Category: About

What life has planned

I’m finding it hard to accept that it is the middle of March. For me, the last two months have been busy. I’ve been rolling from one thing to the next. They tell you make a plan and follow through. “What plan?” I’ve had so many re-routes lately that I can’t even remember all of them. How do you plan when things change right in front of you?

Among several other about-turns, I had plans to travel next week. It was a big event. I’ve been “planning” for this since October and anticipating it for almost a year. Then, whammo! This weird virus takes control. There are new rules. It seems every one of us is scrambling to live life differently. You see a friend, go in for the hug and they remind the new rules are bumping elbows, toe tapping, Vulcan salute, or simply waving at a safe distance. What in the heck is going on? Well, needless to say my trip was cancelled. Wise decision by the organization, but still adjusting is seems awkward and disappointing. How do you plan for this? And, just how long is it going to be before I can hug my friends again?

The good news is I feel like I’ve handled all the changes pretty well. In the past few weeks, I’ve moved my artwork to a new gallery space in Pinehurst, NC (if you’re in the area, check out One of Kind Gallery). I’ve also established a new location to teach. It took some extra prepping to get the classes arranged, but the schedule is now up at ARTworks Vass in Vass, NC. Check out their website to see all the great classes they offer. It’s a fun art gallery too! If you’re in the area drop by and say “hi.” Everyone is super friendly…and don’t miss their newly acquired Artomat (refurbish cigarette machines that dispense art instead of tobacco). Super fun!

I survived it all so far. And, if you’re reading this, you survived it too. Although my plans for next week were cancelled, I have a new plan. I’m looking forward to using the newly acquired time in the studio. I have work to do and art to create. So stay safe and remember “What we plan for ourselves isn’t always what life has planned for us.” [Kushandwizdom].


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!”

Play day

Since you’re reading this, I’m going to assume you are a creative spirit. You may not create your own things, but I’m sure you at least admire the creative process in others. Maybe you’re trying to be more creative on your journey or maybe you’re a professional trying to make a living with your art. Since, I don’t know for sure, I’m just going to believe that you have that creative spark.

I speak of being creative, not just making “art.” Art is often interpreted as a final product; a painting, photograph, music, or prose. A lot of people are intimidated about producing, but would still consider themselves creative. Maybe you doodle, sketch, knit/crochet/embroider, or simply have a good eye for home decor. You have a creative spirit.

What does it mean to be creative? I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately. I’ve realized it is the core of my being. I am at my best when I’m making. Through some self-evaluation, I also realized that this creative energy I have is not something I just developed. It is something I was born with. What is your earliest creative memory?

My earliest creative memory was when I was in preschool (back then it was called “Head Start” and Kindergarten). I remember the school, I remember the day the teacher pulled out the easels. I remember when we (see photo) were allowed to finger paint on the “big” paper tablets. I chose red and yellow paint and did my finest abstract rendition. I remember being proud. I remember saying, “I’m going to call it Ketchup and Mustard!” I remember that little girl, who didn’t always have it so easy. I realize my creativity has gotten me through alot and continues to drive me today.

I think of you today. You’re also creative, right? Do you remember the young creative you? Do you allow the creative you to come out and play? Just thinking…maybe it’s time we let the kid inside have a play day.

Are you ready to fail?

I’ve noticed people struggle to accept failure. I don’t like to give up, but I’ve experienced a lot of failures in my life. There are times I feel down about my failures, especially after investing a lot of time and energy into something. I’m very aware that not accepting failure causes me anxiety.

Being a recovering perfectionist, I’m keenly aware when the perfectionist starts taking control of me. I tense and become frustrated, but I know failure doesn’t necessarily mean something bad. Sometimes failure just “is” … something to accept, then move on.

In my artwork, I try to quickly recover from (repair) things that go wrong. Sometimes, its not possible. Maybe a piece of art isn’t meant for public consumption. Maybe, the process of creating is really what I’m meant to do.

As I continue my journey, I am willing to accept failure. It doesn’t need to control me or leave me obsessed about what it could have been. As I look at where I am today, I am more confident about myself than ever. I know what’s in my control and what’s not. I can look back at my life and see opportunities that didn’t become much of anything. And, I can also see nothing much that turned into something big. In retrospect, all those pieces, the failures and successes, have provided me with a tremendous amount of tools to drive forward. Sometimes it may take time to actually appreciate how valuable that lesson in failure was to your current success.

After years in college, I never did find gainful employment in any of my academic studies. … So … I’m not, the wildlife biologist I had hoped to be, but its still part of who I am in very important ways. Those formative years made me better at learning and observing which are integral to being the artist I am today.

I’m grateful for the failures, because I wouldn’t be who I am if everything always went as planned. My confidence has grown, because after failing, I stood back up. It’s all about an attitude of acceptance. You make some bad art, so what? You didn’t get in the exhibit you submitted to, don’t sweat it! You can learn from these things. Are you ready to fail?



Celebrate longleaf through the arts

Most of the time I work alone. Except for a very few successful artists, I think most of us do find ourselves wearing all the hats in our businesses. Besides creating art, we are responsible for scheduling, advertising and promoting ourselves. It can be very challenging to manage time and resources, but it also can be very rewarding to know that our success (or lack of) is the product of your own hard work.

The reality is art is a business. You need to know about marketing, press releases, and managing money. Now with social media, there’s an even bigger challenge of learning how to use the Internet as a promotional tool. Unless you can afford to hire someone to do all this for you, you won’t get far ignoring the options.

With all the online activity I’ve been focused on lately, it was a nice surprise to see a old fashioned paper postcard with my art on it.  What a nice break for my to-do list to have someone else create this and so nice to see something so well done. It made me proud to be participating in this upcoming exhibit, Palustris: Celebrating Longleaf Through the Arts .

This exhibit is also rewarding for a more personal reason. It represents my life living in North Carolina. I arrived here knowing nothing of this sandy landscape. I went to grad-school to become a biologist and worked with endangered species which live in these sandhills. And now, as an artist, I am sharing this knowledge through my art and helping educate people about the fragile natural communities in which we live. Several of the exhibiting artists are also my friends. We share the same appreciation for the longleaf pine ecosystem. I am honored to have been invited to participate and also appreciate the efforts of those tasked to produce and market this event. If you have the time, come visit and help us celebrate longleaf through the arts.


Palustris: Celebrating Longleaf Through the Arts
April 6-27, 2018
Opening Reception: Friday April 6th, 6-8pm

Campbell House Galleries
Southern Pines, NC 28387

Creative Journey

I’ve been thinking about you lately. I’m curious what sorts of things you’re interested in. I’ve been researching ways to give you more information about what I do. I believe if you want to be creative you can be. I have so many ideas to share with you but I’m only one me and there are so many people like you. I can’t nearly share myself the way I’d like to.

One way I’ve shared my ideas with you this year is through the 2 articles I wrote for Quilting Arts Magazine. The first one was published in Dec2017/Jan2018 edition and the second is currently on the newsstand Feb/Mar2018. Did you miss it? If you did, I have copies available in my Etsy Store and I’ll sign them, if you want (continue reading to receive a special offer).

Another way that I want to share with you is through classes and workshops. I have a number of things I’m working on that will make it easier for you to find out about when and where you can take a class or workshop from me. I’ll have more to tell you soon.

People also ask me frequently where they can see my art. I am preparing for a couple exhibits this year, so there may be an opportunity for you to see my work in person. I’ll be sharing details soon, because I’d love for you to see it.

With so many things to share and so different ways to keep in touch, I wanted to give you a list of how you can hear from me:

  • Sign-up for my email NewZ-letter
    (In the NewZ-letter, I will regularly share details of all events and opportunities)
  • Follow me on Facebook
    (Here’s where can get the most up-to-date comprehensive info on my classes/workshops, exhibits and other events/opportunities.)
  • Find me on Etsy
    (Here you’ll find items I want share with you. Check in often, because I’ll will add regularly add new things from new or gently used art supplies to artwork created by me.)
  • Subscribe to my blog
    (Did you know I write a new blog post every week? By subscribing you’ll receive them in your inbox. Through posts like this I share news, tips and insight to the challenges/joys of living a creative life).

With all these options, I hope you find one that works well you. I like knowing you’re there and following my creative journey. I hope I provide you with inspiration to live your own creative life. As a thank you for sticking with me, please accept a token of my appreciation:

  • Shop my Etsy store between now and March 15, 2018 and receive a 20% discount on all purchases — To receive the discount, enter coupon code  QUILTART20  during checkout.

Thanks for being there and enjoy your creative journey!


The right answer to “how?”

I’ve been a long time subscriber to Quilting Arts magazine. Over the past decade they have truly inspired me to pursue my artistic interest. This past week I received my Dec17/Jan18 copy of the magazine. It’s always a surreal moment when you see your artwork in print. The honor is even greater for me this time, since I’m such a big fan of the publication.

All of this is about taking a leap of faith. That’s what I truly hope to inspire in other people. If you really want something don’t say “can’t.” Try to come up with the answer to “how?

This idea has long been in my head, but it took several things to push me over the edge. One thing that happened was I met Lea McComas while I was at Quilt Festival in Houston about 2 years ago. I knew who she was, had admired her work, and saw her a number a times during my visit at Festival. On my last night there, I went to dinner with my sister and a friend and had to use the restroom. Lea happen to be in line waiting and we started chatting. Just casual chatter. On our way back to our respective tables, she asked me “Why haven’t you published?” I know I came up with some excuse, but our conversation hit a nerve. When you’re at these shows, its interesting how random encounters become meaningful and inspiring events.

I really don’t know why Lea asked the question, but it hasn’t left me. I even jotted her question down on a piece of paper and tacked it to a bulletin board in my studio. I wanted to be reminded. At the time, there really wasn’t a good answer to her question. But her question left me pondering my personal barriers and eventually finding the right answer to “how?”



See my work and discover my process of “Creating Highlights & Shadows
Quilting Arts Magazine
December 2017/January 2018
available book stores or online at Interweave Press

Either you’re in or you’re not

“Technically” I make quilts (2 layers of fabric sandwiching a middle layer of material, joined with stitches). Some people tend to classify quilts as craft.

Among the art quilt community, there is tremendous push to have what we do carry more respect in the art world. Some venues have strong views on art/craft classifications. Good and bad, I’ve seen a lot of art in my life. Some has me scratching my head in disbelief and other’s has me mesmerized in awe! Ultimately, art is in the eye of the beholder.

I’ve decided to go the way of my peers and enter more fine art exhibits. I’ve also pondered whether to ask a venue to clarify if they accept art quilts. After much consideration, I realized that asking is just casting doubt onto my own work? Do I really think what I do is craft? No! So why should I project a message of doubt?

It’s all relative and, take it or leave it, its all in the hands of the selection committee. The reality … its just a competition. Like every other competition in life, either you’re in or you’re not.

Be thankful

Tomorrow igallery_whitefireplaces Thanksgiving day! Although, I try to be thankful every day, Thanksgiving is a celebrated day of reflection.

Our show at Campbell House is still hanging. We have an Open House scheduled for Monday, Nov 28 and a gallery sale on December 2 & 3 (see details below). I’m grateful that this exhibit is hanging for an extended period and that there are many options for people to visit. Looking at the pictures of my art hanging along side the artwork of my friends, I’m reminded of this journey I’ve been on.

gallery_whitedoorwaySeveral years ago, I was in turmoil. I wanted to be an artist, but didn’t know what that meant. People told me that I already was an artist, but I didn’t agree. At that time, I had a specific grasp of understanding about this label. In my mind, an artist was someone who created original ideas and they also hung their artwork in “art” galleries.

As I step back and look at this exhibit, I can reflect on the journey and how I got here. I can see that my artwork portrays original ideas and hangs in art galleries alongside “fine art” paintings. I’ve created the persona that I was striving for so many years ago. This journey wasn’t easy and there is still a road ahead.

gallery_brown_windowAlong the way there where so many people who influenced me, helped me, and believed in me. That’s ultimately what I’m thankful for this weekend. I’m also thankful that I didn’t give up. I may have gone on some detours, but I always got back on track. I believe that spirit of never giving up comes from those who are no longer with me on this big blue marble. They set the mold, pushed me out the door and then stepped away. It’s all part of some giant plan that continues to unfold.

I’m also thankful for having the ability to share this journey with you. My hope in each of the personal reflections I share with you is that they remind you that you are in control. If you want it, then believe it and you’ll achieve it. Just remember to stop along the way to reflect and be thankful.


Join me for:

Paper, Canvas, Cloth
November 4 – December 17, 2016

Open House — Monday, November 28 — (2-4p)
Holiday Art & Jewelry Sale – Friday, December 2 — (9a-5p) & Saturday, December 3 — (10a-4p)
Campbell House Galleries, Southern Pines, NC
featuring the work of
Sharon Ferguson, Marilyn Vendemia, & Nanette S. Zeller



osprey wingtipBeing an artist can be a very isolating.  I spend a lot of time alone in my studio, especially now, as I prepare for my November exhibit. I’m down to crunch time and all I’m thinking about is getting things done. I feel like I’m running out of time. I need to be in the studio more. And I wonder, how will I accomplish all of this? I take comfort that it’s all going to be OK. So I breathe. I know I’m not alone, many artists face the same angst. It’s par for the course.

As an emerging artist, there’s also this underlying insecurity. What will people think? I think my work looks OK, but I’m very biased. It’s like saying your baby is the cutest. And “everybody” thinks their baby is the cutest.

I’ve realized, I’m in a different place right now. My ideas are coming from deep in my soul. It’s a life-long journey coming together and expressing itself in fabric. My art has purpose to me…I’m no longer making it just because. I have stories behind each piece. I’m moving forward. The isolation is there and the angst, but I do my best to ignore it. I’m not going to let the negative speak defeat me.

A few months ago, I made a decision to let go of something that I was deeply invested in. As I walked away from that activity, I was reminded of a call-for-entry deadline that was fast approaching. A friend of mine frequently reminds me that we never get accepted if we don’t apply. So, I pulled my stuff together and, with a kiss on the cheek, I sent in the application. Of course, I hoped for the best, but would be OK with any decision they made.

Today, I received a phone call from out of the blue. An affirmation. They are impressed with my work. I’ve been offered a solo show in a public art gallery. I had a choice of 2 dates, so I picked one. I’m going big, so I’ll need the time. September 2018. As one door closes, another opens.

Having an affirmation like this is a kick in the pants that says don’t give up. Keep trying. There’s no room for self-doubt.