Category: Success & Failure

Just show up and try

After writing about fear last week, a friend reminded me that one thing creative people fear is rejection. This is definitely an issue for me and most creative people I know. Generally, creative people work alone in their studio, pouring their heart and soul into their latest creation. Some find support groups to critique their work and offer productive feedback. But, for the most part, the creative process is solitary.  Eventually you’re proud enough of what you’ve accomplished and declare the “masterpiece” is ready for human consumption.

It takes a lot of courage to put your work out there. When the art hits the public eye, the reality sets in. People will have a opinion; good or bad. You always hope for positive feedback, but you never really know. Some creatives are so worried about negative feedback, that they refuse to put their work out for anyone to see. Other’s have no fear and really don’t care what other people have to say. Rejection is difficult, but over the years I’ve become more confident dealing with it. I’m believe people who may reject my art, aren’t rejecting me.

When I’m looking at someone in the eye, I’m pretty those with negative feedback won’t tell me what they “really” think. For this reason, I like to eaves drop in on people when they view my work. Doing this I’ve overheard someone say what I made was “hideous!” Or there was a time when a woman critiqued the way I quilted something.  I was also shocked the first time a 30-something woman viewed my oil can quilt and pondered why my subject was toilet plungers. Her comment made me do a palm-plant to my forehead . “Oy!” (P.S. I later learned it’s was a generational issue.)

So how do you handle fear of rejection? I notice I’ve grown a greater tolerance to negative feedback and rejection. However, I don’t think the fear of rejection will ever completely go away. I try to accept the negative comments as just an opinion, because I can’t please everyone.  Sometimes after the hurt fades, I realize that the comments offered good ideas and give me inspiration for improvement. Above all, I’ve learned the best thing to do is just continue to show up and try.

What fear is holding you back?

Lately, I’ve been thinking alot about fear. I’m beginning to realize that it’s not an acceptable topic for adults to talk about. It seems like unless it’s a major crisis in someone’s life (death, illness, tragedy, etc) our sense of fear (anxiety) is not considered realistic. I don’t understand this because we all experience some fear in our lives.

Some people are fear junkies who live on the edge of life, jumping out of planes or climbing high mountains. Surely, they experience fear, because one false move could end their lives and they know it. These are hyper-adrenalin seekers. We view them differently because they do things so extreme, with apparently no fear. They are super-human. We might even ask them if they’re scared. They laugh with casual response like its nothing to walk across the Grand Canyon on a tight rope.

But what about the fear of making a change or doing something out of the ordinary for yourself? We often allow these “milder” fears to stop us in our tracks and give up on our plans.  Sometimes it’s scary to move on with a project, so why not just give up? We can settle back into our “comfort” zone and just ignore the desire which set us into thinking about a new opportunity.

I think it’s important to be open about our fears and discover why they may stop us. Sometimes we fear the unknown. Other times it might be fear of failure, success, or a simply fear of change. Generally, none of these fears are usually life threatening, but we allow them to cripple us from moving forward. Why is that?

What’s worse is when we speak of these fears, they’re acknowledged as trivial… “Oh honey, that’s nothing to be afraid about.”

I feel fear about some of the decisions I’ve made with my art. Recently, talking with some other artists, I realized I’m not alone. If we all experience it, why don’t we talk about it.

Fear can be a healthy part of self-development. For me, fear usually will either make me give up or make me fight harder. It all depends on my passion for the project and my desire to overcome the anxiety. I’m the only one who can decide. So, what fear is holding you back?


Sometimes you’re the bug

One of my goals this month was to submit work for a couple “calls for entry.” This is the process where an organization is looking to create an art exhibit and “calls” out to artists to submit their pieces for consideration. When the entry deadline arrives, the organizers select pieces that will fit with their idea. For the artist, its a crap shoot. You pay your entry fee and enter your work, then wait. The response will either be yay or nay. You have to be ready for either answer.

Right now I’m waiting to hear from two. On one the call for entry closed a little while ago. The pieces I entered “I think” fit the theme. One was an older piece created a few years back.

I decided years ago that I would not make any artwork for a particular exhibit, unless it clearly fit with my style. This older piece was created before I learned the lesson. I made the piece for a collaborative exhibit. I struggled making it. I realize now that I didn’t connect with it and that created my conflicts. I was making something just to make something, just to get a piece into an exhibit. This month, when I submitted it to the call, it became more important because my collaborator was suffering with final stages of cancer. She died a few days ago, shortly after I submitted the piece for consideration. My fingers are crossed on this one, because it would mean so much to honor her with this exhibit.

The other call, literally has been “calling my name” since I heard about it. After wrapping up my exhibit “As Nature Speaks,” I had quite a bit of artwork with a nature theme. This exhibit is specifically seeking art with an environmental theme. “Ah…hello?… that’s what I do!”

I submitted 3 different nature-inspired quilts to this 2nd call. It took me several days to write the artist statements. What to say, wasn’t the hard part … fitting my thoughts into 1000 characters (to include spaces and punctuation) was the challenge. How could I sum up everything in so few characters?

I completed both tasks and can only hope that what I sent gets selected. I know the reality. There are a lot of great textile artists out there and we’re all competing for the same oportunities. The trick is to not feel so invested in the outcome. I’ve been on the selection side of the story and know that a rejection isn’t a reflection on me. In reality, it is likely is that there were just a lot of good art for them to consider. Whatever the outcome, I’ll remind myself that “sometimes you’re the windshield and sometimes you’re the bug.” (~Mark Knopfler)


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


Venture into 2019

I’m finally starting the new year. Over the holidays things are usually pretty uneventful for us, however this past month was an exception. December started slow with me taking it easy following my solo exhibit in Cary, NC. It then quickly ramped up when I started the migration to my new computer. It took nearly 3 weeks to get everything working like I’m used to. During that time, I felt very disoriented while I tried to find new ways to do old tasks.

As I finished up with the computer, in came holiday events and a wedding. Today is the first day that I’ve been able to catch my breathe and work a full day.

This year I’m developing new classes, preparing some of my art work for sale at a local gallery, getting things ready for a group exhibit opening the end of January, and submitting entries into several exhibits with fast approaching deadlines. While juggling these things, I’m also getting ready to buy some new tools using the grant money I was awarded and preparing for a top secret project. Needless to say, there’s a lot going on this year.

I’m happy to say even with all this, I’m doing ok staying organized…especially now that I have my phone calendar synced with the new computer. In 2019 the game has picked up a few notches and its important for me to stay focused. Balance will be the key word for my year.

Through this upcoming year, I hope that you also find balance and sacred time to enjoy your creative journey! I stumbled on the following quote and thought I’d share it with you. It sums up my wishes for you as we all venture into 2019:

  • May your coming year be filled with magic and dreams and good madness. I hope you read some fine books and kiss someone who thinks you’re wonderful, and don’t forget to make some art — write or draw or build or sing or live as only you can. And I hope, somewhere in the next year, you surprise yourself.   – Neil Gaiman


A lot to learn

I’m in the process of migrating “my life” from an old computer to a new one. I was once a self-professed computer geek. As a  web designer in the mid-1990’s, I was developing the web long before most people even had a computer in their homes. Oh how, I long for those simpler times. I can’t believe how complex things have become. I feel trapped to stay current, but greatly miss the simple decisions these migrations formally required.

I feel I’m being forced to replace programs I used to love because they have become cost prohibitive. Not too long ago, you could buy new software and use it for several years before feeling the need to upgrade. Then once you did, you could use that for a few years before the need to upgrade again. A good majority now require costly monthly or yearly subscriptions. I just can’t afford this right now.

As an artist, I rely heavily on my digital design skills. I edit photographs and create new designs with the aid of my PC. Even if I wanted to use the almost outdated graphic programs I own, my operating system upgrade won’t let me. As I migrate over to new programs that don’t require subscriptions, I’m forced to leave my comfort zone and learn new ways of designing. It’s challenging for sure.

I foresaw this day coming. So in early October, I decided to apply for an artist grant. I made a wish list of some of the new equipment that would help me draw my designs and patterns. The grant is funded through my state, earmarked for regional artists and administered through a local Arts Council. Last week I received notification that my grant proposal was fully funded for 2019. I am humbled and elated by the honor.

The learning curve on this software will be challenging, but I’m hoping it won’t take that long to develop new strategies to my design process. I’m sure I’ll be up and running full speed soon (I hope so anyway). Until then, I’ve got a lot to learn.


Who you are

And now the journey continues as I start preparing for the new year. So many great things on my agenda for early 2019. I feel very fortunate.

Before I get to 2019 (just a few weeks away), I’m working on obligations that need to be completed in 2018. Busy. Staying focused. In the past it was easy for me to jump from one thing to another, but I always felt like I was behind. I’ve decided that the new mission needs to be focusing on completing a task and then moving on to the next.

I did this with success this year as I put focus on the solo show. It has given me a body of work that I’m proud of. Without committing to this, I would never have gotten here. So this week, the plan is to finish another task. I have several proposals/submissions that I need to completed. One at a time they will get done. This is the best way for me to move forward. If two tasks can be combined into one, than that’s an extra bonus.

I am constantly reminded to be true to who I am; to include my values, goals and limits. Each life experience teaches me to listen to myself and learn. Are you listening to your inner voice?  Do you really know who you are?

Happy Holidays

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. As I reflect on this year, I have a lot to be thankful for.  I was able to accomplish 2 dreams; getting work published in my favorite magazine and having a solo exhibit.

This year also offered a lot things that created stressors.  I am thankful that we survived 2 hurricanes with very, very minimal impact. Some of my friends were not so lucky and countless others, who I don’t know personally, experienced major loss from weather, fire and other events.

I am thankful to have so people in my life who support and encourage me. I’ve been reminded this year, how important it is to support those around you. A simple gesture of support can mean a lot to someone who is going through a difficult time.

I’m thankful for you reading my blog and following my journey. I hope by sharing my stories, you find ideas that you will connect to. My goal is to encourage you to embrace your creative side and to stay proactive even when you may be struggling. By dreaming the big dreams and embracing the power you hold inside, exciting things can happen.

I appreciate you! Have a joy filled Thanksgiving and happy holidays . . . Namaste!


As Nature Speaks, a dialog with an art quilter
Featuring the artwork of Nanette S. Zeller
Closes Saturday, 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



What’s Next?

In a heartbeat more than a week, my exhibit “As Nature Speaks: a dialog with an art quilter” will be open to the public (details below). This 2-year journey has been a challenge, life altering, and most definitely a learning process. In my career I have produced a good number of art exhibits, but usually as the manager guiding other’s to the final reward. This is the first time I am wearing all the hats (manager, publicist, creative director, artist, etc.).  This is both good and bad.

The good is I have license to prepare every detail of this exhibit in a way that reflects me. This also leaves the bad, because there is no one to help (or blame) when things don’t go as planned. I’m in a good place with preparation. When life did get crazy, I am so very grateful to have an experienced friend to confide in. We had many conversations where solutions were easily found. Everyone should have such a good friend.

It’s been a long summer and I’m looking forward to its end. There will be a day soon, when I’ll look back and feel the triumph of successfully completing one more milestone.  I am always thankful to learn something with each new challenge I take in life. But, I’m also always looking forward to what’s next?

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

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