Category: Artistic Outings

Happy Holidays

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. As I reflect on this year, I have a lot to be thankful for.  I was able to accomplish 2 dreams; getting work published in my favorite magazine and having a solo exhibit.

This year also offered a lot things that created stressors.  I am thankful that we survived 2 hurricanes with very, very minimal impact. Some of my friends were not so lucky and countless others, who I don’t know personally, experienced major loss from weather, fire and other events.

I am thankful to have so people in my life who support and encourage me. I’ve been reminded this year, how important it is to support those around you. A simple gesture of support can mean a lot to someone who is going through a difficult time.

I’m thankful for you reading my blog and following my journey. I hope by sharing my stories, you find ideas that you will connect to. My goal is to encourage you to embrace your creative side and to stay proactive even when you may be struggling. By dreaming the big dreams and embracing the power you hold inside, exciting things can happen.

I appreciate you! Have a joy filled Thanksgiving and happy holidays . . . Namaste!

 


As Nature Speaks, a dialog with an art quilter
Featuring the artwork of Nanette S. Zeller
Closes Saturday, Nov 24, 2018
Page-Walker Arts & History Center, Cary, NC
119 Ambassador Loop, Cary, NC 27513

Call ahead to check gallery availability (919) 460-4963

The show will go on

I am thankful to report that everyone I know in North Carolina is safe and has survived Hurricane Florence. My heart goes out to those who are impacted. We still have major flooding just east of where I live. Local traffic patterns have changed as people navigate to work avoiding flooded, blocked or damaged roads in the area. Even this is minor stuff compared to the devastation in eastern Carolina. How do I write anything about what I’m doing when there are countless displaced people in my state? My worries are minor.

During all of this I noticed a tenacity among the people I know. My quilt guild is holding its biennial show this weekend. The judging (for ribbons) was suppose to happen last Thursday. Because of the impending storm, they postponed until Monday. The storm was pretty bad over the weekend. The venue where they were judging had to close Monday. It was amazing to hear that the coordinators pulled it off anyway. The judges drove Sunday in the nasty weather to make sure they would be there. If the guild couldn’t find a venue, they were willing to judge the quilts in their hotel rooms. No one could even prepare for all the happened this past week, but these tenacious women pulled it off. The show must go on! I’m so proud to know them.

The storm is over, major roads are clear and passable. The caravans of out-of-state utility workers and tree removal services are taking care of what damage remains. If you live in central North Carolina and looking for something to do this fine weekend, please come see the Sandhills Quilters Guild show!  I’ll have 3 pieces in the show. You’ll find that quilters in my guild are out of this world talented. You will be impressed. The show will go on!

 

Your own satisfaction

Today I went had an artistic play date. In town, we have a local movie theater which plays artistic films and produces music and theater events. Its one of the cool things about this town.

Today the theater played the biographical documentary “Vincent van Gogh: A New Way of Seeing.” I guess I should have paid more attention to my art history, but van Gogh’s story was somewhat of a mystery to me.

I knew van Gogh’s iconic artwork; his self-portraits, “Sunflowers,” and “Starry Night.” I didn’t know how tortured his life history was. Sadly he only sold very few pieces of his art while he was alive. But, he was loved and cared for by his brother, Theo. If it wasn’t for Theo and his wife, Johanna, Vincent may have never had such fame.

The story was timely because, lately I’ve been thinking about artist drive and muse.  What drives people to create? Today, Vincent would have been classified manic-depressive and his treatment would have been different than it was in the late 1800’s. I wonder, if Vincent was alive today, would his medical treatment have interfered with his creative drive? We will never know.

I guess my take home lesson from my outing today is that there’s a reason we have artistic energy.  If we’ve found our muse, then we should create our art. It doesn’t matter what the obstacles are. Its important to embrace the energy, if only for your own satisfaction.

 

This is all making me think

Yet another snow day here. January has just been full of cold and wet weather. Between holidays and bad weather, will things every get back into a normal schedule?

Yesterday, I had a conversion with a friend who is a textile artist. It was very thought-provoking for me. There’s a common ground you find with people on the same path in life. There’s an understanding of the inevitable challenges we face in our profession. You realize you’re not alone in the struggles. When you talk with someone who understands, you not only find support, but you also find yourself thinking more deeply about your own personal journey.

When you decide to be a professional artist, unless you’re very lucky (or wealthy), you have to be responsible for all tasks of running your business. You are the marketing agent, shipping clerk, bookkeeper, administrative assistant and technical support team all encased in one body (and mind). Within a normal 24 hour day, you must accomplish the business tasks and find time to create the art.

Then there’s the question of “How??? Do I make the money?” Do you stay true to the artistic voice that screams in your head? Or, do you sell out and go for the money promoting products and services? Or maybe you do a little of both? And then what happens when, let’s say after you’ve made a name, you decide to venture into some other style or art form?

It really becomes a balancing act. I have artist friends who are in the business of marketing their art at very commercial levels. And, I have others friends who are in it for art sake. Its interesting to see how they both push themselves (or not) and what happens to them on the journey. I know my weaknesses and strengths. And on this snowy Wednesday, this is all making me think.

 

I’ve been published!

Quilting Arts Magazine
Dec17/Jan18
Cover Artist
Click Here to Get a Signed Copy!

 

Have the opportunity again

This past weekend, I had the opportunity to travel to Herdon, Virginia to be part of the Sacred Threads Artist Weekend. Sacred Threads is an art quilt exhibit held every other year which focuses on the spiritual side of making quilts. For this juried exhibit, artists were asked to submit quilts with statements that explain their story.

This was my first time entering this exhibit. To my great honor, my quilt “Soar” was accepted.

It’s always a treat to visit the exhibits where my quilts hang, but this time things were different. The emotional energy that’s in the building can’t be explained. Most quilt exhibits, you look at a quilt and move on, but in this exhibit you’re compelled to read the stories. More than once I was moved to tears reading the artist’s intent. Lisa Ellis and her team of volunteers also produce an audio tour of stories told by the artists and there’s the book, a big book, of all the quilts and artist statements. I didn’t have time to read all the statements while I was there, but I did buy the book and plan to read every one. I had the most fun, stalking fellow artists and asking them to autograph my book. It gave me a reason to have dialog with these talented people and personally learn about their artistic motivation.

During the weekend event, there was a special gallery viewing in which the artists stood by their quilts and talked about their art. Due to the traffic flow of show, I found my best observation point to be across from my quilt. I enjoyed the opportunity to observe people’s reaction to my piece. I had a great vantage point to see people’s reaction without them knowing I was there. I found that a lot of men were attracted to “Soar’s” large osprey wing. That intrigued me. Was it the size? Visual impact? Or that it didn’t look like a traditional quilt? I didn’t ask, but its an interesting tidbit for me. If you have the time to visit this week, I encourage you to go. If not, it will be 2 years before we have the opportunity again.

 

SEE MY QUILT “Soar” at the 
Sacred Threads Exhibition
July 7, 2017 – July 23, 2017
Floris United Methodist Church, Herndon, VA
www.sacredthreadsquilts.org

 

Emotions into a quilt

Last week I took a trip to visit my aunt in the San Francisco area. I use to visit a lot when I was younger. As I grew older, I had fewer opportunities to visit. Most of my visits as an adult kept me close to Silicone Valley. If you know the area, you know that it has it’s own distinct beauty, but it is also very congested with humans. Last week I visited Marin County, which, too, is over-populated, but contains some hidden natural gems; namely Muir Woods and Mt. Tamalpais.

Considering all the rain they’ve had the past few months, we were blessed with sunny weather each day. On one of these sun-filled days we took a drive up to Mt. Tamalpais. I was impressed with the vast mountainscapes (or as Californians would call them hillscapes) we discovered so near the urban sprawl. State and National Parks secure the forested lands and it was all breath-taking.

On our way down-hill, we made a side trip to Muir Woods National Monument. I don’t recall ever visiting this magical place before. As we strolled along the trails, I was overcome with awe over the gigantic Sequoia sempervirens. These trees, commonly known as the Redwoods, are massive and endangered specimens.

I don’t often have experiences like this, but I truly felt it was a spiritual encounter. I totally understand how John Muir (the monument’s namesake) viewed nature as a form of religion.

In some respects, the spiritual nature of my experience revolved around my concern over the continual loss of habit. My feelings were also due to the sheer size of these trees, reaching up to 380ft tall and 30ft in diameter; I felt small. It takes time to grow to this size, these trees are known to live 1200 to 1800 (or more) years old. I am very sure that the spirits I felt were greatly due to the age of these trees. They witnessed many evolutions of this coastal region. They emitted an energy and seemed powerfully wise, but I’m afraid few people actually stopped to listen.

Now that I’m home, I’m processing all of this and trying to figure out how I will interpret these emotions into a quilt.

 

On My Journey

Tres Dominea Lagerstroemia I’m safely home from last week’s journey. My sister and I traveled to Houston, Texas to visit the International Quilt Festival (IQF). If you remember, a few months back I posted that two of my quilts were accepted into the exhibit (read it here). It’s been about 7 years since the last time I went, but this is the first time that my quilts were hanging there.

It’s a humbling experience to see you work hanging amongst all the talent. I’m honored to have my work selected.

I’m also glad I went. The reason I decided to go was to experience the joy of seeing my quilts hanging on those black drapes. But, after my return I’m glad I went for other reasons.

Oil cans #3As I mentioned, I was pretty humbled by the talent in the exhibit. I returned home with a new sense of pride and determination. I’m not satisfied with my work. I want more out of it. Being at IQF made me realize that I still have work to do. I’m not willing to give up, but more determined to be “out there.” More serious about what I have to do.

If you’ve been following me awhile, you may notice that my website has changed. After returning from Houston, I put the necessary effort into giving my blog a facelift. You can now find me at www.nanettesewz.com . Expect to be hearing more from me. I hope you continue following me on my journey.

New Things to Inspire Me

campfire on the riverSometimes I think you need to just get away from it all. Since I spend most of my time in front of a computer, I found it quite refreshing to step away from the technology for a bit this past weekend. I wasn’t completely disconnected, I still checked email via phone every now and again.

At night we lit a campfire at the campsite along the river. It was nice to be part of the sunset instead of watching it through the windows of my house.

sunset on theriverI set up a tripod each night and practiced my skills at night photography. It took me quite a few shots to remember what I had to do. If the weather had cooperated more, I think I could have taken some exceptional photos. There were just too many clouds during this rainy weekend. And it wasn’t my tripod (drats, I forgot mine at home), so I didn’t have the flexibility that I was use to. In the end it all turned out pretty good anyway.

hobbit houseAt night I slept in a little hobbit house cabin where you could hear the river running all night long. Heavy rains this summer created some rapidly moving water. Such a wonderful site.

It just felt good to step away for a few days, visiting with friends and family. Seeing new sites. I like mini-vacations the best. Whenever I run away for just a couple of days, I always find new things to inspire me.

 

Overflowing with Happiness

Somewhere in the shuffle, I lost November. Is Thanksgiving really tomorrow? And I’m cooking? Wow! Lots to do. And of course nothing you do for Thanksgiving can be small, big bird, big pies … and can’t forget the sausage dressing…lots of it. OK, I’m getting hungry.

Thanksgiving is probably my favorite holiday. I like that we take the time to be thankful. Recently I summarized my year to a friend, I amazed myself in the process of doing so. Last year, I took a brave step to focus on my art and in the process I told myself to create what I want. Just let it happen. In return, I’ve received positive feedback and national recognition. Really? Me?

For example, just this week I received word that one of my art quilts has been accepted into a juried exhibit. The show produced by the Professional Art Quilters Alliance – South is called ARTQUILTSwater. Entrants were ask to interpret the theme “water.” I entered two quilts “Being Koi” and “Spigot.” Only one made the cut and that was “Spigot.”

Its funny how it came to be. I knew early that I would create “Being Koi,” but “Spigot” came as an afterthought. I was thinking water and a faucet appeared in my head. It goes back to my love of old rusty things. I had fun creating the water splashing out of the faucet, using stretchy synthetic fabric that I found in my personal stash. I also added a bit of a surprise by stitching the water with glow-in-the-dark thread. When you turn off the lights the water glows (hmm, an underlying meaning maybe?).

The name is special too. Spigot is what I call a faucet (with my Chicago accent I actually say “spicket”), some may call it the spout. Anyway, I know what I mean, but the guys are the hardware store do not. It took me awhile to realize folks in the south don’t know the word spigot. I’m not afraid to do plumbing around the house, and that means sometimes you need to ask the hardware clerk for assistance. This quilt reminds me of regional differences in speech. I find it humorous and thankfully so did the jurors. Here’s my artist statement for “Spigot” the quilt:

The clerk looks with question, ‘Spigot?’ Yeah, it’s that thing my garden hose connects to and I use to wash my hands.

Receiving the acceptance of this quilt into the show, emphasizes how lucky I am to do what I’ve always wanted to do…make art. I am thankful for all the opportunities I’ve had and the friends that I’ve made through this life long pursuit of my dream. I am thankful for having a loving husband who believes in me. A great majority of my family have left this Earth, but I am thankful they were there for me, each in their own way encouraging me to be me. And the family that is still here, they are my personal cheerleaders and I’m thankful for them.

I’m glad we have Thanksgiving, because it reminds us to reflect and remember how good life is. So, thank you dear reader, for taking the time to read my words. May your life be ever overflowing with happiness.

 

ARTQUILTSwater is produced by Professional Art Quilters Alliance – South. The exhibit is open from January 4 – March 24, 2013 at Page Walker Arts and History Center in Cary, NC.

Every day I see more clearly

Last month I went back to Chicago, the place where I was born and raised. During the trip, I had some extra time to visit places that I haven’t been to in many decades. Notably I visited Little Red School House Nature Center, Racoon Grove Nature Preserve, Plum Creek Nature Center, and my alma mater, Governor’s State University. These sites played a major role in developing the person I am today.

While I wandered these old haunts, I felt disoriented. There was something strangely familiar about each of them, but there was also something obviously different. I knew in my head that I had walked these grounds and my early love of nature was nurtured there.  I worked in a variety of jobs at each of these natural areas after graduating GSU with a BS in Environmental Biology. You see, my dream since I was a kid was to be a conservationist. I loved the outdoors and wild things. How things change.

Back then, I “knew” I couldn’t be an artist because I couldn’t draw. So I pursued training in my second love, nature science. I experienced some interesting things during my formative years. My training gave me a keen eye to see what was around me, the colors, the light, the movement, and all. I still have a photo pinned to my cork board that I took at Racoon Grove. Some day I will render that photo into a quilt.

Little did I know back then that I would eventually be an artist who sells their work. When you live somewhere a long time, you see things change gradually over time and you adapt. When you go back years later, the changes are much more dramatic. On my trip I noticed that the road to my school was foreign, so much new construction had replaced the farm fields I knew so well. The two nature centers had been remodeled beyond my recognition. And Raccoon Grove seemed somehow smaller.

I also realized that I too have changed. My eyes see things differently, clouded by decades of experience. I am grateful to have had these youth-filled experiences, they have helped me be a better artist. What I learned on this journey, was you can never go back. But that’s OK, even going back to a strangely familiar place has enriched me. Every day I see more clearly.