Category: Being an Artist

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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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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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.

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.

Heading to California

With all the craziness the past month, I realized I never shared some good news. My quilt “Goldfinch in my Garden” was selected to be part of the Sacred Threads “Backyard Escape” exhibit. Yay! I was also notified that it was selected to travel to International Quilt Festival (IQF) in Long Beach, California this summer. Double Yay!! I was told that if the quilt sells while it was traveling that 25% of the sale price would be given to the Shriners Hospital Children’s Burn Unit. Triple Yay! So wonderful to hear all of this!!

Why did I forget to tell you? Well the world has been crazy. Every day seems like a different “thing” to consider moving forward. Sometimes even just getting through the day is full of different ways of doing things. It’s an odd place to be to be an artist. While I’m excited to have this opportunity with IQF, in the back of my mind I wonder if it will really happen. So many exhibits are being cancelled because of the Corona virus. Some venues are using images of the exhibit to make virtual tours. It’s not the same as walking through a gallery or other exhibit, but at least the art is being seen. Even though I’m elated about this opportunity, I’m cautiously waiting to hear the decision of the organizers. And, everyone is waiting to hear what happens with this virus. Until I know better, no news is good news and the goldfinch is heading to California.

Goldfinch in my Garden” by Nanette S. Zeller
International Quilt Festival
July 9-11, 2020
Long Beach, California

for more information visit:
http://quilts.com/quilt-festival-long-beach.html

see the gallery of quilts heading to Long Beach
http://www.sacredthreadsquilts.com/html/backyardLongBeachGallery.html

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].