New Work: Tree of Life

Presenting “Tree of Life”, my latest textured fiber painting!

(c) 2021, Hilary Clark, “Tree of Life”, Fiber, 29-1/2″ x 29-1/2″
Photo Credit: Hilary Clark

This piece is a departure from my usual work. When I completed (Feeling) Joy in January of this year, I knew I wanted to take a break from creating feelings out of fiber and try my hand at a different subject.

So I turned to my design ideas file and selected a tree of life. I’ve been drawn to this image for decades. The spiritual connotations and the centuries-long staying power of this philosophical and sacred concept are kinda my jam.

The Tree of Life connects all of creation. To me, it symbolizes knowledge, growth, evolution, and our innate, Spirit-driven link to Divinity. We are rooted to the Earth even as we stretch through Air to the sky. We are fed by Water and reborn through Fire.

On the practical and art-making side, I originally intended to create this tree as I create my feelings – by cutting out abstract fabric shapes and fusing them to the canvas landscape. That didn’t work for this piece. I considered pipe cleaners and ribbon and felted wool. None would do. Finally, I pulled out my acrylic paints and decided to have a go at painting the image I saw in my head.

I’m super pleased with the result.

These detail shots offer a glimpse of both the paint and the stitching. I hope you enjoy.

Detail view: Tree of Life
Photo credit: Hilary Clark
Detail view: Tree of Life
Photo Credit: Hilary Clark
Detail view: Tree of Life
Photo credit: Hilary Clark
Detail view: Tree of Life
Photo credit: Hilary Clark

As part of my art practice, I also always write a poem inspired by each art piece. Click here to read the poem that goes with this work.

With joy and ease…

Most of my work is available for purchase. Not this piece.

From the moment I painted it, I knew it would hang in the bedroom I share with my partner, as a reminder that we’re here, living this version of our human existence together to learn and grow and expand in love, peace, and joy.

I hope you have a similar image or item in your home that provides you with the same reminder. If you don’t, what’s stopping you from creating it?


Interested in my art, my writing, my poetry, or learning more about bringing consistent joy and ease into your life? Then let’s talk!

Contact me to schedule:
* A virtual coffee
* A private (virtual) art show of my art
* A commissioning conversation to discuss hiring me to create a textured fiber painting uniquely yours

If you enjoyed this essay, and it feels aligned, please share on social media or via email. If you liked it, someone you know will probably like it too!

Studio Update: February 2019

We’re going to try something a little different this year — monthly blog posts!  Since art production has slowed due to an increase in the amount of stitching (and larger work), I decided I wanted to write here more often than just when I finish a piece.  So I’m keeping it simple and striving for studio updates every month.  And when I do complete a piece, I’ll add a bonus post!  🙂

I’m working on (Feeling) Woeful at the moment, my first piece this year.  However, I closed out 2019 doing a little experimenting in the studio.  Here’s what I tried:

When I was younger, before the age of so. many. distractions. on the computer, I used to play with the Paint accessory in Microsoft windows.  So I decided I’d recreate that experience with real paint on cotton fabric.  I grabbed some paint brushes, filled a palette with a bit of each color paint, and then began painting.  I used plain white cotton as the canvas.  The result shows above.

I’m not sure yet what I’ll use it for, but I found I really enjoyed the experience of painting.  Going forward, I plan to incorporate paint days into my studio practice, focusing on painting only solid colors – large fabric paintings all in blue, or red, or… – to then use in my (Feeling) series as I gravitate towards solids there.

My second experiment was also a return to the past:

In the early 2000s, I dyed a lot of fabric.  I enjoyed taking plain white cotton, immersing it in buckets of color, and then waiting to see how it all turned out several hours later.  It’s like dyeing Easter Eggs but on a larger scale.

For this experiment, I purchased natural dye material and then adapted the instructions for cold water dye.  The natural dyes called for boiling the fabric, or doing the dyeing in the washing machine.  Neither of those felt right to me – one, I didn’t know if the dyes would remain in the washer and then dye our clothes; two, boiling fabric on the stove meant I could only dye one color at a time and I just don’t have the patience for that.  So I decided if I was going to experiment, I’d go all out and not follow the instructions.  Turned out pretty well, don’t you think?

What I find most intriguing is the fabric appears to be linen in the photo but I assure you it was plain white cotton.  I’m looking forward to using these in a future (Feeling), which will be a departure from my usual vibrant colors.  Some feelings are more muted, and these hand dyed fabrics will be perfectly suited.

Like the fabric painting, I plan to include fabric dyeing days into my studio practice this year.  The nuances of hand dyeing create interesting colors and visual texture to the fabric, which I believe will only enhance my work.

Once we got past the holidays and rolled into 2019, I returned to my (Feeling) work with Woeful.  It’s still a work in progress and is larger than the earlier pieces in this series.  I’ve attached a few progress photos to whet your appetite for the final piece.  Enjoy!

I’ll be back in a month with another Studio Update – or sooner if I finish Woeful.  Thanks for hanging around the studio with me.

What have you been up to?

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