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!

What being an artist means to me

It took me a long time to figure it out, but being an artist means everything to me. I fought against this identity. When I finally surrendered, life got a whole lot easier.

If you’ve struggled or fought against your own creative calling, keep going to read the article. If you’re rather watch and listen, jump to the video at the end.

Image credit: Hilary Clark – detail view of “Crushed”

The journey…

Being an artist means everything to me. It’s who I am. But I didn’t always know this. In fact, I spent years actively denying it to myself.

Being an artist didn’t feel practical. It wasn’t a logical move. I questioned my ability to make an income. I wondered how I’d ever find the time to make art while working a full time job.

I came up with tons of excuses about why I couldn’t possibly be an artist. I even chose to take another career path in my obstinance, one that was just as distracting to creative thought.

Initially, I thought I’d be a writer, penning New York Times bestselling novels with ease. I’ve always loved to write, beginning with an introduction to poetry writing in the 4th grade, then creative writing classes in high school and college. I write well. I can tell a compelling story. I thought novel writing would be a breeze.

It wasn’t. I found myself resistant to writing, to putting my butt in the seat and fingers to keyboard. I’d get a good start with a plot, then it would die out for lack of imagination on where the characters might go next.

So I decided I wasn’t meant to be a writer, of fiction novels at least, because I told myself I didn’t have what it took to carry a plot line through 300 pages.

From novelist to children’s book writer…

When I gave up on writing novels, I thought, oh, I’ll write children’s books instead – they’re shorter; my imagination can carry a story line through to the end. I love fantastical creatures, so writing books to captivate children felt simple.

And I wrote one – for my niece as a gift for her 5th birthday. And I started another for my nephew that remains unfinished because he grew older and fell out of interest in superheroes.

So then I told myself I wasn’t qualified to write children’s books because I don’t have children of my own.

From writer to life coach…

I set writing aside, pretending I’d given it a good try and pretending it didn’t hurt my heart just a little bit to give up on my lifelong dream to write books. And I went on a quest to find another career.

I found life coaching. I got educated on what it means to be a life coach. I practiced and coached and tapped into all the personal growth I’d done on myself to help others. I found coaching satisfying – when the light bulb goes off for a client can be incredibly joyful.

But it wasn’t creative and it felt very much like it was in the way of what I really wanted to do.

Admitting it…

For over 20 years, I’ve been creating with my sewing machine. I started with traditional lap quilts, then began to make art quilts of my own design, and about 6 years ago, I shifted to what I call textured fiber paintings – densely stitched abstract fiber pieces.

Through my corporate career, through my exploration around being a writer, through my journey to train and practice as a coach, I continued to make my fiber pieces.

That’s all I really wanted to do. In fact, I thought becoming a coach would be the path to allow me more time to create my fiber art. But coaching didn’t. It distracted me instead.

And still I struggled and fought against calling myself an artist.

Then my partner and I moved across country in the middle of a pandemic and something shifted inside me. A door opened and through it, I saw opportunity. I saw that my struggle and fight were exhausting and it was time to surrender.

So I did. I surrendered so I could accept who I really am – an artist. I’m an artist who creates feelings out of fiber and it is everything.

A life of grace, ease, and lightness…

Eckhart Tolle wrote in The Power of Now, “To offer no resistance to life is to be in a state of grace, ease, and lightness.”

That’s what being an artist feels like to me – a life of grace, ease, and lightness.

From the moment I surrendered to my calling, that of being an artist, everything got simpler. My mind exploded with creative ideas. I began to explore other ways to make art, like drawing and painting, which had previously held little interest because I believed I wouldn’t be any good at them.

My mood shifted from a state of frequent quiet gentle melancholy to one of constant simmering joy.

Most surprising of all, the story line for a novel came to me, complete with characters, the plot path, and easy breezy writing time with my butt in my seat and my fingers on the keyboard.

Being an artist means everything to me. It’s who I am.

But I never would have found this joy if I’d continued resisting what my heart knew.

In closing…

So many of us spend some portion of our lives struggling against what our deepest inner knowing calls us to be and do. I spent most of my adult life in that struggle. And then I stopped resisting and everything became easy.

If you’ve fought and struggled against what your deepest inner knowing is calling you to be or do, especially if it’s a creative calling, I’m here to tell you it’s time to surrender. In fact, I’m here to help you get there. Part of my definition of myself as an artist includes helping others who’ve struggled to claim that same definition for themselves. I can help you release the resistance and find your state of ease.

I promise you, when you let the struggle go, it will mean everything.

P.S. If you could use help to surrender to your creative calling, get in touch and we’ll set up time to talk about what I call The Hilary Method, my process to help you become more productive and proactive so you can be more creative.

P.P.S. If you liked what you read (or watched if you chose the video), please share with the one person you absolutely know would like it too!

News from the Studio & a poetry reading

Welcome to the monthly update from the Studio! May was a busy month and there’s loads of activity to share with you. So keep reading to learn what I’ve been up to.

(Feeling) Isolated – My Latest Textured Fiber Painting

(Feeling) Isolated is complete!  This piece was made in response to the sense of isolation felt on a global scale brought on by sheltering in place during COVID 19 coupled with a personal cross country move to a new home.  It’s available to hang on your wall for $2,500.00.  Get in touch if you’d like to buy it.

(Feeling) Isolated (link to poem):

Isolated ~ May 2020 ~ 34-/14″ x 23-1/4″ ~ $2500

Detail View:
Isolated ~ May 2020 ~ 34-/14″ x 23-1/4″ ~ $2500

Detail View:
Isolated ~ May 2020 ~ 34-/14″ x 23-1/4″ ~ $2500

Detail View:
Isolated ~ May 2020 ~ 34-/14″ x 23-1/4″ ~ $2500

Detail View:
Isolated ~ May 2020 ~ 34-/14″ x 23-1/4″ ~ $2500

Next up: (Feeling) Connected – to recognize the universal connection between all of humanity, even in the midst of a pandemic.

As always, most of my textured fiber paintings are for sale. You can visit the Gallery page on my website for a closer look of every piece I’ve ever made or go straight to my online portfolio to purchase an item from my Feelings series. Eventually, my online portfolio and my Gallery will be combined into a single resource – until then, I hope you’ll bear with it as a work in progress.

I’ve started sharing progress on my textured fiber paintings online via Facebook Live a couple times a week. During these “Window Into My Studio” events, I demonstrate my process and sometimes share productivity and creativity tips, tricks, and ideas as food for thought. Think of me as the stitching version of Bob Ross. 🙂 I’d love for you to join me as often as you can.

The videos are saved and uploaded to my YouTube channel so you can go back and watch anytime you want (none are longer than 30 minutes).

It All Started With a Haiku

I wrote a book!!! I published my book of poetry on Amazon for Kindle and in paperback. Titled “It All Started With a Haiku”, it’s a small collection of my favorite poems I’ve written over a span of 40 years. I’ve always wanted to write and publish a book and now I can say I have! If you’re interested in supporting me with this dream come true, you can purchase the book by clicking here.

Book Cover: It All Started With a Haiku

A Poetry Reading: Future Gwen

In this week’s video, I read one of the poems in my book and offer the back story behind it. I hope you enjoy.

Daily Drawings

I’ve told myself for years I have no ability to draw. Recently, I decided to put that belief to the test by adding a daily drawing practice to my schedule – because you can’t improve at something if you never do it.

I’ve had a small sketchbook for the last year and only occasionally drew anything in it. Most of what I’d drawn up until this last month was a representational image of something in my house. None of those are very good, although a bit better than I expected them to be. This wasn’t particularly surprising because…I wasn’t practicing regularly.

Then one day just a few weeks ago, no more than 4 or 5 days since I’d started drawing something every day, I was struck with the urge to draw geometric shapes in abstract composition. Mind blown! I love abstract work, so it felt like no wonder my drawings of real, tangible items were barely above young child level in terms of appearance. As soon as I began to draw triangles, circles, squares, and arrows, arranged in abstract ways, I felt like I’d found my drawing voice. I’m posting them on Instagram and Facebook in the evenings, asking people to tell me what they see in the drawing. It’s become one of the favorite parts of my day.

Pen & gel ink drawing

I firmly believe finding my voice so quickly with these drawings is the result of the regular creative practice I’ve followed for the past 6 years with my textured fiber paintings. Putting systems and structure in place to ensure there’s time to create consistently opens you up to greater creativity and easier connection to your inner child so you can let him or her out to play.

Once I can safely and comfortably visit an art store like Blick’s, I plan to buy a large canvas or two and some paint and convert these drawings (sketches, really) into acrylic paintings, which will be available for purchase. I’ll let you know when that happens.

Inspirational Message Signs

For over a year, I’ve been posting inspirational messages with corresponding captions on Instagram (you can find them at @harmonylifebalance for everything through May 22, 2020 and @hilaryclark13 for the more recent posts now that I’ve merged businesses). These messages were all downloaded during my morning meditations, where I was directed to share them with my audience. Just recently, I received an intuitive hit to turn these messages into inspirational message signs printed on an 8 x 8 canvas. I’m in the process of creating these signs using the messages that most resonated with people. If you’d like to purchase one (or more) for yourself, hop on over to my Instagram feeds (links above), select the one you’d like, and then drop me a message. Here’s a sample:

Steer with Joy 8x8
I’m Writing a Novel!

It’s shaping up to be an intrigue novel with a bit of romance thrown in for spice. I’m a huge Nora Roberts / JD Robb fan, so there are shades of her preferred writing genres in my work. I’m about 10,000 words in to what I intend to be a 60,000 word book and I’m loving every minute of it. In the past, when I’ve attempted to write a novel, I’ve hit a wall at about 3,500 words. This time, the story is pouring out of me every day when I sit at my computer to write.

The book features a female police detective, Helen Rich, on the hunt for an escaped murderer. The murderer kidnaps her own child and then taunts Helen with her freedom. With the help of Sam Wright, a journalist, she must rescue the child and put the criminal back in prison where she belongs, while battling her own demons and her secret crush on Sam. I’ll need beta readers at some point, so if you’re interested in reading the draft of my novel when it’s ready, let me know!

In closing…

My life is richer for being an Artist. The opportunity to share what I create with the wider world inspires me every day.  Making art connects me to the imaginative, intuitive, playful part of myself and life’s so much more fun when we play.

Before you go…

Want to catch up on “Window Into My Studio”? Watch past episodes here.
Interested in buying my art? See and purchase it here.
Feel like reading some poetry? Buy my book, “It All Started With a Haiku”!
Looking for inspiration to set on your desk or hang on your wall? Select a message for your inspirational message sign, then get in touch to place your order.
Would you like to be on the list to be a beta reader for my novel? Send me an email.

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Don’t forget to stop by my Gallery before you go!  Once you’ve selected the piece that will look perfect on your wall, get in touch and we’ll schedule a private virtual showing.

New beginnings

Today’s the first day I’m “broadcasting” from my combined business, where I’ve pulled my Harmony Coaching work under my Hilary Clark Studios umbrella. Thank you to everyone who subscribes to these posts. I truly appreciate it!

For those who’ve been following along with Harmony Coaching, the weekly articles with video will continue on topics related to developing, growing, and maintaining a creative practice. They’ll just come from Hilary Clark Studios now.

For those who’ve been following Hilary Clark Studios, you’ll start receiving the weekly posts I mentioned above. The monthly studio update will be one of those posts, so there’ll still be photos of my work in progress and/or full reveals of finished work. Yay!

Creativity is our greatest gift but many either take it for granted or, worse, believe they’re not creative. I’m working to change that – to help the secret rebel inside us all reconnect to his or her innate creativity so the child who still lives inside can come out and play. If that sounds like you, you’re in the right place!

Even if you believe you have some creative spark within you, you may not see how you could apply that creativity to everything you do, including your job. Or you’re not making time to do creative things because it feels foolish. Or you feel like whatever you make has to be perfect, otherwise, it’s just not worth your time.

These are the topics I’ll address in the weekly articles. I hope you’ll stick around.

What’s stopping you from being creative? Share in the comments or DM me. If you’d like to talk about how you could start, get in touch and we’ll set up time to talk.

If you liked what you read, please share – someone else might like it too!

Studio Update: April 2020

I missed a studio update in March but I had a great reason.  At the end of February, my partner received a job offer that required relocation from Chicago, Illinois to West Palm Beach, Florida.  March was spent preparing for and executing the move.  Thankfully, his new employer included payment for this relocation as part of his job offer so we purged and someone else packed, loaded, and shipped.  We’ve settled into our new home (renting for a while) and he’s going to work daily.  He works in construction, which is an essential business during the corona virus pandemic.

View from the back porch at the old house. Brrr!

View from the back porch at the new house. Yay!

I already worked from home for myself as a Leadership Trainer and Coach, so I just shifted to a new room in a new house.  However, the cross country move in the middle of a shelter-in-place pandemic also shifted my thinking about that business.  The whole reason I wanted to work for myself was to have the freedom to make more art.  And yet, building a business requires a great deal of time.  Art making didn’t go up.  And that hurt my heart.  I’m processing what it is I really want to do with my training and coaching business.  In the meantime, I’m upping my creative making time and I’m back in the studio.

When I’m not in the studio working on my latest textured fiber painting and not working on my coaching business, I’m mapping out a plan to build an art business, as opposed to or in addition to, the coaching business (that’s part of what I’m processing).  I’ve started writing a novel.  I’m developing digital wall art using messages I receive from my meditations.  I’m considering creating wall art from my poetry and from famous poets.  I may offer embroidered pieces with inspirational statements.  I’m absolutely going to create a guided journal to help inspire personal growth.  I’m brainstorming a LOT of art ideas and I’m thinking about how and where I want to offer them for sale.  I’ll keep you posted here and on social media (if we’re not connected on Facebook or Instagram, let’s fix that, OK?)  Links to each are here:

Facebook (Personal)
Facebook (Art Page – Hilary Clark Studios)
Instagram

For now, my big project is my latest textured fiber painting, (Feeling) Isolated.  The other day, I realized my textured fiber painting Feeling series has been built off the empathy hits I get from the Global Human Collective when it’s time to choose a feeling for the next piece.  For example, I made Grief in the first couple months of this year; a feeling that was sitting deep inside the Collective and which has risen to prominence during these #quarantimes.  Now I’m making Isolated (which is a pretty obvious connection 😊).

Isolated – Canvas
(c) Hilary Clark

Isolated – Mono Print
(c) Hilary Clark

Isolated – Progress
(c) Hilary Clark

Watch this space for news about my art business decisions, updates on new work, and musings on living a creative life.

Next up: I’ll continue work on Isolated.  Full reveal expected in May.  And I’ll continue to brainstorm and create other offerings.

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Info about my Feelings series: I interpret my random abstract doodles as emotions.  The guiding point is the outer boundary of the doodle.  The boundary evokes the feeling and is based on the empathetic connection I feel to the Global Human Collective.  From there, I contemplate how to bring that particular feeling alive in fiber to reflect the emotion most prevalent within the Collective at the time the feeling is chosen.

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My art is my work and the majority is for sale.  Please visit my Gallery to view the items for sale.  If you’re interested in purchasing any of my creations, please contact me via this site.

Thanks for visiting my studio!