Category: Family & Friends

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

Laugh with life whenever possible

I believe we learn lessons about life from situations we’re placed in. We can also learn alot by watching how others handle situations. I’ve been learning a lot the past few weeks as I witness 2 friends battle cancer. They are both amazing women, creative and funny. They make me laugh; I love that about them. Because of their sense of human and strong character, they are both facing their diagnosis with positive and determined ways. They are powerful to watch.

Shortly after receiving her diagnosis, one of my friends made a promise to her husband to clear out her stash before she dies. She didn’t want to leave him with this burden. She held to her promise and organized her things, then invited people to come “adopt” her craft supplies. “Take all that you want and use it,” she told us with a big smile. It gave her great joy to see her things go to people who would love and appreciate what she had. I don’t know that I would be so organized and determined after receiving such news.

I surely don’t need more fabric, but I did go “adobpt” a few things and brought home a mascot. This funky hedgehog is truly special to me. It will remind me of the strong character, grace and humor of my friend. It will also remind me to love what I do, give graciously, and laugh with life whenever possible.

 

 

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

Distracted

It’s a new year and I’m trying to get myself into a rhythm of working. Sometimes however, I get distracted.

I vaguely remember owning an infamous “Sock Monkey” when I was a child. I’m told that my mother and grandmother would make these stuffed dolls for us.

Back in the 1980’s, I found that you could still purchase the “Red Heel” socks that were used to make these iconic characters from my youth. Back in the ’80s, I was a new auntie who loved to craft and I made a set monkeys for all my nieces and nephews.

Flash forward a few decades and the munchkin nephews are now parents of their own toddlers. Unfortunately, none of their sock monkey friends survived long enough to be passed down to the next generation of kids. However, when I heard “the Mav” LOVED monkeys, great-auntie kicked it into gear to start the Great Sock Monkey Project of 2017.

Well, if you make one…you might as well make 4! Right? Both the niece and nephew got new buddies, along with some of their friends.

And yes, you can still easily find “Red Heel” socks online (e.g., Amazon.com). If you buy the original Rockford Red Heel socks, inside the label you’ll find the directions on how to make them.

I’m told the kiddos love their new BFFs. — Sometimes it pays to get distracted.

 

No Guarantees

cypress_treesThe end of the year is almost here. There was one last thing I promised to do before the end of the year. I’ve been kind of quiet about it, because you just never know what will happen. Although people cheer me on…after the fact… that they knew I would get this or do that, there is always the realist in me who whispers…”don’t get cocky.” There are never guarantees in life, especially when you put yourself in competition with people. I’m sure some enter a competition and say to themselves, “I got this!” But personally, I think that sets me up for major disappointment when I don’t win.

My personal philosophy is to keep a low profile. I don’t make a big deal about any competition I enter, because I understand that as much as I may want to be accepted…there are no guarantees, no matter how much my friends and family tell me they believe in me.

This year, I submitted entries into 4 different shows. Entering shows is a competition. Everyone who enters is competing for the few slots available in the exhibit space. Each of us believe we are worthy of acceptance, otherwise we wouldn’t be entering. But there again, no guarantees. At year’s end, I’m ranking 2 for 4; a 50% success rate.

Right now, I’m trying to work on a large piece, but my procrastination has been high. I really haven’t been excited about finishing it, life is getting in my way. I wanted to enter it for consideration into a call for entry that opens in January. But, it just has been plunking along with little progress. I’m lacking motivation. I even considered backing out of my exhibit this November. I just wasn’t sure how I could make enough pieces. Sigh…self doubt can strangle you.

And then this past Saturday, I received a plain manilla envelope in the mail…more junk mail? I opened it with curiosity and then, seeing the contents, I immediately lost my breath.

You see, from the start of this year, I had planned to enter another competition. A very selfish competition. I was required to write a proposal and share a dream. I had to pull-together supporting documentation and get letters of recommendations. I attended meetings to learn more about the process and asked questions from people who believed in me. I applied for a grant and have been waiting for the news since October.

This past Saturday, in the plain little envelope where the words which today inspire me to keep going. I received full funding for a Regional Artist Grant. I’ve learned since then the very few people get full funding for this highly competitive “selfish” grant; I was only one of 2 who received full funding this year.

I call it selfish, because it’s all about the recipient. As an artist, we get to dream big and ask for money to fulfill that dream. My dream is to own an industrial-style sewing machine that will allow me to more accurately and proficiently stitch larger quilts. Thanks to the Arts Council and my tenacity to apply for this grant, in 2016 I will own one of these machines. Wow! I’m excited!

My artwork will improve because of this machine. But until then, the large quilt I was procrastinating about will go on hold so I can do it right on this new machine. And, until then, I will place my focus on making smaller pieces on my domestic machine.

Sometimes I think destiny dictates how my art is suppose to happen. When I get upset with my progress, or lack there of, I have to remember to step back and just accept what’s happening. I’ve always believed the pieces I make speak to me; some times I forget to listen. As in this case, I think my swampy quilt knew what was coming.

I like not knowing the outcome, because when things happen that I don’t expect I’m overjoyed. Life’s fun that way. I like having no guarantees.

Live the Dream

Vintage BlocksIn December, I was given a pile of old quilt blocks which were reportedly created by my mother’s mother (my Grandma). I showed them to a friend who has studied old quilts and vintage fabrics. She told me that a majority of the fabrics are from the turn of the 20th century (early 1900’s). She pointed out that some of the black-patterned fabrics (seen in the pinwheel block pictured) where probably “mourning” fabrics used to make clothes after a loved one died.

The other week, I took some time to gently wash the blocks removing decades of crud that accumulates. I’m concerned about the blocks because the fabrics may be dry-rot. I’m going to try to work with them anyway. Hopefully, I’ll be able to assemble them into a usable sized quilt.

What amazes me about these blocks is the resourcefulness of the maker. A lot of them use re-purposed “shirting” fabrics, but look closely. These small blocks (4″ to 6″) are made of smaller Vintage 9-patchunits. Many of these small units are pieced together with even smaller scraps to achieve the size necessary for assembly.

I know during (and after) the depression my family was quite poor, Vintage 9-patchdoing the best they could to survive unemployment. I wonder if my grandmother in her creative desire was trying to use the blocks to memorialize her family in a quilt. Did the mourning fabrics belong to her mother, who lost her husband when my grandma was so young? Where the shirtings from her father or other male relatives? I’ll never know, but it is obvious she did her best to avoid wasting the precious sampling of fabrics.

While investigating these blocks, I Frugalwonder about my wastefulness and the wastefulness of this entire generation I’m living in. I make dog beds from scraps of fabric and clothing which are twice as big as the entire blocks my ancestors made. I can’t be bothered with hanging on to tiny little scraps. It almost annoys me to think about it. I’m grateful that I don’t have to worry about it. I have access and the financial means to purchase the yardage I need.

Thinking of these blocks and the woman who created them gives me a better understanding of who I am. I have a creative streak that runs through many generations. Understanding how difficult their lives were, gives me compassion for my family members. I am spoiled. Yet, I am a product of their hardships. Therefore, I must honor them and all they gave. I must be strong and live the dream for them.

 

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.