Category: Family & Friends

Change is inevitable.

I had a conversation yesterday with a family member which brought up some vivid memories. Due to life circumstances, the family life I had was different than my siblings. My brother and sister and their spouses all went to the same high school … and I didn’t.

As the youngest of 3, I moved with my parents into the city (Chicago) at the start of my freshman year of high school. Yesterday’s conversation reminded me of how important that change was to my future self. I started high school in a brand new school that was designed to be an arts magnet schools. I wasn’t recruited, but was just lucky enough to live within walking distance of the school, so I was in.

I joined the theater program doing all sorts of back stage jobs. My freshman elective was beginning band. I didn’t know how to play an instrument but quickly took a liking to the clarinet. From there I continued through the remaining 3 years in band classes, marching band, and orchestra (I still have my letterman’s jacket to prove it). And then in my junior year, I enrolled in my favorite class, “Chicago Where it Art.” Talk about mixed media exposure in those last 2 years. Drawing, painting, stained glass, architecture… you name it Mr. Erklin was teaching it to us. Wow!

After high school, I didn’t pursue art in college (except for a couple electives). I chose science as as my curriculum of choice.

And here I am now thinking back to the past, while I try to pursue a dream that maybe I should have started when I  was 19. In hindsight, it’s odd the way things happen. I believe, what’s meant to happen all comes around in it’s due time.  Had I not had these early opportunities of exposure to art in the Chicago Public School system, I probably wouldn’t be on this journey today.

 

Take care of you!

For a good portion of my adult life, I’ve worked at home. So you would think that working from home last year would be a piece of cake. It wasn’t. Everything I envisioned was altered and I had to find the energy to keep moving, which included frequently changing plans (I know you can relate to this). Toward the end of the year, I found some motivation to work on online classes and YouTube videos. I’m making plans for more. The techie nerd in me enjoys playing with the technology. I am inspired by this new direction.

Dear husband and I were spending so much time at home, we began seeing what needed fixing around the house. Since our schedule was going to be slow during December, we decided to replace the flooring in our offices (aka spare bedrooms). We had to pack everything up and move it out so all the rooms were completely empty. It felt like we were moving out. Of course while the rooms were empty — might as well paint, right? Six weeks later, I’m still unpacking. I’m re-staging my rooms to start fresh for 2021 and letting go of the old. I’m donating my unwanted items to charity. It feels good to let go of the extra baggage.

I’m also paying attention to how I feel. I love the idea of starting over, it’s exciting. But, I also realize it makes me a bit anxious too, mostly because things aren’t in their usually place. Things aren’t “normal.” This seems odd, because I’m not a very tidy person. What I’m realizing is I like order in my chaos. It drives me crazy when I can’t find something I need. So even if my desk looks a bit messy … I know where everything is! Well, until half of my stuff is still packed in boxes. ARGH!!

The good news is I’m slowly finding order again. In the “cleansing,” I’ve discovered that I need to spend more time enjoying life and focus on short term goals. There’s too much that can happen between now and anything too far out. Shoot, even plans for tomorrow can easily be disrupted. I’ve also realized my anxiety about things not being normal, isn’t just about my house. It’s about the world.

The pandemic has changed things. The things we once took for normal, aren’t. The things we thought were in a certain place are misplaced or missing (e.g, family, work, school, health, etc.). If you are feeling anxious, know that you aren’t alone. Reach out to friends, family or find an online community (Zoom has been a savior for many of us). Spend time with your thoughts, less time on social media and do something you love. Focus on today, walk in the sunshine, dance to your favorite music, make art!  Just hang in there and remember to take care of you.

Be thankful for all of it

Happy Thanksgiving!
This holiday is a reminder that we’re almost finished with this crazy year. YES!

Have you tried to look through your photos from last year? This photo was taken a year ago at a quilt guild were I was lecturing and teaching. Looking at it I realize this was the last time I did an in-person lecture.

I look back at my photos and feel bombarded with emotions. I was appearing on Quilting Arts TV and published in their magazine. I had work in an art gallery that was selling. I was teaching classes and lecturing. I was also feeling emotionally fit and physically strong. I was enjoying life traveling, going on vacation and seeing family (something I haven’t done very much in my life). Life was good.

If I could go back in time a year ago, what would I tell myself about the future. Although I’m sad about all the disappointments that happened this year, I can only think to say “be thankful.” I’m thankful for my health and a loving supportive husband. I’m thankful for my talents and passion for textile arts, because sometimes it’s the only thing that keeps me moving. I’m thankful I can continue to laugh, sing (not well…but that’s not the point!) and I can adapt to new situations. I’m also thankful for you! Thank you for continuing to read these posts and support my art. I appreciate you!!

As we reflect on what has been and what is yet to come, let’s be thankful for all of it.

 

 

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!”

Click away

Uhoh! What happened to the last 2 weeks? I’m usually pretty good about posting every week, but I got side-tracked by a number of things this summer.

At the end of August, I was happy to deliver 2 commission quilts that I’ve been working on. I don’t usually do commission pieces, but I really had a good feeling about this one. You never know what people will expect and sometimes that makes working on a piece challenging. Will they like it?

In this case, my friend already had great photography. She had a special place on her wall and wanted to commemorate a trip she made to Japan. At first, she asked me to create an original quilt using her photo for inspiration. When I saw her photo, I realized this could become a collaborative effort. She already had a great photo, so, why not just print it on fabric, do some of my thread work on it, then finish the piece. We both agreed to the plan.

The technology these digital fabric printing companies have is amazing. You can print your images on almost any type of fabric. A little bit of tweaking in a photo editor and it’s ready to upload to their website. Two weeks later beautiful fabric arrives in your mailbox and you’re ready to get stitching.

I’ve printed a lot of things lately and will share more another time. With all the things we can access to online, it makes the world feel like a smaller place. Everything seems like just a click away .

You’ve got this

Last week in my blog, I remembered the little girl I used to be. Part of my reason for looking back in time is because I continue to move forward. Today I am opening up a new chapter in creative my life. I don’t know where this will lead me, but I know I am doing something that I often thought about doing (I’ll tell you more next week).

In the past I wondered, why can’t I do this? Maybe it wasn’t the right time, maybe I really wasn’t ready. Anyway I look at it, I realize it’s been a long journey since that little girl was finger painting in kindergarten. What’s next? I have some ideas but what’s the rush?

I want to take some time and reflect on my journey. Sometimes we set milestones, but when we reach them we don’t take the time to appreciate where we are or how we got here. We always seem to rush onto the next step. But, really, how did I get here? I didn’t roll out of bed yesterday and suddenly make this decision. I realize it’s been a very long road full of trial, error and learning. Sure there’s been some set-backs along the way, but even on my darkest days, I was always moving forward.

Think about where you are in life. Even if there are things in life that you’re wanting, I bet there are plenty of things you can appreciate about where you are right now. I say congratulations!! because you made it to today. Nothing has stopped you from moving forward. I bet you had days that were worse than today and some that were better. You’ve worked hard to get here and there’s more to come. Don’t give up now. You’ve got this!

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.

It will be OK

Seriously, there’s no time for this. I spent a lot of time this week worrying about and preparing for a hurricane. We’re expected to experience the outer bands of Hurricane Florence as she makes her way into the Carolinas. The weather forecast calls for tropical storm levels of rain and wind.

Everything is secured, we have “plenty” of water. Thankfully I live in a neighborhood of supportive friends. We have each other’s backs. There’s nothing more for me to do except continue prepping for my exhibit that will open on Oct 11. So as long as we have electricity, I’ll be quilting the last pieces of artwork.

This week is merely a reminder that you can never plan for everything. When things get out of your control, just take a breath and make the most of what you have. As my dad would say…it will be OK.

 

 


As Nature Speaks, a dialog with an art quilter
Featuring the artwork of Nanette S. Zeller
Oct 11- Nov 24, 2018
Page-Walker Arts & History Center, Cary, NC

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!

 

The right answer to “how?”

I’ve been a long time subscriber to Quilting Arts magazine. Over the past decade they have truly inspired me to pursue my artistic interest. This past week I received my Dec17/Jan18 copy of the magazine. It’s always a surreal moment when you see your artwork in print. The honor is even greater for me this time, since I’m such a big fan of the publication.

All of this is about taking a leap of faith. That’s what I truly hope to inspire in other people. If you really want something don’t say “can’t.” Try to come up with the answer to “how?

This idea has long been in my head, but it took several things to push me over the edge. One thing that happened was I met Lea McComas while I was at Quilt Festival in Houston about 2 years ago. I knew who she was, had admired her work, and saw her a number a times during my visit at Festival. On my last night there, I went to dinner with my sister and a friend and had to use the restroom. Lea happen to be in line waiting and we started chatting. Just casual chatter. On our way back to our respective tables, she asked me “Why haven’t you published?” I know I came up with some excuse, but our conversation hit a nerve. When you’re at these shows, its interesting how random encounters become meaningful and inspiring events.

I really don’t know why Lea asked the question, but it hasn’t left me. I even jotted her question down on a piece of paper and tacked it to a bulletin board in my studio. I wanted to be reminded. At the time, there really wasn’t a good answer to her question. But her question left me pondering my personal barriers and eventually finding the right answer to “how?”

 

 

See my work and discover my process of “Creating Highlights & Shadows
Quilting Arts Magazine
December 2017/January 2018
available book stores or online at Interweave Press