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!

 

What life has planned

I’m finding it hard to accept that it is the middle of March. For me, the last two months have been busy. I’ve been rolling from one thing to the next. They tell you make a plan and follow through. “What plan?” I’ve had so many re-routes lately that I can’t even remember all of them. How do you plan when things change right in front of you?

Among several other about-turns, I had plans to travel next week. It was a big event. I’ve been “planning” for this since October and anticipating it for almost a year. Then, whammo! This weird virus takes control. There are new rules. It seems every one of us is scrambling to live life differently. You see a friend, go in for the hug and they remind the new rules are bumping elbows, toe tapping, Vulcan salute, or simply waving at a safe distance. What in the heck is going on? Well, needless to say my trip was cancelled. Wise decision by the organization, but still adjusting is seems awkward and disappointing. How do you plan for this? And, just how long is it going to be before I can hug my friends again?

The good news is I feel like I’ve handled all the changes pretty well. In the past few weeks, I’ve moved my artwork to a new gallery space in Pinehurst, NC (if you’re in the area, check out One of Kind Gallery). I’ve also established a new location to teach. It took some extra prepping to get the classes arranged, but the schedule is now up at ARTworks Vass in Vass, NC. Check out their website to see all the great classes they offer. It’s a fun art gallery too! If you’re in the area drop by and say “hi.” Everyone is super friendly…and don’t miss their newly acquired Artomat (refurbish cigarette machines that dispense art instead of tobacco). Super fun!

I survived it all so far. And, if you’re reading this, you survived it too. Although my plans for next week were cancelled, I have a new plan. I’m looking forward to using the newly acquired time in the studio. I have work to do and art to create. So stay safe and remember “What we plan for ourselves isn’t always what life has planned for us.” [Kushandwizdom].

 

Does it give you peace?

Have you ever asked yourself why you’re doing something? Or questioned why you should continue? I do it all the time. As I age, I notice I’m questioning myself more often. These are valid questions. Sometimes we get stuck in situations where we feel we have no way out. So we stick with status quo, suck it up, and drive on.

But, have you ever dreamed of being somewhere or doing something different? If so, what did you do about it? Did you take action or stick with status quo?

If you choose status quo, how does it make you feel? Do you feel stuck or does it give you peace?

For me, it depends on the situation. There are some things that I feel that I have to accept and just deal with “what is.” But, there are other things that constantly swirl in my brain which force me say to myself, “if you’re not happy with it, then do something about it!” Yet, telling myself to do something is easy; actually doing something about it is the hard part.

It’s like driving a car down an old deeply rutted dirt road. When it’s time to make the next turn, it seems the car and the road are fighting you. You know you have to turn, but there’s so much resistance that the car falls back into the ruts. I guess at some point, you could give up, stick with status quo and keep driving on the same road. It would be easier, right? But does it make you feel stuck or does it give you peace?

 

Might help later

I think everyone has good intentions when they offer help to someone else. However, what I’ve learned in life is, that no matter how good the intentions, you can’t force your help on anyone. There’s a reciprocal aspect to this as well. If you need help, it’s great when someone offers. We can then decide to accept the offer or not. I’ve also noticed that we (yes, I’m including myself) need help, but don’t mention it to anyone.

It’s a quandary. Maybe we don’t want to feel like we’re a burden. So what do you do if you need help and don’t want to feel like you’re bothering someone?

As a creative person, maybe you want to improve your skills or explore new techniques. The best way to achieve this is to seek new opportunities. With the Internet, there are so many ways to get online help – just Google your question and you’ll find all sorts of solutions. You may even be fortunate to have some place near you to take classes and/or meet like-minded people. By connecting, we find new resources that may be helpful when we get into a bind.

As an example: I’m taking a videography class at the local community college. I spent a month fiddling with the software and my camera, but felt challenged with my results. I wanted to improve, so I enrolled. There are all different levels of talent in this class. I’m able to help some people, but I’m also learning from others. This is the fun part about being in a “live” class. Although a videography class doesn’t sound like it has much to do with my art, it does. I’ve learned that someone producing videos considers artist placement of an object on the screen. Just like I do on fabric. We’ve discussed light balance, rule of thirds, use of negative space, among other topics. It reminds me that I need to do the same in my textile art. In the process, I’m learning something new, but also reinforcing what I already now.

You’re likely to learn something in any class you take. You can also strengthen your skills by learning a different artistic style. So if you’re feeling like you need some help, why not look into taking a class or at least Google video tutorials you can watch. By reaching out to new opportunities, you’re exposing yourself to ideas and resources that might help later.

Good things are gonna come

“Stump’d” by Nanette S. Zeller

A few weeks ago, I successfully completed another trip around the sun (aka birthday). My new year and new decade has officially started. Mentally, this year has been a slow start, but it also has offered me new direction and enthusiasm. It takes evaluating what’s important and figuring out how to make it happen?

A couple weeks ago, I was sitting at an event and discovered the person sitting next to me was also a creative. She was having some challenges and craved being more artistic. We’ve all been there, right? Family, work, health … whatever … it takes energy and time from our passion. If you’re like me, your creative spirit probably nags at you when you’ve ignored (or avoided) it for awhile.

People who don’t get it, may think I’m obsessive. Between, knitting, slow-stitch projects or full-blown art quilts, I’m always working on several different projects at any given time. When I take a trip, I carry at least 2 different travel-size projects with me. These projects are also easily accessible when I have time to sit and watch TV. Sometimes I work on them, sometimes not, but they are always ready to feed my creative desire when I have time. As I shared stories with this new friend, she started showing me projects where she did the same thing. A little stitching here and a little there, and suddenly it’s something significant.

Our conversation made me realize that sometimes we just have to accept what is and do the best we can. Life does get in our way, but as long as you allow nuggets of time to feed the passion, maybe it’s good enough. If you really want to change things, then you might have to let something else go.

Sometimes the fear of what might happen if we do something is greater than the reality of it. Sometimes we have to take chances by closing and opening doors of opportunity. I’m realizing that the exciting things happen when I step out of my comfort-zone. My energy gets rejuvenated as the fear turns into a fire in my belly. I become determined to succeed and, surprisingly, new opportunities appear. I’m no longer “stump’d” and I grow. So as Amy Gerhartz’s sings “Hold On! … Good things are gonna come!”

Right or wrong answers

“Solitude” by Nanette S. Zeller (c) 2011

I made this quilt, “Solitude,” about 9 years ago for my first solo exhibit. I find it interesting how we view art. It is a very subjective process. I can view an art piece and love it. Then there are other pieces were I feel confused or even repulsed by it. We all connect to art so differently.

“Solitude” detail

Sometimes we have a more emotional connection to a piece of art. It might make us feel happy or it could make us sad or even angry. Do you ever wonder if that was the intent of the artist? Maybe they wanted you to “feel” something? Or maybe the artist created the work and their own emotions seeped into the imagery.

If you Google images of Vincent van Gogh’s artwork, you might see that his art clearly emotes feelings. Happy flowers. Moody landscapes. Emotionally rich portraiture. Was he intending to capture these moods or did the paint just reflect where his head was?

If you’re a creative person, do you ever create work that expresses emotion? Was it intentional?

I remember where my head was when I made this quilt, but I would love to know what you see/feel when you look at it? Is it a sad or happy quilt? Or do you think it expresses other emotions? Remember, there are no right or wrong answer when viewing art.

 

Charitable giving

Serging for a good cause

As I posted last week, the world can sometimes feel crazy and off-balance. There’s a certain level of anxiety in our world. I feel it and hear my friends share similar emotions. So many things are out of our control, but it doesn’t mean it doesn’t affect us. If you’re affected, what can you do to put yourself back on track?

One thing I like doing is paying it forward. I think it always feels good to help someone else. I try to smile at people I meet and I like sending notes or gifts to people unexpectedly. I like sending surprises!

I also like putting my crafting skills to good use. Over the past couple weeks, it made me feel better to knit hats for Warm Up America. I felt better partly because I was knitting, which to me is a form of meditation. But, it also made me feel better because I was helping someone I would never know.

This week I finished making two scrappy quilts that I will donate to my guild. Many quilt guilds collect quilts to distribute to nursing or youth homes in the local area. And Yesterday, I stopped at a local Days For Girls sew day and serged components for their reusable feminine hygiene kits that will be distributed to impoverished woman around the world.

There are so many opportunities for us to share are talents and help others. It just feels good to help, even if we’re only helping in a small way. I don’t want the recognition for it, I just want to know that I’m doing something to make a situation better. Do you participate in charitable crafting (craftivism)? Share your story!

Peace and balance

It’s embarrassing to admit, but I’ve been away for awhile. The end of 2019 hit me hard and it was a slow start into 2020. I simply lost focus. I can’t really explain it, but there was a strange energy within my soul … a certain level of anxiety that didn’t have reason. It felt like a mild electrical current buzzing around me.

Looking back on the past few weeks, I realized there were a great number of things that put me off balance including some minor health issues. It was difficult for me to transition into a new decade. And, my attitude was also greatly affected by the world news (my heart breaks for Australia!!) and maybe the full moon(?). If you haven’t realized it, I’m big on self-evaluation.

So where am I going in the roaring 20s? As I wrote in my last blog post, I have ideas, plans and actively pursing new opportunities. No matter how hard it was to focus the last several weeks, I realized that it was OK. The more you push yourself when you’re feeling off-kilter, the harder it is to work through it. It’s important at times like this to focus on what you have accomplished, not on what you haven’t.

When you’re feeling off-balance it is important to ask yourself “what is important to me?”

  • Does it really matter if I vacuumed the rug?
  • Can I move a deadline farther out to give myself more time?
  • Can I say no I can’t (won’t) do that?

It’s in your power. We all have obligations that are requirements in life, like raising kids, assisting an aging family member, paying bills, etc. But in this technology driven world, there are so many things we can say … “no, not today.” That’s what happened with this blog. I will not be struck by lightening if I fail to write a new post! It was self-love to say to myself … it’s OK to let it go.

So as I start the new year (new decade) I ask if you’re giving yourself love? What can you do to give yourself peace and balance?