Category: Mixed Media

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

Embrace or improve

My fabric aviary is growing. This is a simple series I’ve been working on to showcase different birds. There are thousands of bird varieties in this world, so this series can, literally, be never ending.

I’m fascinated with birds, so working on this series allows me to look closely at them and discover the details that make each species unique. So how does a red Summer Tanager look different from a red Cardinal? Its in the details.

This process of being unique can also relate to being an artist. What makes one person stand out from another? Often its skill, but sometimes its more than that. When viewing artwork by those who appear to have succeeded, we may compare ourselves to them and begin negative speak. I see it all the time, comments like “they are so much better than me” and “I’ll never be that good.”  Why do we do that? I think the mission is not to compare, but learn from observation while embracing our own uniqueness.

For example, I will never be an award winning quilt piecer; I don’t have the patience. I do, however, admire someone who has those skills. I just wont compare myself because we’re different.

In contrast, thread painting on textiles is one of my passions and I’m always trying to improve. When I see someone’s work who has excelled in these skills, I don’t look at their work and say… “I’ll never be that good.” Instead, I look closely to see their uniqueness. “What are they doing that’s different from me?” “How can I change what I”m doing to obtain that quality?” I’m not trying to copy them, I’m talking quality or sparkle. Maybe its color choice, skill level or subject matter. Looking at the details, I can discover how I’m unique and decide to either embrace or improve what I do.


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

Cut up your failures

Sometimes its nice to take a break from what you’re focusing on and play around with an idea. I belong to an art exchange group where I use the opportunity to do just that … play. I usually have some very specific ideas about what I’m doing. In this exchange group I’m much less inhibited about what I do. Each month we are tasked with making a 10″ x 10″ artwork in whatever medium we choose. This year we have a theme: Construct/Deconstruct. Yep, its a pretty broad theme.

Because I’m focusing on my solo show later this fall (see below), my brain has really struggled coming up with ideas for this group exchange. I had focus early this year, but that creative energy left me. This month, I remembered a cloth bag (pillowcase) that I had stashed away. In the bag are quilts that I have outgrown. They either need to find new life as a donation to a charity fundraiser or be re-purposed into something else.

Looking in the bag, I found two pieces that inspired me for the group exchange (image upper right). I thought, what if I cut them up and reassembled them into something new? (Deconstruct/Reconstruct).

I remember when I made the bamboo quilt, it was early in my journey as an art quilter. I really liked the idea, but I hated that the bamboo looked so flat (2-dimensional). This quilt set me on a journey that improved my quilting style and eventually got me published in Quilting Arts Magazine twice for 2 of the techniques I used in this piece.

Anyway, I no longer loved the bamboo quilt and had to do something with it. So, I cut it up into 10″ x 10″ blocks and added cut-up portions of the other little quilt into the arrangement. I remember it was fun to make the original pieces, but it was equally as fun to re-purpose them into something else. To me, the end result of this creative play produced something much more interesting than its original incarnation. I don’t know if I’ll every continue with this multi layer collage technique, but it was fun to play. It got my head out of a rut and luckily produced something that I could re-purpose. So remember to play, because its OK to cut up your failures.


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

 

 

 

 

Improvise or plan

I’m into the last couple months of prepping for my exhibit (details below). I’m trying to make some smaller pieces to hang along with my large art quilts. I’m currently working on a pitcher plant (work in progress pictured). When I started it, I thought it would be small and quick. In reality, its neither.

Making art can give your brain respite to think deeply about things. During all of this creating, I’ve been thinking about what and who I am, to include why and how I make art. I’ve also been listening to podcasts, my favorite is “Creative Pep Talk” with Andy Pizza. In one of his recent podcasts, he discussed how artists can fall into two categories; planners or improvisors.

I frequently say I’m a recovering perfectionist. People comment all they time how  organized I am (note: they haven’t seen my desk/studio). While I listened to Andy, I immediately thought … “I’m a planner … right?” Then I thought … “wait a minute!”

A planner charts things out and follows the plan. An improvisor just wings it. I realized I’m a little of both, but definitely use more improvise than planning. I never thought about it before. Sure you can look at my post from last week and see the line drawing I used to create this piece. I followed the layout pretty well, but I had no idea what my background would be until much later. I’m also adding more groundcover elements and will just improvise those when I got to that stage of the process.

This quilt is a bit more “planned” than most. Usually I start with just an idea (vision) stuck in head. Then stumble through the process, re-evaluating myself at each new layer of design.

Andy suggests, whether you a plan or improvise your art, you should try to occasionally stretch yourself and do the opposite. That’s scary for me to think about, I’m comfortable at what I’m doing. But, that’s his whole point though, in order to grow/improve you have to challenge yourself… hmmm, can I do it?

This revelation makes me happy to note that I’m not such a control freak anymore. I don’t criticize myself (as much) if I go off plan, because I know how to improv my way out of a predicament. This is good news.

What about you? Do you improvise or plan?

 


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