Category: Mixed Media

Find joy in the creating

This is part 2 of a 2 part blog series on creative inspiration. Read part 1 click here:
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Last week I shared a story about becoming inspired by an art exhibit where I connected with the other exhibiting artists. The same weekend I had an opportunity to display a SAQA Trunk Show at a local quilt shop, Cary Quilting Company. SAQA (Studio Art Quilts Associates) is an international organization of art quilters consisting of over 3500 members in 39 countries. They have several “trunk shows” containing small art quilts which can be rented and displayed.

As the NC/VA Regional Co-Rep for SAQA and with the support of Cary Quilting, I brought the quilts to the shop. For 3-days, my friend, Christine Hager-Braun, and I sat watch over the quilts and invited shoppers to look at the artwork. The overall response from visitors was “this is amazing.” They were excited by the diversity of artistic expression.

Since the quilts measure only 10″ x 7″, visitors were a little surprised by how small they were and realized they “could” work that small. The smaller size seemed to minimize their angst about creating art. Quilts are usually pretty big and cost a substantial amount to make. Something this small seemed to liberate them to enter their “studios” and play.

I also met creative people who didn’t quilt and didn’t want to learn, but they saw the variety of techniques and became intensely inspired to explore fabric as a medium. One beautiful woman, came back a 2nd day to show me what she was inspired to create after seeing the exhibit. It was pretty amazing what she did. Her energy, gave me energy.

But then, sadly, there where others who implied they could “never do that.” I answered, “Why not? If you want to, you can.”

I realize through this opportunity, that the power to be creative is inside each of us. Because bad art happens, the issue is whether we are willing to push past our ourselves and create things that might stink. As Seth Godin puts it: “What matters, what makes it art, is that the person who made it overcame the resistance, ignored the voice of doubt and made something worth making. Something risky. Something human.”

For years, I was my own worst enemy. A few people who know me saw that intimidated dabbler. I held myself back for many years, until I decided that I was destined to share what I do. It is increasingly clear, that my goal as an artist is to inspire. I can encourage confidence in those doubting themselves, because I’ve been a doubter too. I realize we don’t have to allow a critic to stop us because, it is our own decision to accept the labels. Yes, we can reject them, if we choose to.

Because there are so many ways to express ourselves artistically, we shouldn’t try to replicate someone else. I say be open to learn, experiment and make bad art. If one style of expression doesn’t feel right, try another. Eventually, you’ll know that you’re on the right track, because you will find joy in creating.

 

Take it for granted

Last month, I mentioned that I was awarded a 2019 Regional Artist Grant through the Arts Council of Fayetteville/Cumberland County NC. The grant funds are awarded to “provide financial support to a broad range of exceptionally talented visual, performing, literary and inter-disciplinary artists by funding a project that will have a significant impact on the advancement of their professional artistic career.” I am so honored to be recognized with this award.

I am also overjoyed with pride that this is the 2nd time I received this grant. As a grant recipient in 2016,  I was invited to show some of my work in an upcoming exhibit “Take it for Granted” a Regional Artist Grantees Exhibition at the Arts Council of Fayetteville/Cumberland County, in Fayetteville, NC. This exhibit features the art of grant recipients from the past 3 years. I’m excited to be a part of this event and have entered 5 pieces to exhibit. I’m looking forward to seeing the my work along side of other grantees who were also graced with this prestigious opportunity.

If you’re in the Fayetteville, NC  area, please consider visiting the Arts Council while the exhibit is hanging. I would love for you to see my artwork and that of my peers.

Take it for Granted
A Regional Artist Grantees Exhibition
January 25-February 23, 2019
January 25 – the 4th Friday Reception 7-9pm
Arts Council of Fayetteville/Cumberland County
301 Hay Street
Fayetteville, NC 28301

 

Good day

I’ve committed to some personal challenges this year. Last year I focused a lot of my time into making art for my solo exhibit. Now that that is behind me, I’m trying to make-up for some of the time I spent doing studio work. Its a good to spend time in the studio. However, now I have all this art in my possession, I need to get it out in the public and hopefully purchased.

This is the business side of making art, it is an entirely different skill set. Since the start of January (today is the 9th day), I have placed a collection of art work for sale into the hands of a local gallery. Two pieces were entered into consideration for an upcoming show. Five pieces were sent to the Fayetteville (NC) Arts Council for use in their exhibit opening January 25th. Three more are waiting on me to complete the finishing touches to submit to another call for entry with a deadline at the end of the month.

Its a little mind boggling to think that I have so many pieces of work, but that’s my outcome of 2018. Last year,  I dedicated the time to create. I’m still kind of struggling to get back into the swing of studio time, but I need to allow myself time to re-focus. The business stuff needs to get done too.

Being a professional artist is an ebb and flow of focus. You always have to keep an eye on short- AND long-range plans. You also have to keep your mind on the business at the same time you’re creating. Its a switch of left and right brain thinking. I feel a little awkward at times, like I’m on training wheels learning to ride a bike. There are always plenty of sudden starts and stops and collisions. However, each morning I remember that it is a new day. I have the opportunity to pick-up where I left off and start fresh with new vigor. Today is always a good day.

 

 

Unaware of me

There’s still another week and a half left of my exhibit at Page-Walker in Cary, NC. The last day to see “As Nature Speaks” is next Saturday, Nov 24. It’s been a surreal process with a wide range of emotions attached to it. For me, the biggest part of it has been re-discovering who I am.  I’m someone who cares deeply for natural landscapes.  As the exhibit slowly winds to a close, it’s time to share some of the artwork that I’ve been working on.

Back in July, I shared snippets of an art quilt I was working on featuring trumpet pitcher plants. My summer blog posts described a lot about my process. Before the exhibit opened, I made signs describing the artwork. In each sign, I told a story. The idea of the trumpet pitcher plant quilt has been in-grained in my mind for a long time. It’s a lovely feeling to see it hang in a beautiful gallery. The signage explains why it meant so much for me to create the image:

  • Sounds of the Trumpet  (Trumpet Pitcher Plants)
    21” w x 42” h
    In the Sandhills of North Carolina, the longleaf pine ecosystem is fire-dependent. I have been lucky to visit pristine fire-managed bogs and wet longleaf savannahs where the carnivorous trumpet pitcher plant thrives. Their rigid tubular leaves can grow up to 3 ft tall, attracting flying insect to a cavernous demise. They’re amazing plants to see and aside from their size, the next most noticeable feature is the sound. In daylight, there’s a constant hum of bees which are focused on getting to the sweet nectar and they’re totally unaware of me.Techniques & Materials:Inspired by photos taken by the artist, commercial fabrics, appliqué, thread painting, hand-painted cheesecloth, and Prismacolor pencils.

 


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
119 Ambassador Loop, Cary, NC 27513

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

“Don’t Give UP!”

As a creative, its always a risk to push yourself. In hindsight, its easy to look at the journey and see what worked or didn’t.  Two years ago, I pushed myself and applied for a solo exhibit. Along the journey, I had moments where I felt overwhelmed and defeated. Yet, I pushed myself and kept the mantra “don’t give up!” It was pure self-imposed determination that got me through it.

Determination is what I’m learning through all of this. Its not just a creative’s concern, but we all face obstacles in life that hold us back. About the same time that I received this exhibit opportunity, I also was facing physical obstacles. I was eating un-healthy, gaining weight, and not exercising. My body ached from sitting so much and the shoulder issues I experienced from sewing were about to make me give up. At that time, I made the choice to do something about it and started a fitness training program. It took discipline to get to the gym and manage my diet, but it was determination that had me telling myself …”don’t give up!”

I’ve meet people who say “I can’t” … or “I wish I could” and I respond “why not? You just have to start.” If you want something bad enough, you’ll find your way there. The biggest part of success is not giving up. When things get tough, do what you can. When I started exercising 2 years ago, there was no way I could run a 5k race. I knew that, so I started walking, then intermittent walking and running, then slowly I got myself to running 1 mile, then 1.5 miles, then….well you get the picture. Now I run 5k on a treadmill about once a week. What?? how did I get to that? because I kept training. Each milestone set me on the path to the next.

Its the same with a creative journey. You can’t start making art, expecting to have it all together the very first time. I’ve had lots of failures. I’ve made lots of U-turns too.  And, I will continue facing obstacles as I proceed on this path but, I will keep trying. I had to look into my soul and say “I want this! I want this bad enough that I won’t give up.”

That’s what my exhibit “A Nature Speaks” at Page-Walker Arts & History Center in Cary, NC means to me. After hanging the show, I walked into the gallery space and felt an overwhelming feeling of accomplishment. I didn’t give up, even when I had moments where I thought I should. This is not the end of my journey, just a stepping stone to the next milestone. As with anything in life, there will be obstacles along the course, but the triumph over them provides the sweetest reward and empowerment to continue. Repeat after me … “Don’t Give UP!”

 


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

Artist Reception: Friday, Oct 26, 2018 from 6-8p

 

 

As Nature Speaks

All the fussing is over. I finally realized this milestone in my career: a solo show in an art gallery!

There were times over the summer when I didn’t think I would be able to create enough art to fill this big gallery space. I knew I couldn’t give up, so I just kept working. When I pulled everything together, I had 27 pieces of art to hang.

What a relief, especially considering that this past month we had to deal with 2 hurricanes in as many months. Its all good. I’m please with how everything looks.

If you happen to be near Raleigh, I hope you get a chance to visit my exhibit at Page-Walker in Cary, NC.  My artwork will be on display through November 24.

 

 

 

 

 


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
119 Ambassador Loop, Cary, NC 27513

 

 

Get to show you

I’m in the last two weeks of prep for my show. I feel confident about it, but there’s still a lot of work to do. My birds still need to get framed, signange and other print media need to be created, and I’m still working on publicity.

This is called being a one woman show, no team effort on this production.

I’m a little bit behind my self-imposed schedule, but I planned the schedule so there would be flexibility. You can’t predict things like dealing with a hurricane 5 weeks before show time, so I always allow fluff time in my plans. I think that’s why I feel calm about everything right now. (Well I think I feel calm anyway…lol!)

Some of this comes from experience from producing a lot of other exhibits.  I know what has to get done and how much time its going to take. What I didn’t know was that everything I’ve ever done in my life is being put to use to create this exhibit.  Hindsight is the only way to describe it.

My exhibit is aptly titled “As Nature Speaks: a dialog with an art quilter.” Its a story about me, reflecting on the journey. Throughout the process, I’ve remembered that little kid who loved to pick dandelions and play with earthworms, who also loved to experiment with art. Because of that little kid and the journey she took, I’m now an adult who can express my life-long concerns about the natural world through my art. Natural science and art have always equally been my passions, next month I’ll get to show you.


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

Artist Gallery Talk: Saturday, Oct 13, 2018 from 10:30-11:30a
Artist Reception: Friday, Oct 26, 2018 from 6-8p

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

Textiles artists like me

I am proud to be an active member of SAQA (Studio Art Quilt Associates). Quilts and quilters are usually viewed as “crafters.” When you say you’re a quilter, people immediately think of an older woman they know who “used to quilt.” Usually, this person is their grandmother.

I think part of the reason I struggled with calling myself an artist for so long was because of this stigma. When I initially started exploring art quilting, I realized this was something different. The medium (fabric) is generally what “grandma” used, but the application is really different. Envelopes are often pushed.

Th perception that “textile artist = crafter” is changing because of SAQA. They are huge proponents for recognizing textile art as fine art. They advocate that quilts, and other textile works, be showcased in museums and art galleries, not just quilt shows.

I feel empowered being associated with this International organization. I’ve attended three SAQA conferences and I’m currently a Regional Representative. A huge part of my energy comes from the members. They are caring and supportive. If you need to know anything about the professional journey, they are there to answer your questions.

A major part of SAQAs funding for exhibits and advocacy comes from their annual benefit auction which starts Sept 14http://www.saqa.com/auction-quilts.php ). Members were asked to make 12″ x 12″ quilts and donate them to the auction. Each week a different set of quilts is offered and the bids are reduced daily over the course of 7 days, or until someone accepts the current bid price.

Its fun to participate. There are some amazing pieces, with some created by top names in the industry. I’m happy to be participating for the 4th time. I’m in section #2, so look for the monarch butterfly wing or any of the other fabulous quilts (available for bidding September 24 – 30). Its a great opportunity to get a fabulous piece of art while supporting an organization dedicated to supporting textiles artists like me.

 

 


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
For more information click here: As Nature Speaks

Artist Talk: Saturday, Oct 13, 2018 – 10:30-11:30 more info
Artist Reception: Friday, October 26 – 6-8pm more info

Every challenge

Do you challenge yourself? I realize I challenge myself a lot.  I don’t know if I would ever be able to live without personal challenges. I always want to learn and grow.

In a little more than a month, I am hanging my solo show “As Nature Speaks” in a very large gallery space in Cary, NC. It literally has been 2 years of challenges to get here. The first challenge was finding the confidence to apply. One day, I just told myself “just go for it,” so I did.

The second challenge was deciding if I wanted to play it safe with a small exhibit or go big. With 2 years notice, I said, “go big!” There were many times along the way that I asked myself “what were you thinking?” But, I couldn’t give up, that just wasn’t an option.

There have been many other challenges on this journey, many dealing with self-motivation and time constraints. I had to learn how to stand my ground and say no to distractions.

I also had to challenge myself to show up and put in the time to create. I had the ongoing challenge of fighting with my perfectionist self who often wanted to play the game called “panic attack” (btw: the side with fear never won). I set the goals and met them.  Yes, this past 2 years have been one challenge after another.

But let me stop here … is a challenge a bad thing? I don’t think so. A challenge definitely isn’t easy. But, when you overcome the obstacle, its likely you’ll arrive on the other side feeling more powerful and having a sense of accomplishment. I like challenges, because when I’ve crossed the hurdle, I know I learned something new and have become stronger. There’s a new and improved me waiting on the other side of every challenge.

 


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
For more information click here: As Nature Speaks