Category: Nature Inspired Art

Be thankful for all of it

Happy Thanksgiving!
This holiday is a reminder that we’re almost finished with this crazy year. YES!

Have you tried to look through your photos from last year? This photo was taken a year ago at a quilt guild were I was lecturing and teaching. Looking at it I realize this was the last time I did an in-person lecture.

I look back at my photos and feel bombarded with emotions. I was appearing on Quilting Arts TV and published in their magazine. I had work in an art gallery that was selling. I was teaching classes and lecturing. I was also feeling emotionally fit and physically strong. I was enjoying life traveling, going on vacation and seeing family (something I haven’t done very much in my life). Life was good.

If I could go back in time a year ago, what would I tell myself about the future. Although I’m sad about all the disappointments that happened this year, I can only think to say “be thankful.” I’m thankful for my health and a loving supportive husband. I’m thankful for my talents and passion for textile arts, because sometimes it’s the only thing that keeps me moving. I’m thankful I can continue to laugh, sing (not well…but that’s not the point!) and I can adapt to new situations. I’m also thankful for you! Thank you for continuing to read these posts and support my art. I appreciate you!!

As we reflect on what has been and what is yet to come, let’s be thankful for all of it.

 


 

 

Be kind to you!

Tenacity…is my word for today. The Cambridge Dictionary defines it as “the determination to continue what you are doing.” With just a few more weeks left, I think most of us could use this word to describe how we got through this year.

Over the last 8 months, I’ve had many conversations with creative friends about how we are surviving these times. Tenacious describes each of us. Sometimes it is as basic as the having motivation to get out of bed. Other times it is having the chutzpah to change direction, move out of our comfort level or learn new skills.

I can honestly say, I have many levels of motivation this year. I find the solution is self-care. It is OK to have a bad day, week or month. You’re not alone, we all have them. The tenacity comes from recognizing how you feel and, at your own pace, continue to move toward a goal.

What do you want? How do you get there? Even simple tasks can be broken down into manageable pieces and accomplished in steps to challenge yourself to move forward. Keep in mind, if it doesn’t go as planned, just start over again tomorrow. It’s OK if you move slow, you’re still moving. And, remember along the way to always be kind to you!

 

 

Want to learn more about me? Check out my latest YouTube video here: https://youtu.be/YK8XDXuBwQk

Godspeed

“Contemplation (Lesser Goldfinch)” – 2020 by Nanette S. Zeller

If you’ve been following me for awhile, you may remember my quilt “Goldfinch in My Garden” that I sent to Sacred Threads Backyard Escapes exhibit last year. The call for entry asked for an 18″x 24″ art quilt that, once accepted, would be used to display in hospital galleries. The “Goldfinch” was accepted and slated to travel to International Quilt Festival in Long Beach, Ca. this spring… well, it was … until Covid-19 forced a shutdown of all major quilt exhibits. This was (as we all have experienced this year) a disappointment for me … Until …

About two months ago, Lisa Ellis (Sacred Threads curator) contacted me and 12 other artists from Backyard Escapes. She asked if we could re-create a similar piece for a permanent installation in the newly renovated INOVA Schar Cancer Institute – Fair Oaks (in Fairfax, VA), Radiation Oncology department.

OF COURSE!!! What an honor!

I frequently make line-drawing patterns of my designs to use for my fusible applique work. So, I had a pattern for this quilt. The challenge was the dimensions. Instead of being rectangular, the new quilt needed to be larger and square (30″ x 30″). I definitely had to make a few modifications…see the original version here

Luckily!!! I still had one yard of the gorgeous background fabric. And after an intensive Internet search, I was able to score one more yard as backup. I love this fabric! If you know fabric, you know designer quilting fabrics are usually produced for one year and then retired…forever. Fortunately, I was able to make the new quilt without needing to use my coveted backup yard (note: I’m now hoarding it until another worthy project develops).

Last week I sent it on it’s way to it’s new forever home. It makes me emotional to think about where it is going. My family has been deeply affected by cancer. I think of each of them when I think of this quilt. I hope “Contemplation”, along with the 12 other quilts, provides comfort to the patients and families as they travel their journey of healing. Godspeed…

 

What brings you joy

The past couple weeks I have been working on a commission art quilt. I’m re-making my “Goldfinch in My Garden” quilt from the Sacred Threads Backyard Escape exhibit. It’s not going to be exactly the same, but very similar. This new version will be part of a permanent collection at INOVA Schar Cancer Institute – Fair Oaks in Fairfax, VA.

It’s kind of fun re-visiting something I made before. The best part is I KNOW how it’s suppose to go together. Usually when I make something new, the entire process is play it by ear. I envision how something will work, but I’m not that sure that it will. This time around the construction was much easier.

The size of this quilt is different. I knew I was going to make the same goldfinch, but it needed to be larger. The new quilt is square versus the rectangular version I made last time.  The process of making the applique bird is the same. I documented it on a new YouTube video that you can watch here. I’m having fun making these videos, so expect to see more soon.

I’m also working with the Global Quilt Connection (GQC) again. So many of us want to take classes and with this pandemic our opportunities are limited. So GQC is partnering with teachers who offer online classes for individual enrollment. After I finish this commission piece, I will be back to work on building new classes. My plan for early next year is to offer some live Zoom classes you can sign up for where we can create together. GQC is offering teachers, like me, the opportunity to show what we offer in classes. There are some great teachers lined up to present. So if you’re craving some new ideas on things to do from home be sure to check out the presentations at http://globalquiltconnection.com/studentmainpage.html. I will be presenting on November 17th.

I hope you are staying inspired and finding time for your creative passions. Above all things…find time for what brings you joy!

 

Enjoy your creative journey

I’m curious…. What are you working on?
I’ve been writing these weekly posts for several years. Most of the time I just let my muse inspire me with the topic. The world seems so different now and I’m wondering if there is more that I can do to make an impact on all the things important to me. You are important to me.

I teach classes to share my knowledge and inspire my students. It’s a little difficult now with all the social distancing, but I’m building a library of on-demand courses so anyone can learn from me at their convenience. My plan is to build some live webinar-style classes where students can sign-up and we work together through the process. It would almost be like having me come to your home and work with you (read last week’s post to learn about how these classes work).

The challenge with all this is I know what I’d like to teach, but that doesn’t mean you’d want to take the class. With everything going on, I’m working in a closed environment and I’m not able to get out and talk to you directly. The best way I have to share with you is through my blog and newsletter.

I would love to hear what you’re working on and how I could help you along your creative journey. Do you need moral support and encouragement?  Or do you want to learn new things? Maybe you would like to see short videos like this one showing how I added thread painting to trees: https://youtu.be/FUe_ncCUUGE

I am curious and I’d love to hear from you. If you have an idea you’d like to share, drop me note anytime through my contact form or find me on Facebook (Nanette S. Zeller). I look forward to hearing from you and until then, enjoy your creative journey!

Sewing with you

Yesterday I had the pleasure of taking a live Zoom class presented by the talented Jodi Ohl. I have been building my own virtual classes, but I found it fun to be on the other side of the screen. I don’t have plans to be a painter like Jodi, but I know that taking classes in another media helps make you a stronger artist. Inspiration can hit you when you explore new approaches or ideas.

It was interesting to be the student yesterday because I realized how much fun it was to take a Zoom art class. I didn’t have to pack my supplies and carry them out of the house, then carry them home again. The class was late in the evening and I didn’t have to worry about driving home at night. I was comfortable working in my own space and didn’t have to dress up. At one point, I realized I forgot one of the items on the supply list. Well, good news, I didn’t miss out on anything…I just walked to the other room and grabbed it. (Note: You don’t know how many times one of my students forgot a part for their sewing machine.) I was able to work along with Jodi, but there some times where I just watched her and that was OK. I felt like I was having a relaxed private lesson with a front row seat. Another interesting big perk I noticed was at break time, I didn’t have to stand in line to use the privy.

Having participated in many Zoom “meetings,” I was really surprised at how much fun and comfortable a Zoom class was. With the current restrictions, it’s not a safe to attend in-person classes. All indications seem that online classes are going to stick around well after we return to normalcy. People, like me, are seeing all the benefits and wanting more.


This is why I want to take a minute to tell you about my online and virtual classes. My online classes are on-demand (listed here) and, after enrolling, are available to you 24/7. My live classes and lectures (listed here) are meant for groups, guilds, shops, libraries or other organizations. I offer the live presentations through video teleconferencing technology (e.g, Zoom). If you’ve ever wanted to take a class from me, now is a great time to do it. Besides the perks I listed above, I can “virtually” teach anywhere in the world and neither of us would have to leave our homes.

If you prefer to take a live class, I plan to schedule some virtual classes in the near futures. (Make sure you sign up for my newsletter to keep informed.) Also, many organizations are currently scheduling programs for 2021. If you belong to or know of a group which offers programs, I would be honored if you shared this post with them. And, until I see you again, I’ll look forward to sewing with you!

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.

 

 

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

Hope you are too

I am definitely not a fan of hot humid weather. This far into the the summer, I’m kinda over it. I wish. Like that’s an option. Here in the south we probably have another month or so of this sticky stuff. We’ve also had a lot of rain this year. So between the rain, heat and humidity, it’s not much fun being outside.

Fortunately, I’ve had reason to stay inside. This past week I was developing a 3-minute promo video for Global Quilt Connection. This group was created by Lyric Kinard and Sue Bleiweiss and is an opportunity for teachers in the industry to promote their virtual group lectures and classes. If you’re part of a group or guild that hires presenters this is a great opportunity to meet the teachers. I will be presenting next Wed, Sept 2 from 4-6pm (EST). You can sign up to watch it live or wait and watch it on Youtube. Find out more by clicking here: globalquiltconnection.com/events.html

Now that the promo video is completed, I’m working on updating my website and developing my next online class which I expect to launch it in October. Stay tuned.

So the good news is, during this hot weather, I’m staying cool and keeping busy doing indoor stuff. While I’m in my studio, I get a good view of my backyard and can watch the birds visiting my feeders. I get to see some interesting birds, like the cute little towhee (above). So even though I’m not getting out as much as I’d like, I’m still enjoying the summer. I hope you are too!