Back to the Studio…Barely

I have a studio again!

In the month since I last wrote, we’ve unpacked the house and put everything away, with the exception of hanging art and photos on the walls. This includes getting my studio space organized and ready for art making.

But have I made any art?

Just barely.

Walk in closet studio storage! Every artist’s dream!

My art making intentions have been solid. However, the last time we moved – in March 2020 – I was working for myself so I was able to set aside my work to spend a week focused on unpacking and settling in. This go around, I’m back to work full time outside the home. That schedule really impacts the amount of time available to unpack AND make art.

I’d forgotten that bit about working for someone else. My schedule is no longer my own and this particular project requires long days. I’m not complaining – I’m truly enjoying the job. But I do miss my studio time.

Which is why I’m so pleased to have the space organized and ready to go.

Everything in its place.

Before we relocated from the East Coast to the Southwest, I’d begun work on a Tree of Life textured fiber painting, a departure from my Feelings work. I’d created the canvas, a landscape suitable for an arching tree. And that’s where I’d paused to get ready to move.

Now that all our things are put away and we’re settled into our new home, I’ve finally been able to create the time in my weekend schedule to design the tree to sweep across that canvas.

This piece took an interested twist with the tree. Following my usual design method, I laid curving strips of fabric on the canvas to create the trunk, the branches. And it didn’t look right. So I tried other strips of fabric. Then I tried ribbon and pipe cleaners and felted wool. Nothing produced the vision of the tree I had in my head.

Then I remembered I had paint, acrylic and fabric. So I took a deep breath and embraced the opportunity to experiment with painting on fabric to create my tree.

Thankfully, my experiment worked. I love how the design came out. There’s a tiny hint of it in the photo below. I’m saving the rest for when I’ve completed this art piece, so be patient please!

Hinting at the tree

The other exciting thing about being back in my studio, besides the success of my experiment, is the amount of space I have in the room. For the first time ever, I’m able to open my cutting table to it’s full length. It’s a drop leaf construction and in the almost 20 years I’ve owned this sewing furniture, I’ve only ever been able to raise one leaf. Now I can raise both and have the full 75-80” to work on! I’m ridiculously pleased. The ability to spread out all on the same surface is delightful. As shown in the photos above, I also have a walk-in closet to store my supplies.

It’s a wonderful studio and I’m grateful to have it.

Sewing cabinet, closed until I’m ready to stitch.
Ok, so I hung one thing. My studio always feels complete when my kite is hung.

With joy and ease…

I’m excited to begin stitching on my Tree of Life piece, slowly and as I create the time. I’ve accepted making 8-10 pieces a year may no longer be possible (each takes quite a while due to the dense stitching I use in my designs) so I’m embracing this opportunity to slow down my making.

If I only make a few pieces this year, I’m still creating, I’m still making art, I’m still an artist. And I believe that is what’s most important — experiencing the joy and ease that comes from being a creator.

In next month’s update, I’ll share a progress update and photos of some of the stitching. Until then, keep creating with joy and ease!

xo


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!

(Feeling) Depression – New Work!

New work! I recently completed (Feeling) Depression so today I’m sharing photos of this new textured fiber painting. I’m also sharing a little about my most recent experience with depression and the valuable lesson I learned from this feeling.

(As I always do, I’ve written a poem that goes with this piece. To read it, please visit my poetry website – www.piningforpoetry.com.)

© 2020, Hilary Clark, “Depression”, Fiber, 34-½” x 23-¼”
Photo credit: Rocco Danna

(Feeling) Depression…

I’ve experienced depression my whole life and have been fortunate to be able to manage it without the aid of medication (although I have always remained open to taking an antidepressant if the depression became persistent).

My depressive episodes typically only last a few days. Shifting myself up and out of the grey blue space was managed by focusing my attention on something outside myself. This practice worked for years.

Until recently.

I don’t know if it’s this pandemic year, or relocating across country in the midst of said pandemic, or general loneliness, or something more that produced an extended sink into the depths of depression this past summer. It’s likely some combination of all of these. All I really know is I began to feel blue in late summer and it evolved into feeling grey as summer became fall. The grey space remained until mid-October.

During that time, I kept showing up for my business. I kept showing up for my art. I kept showing up for myself and for those who love me. The one thing that helped me cope with what felt like a lost, lonely broken heart sunk deep within the grey was creating this piece.

I started it in mid-September, when the depression was fierce. As I created this artwork, I immersed myself in what I was feeling. I let tears flow when they came and I sat in the numbness when that’s all I could sense. I chose colors that matched how I felt, surrounding that fuchsia broken heart with all the shades of depression.

I took my time with this fiber painting, stitching when I could, #15minutesatatime, and as I stitched, I found myself rising up from the grey depths into the waves of the blue and eventually into the pure light of delight.

Feelings have so much to teach us, if we just let them. There are lessons to learn even when in the depths of depression. My art practice allows me to examine those feelings and from my study, evolve. Creating Depression out of fiber taught me the true purpose of life: we can choose to live with joy and ease.

And that’s what I’m doing now.

Detail views…

With joy and ease…

Depression is available for purchase for $1800 and would look fantastic on the wall of your home or office (or home office 🙂 ). If you’d like to own this piece, you have two options:

1) Contact me directly and let me know you’d like to buy Depression
2) Visit my Etsy shop and purchase it there.

If you need support around learning how to choose to live a life of joy and ease, let’s set up time to chat.

If you experience depression and it has become unmanageable, please seek professional help. The world needs you in it.


If you’re ready for a private (virtual) showing of my art, you can schedule an appointment here.

To discuss commissioning me to make a textured fiber painting specifically for you or someone you love, please schedule an exploratory commissioning conversation and we’ll see what we can create together.

If you enjoyed this article and found it helpful, please share with the ONE person you know could use it too!

Change Is Coming

2020 has been a year, hasn’t it? From going to an office every day to working at home full time. From the kids out of the house at school to home learning at the dining room table (that you need to oversee). From casually running errands to hoarding toilet paper. From social gatherings to isolation. And the reality is these situations are the new normal for the foreseeable future.

We’ve all learned to pivot and adjust, adapting to the constant that is change. I’m changing too, specifically another shift in my business. Today, I thought I’d share a bit about the direction I intend to go.

The stitching phase of my art creation is a constant change in direction as I follow the outline of every shape and space with the needle and thread

Where I’ve been…

If you’ve been around the Studio for a bit, you know we relocated across country in the early days of the pandemic. Prior to the move, I was focused on my coaching business, out networking at least once a week, generating buzz and connection to create clients. I was gaining some traction as a leadership coach.

After the move, as we settled into a new home in a new location, confined to the house, I began to give serious thought to being a coach. It no longer felt aligned, so I made the decision to pivot my focus to my art and turn that into my business. And that was fun…until it wasn’t.

It didn’t take long for me to realize I’m not prolific enough to generate a full time income from my art. I enjoy taking 4 to 6 weeks to create a single piece of art. The slow, steady pace allows me to sink into the feeling I’m creating, to feel it, to observe it, to process it, and to discover what lesson the feeling has to teach me.

Our feelings are meant to guide us to transformation and my creative process, as is, serves that purpose.

The more I pushed myself to make more, make faster, the more out of alignment I felt with my art. I discovered I want to create my art for the pure joy of creating. If others want to purchase it, that would be lovely, and I’ll continue to offer it for sale but I won’t look to it as my primary income source.

This left me struggling and I sank into a depressive episode that lingered for several months. I continued to show up here with weekly articles and on social media with daily posts but I felt disconnected. Did I have a business? Did I want a business?

The answer to both of those questions was yes, so the next question became: what did I want my business to be?

Where I’m going…

Once I determined I did want to continue as a business owner, I found myself returning to coaching. I realized my thought that coaching wasn’t aligned in the early days of the pandemic, after our move, was actually just fear getting in the way. I’m no longer fearful, so I’m returning to my dream of owning a coaching business where I can help others every day.

I’m still working out my focus. Each day, I’m gaining greater clarity around who I want to work with and how. As that solidifies, I’ll share it here with all of you. For now, I’d like to share my Big Why for owning a business and doing the work I know, deep down, I’m called to do:

I believe joy and ease are our purpose. These are our birthright, our soul right, the way we embody our spirit life during our human life. Anything we want can be realized when we finally and forever release the “hustle” to embrace, integrate, incorporate, and LIVE from a place of joy and ease.

Work and life can feel easy, all in flow and joy-filled, even when you’re busy. I believe it’s important to take a stand for down time because its daily inclusion in your life leads to joy. I believe a person can be astoundingly successful without being Type A.

Including relaxation and recharge time in the schedule feeds the heart, mind, body, and energy field, giving each of us the mental, emotional, and spiritual food we need to carry us through the obligations of the day.

The world needs to slow down. We’re missing the beauty of being “off”, of the power of a good nap, a good book, a long walk. We need to have more fun.

I believe in making joy, ease, and fun a priority. These produce peace – personal and global.

I believe the purpose of our human existence is to learn how to embrace joy and ease in all aspects of our lives, which connects us to our spiritual home in the Universe. Life is meant to be fun.

I’m passionate about living a life of joy and ease, seeped in creativity and personal leadership, with a foundation grounded in spirituality. It’s all about shifting your mindset. If I can shift mine, I can help you shift yours.

With joy and ease…

My business is changing direction, back to coaching. I’ll still create my art and share it here as each piece progresses. I’m doing the work to define who I want to serve and how, which I’ll share with you as the plan develops. I believe experiencing joy and ease are the purpose of life. By connecting to your most dominant negative feeling, you can observe it and learn from it. Once the lesson is clear, it’s about doing the work to shift your mindset from the negative to the positive feelings of joy and ease.

I’m an expert at joy and ease. Let me help you feel more of these in your life.

If you’re ready to finally shift yourself away from the frustration of “hustle” to experience more joy and ease, drop me a note at hilaryclarkstudios@gmail.com and we’ll set up time to chat.


If you’re ready for a private (virtual) showing of my art, you can schedule an appointment here.

To discuss commissioning me to make a textured fiber painting specifically for you or someone you love, please schedule an exploratory commissioning conversation and we’ll see what we can create together.

If you enjoyed this article and found it helpful, please share with the ONE person you know could use it too!

Feeling in Progress: Depression

The feelings I create out of fiber typically take me anywhere from four to six weeks to create, but in recent months, I was pushing myself to make more, sew faster, produce, produce, produce.

That “drive” took all the fun out of it.

I want to be intentional about the time I spend creating my art, including when I share it with you so today I’m sharing update photos from my latest Feeling in Progress: Depression.

Feeling in Progress…

Depression – in design, photo taken using mono filter

Slow and steady…

I’m a big fan of ease. “Type A” does not describe me. Slow, steady art making soothes me and, with my Feelings work, is a critical part of the process.

When I’m creating feelings out of fiber, I’m exploring how the feeling feels within me. I give myself the opportunity to observe the feeling – where it sits in my body, where it sits in my heart and head, what thoughts it produces, and what lessons it has to offer. Rushing the creative process short circuits the learning and discovery process, which I believe is critical to personal growth and development.

Our feelings offer lessons for us to learn. Only by feeling them, observing them, and opening ourselves to receive the lessons can we transform ourselves into the people we’re meant to be.

Exit through the gift shop…

I hope you’ve enjoyed these few update photos from my latest feeling in progress, Depression. Thank you for providing me with the opportunity to share my art.

If you’re curious about learning more about the lessons feelings offer you, drop me a note at hilaryclarkstudios@gmail.com and we’ll set up time to chat.


If you’re ready for a private (virtual) showing of my art, you can schedule an appointment here.

To discuss commissioning me to make a textured fiber painting specifically for you or someone you love, please schedule an exploratory commissioning conversation and we’ll see what we can create together.

If you enjoyed this article and found it helpful, please share with the ONE person you know could use it too!

3 steps to learn from your feelings

When your feelings feel out of control, swamping you with emotion, particularly when it’s a feeling that keeps coming back over and over, it’s natural to feel completely overwhelmed with zero motivation. But there’s hope. When you allow yourself to learn what your less positive feelings are trying to teach you, you can get your motivation back.

Here are my three suggested steps to learn from your feelings.

This image of “Screen Door” looks like chaos, similar to what it feels like to be overwhelmed by your feelings.

Let go to break free…

When you’re buried under the weight of an overwhelming and recurring feeling like depression*, anger, resentment, or shame, there’s always a part of you that’s worrying about how to break free so you can just stop feeling shitty all the time. You get bogged down in thoughts of what you could do differently, which creates a cycle with the feeling, putting you on a merry-go-round that never stops.

This sensation you’ve got to control how you feel in order to make it stop is why you’re staying stuck.

Let go. Let yourself feel what you feel in all its pain and darkness. Give yourself permission to express your feelings and then express them. As you do, set some parameters so you don’t wallow forever. Give yourself an hour, a day, or a week – you’ll know how much time you need – and when the time is up, move on to the next suggestion.

Step back and observe…

After you’ve given yourself the gift of feeling what you feel, the next step is to step back and observe. This is where you get to pretend to be outside yourself, looking in.

The key here is to question your feelings. You want to inquire why you feel what you feel.

What triggered the emotion?
Why was that the feeling that rose up?
When have you felt that feeling in the past?
What caused those occurrences?
Is there a common link between what you feel now and what you’ve felt in the past? What is it?

Continue to question your feelings until there’s a sensation of release, a moment when it becomes clear why you keep feeling this particular feeling.

You can do this in a number of ways. You can journal, take voice notes, film yourself talking it out, spend time in contemplation via meditation, create the feeling as a tangible object (like I do when I create feelings out of fiber), or work with a coach like me who can help you dig deeper than you may be able to go on your own.

Find the lesson…

As you allow yourself the grace of observation, you’ll find yourself writing, speaking, or creating a record of the feeling and its root.

The “why” will appear and it will reveal the reason you default to depression*, anger, resentment, shame, or some other feeling that isn’t serving you. It will point to a moment from your past when an event happened or words were said that attached to your heart.

This moment may be major or it may be something that seemed inconsequential at the time. This moment is the key. Once you understand the moment that serves as the root, you have found the lesson and can begin the work to learn what it has to teach you.

Short is dumpy…

I have a moment that has served to make me feel motivated and encouraged AND defeated and depressed. A single moment can work to make you feel positive emotion at one point and negative at another. Each time a feeling arises, there may be a new lesson to learn. I used the steps I’ve outlined above to learn what this particular moment needed to teach me.

When I was a pre-teen, my grandmother said something that etched itself into my heart. She was short and had grown rounder with age, post-menopause. I too was short and it was clear I wasn’t going to be a tall adult. So she said to me, “Short is dumpy.” I took it as a warning to watch out as I grew older, delivered with love in the hopes she could prevent me from sharing her fate.

For years, that statement, that moment, worked as motivation and encouragement for staying slender, a short person with a slim frame. Whenever I was tempted to overeat or to make crappy food choices, I would say “short is dumpy” to myself and it worked as weight control.

And then I became post menopausal. Suddenly, no matter what I ate, how much, how little, the type of food, didn’t seem to matter. I’d become dumpy. Every time my pants felt a bit too tight, I felt more defeated and depressed. This spilled over into my work and into my art.

I was ready to change my feelings around my body. I decided to feel the defeat, observe the feeling, and find the lesson. When I did, I found that moment when my grandma warned me of the changes that occur as we age.

And the lesson I needed to learn was to re-frame the statement.

Now I tell myself “short is beautiful” and I am.

Exit through the gift shop…

When you can follow the steps I’ve shared here, you can learn what your feelings are trying to teach you. Start by letting go to break free. Next, step back and observe by questioning the feeling to understand its purpose in being there. Finally, find the lesson the feeling carries so you can begin to learn from it.

If you need support around navigating these steps, drop me a note at hilaryclarkstudios@gmail.com and we’ll set up time to chat.

*Depression is tricky. For some of us, we can manage it on our own and it never grows so severe we’re at risk of self-harm. However, for many others, help is needed to manage depression. If this is you, please do get the professional help you need. The world is better with you in it.


If you’re ready for a private (virtual) showing of my art, you can schedule an appointment here.

To discuss commissioning me to make a textured fiber painting specifically for you or someone you love, please schedule an exploratory commissioning conversation and we’ll see what we can create together.

If you enjoyed this article and found it helpful, please share with the ONE person you know could use it too!