Category: Art quilts

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!

Show for it

My first art exhibit for 2020 is happening this week. On Friday at the Arts Council of Moore County’s (ACMC) Campbell House Galleries, I will be participating in the opening reception for Art in Quarantine.

Early into the shut down, ACMC started a online publication called Moore ArtShare-Covid Edition. It offered an opportunity for regional artists to share their recently completed artwork. My sketches were some of the first entries in the publication.

With the great success of ArtShare, ACMC decided to open up the gallery to artist in the county who had created new works since the pandemic started. I entered 2 pieces:

Dreaming of Tomorrow” is digital artwork made using one of the series of sketches I drew this spring. You may know me as a textile artist or quilter and my find this entry a bit unusual for me. It’s really not. My art quilts are frequently created using sketches and digitized designs I use to make applique patterns. I just jazzed this piece up a little with some fun Photoshop colorizing.

A Sewists Response to Covid-19” is a facemask I made for this exhibit. I created about 150 protective masks this year. My efforts combined with other sewists in the area, collectively produced thousands of masks which most were given away to those in need. I wanted to represent our effort because a sewist’s “art” is frequently overlooked, yet very important to comforting people during good times and bad. My “artsy” mask is sewn from fabric I shibori-dyed a few years ago. After assembling the mask, I spent hours hand-stitching the embroidered embellishments. This stitch technique is known as slow-stitching and is very mindfulness meditative practice. I didn’t have a plan, I just stitched as the inspiration guided me.

I use to hate hand sewing, but recently I’ve learned to embrace it. I don’t worry about what my stitches look like, I’m only concerned with the feeling that I need to do something. Being stuck at home for so many days, missing my friends and family, I can stitch when time allows and contemplate about all of it. Any idle time doesn’t seem so wasted when, in the end, I have something to show for it.


Art in Quarantine

October 2-30, 2020
ACMC Campbell House Galleries
Virtual Opening Reception:  Fri., October 2 at 6p via Facebook Live

Science project

Lately, I’ve been spending a lot of time reflecting on who I am and what I believe. Some things you train to do and some things you just are. I think we are born with certain personality traits and some we learn.

As I reflect on my life, I know I am a scientist. I always have been. As a kid, I would spend all day playing in the yard; picking flowers, looking at bugs, playing with worms, hugging trees and discovering my environment. I also had a passion for art. My mom encouraged me to do arts, crafts and draw. In high school I had a major in art and took several art classes in college. My major in college was environmental science.

My brain is wired for both science and art. I question things. Always at the forefront of my thinking is why did, or do, things happen? But how does that connect with my art? Sometimes I seem both left- and right- brain dominant. Until recently, I never could connect it.

The other day I was watching Quilting Arts TV (episode 2603). Susan Brubaker-Knapp was talking with Lauretta Crites about the creative challenge of making art quits. With art quilts, you sometimes come up with an idea that doesn’t work. So, you have to go back to the drawing board, ponder it awhile and come up with an alternative method to complete your vision. Susan made the comment that this is why she enjoyed making art quilts, because you are always figuring out how to do something. ~ Insert LIGHT BULB moment! ~

It all makes sense. I’m attracted to this form of art because it is a scientific process. I come up with an idea (hypothesis) and try to make it work. I may make a pattern, but my materials may not work as well as I envisioned. Do I go back and try again…or do I continue forward and find another approach. Making art quilts is like doing a science project. I present my idea, compile my methods and materials, and see what results. My final artwork represents the conclusion of what worked and what didn’t. And with this, I discovered why an art quilt is like a science project.

 



You can watch me on the Global Quilt Connection Meet-the-Teacher Event on YouTube:
Click here

Hope you are too

I am definitely not a fan of hot humid weather. This far into the the summer, I’m kinda over it. I wish. Like that’s an option. Here in the south we probably have another month or so of this sticky stuff. We’ve also had a lot of rain this year. So between the rain, heat and humidity, it’s not much fun being outside.

Fortunately, I’ve had reason to stay inside. This past week I was developing a 3-minute promo video for Global Quilt Connection. This group was created by Lyric Kinard and Sue Bleiweiss and is an opportunity for teachers in the industry to promote their virtual group lectures and classes. If you’re part of a group or guild that hires presenters this is a great opportunity to meet the teachers. I will be presenting next Wed, Sept 2 from 4-6pm (EST). You can sign up to watch it live or wait and watch it on Youtube. Find out more by clicking here: globalquiltconnection.com/events.html

Now that the promo video is completed, I’m working on updating my website and developing my next online class which I expect to launch it in October. Stay tuned.

So the good news is, during this hot weather, I’m staying cool and keeping busy doing indoor stuff. While I’m in my studio, I get a good view of my backyard and can watch the birds visiting my feeders. I get to see some interesting birds, like the cute little towhee (above). So even though I’m not getting out as much as I’d like, I’m still enjoying the summer. I hope you are too!

 

Smile with our eyes

Life feels weird right now. Most of the time I go through my day without thinking about what is different than it used to be. Things become routine and you don’t think about them anymore. But, yesterday I felt gobsmacked.

I was scrolling through social media and stumbled on a video produced by the Virginia Quilt Museum. Like most museum and art galleries these days, they have produced virtual tours of their art exhibits ( www.vaquiltmuseum.org/virtual-tours ).  They recently produced a video tour of their Eye Contact exhibit. Eye Contact was originally produced for the 2019 Sacred Threads Exhibit and is now touring.

I watched this sweet video, with its serene music, while intently looking for my eyes. As I watched the artwork scroll across my screen, I couldn’t help feel sad. There’s irony here. When I made this quilt, I didn’t think about what it really meant. At the time, it was just an exercise in creative play and didn’t have much meaning to me.

While I was traveling early last year, I notice how my pupils looked square in our hotel so I took a photo. I take lots of photos of non-significant things. Sometimes they inspire me. And truly, this photo inspired me to work on a quilt to send to Eye Contact. When I see it, I think of traveling. Last year was a very fun year of travel for me.

Yesterday, while I watched the video and saw all these eyes scrolling past me, I was reminded of where I was in time. For one, no travel plans for me for while. That’s all been cancelled. And, when I go out in public, I no longer see faces on the people I meet. Instead, I see a mask and above that I see their eyes. While watching the video, I felt like I was seeing mask covered faces.

It was a peculiar experience thinking how a little more than a year ago we were in a different place. Back then, I would have never expected the Eye Contact exhibit to reflect our future, but it has. It’s poignant, and a little bit sad. I’m honored to be a part of this exhibit. It definitely means more to me now. When I created my eyes, I was unexpectedly looking into the future.

Now when I’m out in public, I frequently wonder if my mask-faced smile is worth the effort. Will anyone see it? My friends remind me that indeed … we do smile with our eyes.|

 

 

Lyric Kinard and Sue Bleiweis are hosting the free Global Quilt Connection. If you’re looking to hire virtual teachers for classes or lectures, this is the place to start. This live event will introduce you to 90 instructors, shared through 3 meet-the-teacher virtual presentations. Learn more at Global Quilt Connection. You can see me Wednesday, September 2, 2020 from 4-6pm EST.

We travel through life

I’ve been busy the last week working the final touches of my new online class “Paint with Thread.” I will be opening enrollment in the next couple days. So, if you want to be the first to know … make sure you’re subscribed to my NewZ-letter.

Thread painting is one of my favorite things to do. It’s actually one of the things that got me started doing mixed-media textile art. I’ve always loved working with textiles and started making traditional quilts in the 2001. I was quickly hooked and started devouring it. I was making log cabin and nine-patch blocks like crazy! I got so inspired with quilting that I got a job technical editing quilting books.

The first book I edited was Joyce Becker’s “Beautifully Embellished Landscapes.” Editing that book opened my eyes to something besides sewing squares and strips together. I was really amazed with her techniques and chuckled at how she used dryer lint … a brilliant way to create snowy mountain tops!

After many years of being exposed to textile artists like Joyce, Susan Brubaker-Knapp, and Jane Davila, I caught the mixed media bug. And soon, I tried my hand at thread painting and liked it!!

In 2010, I decided to use the technique to create a portrait of my recently deceased dog, Storm. His portrait eventually made its way to fame by becoming Mr. September for Quilting Arts 2012 calendar [sadly this was the last year QA published the calendar]. Up until then, I had only played around with mixed-media textiles. I’m pretty sure “The Perfect Storm” was my first art quilt. Isn’t it kind of crazy how we travel through life?

 

 

 

Lyric Kinard and Sue Bleiweis are hosting the free Global Quilt Connection. If you’re looking to hire virtual teachers for classes or lectures, this is the place to start. This live event will introduce you to 90 instructors, shared through 3 meet-the-teacher virtual presentations. Learn more at Global Quilt Connection. You can see me Wednesday, September 2, 2020 from 4-6pm EST.

Rhythms in your life

Lately, I’ve been thinking about rhythms and patterns in creating things. I think of them as a metronome that forms a beat to follow. Maybe the beat is for a specific task, like hand sewing hundreds of hexagons to create a quilt top or assembly-line sewing 50 face masks. As the process develops, you start out clunky, but then (hopefully) you develop a beat that runs through your head. First this, then this, then this…repeat. One, two, three…repeat. (Note: Knitting and crochet is also this way and is frequently written in “secret” code: *K2, P1, Sl1,* repeat.)

Rhythms also develop in our daily lives. Wake up, let the dogs out, grab your caffeine…repeat (the next day). When you get a new pet, new job, or start a new project, the daily routine shifts and the beat gets clunky. With luck, the rhythm forms quickly and you find your beat.

For most of my life, I’ve been aware of rhythms. As I write this, I’m hearing (and feeling) the 1, 2, 3 count and I’m finding comfort in the pattern. A rhythm can be like a good song that plays in your head as you go through the day.

This week I realized that I’ve felt out of sorts lately because the rhythm keeps changing. This year has been crazy for this. I’m seeking a beat, but the world around me keeps changing. On the days that I find my cadence, I feel more calm and accomplished. Lately, there have been many days where there isn’t anything to count. This is were rituals (or habits) come into play. You find something that’s repeatable on a daily basis. It’s important to find things you can repeat, because it puts order into your day: “I’ll do this, then I’ll do this and then I’ll do this…repeat.” I’m going to  focus some thought on this. Unfortunately, I’ve just never been that successful with forming daily habitual behaviors. Some of the one’s I’ve had (like going to the gym daily) have been broken due to the pandemic. There’s always room to change. We’ll see how it goes, right? Do you see any rhythms in your life?

Keep practicing

Before and after – color pencil on fabric applique

I recently listened to graphic designer Adé Hogue on the Creative Pep Talk podcast. Adé, who’s also an athlete, compared art to being an athlete. No one ever tries a sport for the first time and expects to be good at it right away. For example, if you started running today, you probably wouldn’t get too far and you’d very likely be sore as your muscles recovered from the new workout. For that reason, you probably shouldn’t expect to run (and win) a marathon tomorrow.

This very thing is true for art. It’s not like you will pick up a guitar today and expect be a virtuoso tomorrow. It takes training and lots of practice. Also, when we step away from our craft for awhile we need to ramp up on the training to bring ourselves back to speed.

I can relate to this comparison, because, as an artist and a teacher, I find we sometimes want to be exceptionally skilled as beginners. We also expect our skills to remain high after taking a break from our creative habits.

I know I feel that way right now. I’m learning some new technology and I’m slowly plugging away, learning every step of the way. I’ve also taken a break from my art and find it a bit challenging to feel comfortable with my tools. It’s OK. It just means we have to keep practicing.

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?

 

 

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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