Category: Mixed Media

It is important to you!

I assume if you’re reading this that you are someone who explores art and finds that it is your passion. So I ask, what’s with self-doubt? So many artists have this underlying struggle of “am I good enough?”

This “covid situation” has really rattled a lot of us. Professional artists are scrambling to re-establish themselves and pondering if they should just toss in the towel. Venues are shut down and businesses are permanently closing. It’s difficult to get the “fix” we one received from outside sources and support groups. For some, income is gone or significantly reduced. And for the professional artists, it’s just a lot of work to keep up with the business side of making art, especially when you’re not making money doing it.

Then there’s family, work, health, fitness and the creative desires all pulling at our time, thoughts and heart. At any given time, what gets the priority?

Right now most of us are dealing with some self-doubt and pondering our futures. I’ve been talking to a lot of friends and we all seem to be dealing with things in different ways. How do we move forward when we still have uncertainty about what is ahead? It’s definitely challenging times.

I’ve been coping by focusing on what I can do and segmenting my time through task management. The last two months, I spent a lot of time developing 2 online classes. Now through October, I have to focus on a couple of art projects. The immediate task at hand becomes my priority. Those that are less priority stay idle while I wait for a few spare moments to give them my attention. Even though, I’m working slowly, I’m still moving forward. When I start having self-doubts, I stop and think about what I have done and not dwell on what is waiting to get done. I will eventually get to the important things.

If your creativity is a passion, then it is also important. Don’t give up on it. Find little projects that you can pick up while watching TV or attending Zoom meetings. Start a bigger project (or work on one in progess) and work on it when you have a few minutes. An example might be piecing fabric for a quilt. You have 15 minutes while dinner is in the oven, then go sew a couple squares. If your projects need a larger chunk of time, like basting a quilt or dyeing fabric, then check your schedule for an opening and set it as a priority task for that day.

I know this is sometimes easier said that done. I get frustrated when I’m don’t feel I’m moving efficiently enough. And, I sometimes there’s doubt; “Why am I bothering? Who really cares?” … If you truly have the passion, you know who cares ….  You Do!  So, don’t forget to feed the passion, because it is important to you!

 

Feed your soul

I have a pretty big to-do list for the next few month. Less computer work and more time in the studio manipulating fabric. I’m looking forward to this change of focus. It’s always a challenge to find the right balance of creativity and business time. Both are equally important to me. For other’s it might be more about finding time in your daily life for your creative outlets.

In my life, I try to include events and activities that encourage my creative being. I don’t want to lose the joy of creating by focusing only on the commercialization of art. I frequently find projects that are just fun. Sometimes I just want to do mindless knitting or sew squares of fabric together for no other reason than just to sew.

Earlier this year, I challenged myself to spend a few minutes every day drawing in a small sketchbook. I didn’t set a specific time limit, but I usually didn’t give it more than an hour. Over the past few days I have been flipping through these sketches. Some I think are ok, others not so much. Some I’m considering making into an art quilt.

If you are a creative person, I think it’s important to find time for your art. It doesn’t have to amount to anything specific. You don’t even have to show it to anyone, if you don’t want to. I just encourage you to find time for it. I promise it will feed your soul.

 

 

Your purpose will find you

After the initial Covid-19 shut-down, I’m finally feeling like my life is having direction again. There’s been a cloak of depression hanging onto many of us. Even Michelle Obama described it in a recent podcast. When I think of my feelings over the last few months, I know I was feeling depressed. Everything I was looking forward to and aiming for was gone. There was no alternate path to take, or at least I couldn’t see it.

Without a path forward we can feel stuck and lose motivation. A while back I heard a quote from Cathy Heller (singer/songwriter, podcast superstar) that changed my thinking. She said, “the opposite of depression is purpose.” As I look back over the past few months, I realize that’s where my mild depression was coming from. I had no purpose to drive me.

Sure there was the usual things; getting up and caring for the family, or going for a walk and paying bills. But was that exciting enough to stay motivated? No. Most of it could wait until another time. Purpose can drive you to get up each morning. The fact that you could have an impact on someone’s life is an awesome purpose to have. To know someone/something is waiting on you, can provide the drive to get the work done.

To me, purpose can also be accountability. If I decide not to walk the dog today, no one will hold me accountable, except maybe my dog (oh, how they love to give guilt trips!). If you decide not to clean the house, will anyone care?

For me, purpose and accountability are the keys to moving forward. Sometimes the accountability comes from within yourself. You can set a goal and aim for accomplishment. But, if you don’t have an outside source to keep you to your word, you may give up and go back to binge-watching Netflix.

I think this is so important to our lives as creatives. Over the last few months, I had a couple opportunities pass my way and I took them. They catapulted me onto other projects. People are depending on me. I see purpose and accountability when 3 months ago there was none. I feel a drive to show up every day.

If you feel stuck, I encourage you to still show up. If you can’t create, then just go into your space and be with the tools you love. Share with someone what you want to do. Or just write it down on paper. No guilt trips, just be kind to yourself. Your purpose will find you.

 

Science project

Lately, I’ve been spending a lot of time reflecting on who I am and what I believe. Some things you train to do and some things you just are. I think we are born with certain personality traits and some we learn.

As I reflect on my life, I know I am a scientist. I always have been. As a kid, I would spend all day playing in the yard; picking flowers, looking at bugs, playing with worms, hugging trees and discovering my environment. I also had a passion for art. My mom encouraged me to do arts, crafts and draw. In high school I had a major in art and took several art classes in college. My major in college was environmental science.

My brain is wired for both science and art. I question things. Always at the forefront of my thinking is why did, or do, things happen? But how does that connect with my art? Sometimes I seem both left- and right- brain dominant. Until recently, I never could connect it.

The other day I was watching Quilting Arts TV (episode 2603). Susan Brubaker-Knapp was talking with Lauretta Crites about the creative challenge of making art quits. With art quilts, you sometimes come up with an idea that doesn’t work. So, you have to go back to the drawing board, ponder it awhile and come up with an alternative method to complete your vision. Susan made the comment that this is why she enjoyed making art quilts, because you are always figuring out how to do something. ~ Insert LIGHT BULB moment! ~

It all makes sense. I’m attracted to this form of art because it is a scientific process. I come up with an idea (hypothesis) and try to make it work. I may make a pattern, but my materials may not work as well as I envisioned. Do I go back and try again…or do I continue forward and find another approach. Making art quilts is like doing a science project. I present my idea, compile my methods and materials, and see what results. My final artwork represents the conclusion of what worked and what didn’t. And with this, I discovered why an art quilt is like a science project.

 



You can watch me on the Global Quilt Connection Meet-the-Teacher Event on YouTube:
Click here

We travel through life

I’ve been busy the last week working the final touches of my new online class “Paint with Thread.” I will be opening enrollment in the next couple days. So, if you want to be the first to know … make sure you’re subscribed to my NewZ-letter.

Thread painting is one of my favorite things to do. It’s actually one of the things that got me started doing mixed-media textile art. I’ve always loved working with textiles and started making traditional quilts in the 2001. I was quickly hooked and started devouring it. I was making log cabin and nine-patch blocks like crazy! I got so inspired with quilting that I got a job technical editing quilting books.

The first book I edited was Joyce Becker’s “Beautifully Embellished Landscapes.” Editing that book opened my eyes to something besides sewing squares and strips together. I was really amazed with her techniques and chuckled at how she used dryer lint … a brilliant way to create snowy mountain tops!

After many years of being exposed to textile artists like Joyce, Susan Brubaker-Knapp, and Jane Davila, I caught the mixed media bug. And soon, I tried my hand at thread painting and liked it!!

In 2010, I decided to use the technique to create a portrait of my recently deceased dog, Storm. His portrait eventually made its way to fame by becoming Mr. September for Quilting Arts 2012 calendar [sadly this was the last year QA published the calendar]. Up until then, I had only played around with mixed-media textiles. I’m pretty sure “The Perfect Storm” was my first art quilt. Isn’t it kind of crazy how we travel through life?

 

 

 

Lyric Kinard and Sue Bleiweis are hosting the free Global Quilt Connection. If you’re looking to hire virtual teachers for classes or lectures, this is the place to start. This live event will introduce you to 90 instructors, shared through 3 meet-the-teacher virtual presentations. Learn more at Global Quilt Connection. You can see me Wednesday, September 2, 2020 from 4-6pm EST.

Finding balance

Right now I have, as my mom would say, many irons in the fire. I realized this week, with everything that’s happening in the world, that I don’t feel comfortable teaching in-person sewing classes. It is difficult to keep a social distance when you teach using a sewing machine. It’s important to see and help the students when things don’t go as expected. And, believe me, when you work with machines things happen. I’ve decided to postpone in-person machine sewing classes. However, in their place, I’ve revived one of my older classes, Art Felting which is scheduled for Saturday, September 12th at ArtWorks Vass in Vass, NC. (Keep a lookout on their website for time and registration. You can also sign up on the waiting list for my thread painting and sketch your pet classes.)

I’m am still working on editing videos for my up-coming online course called Paint with Thread. Stay tuned…I’m very, very close to opening it for enrollment. (If you want to be one of the first to know and receive some promos I have planned, make sure you’re signed-up for my newsletter.)

I’ve also received an opportunity to show what I’m with doing. Two top-notch art quilters, Lyric Kinard and Sue Bleiweiss, decided to pool their skills to promote online quilting teachers. Through their Global Quilt Connection website, they are presenting three virtual meet-the-teacher events representing 90 instructors who teach online. This is event is free for quilt guilds who are looking to find virtual classes/lectures to their members. If you’re interested in learning more sign up at the Global Quilt Connection website. My session is scheduled for Wednesday, September 2, 2020 from 4-6pm EST.

You can see that I’ve been pretty busy this past week. As always, I’m trying to keep a personal balance. I have an exhibit scheduled next summer at my local arts council. In order to have enough artwork for the show, I have to hoard as much of my artwork as possible. This all resulted in my need to let a few things go. Sadly, last week, I pulled all my artwork from a local gallery. Good and bad, life definitely requires finding balance.

 

 

Keep practicing

Before and after – color pencil on fabric applique

I recently listened to graphic designer Adé Hogue on the Creative Pep Talk podcast. Adé, who’s also an athlete, compared art to being an athlete. No one ever tries a sport for the first time and expects to be good at it right away. For example, if you started running today, you probably wouldn’t get too far and you’d very likely be sore as your muscles recovered from the new workout. For that reason, you probably shouldn’t expect to run (and win) a marathon tomorrow.

This very thing is true for art. It’s not like you will pick up a guitar today and expect be a virtuoso tomorrow. It takes training and lots of practice. Also, when we step away from our craft for awhile we need to ramp up on the training to bring ourselves back to speed.

I can relate to this comparison, because, as an artist and a teacher, I find we sometimes want to be exceptionally skilled as beginners. We also expect our skills to remain high after taking a break from our creative habits.

I know I feel that way right now. I’m learning some new technology and I’m slowly plugging away, learning every step of the way. I’ve also taken a break from my art and find it a bit challenging to feel comfortable with my tools. It’s OK. It just means we have to keep practicing.

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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Look forward to

Week 9-thousand fifty-seven and I’m getting ready for the winter holidays. What?

I feel like I’m in a time-warp. I’ve been self-employed for a couple decades now. However, there is something different and strange about our current situation. I am really losing track of time. I can’t believe I’m writing another blog post today. Didn’t I just write one 2-days ago? Sure, I know its been longer than 2-days, but geesh, this time-warp feeling is messing with my brain.

What’s also adding to my confusion this past week is that I’ve been intently doing computer work. There’s nothing like staring at a computer screen for hours on end. Your eyes start crossing and your brain loses all sense of time. Although, I may be struggling to remember what day it is, I am super excited about my progress.

After months (or has it been years?) of planning, I’m thrilled to share that my very first online class will be available very soon. I’m in the final stages of editing. Each step of the development has been a huge learning curve for me. During the process I decided to demonstrate something simple. Many of you probably have made fabric postcards, but I know some haven’t. I use more than just fabric to create my designs, so I call my process Fabric Collage Postcards. Don’t mind the winter-theme of my class project, it’s never too early to start making greeting cards for the holidays. And besides, the process is the same no matter what theme you choose.

So, this week I’m giving you a teaser. And, I hope it gives you something to look forward to.

 

 

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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.