Category: Nature Inspired Art

Gonna be alright

Hard to believe that a month ago, I was hanging my artwork in a local gallery. I’ve been with this gallery for over a year. Last month they moved to a much bigger location where there’s more foot traffic in the center of the tourist heavy town of Pinehurst, NC.

When they officially re-opened at the new location, several pieces of my art quickly sold. Things looked ever so promising at One of a Kind Gallery. They did their best to stay open the next couple weeks, but it became very obvious with the Covid-19 pandemic that it was necessary to shut down….temporarily.

At the same time, I was extremely excited about my new teaching opportunity with ARTworks Vass in Vass, NC. My first class was scheduled for this coming Saturday. The classes have been re-scheduled for May 4th, but that’s all contingent on things out of our control. Everything seems to be in flux.

The good news is I’m starting to accept the new normal. I’m getting tired of sitting around and have started making progress on some personal goals. Although I normally work from home, this is somehow different? I cannot explain, but it is. I think we all are having some level of sadness, maybe even fear. Possibly you’re experiencing some boredom, maybe some challenges spending so much time at home, or feeling the stress of 24/7 captivity with your family unit.

When my dad was alive, I remember one time I called him worried about some issue happening in my life. I can’t remember exactly what it was, but anyway, he stopped me and said, “Nanette, everything will be OK. Everything has always worked out OK for you.” It’s times like this, that I remember that conversation. He was right then and to this day I can look back and see that it remains true. But, I also see that it’s true for all of us. It’s not that we don’t have bad days…I’ve had my share. But, we always seem to get past it and can look back to see that we made it through that dark time and came out ok. My point is we will get through this. It’s Ok to feel all the feelings you’re having, but it’s also important to find opportunities of joy. Look for things that are good about it. If you’re like me, before this happened I was stressing that I didn’t have enough time. I’m looking at this situation as an extra time is a gift. And, if you start feeling a little overwhelmed, close your eyes for a moment, think of being on a sunny beach, with a warm breeze. Then, think of Bob Marley and sing along with me “Don’t worry…’bout a thing….’cuz every little thing is gonna be alright.”

Does it give you peace?

Have you ever asked yourself why you’re doing something? Or questioned why you should continue? I do it all the time. As I age, I notice I’m questioning myself more often. These are valid questions. Sometimes we get stuck in situations where we feel we have no way out. So we stick with status quo, suck it up, and drive on.

But, have you ever dreamed of being somewhere or doing something different? If so, what did you do about it? Did you take action or stick with status quo?

If you choose status quo, how does it make you feel? Do you feel stuck or does it give you peace?

For me, it depends on the situation. There are some things that I feel that I have to accept and just deal with “what is.” But, there are other things that constantly swirl in my brain which force me say to myself, “if you’re not happy with it, then do something about it!” Yet, telling myself to do something is easy; actually doing something about it is the hard part.

It’s like driving a car down an old deeply rutted dirt road. When it’s time to make the next turn, it seems the car and the road are fighting you. You know you have to turn, but there’s so much resistance that the car falls back into the ruts. I guess at some point, you could give up, stick with status quo and keep driving on the same road. It would be easier, right? But does it make you feel stuck or does it give you peace?

 

Might help later

I think everyone has good intentions when they offer help to someone else. However, what I’ve learned in life is, that no matter how good the intentions, you can’t force your help on anyone. There’s a reciprocal aspect to this as well. If you need help, it’s great when someone offers. We can then decide to accept the offer or not. I’ve also noticed that we (yes, I’m including myself) need help, but don’t mention it to anyone.

It’s a quandary. Maybe we don’t want to feel like we’re a burden. So what do you do if you need help and don’t want to feel like you’re bothering someone?

As a creative person, maybe you want to improve your skills or explore new techniques. The best way to achieve this is to seek new opportunities. With the Internet, there are so many ways to get online help – just Google your question and you’ll find all sorts of solutions. You may even be fortunate to have some place near you to take classes and/or meet like-minded people. By connecting, we find new resources that may be helpful when we get into a bind.

As an example: I’m taking a videography class at the local community college. I spent a month fiddling with the software and my camera, but felt challenged with my results. I wanted to improve, so I enrolled. There are all different levels of talent in this class. I’m able to help some people, but I’m also learning from others. This is the fun part about being in a “live” class. Although a videography class doesn’t sound like it has much to do with my art, it does. I’ve learned that someone producing videos considers artist placement of an object on the screen. Just like I do on fabric. We’ve discussed light balance, rule of thirds, use of negative space, among other topics. It reminds me that I need to do the same in my textile art. In the process, I’m learning something new, but also reinforcing what I already now.

You’re likely to learn something in any class you take. You can also strengthen your skills by learning a different artistic style. So if you’re feeling like you need some help, why not look into taking a class or at least Google video tutorials you can watch. By reaching out to new opportunities, you’re exposing yourself to ideas and resources that might help later.

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!”

Looking forward to the journey

Unlike most of the world, things kind of slow down for me this time of year. I’m able to spend more time catching up on projects. Since the sun goes down pretty early these days, there’s a lot of darkness that makes me want to stay home. I try to get out a little during the day, but I’m home early and working with projects that have been waiting for my attention. I feel productive.

It is also a time that I contemplate on what’s next. Two weeks from today, not only do we have a new year ahead, but a new decade. Wow! A great time to think about what I want to accomplish. I’ve been doing some behind the scenes planning and stepping back to my technical roots (I use to design websites). I forgot home much fun it can be to learn new software that provides a creative outlet.

If you’ve been following me, you may know about some of what I’m planning. But, there’s another component that I’ve been holding close until it’s ready. I’m pretty excited about this next phase of my life. I’m not giving up on my artwork, but just reaching for another outlet that will enhance things.

While I’m learning new software and catching up on some things, I feel like I’m looking at a sunrise along the beach. There’s a new decade ahead and I’m looking forward to the journey.

Creative inspiration

“Goldfinch in My Garden” by Nanette S. Zeller – NanetteSewZ.com

November was a busy month for me.  Unlike most people, my life kind of scales back in December. Time to catch up on things and find “free” creative time. I’m looking forward to enjoying some down time. It’s also that time of year when I reflect on my journey and plan for the next year.

This year was definitely full of travel for me. I feel so fortunate to have had so many new experiences this year. My life has been enriched by these journeys. I realize that being here, where I live, doesn’t creatively inspire me as much as I’d like. When I travel somewhere new, I gain new perspective.

I try to capture beauty whenever I can on my camera, then use it for creating new artwork. I’ve committed to participating in an exhibit in 2021 and really need to make some new work. My traveling and resulting images definitely have given me lots of ideas.

Here’s an example: In late September, I visited my aunt in Northern California. She always was a gardener. When she down-sized a few years ago, she made sure she had a space to grow things. While I was there, I took photos of the plants and birds that visited her small patio. When I returned home, I knew some of my images would be rendered into new artwork. In my latest art piece (just finished last week), I capture a goldfinch swinging on a stem while it ate the flower’s seeds. The position of the bird’s head seems contemplative. (Note: I’ve submitted “Goldfinch in My Garden” to a call for entry. Fingers crossed it gets accepted into the exhibit.)

While I think of the process for inspiration, I realize I get stuck in my head and need to walk away sometimes. It’s not that there’s no beauty where I live, it’s just the same beauty I see every day. Ordinary. Walking away and seeing something new is an opportunity to look at things differently and be inspired. What do you do to find creative inspiration?

 

Nature-inspired

As part of the grant I received this year, I have to make an art piece utilizing the materials I purchased with the monies; a new camera lens and computer software. Due to life circumstances, I’m a little behind schedule…but definitely within my time allotment.

Part of the reason for being behind is I had challenges taking the photographs. When I took pictures with the new lens this summer, I felt they were just ‘eh. I didn’t find inspiration in what I was photographing. It took my trip to California to really kickstart the ideas. There were several images from the trip that really inspired me. I have been working on this backyard bird scene since I returned home in early October. The trip was definitely what I needed to get started. I’m almost finished. Yesterday, I completed the threadwork (aka, free-motion embroidery or thread painting) on the goldfinch and the flowers. Today, I’m ready to quilt. I’m happy with how this is going and excited about working on it.

Last month, I also received news that I was accepted into a gallery exhibit in June 2021 at the local Arts Council. My work will be hanging with work of 2 other textile artists and a potter. These exhibits have a tendency to “sneak” up on me. So, yep, I need to keep my momentum going. Good thing I have a number of ideas to work on. This bird piece will be the first in the collection for the exhibit. Our theme is nature-inspired.

“Tool box” of ideas

In a world where most TV programming can’t be watched unless you have a subscription service, it is nice to know PBS (Public Broadcasting Service) is still going strong. I can honestly say, my life has been enhanced from watching PBS programs. Shows like “This Old House,” “Antiques Roadshow,” “Sesame Street,” “Electric Company, “Mister Roger’s Neighborhood,” “Zoom” and “Victory Garden” all bring happy smiles to my memory.

When I started quilting in 2001, I was glued to the weekly broadcast of Alex Anderson’s “Simply Quilts.” I was inspired and learned so much from watching her guests talk about their craft. After “Simply Quilts” came Quilting Arts TV which was another program that impacted my life. I think I’ve watched every episode since it aired. Watching the guests on QATV, I gained confidence to challenge myself artistically using fabric as my medium. It’s kind of full circle to know that I am now part of the PBS legacy that I so treasure.

Depending on where you live in the US, Season 2400 of Quilting Arts TV may already be finished (each station airs the programs independently – check your local listings). For my friends in North Carolina who watch UNC-TV, we have 2 more episodes left. My last apparence this season (episode 2412) will air locally on Thursday, Oct 31 at 4pm. In this episode, I share more of my thread painting techniques, this time making 3-dimensional elements. [Note: Instructions from this segment were also published in the Oct/Nov 2019 Quilting Arts magazine]. In total I filmed 4 segments of QATV. This season 3 were broadcast, the 4th will air in season 2500.

This has been an amazing opportunity for me. I hope you get to watch the program and find inspiration, just like I have all these years. It is wonderful to know we still have PBS as a valuable resource. If you’re interested in learning more about sewing and quilting, check your local listings for QATV and other related programs on PBS.  It’s a great way to learn new things and build a larger “tool box” of ideas.

Part of your toolbox

I’ve been in a little bit of a slump this summer, distracted by too many things. I’m finally clearing my plate of responsibilities and finding time in my studio.

While I was in California, I took a photo of a goldfinch. The composition of the photo really inspired me. Even though the photo is bit blurry, I could still see the details of the bird and use it to draw the pattern for my applique. There’s still a long way to go with this piece.

When I look at basic fabric applique, it always looks so 2-dimensional. I like what I’ve created, but see that I’m missing definition and shading. Once the fabric composition is complete, I’ll pull out my colored pencils to add shading. Then I’ll add some stitching to create definition, texture and secure the pieces to the background fabric. Many layers of technique will be used for this new composition.

I love the fact that this piece is inspired by something I actually witnessed and was able to capture with my own camera. Usually my compositions come from a mental image I have and I use photos for general reference (e.g., shape of a tree or flower). In this piece, I used Photoshop Elements to manipulate the photo to get things placed exactly as I wanted. I will be using the new image as a direct reference for my composition and to create the pattern pieces for applique.

It’s great to have an array of tools and techniques available when creating art quilts. I call this my “toolbox.” Whenever I’m creating new art, I can pull from many different techniques to create a desired affect. It took many years of exploring for me to acquire all these resources. If you’re just starting to work in fabric art, don’t get overwhelmed by it all. Learn as you can and practice. You’ll gravitate towards things that you feel confident doing and discard things that you dislike. All these skills will be available as part of your toolbox.

 

Creative spirit

My post last week described my thoughts about how I would feel after my trip to California. I wrote that post a week before I left and scheduled it to publish on the day I returned from my trip. So here I am, a week past vacation and I can tell you that the journey was worth it.

I don’t usually bring my DSL camera with me when I travel. It’s bulky and heavy. I worry about putting it in my checked bag. I bring it as carry-on so I don’t have to worry about who might be mishandling my equipment. It is a hassle, but this trip it was worth it.

My intent with bringing the camera with me was 1) to get some practice taking pictures and 2) find some artistic inspiration for my art quilts. I’m please to say: Mission accomplished! I was able to capture images that I would never get with the camera on my phone.

Several of the photographs are already inspiration for new art quilts. After posting today’s blog, I’m going to sign off my computer and start designing some new art. Before I sign-off, I’m curious, what inspires you to get into the creative spirit?