Category: The Journey

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!

 

Show for it

My first art exhibit for 2020 is happening this week. On Friday at the Arts Council of Moore County’s (ACMC) Campbell House Galleries, I will be participating in the opening reception for Art in Quarantine.

Early into the shut down, ACMC started a online publication called Moore ArtShare-Covid Edition. It offered an opportunity for regional artists to share their recently completed artwork. My sketches were some of the first entries in the publication.

With the great success of ArtShare, ACMC decided to open up the gallery to artist in the county who had created new works since the pandemic started. I entered 2 pieces:

Dreaming of Tomorrow” is digital artwork made using one of the series of sketches I drew this spring. You may know me as a textile artist or quilter and my find this entry a bit unusual for me. It’s really not. My art quilts are frequently created using sketches and digitized designs I use to make applique patterns. I just jazzed this piece up a little with some fun Photoshop colorizing.

A Sewists Response to Covid-19” is a facemask I made for this exhibit. I created about 150 protective masks this year. My efforts combined with other sewists in the area, collectively produced thousands of masks which most were given away to those in need. I wanted to represent our effort because a sewist’s “art” is frequently overlooked, yet very important to comforting people during good times and bad. My “artsy” mask is sewn from fabric I shibori-dyed a few years ago. After assembling the mask, I spent hours hand-stitching the embroidered embellishments. This stitch technique is known as slow-stitching and is very mindfulness meditative practice. I didn’t have a plan, I just stitched as the inspiration guided me.

I use to hate hand sewing, but recently I’ve learned to embrace it. I don’t worry about what my stitches look like, I’m only concerned with the feeling that I need to do something. Being stuck at home for so many days, missing my friends and family, I can stitch when time allows and contemplate about all of it. Any idle time doesn’t seem so wasted when, in the end, I have something to show for it.


Art in Quarantine

October 2-30, 2020
ACMC Campbell House Galleries
Virtual Opening Reception:  Fri., October 2 at 6p via Facebook Live

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!

 

Your purpose will find you

After the initial Covid-19 shut-down, I’m finally feeling like my life is having direction again. There’s been a cloak of depression hanging onto many of us. Even Michelle Obama described it in a recent podcast. When I think of my feelings over the last few months, I know I was feeling depressed. Everything I was looking forward to and aiming for was gone. There was no alternate path to take, or at least I couldn’t see it.

Without a path forward we can feel stuck and lose motivation. A while back I heard a quote from Cathy Heller (singer/songwriter, podcast superstar) that changed my thinking. She said, “the opposite of depression is purpose.” As I look back over the past few months, I realize that’s where my mild depression was coming from. I had no purpose to drive me.

Sure there was the usual things; getting up and caring for the family, or going for a walk and paying bills. But was that exciting enough to stay motivated? No. Most of it could wait until another time. Purpose can drive you to get up each morning. The fact that you could have an impact on someone’s life is an awesome purpose to have. To know someone/something is waiting on you, can provide the drive to get the work done.

To me, purpose can also be accountability. If I decide not to walk the dog today, no one will hold me accountable, except maybe my dog (oh, how they love to give guilt trips!). If you decide not to clean the house, will anyone care?

For me, purpose and accountability are the keys to moving forward. Sometimes the accountability comes from within yourself. You can set a goal and aim for accomplishment. But, if you don’t have an outside source to keep you to your word, you may give up and go back to binge-watching Netflix.

I think this is so important to our lives as creatives. Over the last few months, I had a couple opportunities pass my way and I took them. They catapulted me onto other projects. People are depending on me. I see purpose and accountability when 3 months ago there was none. I feel a drive to show up every day.

If you feel stuck, I encourage you to still show up. If you can’t create, then just go into your space and be with the tools you love. Share with someone what you want to do. Or just write it down on paper. No guilt trips, just be kind to yourself. Your purpose will find you.

 

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!

 

Smile with our eyes

Life feels weird right now. Most of the time I go through my day without thinking about what is different than it used to be. Things become routine and you don’t think about them anymore. But, yesterday I felt gobsmacked.

I was scrolling through social media and stumbled on a video produced by the Virginia Quilt Museum. Like most museum and art galleries these days, they have produced virtual tours of their art exhibits ( www.vaquiltmuseum.org/virtual-tours ).  They recently produced a video tour of their Eye Contact exhibit. Eye Contact was originally produced for the 2019 Sacred Threads Exhibit and is now touring.

I watched this sweet video, with its serene music, while intently looking for my eyes. As I watched the artwork scroll across my screen, I couldn’t help feel sad. There’s irony here. When I made this quilt, I didn’t think about what it really meant. At the time, it was just an exercise in creative play and didn’t have much meaning to me.

While I was traveling early last year, I notice how my pupils looked square in our hotel so I took a photo. I take lots of photos of non-significant things. Sometimes they inspire me. And truly, this photo inspired me to work on a quilt to send to Eye Contact. When I see it, I think of traveling. Last year was a very fun year of travel for me.

Yesterday, while I watched the video and saw all these eyes scrolling past me, I was reminded of where I was in time. For one, no travel plans for me for while. That’s all been cancelled. And, when I go out in public, I no longer see faces on the people I meet. Instead, I see a mask and above that I see their eyes. While watching the video, I felt like I was seeing mask covered faces.

It was a peculiar experience thinking how a little more than a year ago we were in a different place. Back then, I would have never expected the Eye Contact exhibit to reflect our future, but it has. It’s poignant, and a little bit sad. I’m honored to be a part of this exhibit. It definitely means more to me now. When I created my eyes, I was unexpectedly looking into the future.

Now when I’m out in public, I frequently wonder if my mask-faced smile is worth the effort. Will anyone see it? My friends remind me that indeed … we do smile with our eyes.|

 

 

Lyric Kinard and Sue Bleiweis are hosting the free Global Quilt Connection. If you’re looking to hire virtual teachers for classes or lectures, this is the place to start. This live event will introduce you to 90 instructors, shared through 3 meet-the-teacher virtual presentations. Learn more at Global Quilt Connection. You can see me Wednesday, September 2, 2020 from 4-6pm EST.

Priority and ritual

When you wake up in the morning, what drives you to get out of bed? My drive comes from a feeling of purpose. Each morning I awake with the need to get the dogs out and fed. They have an internal alarm clock and we have developed a ritual which requires my participation.

Having purpose keeps us going. Without purpose, we tend to flounder. Whether our purpose is developed from internal needs (e.g., eating) or external obligations (e.g., job), it provides direction and guidance into how to proceed each day.

Finding purpose can also relate to how we embrace making art.  Sometimes creative purpose can just be a strong feeling of “I want to make this.” Other times, you might need to create something for a gift or maybe to sell.

When other obligations have higher priority in our lives, our creative time may be neglected. Highly creative people need to find balance. When we reduce are creative time, we can develop symptoms of depression, like feeling tired or sad. Our purpose is creating and when it’s missing we feel it emotionally.

It’s OK to feel this way. Sometimes life gets crazy and there’s little time to make art. But, it’s also important for creatives to carve out time for our art. Look at your calendar, find a block of time, set a date, and leave yourself written reminders. Give this gift to yourself, you deserve it. And just like your reason for getting out of bed, if you believe creativity has purpose in your life, then it also needs priority and ritual.