Category: About

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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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?

 

 

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.

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.”

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].

 

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!”

Play day

Since you’re reading this, I’m going to assume you are a creative spirit. You may not create your own things, but I’m sure you at least admire the creative process in others. Maybe you’re trying to be more creative on your journey or maybe you’re a professional trying to make a living with your art. Since, I don’t know for sure, I’m just going to believe that you have that creative spark.

I speak of being creative, not just making “art.” Art is often interpreted as a final product; a painting, photograph, music, or prose. A lot of people are intimidated about producing, but would still consider themselves creative. Maybe you doodle, sketch, knit/crochet/embroider, or simply have a good eye for home decor. You have a creative spirit.

What does it mean to be creative? I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately. I’ve realized it is the core of my being. I am at my best when I’m making. Through some self-evaluation, I also realized that this creative energy I have is not something I just developed. It is something I was born with. What is your earliest creative memory?

My earliest creative memory was when I was in preschool (back then it was called “Head Start” and Kindergarten). I remember the school, I remember the day the teacher pulled out the easels. I remember when we (see photo) were allowed to finger paint on the “big” paper tablets. I chose red and yellow paint and did my finest abstract rendition. I remember being proud. I remember saying, “I’m going to call it Ketchup and Mustard!” I remember that little girl, who didn’t always have it so easy. I realize my creativity has gotten me through alot and continues to drive me today.

I think of you today. You’re also creative, right? Do you remember the young creative you? Do you allow the creative you to come out and play? Just thinking…maybe it’s time we let the kid inside have a play day.

Are you ready to fail?

I’ve noticed people struggle to accept failure. I don’t like to give up, but I’ve experienced a lot of failures in my life. There are times I feel down about my failures, especially after investing a lot of time and energy into something. I’m very aware that not accepting failure causes me anxiety.

Being a recovering perfectionist, I’m keenly aware when the perfectionist starts taking control of me. I tense and become frustrated, but I know failure doesn’t necessarily mean something bad. Sometimes failure just “is” … something to accept, then move on.

In my artwork, I try to quickly recover from (repair) things that go wrong. Sometimes, its not possible. Maybe a piece of art isn’t meant for public consumption. Maybe, the process of creating is really what I’m meant to do.

As I continue my journey, I am willing to accept failure. It doesn’t need to control me or leave me obsessed about what it could have been. As I look at where I am today, I am more confident about myself than ever. I know what’s in my control and what’s not. I can look back at my life and see opportunities that didn’t become much of anything. And, I can also see nothing much that turned into something big. In retrospect, all those pieces, the failures and successes, have provided me with a tremendous amount of tools to drive forward. Sometimes it may take time to actually appreciate how valuable that lesson in failure was to your current success.

After years in college, I never did find gainful employment in any of my academic studies. … So … I’m not, the wildlife biologist I had hoped to be, but its still part of who I am in very important ways. Those formative years made me better at learning and observing which are integral to being the artist I am today.

I’m grateful for the failures, because I wouldn’t be who I am if everything always went as planned. My confidence has grown, because after failing, I stood back up. It’s all about an attitude of acceptance. You make some bad art, so what? You didn’t get in the exhibit you submitted to, don’t sweat it! You can learn from these things. Are you ready to fail?

 

 

Celebrate longleaf through the arts

Most of the time I work alone. Except for a very few successful artists, I think most of us do find ourselves wearing all the hats in our businesses. Besides creating art, we are responsible for scheduling, advertising and promoting ourselves. It can be very challenging to manage time and resources, but it also can be very rewarding to know that our success (or lack of) is the product of your own hard work.

The reality is art is a business. You need to know about marketing, press releases, and managing money. Now with social media, there’s an even bigger challenge of learning how to use the Internet as a promotional tool. Unless you can afford to hire someone to do all this for you, you won’t get far ignoring the options.

With all the online activity I’ve been focused on lately, it was a nice surprise to see a old fashioned paper postcard with my art on it.  What a nice break for my to-do list to have someone else create this and so nice to see something so well done. It made me proud to be participating in this upcoming exhibit, Palustris: Celebrating Longleaf Through the Arts .

This exhibit is also rewarding for a more personal reason. It represents my life living in North Carolina. I arrived here knowing nothing of this sandy landscape. I went to grad-school to become a biologist and worked with endangered species which live in these sandhills. And now, as an artist, I am sharing this knowledge through my art and helping educate people about the fragile natural communities in which we live. Several of the exhibiting artists are also my friends. We share the same appreciation for the longleaf pine ecosystem. I am honored to have been invited to participate and also appreciate the efforts of those tasked to produce and market this event. If you have the time, come visit and help us celebrate longleaf through the arts.

 

Palustris: Celebrating Longleaf Through the Arts
April 6-27, 2018
Opening Reception: Friday April 6th, 6-8pm

Campbell House Galleries
Southern Pines, NC 28387

Creative Journey

I’ve been thinking about you lately. I’m curious what sorts of things you’re interested in. I’ve been researching ways to give you more information about what I do. I believe if you want to be creative you can be. I have so many ideas to share with you but I’m only one me and there are so many people like you. I can’t nearly share myself the way I’d like to.

One way I’ve shared my ideas with you this year is through the 2 articles I wrote for Quilting Arts Magazine. The first one was published in Dec2017/Jan2018 edition and the second is currently on the newsstand Feb/Mar2018. Did you miss it? If you did, I have copies available in my Etsy Store and I’ll sign them, if you want (continue reading to receive a special offer).

Another way that I want to share with you is through classes and workshops. I have a number of things I’m working on that will make it easier for you to find out about when and where you can take a class or workshop from me. I’ll have more to tell you soon.

People also ask me frequently where they can see my art. I am preparing for a couple exhibits this year, so there may be an opportunity for you to see my work in person. I’ll be sharing details soon, because I’d love for you to see it.

With so many things to share and so different ways to keep in touch, I wanted to give you a list of how you can hear from me:

  • Sign-up for my email NewZ-letter
    (In the NewZ-letter, I will regularly share details of all events and opportunities)
  • Follow me on Facebook
    (Here’s where can get the most up-to-date comprehensive info on my classes/workshops, exhibits and other events/opportunities.)
  • Find me on Etsy
    (Here you’ll find items I want share with you. Check in often, because I’ll will add regularly add new things from new or gently used art supplies to artwork created by me.)
  • Subscribe to my blog
    (Did you know I write a new blog post every week? By subscribing you’ll receive them in your inbox. Through posts like this I share news, tips and insight to the challenges/joys of living a creative life).

With all these options, I hope you find one that works well you. I like knowing you’re there and following my creative journey. I hope I provide you with inspiration to live your own creative life. As a thank you for sticking with me, please accept a token of my appreciation:

  • Shop my Etsy store between now and March 15, 2018 and receive a 20% discount on all purchases — To receive the discount, enter coupon code  QUILTART20  during checkout.

Thanks for being there and enjoy your creative journey!