over again tomorrow. It’s OK if you move slow, you’re still moving. And, remember along the way to always be kind to you!

 

 

Want to learn more about me? Check out my latest YouTube video here: https://youtu.be/YK8XDXuBwQk

Godspeed

“Contemplation (Lesser Goldfinch)” – 2020 by Nanette S. Zeller

If you’ve been following me for awhile, you may remember my quilt “Goldfinch in My Garden” that I sent to Sacred Threads Backyard Escapes exhibit last year. The call for entry asked for an 18″x 24″ art quilt that, once accepted, would be used to display in hospital galleries. The “Goldfinch” was accepted and slated to travel to International Quilt Festival in Long Beach, Ca. this spring… well, it was … until Covid-19 forced a shutdown of all major quilt exhibits. This was (as we all have experienced this year) a disappointment for me … Until …

About two months ago, Lisa Ellis (Sacred Threads curator) contacted me and 12 other artists from Backyard Escapes. She asked if we could re-create a similar piece for a permanent installation in the newly renovated INOVA Schar Cancer Institute – Fair Oaks (in Fairfax, VA), Radiation Oncology department.

OF COURSE!!! What an honor!

I frequently make line-drawing patterns of my designs to use for my fusible applique work. So, I had a pattern for this quilt. The challenge was the dimensions. Instead of being rectangular, the new quilt needed to be larger and square (30″ x 30″). I definitely had to make a few modifications…see the original version here

Luckily!!! I still had one yard of the gorgeous background fabric. And after an intensive Internet search, I was able to score one more yard as backup. I love this fabric! If you know fabric, you know designer quilting fabrics are usually produced for one year and then retired…forever. Fortunately, I was able to make the new quilt without needing to use my coveted backup yard (note: I’m now hoarding it until another worthy project develops).

Last week I sent it on it’s way to it’s new forever home. It makes me emotional to think about where it is going. My family has been deeply affected by cancer. I think of each of them when I think of this quilt. I hope “Contemplation”, along with the 12 other quilts, provides comfort to the patients and families as they travel their journey of healing. Godspeed…

 

What brings you joy

The past couple weeks I have been working on a commission art quilt. I’m re-making my “Goldfinch in My Garden” quilt from the Sacred Threads Backyard Escape exhibit. It’s not going to be exactly the same, but very similar. This new version will be part of a permanent collection at INOVA Schar Cancer Institute – Fair Oaks in Fairfax, VA.

It’s kind of fun re-visiting something I made before. The best part is I KNOW how it’s suppose to go together. Usually when I make something new, the entire process is play it by ear. I envision how something will work, but I’m not that sure that it will. This time around the construction was much easier.

The size of this quilt is different. I knew I was going to make the same goldfinch, but it needed to be larger. The new quilt is square versus the rectangular version I made last time.  The process of making the applique bird is the same. I documented it on a new YouTube video that you can watch here. I’m having fun making these videos, so expect to see more soon.

I’m also working with the Global Quilt Connection (GQC) again. So many of us want to take classes and with this pandemic our opportunities are limited. So GQC is partnering with teachers who offer online classes for individual enrollment. After I finish this commission piece, I will be back to work on building new classes. My plan for early next year is to offer some live Zoom classes you can sign up for where we can create together. GQC is offering teachers, like me, the opportunity to show what we offer in classes. There are some great teachers lined up to present. So if you’re craving some new ideas on things to do from home be sure to check out the presentations at http://globalquiltconnection.com/studentmainpage.html. I will be presenting on November 17th.

I hope you are staying inspired and finding time for your creative passions. Above all things…find time for what brings you joy!

 

We shall see

Over the past few months, I’ve spoken to several of my friends about how they are coping with this “new normal.” Everyone I know seems to be re-evaluating what’s important to them and trying to figure out where they belong.

Speedweve tool for mending holes in cloth

I have frequently written about the treadmill mentality. Every day you step on the treadmill and let the belt drive your movement. Sometimes there are so many things coming at you that there’s no time to think, you just have to keep moving…and sometimes it feels like you’re not going anywhere. This covid situation has broken the patterns.  Most of us were given forced time to stop.

Now what? The future we planned isn’t there. Those of use who are working artists/teachers are forced to find new ways of working or be unemployed. For some, this is a good thing, because they received the extra push they needed to finally retire or stay home to care for their family.

What I’ve noticed is, creative people don’t stop being creative. They find another way to focus their creativity. Maybe they move into the kitchen and experiment with cooking. Or they change their focus from art quilting to making functional quilts (blankets) for family. How are you coping?

I personally have started pulling out materials in my stash that I haven’t used in awhile. My wool for felting, that I excessively hoarded a few years ago, has become an opportunity to explore and share a fun craft (see my classes at Artworks Vass). I’m also going through craft books that I purchased over the years and revisiting ideas.

Unfortunately, there aren’t any fabric stores within 25 miles from my home. So, I’m forcing myself to use what I have. By reading the books, I’m re-thinking how I buy and use fabric. I’ve become fascinated with mindful repairs and hand stitching. It’s a calming, productive use of time.  I’m pondering how I can use these skills going forward. Do I keep them as handy projects to keep me busy while watching TV?  Or does it become part of my art form? We shall see.

 

 

Enjoy your creative journey

I’m curious…. What are you working on?
I’ve been writing these weekly posts for several years. Most of the time I just let my muse inspire me with the topic. The world seems so different now and I’m wondering if there is more that I can do to make an impact on all the things important to me. You are important to me.

I teach classes to share my knowledge and inspire my students. It’s a little difficult now with all the social distancing, but I’m building a library of on-demand courses so anyone can learn from me at their convenience. My plan is to build some live webinar-style classes where students can sign-up and we work together through the process. It would almost be like having me come to your home and work with you (read last week’s post to learn about how these classes work).

The challenge with all this is I know what I’d like to teach, but that doesn’t mean you’d want to take the class. With everything going on, I’m working in a closed environment and I’m not able to get out and talk to you directly. The best way I have to share with you is through my blog and newsletter.

I would love to hear what you’re working on and how I could help you along your creative journey. Do you need moral support and encouragement?  Or do you want to learn new things? Maybe you would like to see short videos like this one showing how I added thread painting to trees: https://youtu.be/FUe_ncCUUGE

I am curious and I’d love to hear from you. If you have an idea you’d like to share, drop me note anytime through my contact form or find me on Facebook (Nanette S. Zeller). I look forward to hearing from you and until then, enjoy your creative journey!