Category: The Journey

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?

Full of adventure

“Looking for Muir” © 2018
36.5″ x 51.5″
by Nanette S. Zeller

It was a long journey to get here, but now I can say I succeeded. My first solo exhibit is history. I can look at it all in retrospect. I’m thinking about the overwhelming amount I learned about myself, about creating and exhibiting art, and about the business of being an artist. It’s a lot of information I didn’t know starting out.  I feel  confident about moving forward, but there’s also a crazy amount of stuff I want to know.

With 2018 almost over and 2019 fast approaching, I’m feeling reflective. I know that I am fortunate and I try to be grateful for all the opportunities I have. My life started in January, so maybe that’s why I get so sentimental during this time of year. Each year is an opportunity to honor what I’ve done and look forward to what’s coming.

I have a laundry list of things I need to accomplish before the new year. There are some interesting opportunities opening up for me. There are things that I dreamed about and things that I’ve worked hard for. I’m looking forward to sharing all the details along the way. I slowly stepped off the exhibit train I’ve been riding and now I’m jumping onto the next boxcar full of adventure!

Conquer the world

Last Friday night was the artist reception for my exhibit “As Nature Speaks” at Page-Walker Arts & History Center in Cary, NC. Weather didn’t cooperate,  but I did enjoy seeing everyone who braved the storm. Page-Walker sparkles in the evening light. My artwork took on an entirely different feel with the spot lights directed in “just the right place.”

The 2 weeks before the reception, I was busy baking nature-themed goodies to share with the guest. I haven’t baked cookies in awhile. It was fun finding recipes that would be appropriate. The goodness included honey-lavender shortbread, honey-sugar cookies cut-out in bee shapes, and pumpkin spice cut-out cookies shaped and decorated like butterflies and feathers. Gotta love the Internet for finding these things.

It was an enchanting night which included re-connecting with 2 dear friends who went to graduate school with me.  In the more than 20 years since grad-school, we all should have aged…but I’m happy to report we didn’t.  We’re still youthful friends, ready to conquer the world.

 


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

 

 

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

Be more mindful

Are you breathing? How do you know? Did you just check to see if you were breathing?

This is called being mindful. When you check in with your breathe, you are becoming aware of the current moment in time. Sometimes, I forget to check in. Usually when that happens, I realize the stress is also piling on.

The last few days, I have been busy stitching on this sunflower quilt (pictured). Did you know that’s a form of mindfulness too? When I do repetitive stitchwork (e.g, thread painting/quilting), I put my focus on making the stitches … well at least until I run out of thread. Drats!

I’m doing a lot of stitching on this sunflower, but its turning out to be a quick project and enjoyable. After the last two, this is a very nice change of pace. How I’m creating it is not a new process for me (“Soar” was created the same way). Its definitely not layer and layer of steps to create it (like the last 2). Mostly, I’m just stitching, so there’s less thinking about what I need to do next.

And so, what is next? For this quilt, I need to choose the color of thread to quilt the blue background fabric. Choices … choices. Which reminds me … just like life, I get to choose. I think I’ll choose to be more mindful.


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