Go be it

When things change, I believe we have to adapt to those changes; the proverbial “making lemons into lemonade.” I find it interesting how people are embracing technology right now. What’s odd for me is a couple decades ago, I faced the same need to embrace it.

In the late ’80s and early ’90s, I was opposed to my husband purchasing a home computer. (note: he often reminds me of this fact.) Well, he bought a PC with Windows 3.0 installed and the big old, truly “floppy” discs. The man frequently had to fix the things I messed up. I was in graduate school at the time and had to build my computer skills. So it really was beneficial for me to get comfortable with this, then, new technology.

When I graduated, I found a job that again needed computer skills. I discovered I was becoming proficient with this stuff and actually kind of liked it. Fast forward a couple years and I, again, found myself unemployed. I started teaching computers at the community college and volunteered to teach a “new” coding language called HTML (a simple computer language that creates web pages). One catch was I had to learn it first. At the time, it was an oddity. Hardly anyone owned a computer and few wanted to learn how to use one. Nobody seemed to know what email was, the World Wide Web was in it’s infancy, and I found myself building webpages and e-commerce sites.

Circumstances continued to force me to adapt to the changes in my life, which leads me to now. I’m faced once again with the need to adapt. For the longest time, I didn’t like to share my diverse journey. But, now it fascinates me how every step along the way…no matter how odd it seemed at the time…the decisions I made lead me to today. I am once again learning new technology and using it in my profession.  In a couple weeks, I will be opening registration for my newest online class: Paint with Thread.

Looking for innovative answers to life’s challenges is a creative process. Just like making art, our brains envision something that didn’t exist, then considers the options and implements the action. I hope you are seeking innovative solutions and considering all the possibilities for your future. While we’re working through this challenging time, I also hope you consider the Avett Brothers’  advice to “decide what to be and go be it!”

 

 

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Find respite in art

The summer heat is finally here in the southern US. I’m one of those people who hates hot weather. For the next 3-4 months, I’ll be stuck inside most of the day breathing only stale conditioned air. We had a long cool spring, so I’ll try not to complain too much. With the long summer days, I’m more motivated to work on a my art. Good natural light helps.

I’m working on a piece that was inspired from a photo I took last fall (right). I was on a long, solo hike through coastal redwood forests of Northern California. Along the route, I would stop and take photographs. At one of my stops, an Anna’s hummingbird came in to see what I was doing. It was such a lovely encounter with this curious bird. I created a sketch from the photo and now I’m rendering it in fabric.

As I work on this piece, my thoughts go back to that adventure. I remember how I was feeling and why I was on this trip, taking this solo walk. And, now working on this art piece during the heat of the summer, I’m reminded how cool it was that day. I can feel the coolness, hear the sounds, and see how the day appeared.

It’s funny how making art ignites our senses and emotions. Fabric also has a way of bringing back memories. If you work with fabric, have you every gone through your stash, found a piece of fabric and remembered exactly how you acquired it? My mother’s been dead for over 43 years, but I have some fabric that was her’s and I remember the shorts she made using it.

With all the craziness going on in our world right now, are you taking time to make art? Creating is a way to sink deeper into our thoughts. It allows a little escape from the reality, but also gives us time to process how we’re feeling. If you’re feeling uneasy with life right now, I encourage you to escape and find respite in art.

 

 

 

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Fabric Collage Postcards

I’ve been talking about building online classes for a long time. I’ve been researching, learning! and slowly accumulating equipment. And with all that, I was also trying to teach, create art and deal with all the other things that go with living in the 21st century. Progress was slow.

In March everything suddenly stopped. All my travel, teaching and other plans ceased. I emotionally crashed and I know I wasn’t alone. Some compared the early stages of the pandemic shut down as something akin to the death of someone we cared about. We probably were experiencing grief. When I read this, my feelings all made sense. I was grieving the sudden loss of all that I had planned for this year — all that I had planned for the rest of my life.

During this time, all I thought was “what are you going to do now?” I soon realized that I didn’t have to wait for anything to open. My videos for Fabric Collage Postcards were already filmed. All I had left to do was edit and produce the video lessons and create the course online. And…so I did…it took me a couple months to work through all of this. Along the way I had to learn two new software programs…but I’m proud to announce I did it.

My first online course is open for enrollment! Click the link below to learn more:
FABRIC COLLAGE POSTCARDS

Now you may be thinking, “why did she start with a winter-themed fabric postcard class?” Fabric postcards is one of the first “artsy” classes I ever taught. Making fabric postcards is easy and once you understand the basic techniques you could design your own mini-artwork. Besides, I had to start with something. I already had some class kits made (a few are available in my Etsy Store ) and thought this would be a perfect way to begin.

AND NOW! that I’m more comfortable with the entire process, I can quickly move forward developing more online classes. I’m currently filming my next class, PAINT WITH THREAD which will debut July 2020. So stay tuned for that! Until then, I invite you to check out FABRIC COLLAGE POSTCARDS.

 

 

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What are you passionate about?

The gyms in my town have been closed because of Covid-19. So I set up a makeshift place in my house to work out. It’s a little nook in a hallway at the top of my stairs, just outside my studio door (a spare bedroom). Just some free weights, a yoga mat, a TRX strap and … my design wall.

For the past three months, I’ve been working out in this space with my fabric birds on the wall. When I made my “Backyard Songbird Series I” quilts a couple years back, I made 2 sets of each bird applique. The little critters on the wall are the flock that didn’t get used. Looking at them almost everyday has had me thinking about what to do with them. (Ok…actually its not really that I’m thinking about them, they seem to be looking at me and nagging.) There needs to be a “Songbird Series II.”

While I’ve been in lock down, I also took advantage of the great spring we had (note: right now it’s hotter than heck and oppressively humid, but the spring was good). My bird feeder set up attracts some really interesting species. The red-headed woodpecker (RHWO) is a regular guest at Château de Nanette. I’ve been trying to photograph the birds who visit and use the images for the second series. (You can see on the design wall that I did create an RHWO for the first series.) Maybe I need to do something a little more complex this time.

Anyway, my bird feeders are an escape for me. They are positioned so you can see them from any window on the north side of my house. And see them I do! You can frequently find me gazing out a window and looking at who’s visiting. It’s a passion and it translates into my art.

To me this is what finding your voice means, to find an idea or technique that you’re passionate about. Your work doesn’t have to mean anything or speak for you, but it resonates energy. Have you ever thought about artistic voice? Do you have one? If not, do you want to have one? What are you passionate about?

 

 

Rich tapestry

“We all should know that diversity makes for a rich tapestry. And we must understand that all the threads of the tapestry are equal in value no matter what their color.” – Maya Angelou

 

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.