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?

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!

Protecting Energy When Things Don’t Go According to Plan

Art making is not going according to plan. And I’m working on being okay with that.

Me, working on being okay with things not going according to plan. It’s a process.

When I last wrote an essay here, it was mid-June and I finally had my studio put together. I was excited to get back into art making, to dive into the stitching phase on my Tree of Life piece I’d begun before we relocated from Florida.

I’m still excited, however, I’ve found myself having to temper that excitement so I don’t beat myself up over not meeting my own expectations for myself and my art practice.

I’d forgotten how much energy it takes to work outside the home for someone else. I’d forgotten how much energy I absorb from others after a year of pandemic-induced isolation. I’d forgotten how much stress it’s possible to feel when you’re an empath and everyone around you is stressed.

I come home each night from work, worn out, exhausted. Prepping dinner takes what little energy I have left over, leaving none for weeknight studio time.

This disappoints me. When I worked outside the home before my two years of self-employment, I always had energy when the day ended. I always took at least 15 minutes to work in my studio – because it’s amazing how much art one can make #15minutesatatime. And I was satisfied. I met my own expectations for what I wanted my art practice to look like.

Now, I’m having to redefine those expectations. We have space constraints at work. I’m in a cubicle for the first time in 20 years because of those space constraints — almost no one has an office to themselves. There’s so much noise and constant activity, I find myself frequently distracted and not nearly as productive as I’m accustomed to being. This environmental impact to my energy is fierce.

But I’m not complaining. Instead, I’m focused on ways to protect my energy while still being engaged in my work. The more I can protect my energy, the more I can conserve it, the more I’ll have left over to play with my art each evening.

One way I’m doing this is through noise cancelling ear buds. These will help to create boundaries for myself in the office. I used them over the holiday weekend at home, while stitching on my Tree of Life. When I finally removed them, I was almost startled to hear music coming from the stereo the Big Guy had turned on while he did projects around the house.

Stitching on “Tree of Life” — slow and steady with metallic thread in whatever time I have available

Another way I protect my energy is through meditation. I already meditate each morning before leaving the house for work. I’m looking into meditations suitable for driving for my commute home, something to bring me back to myself, back to my heart, so I can release whatever energy I’ve absorbed during the day, and return to my innate joy and ease. And if I can’t find a guided meditation that suits, then I’ll crank up the music and let it flow over me.

I’ve also plugged studio time into my calendar, a 15 minute appointment with myself and my art each evening after work, which allows me to reserve energy for that time. I may not make every appointment, but scheduling time into my day reminds me of the importance of engaging with my creativity. Because I keep my expectation small — #15minutesatatime — it’s easier to meet and it allows me to stick to my plan. (If you haven’t figured it out by now, the right and left sides of my brain are constantly working together. Within the structure of a plan, I have space to experiment and freely create.)

Finally, I’m reminding myself I’m made of magic, as are we all. We are magic and Spirit, choosing to live in human form to experience and learn and grow, to evolve. This current situation, where I find myself looking for ways to better protect my energy when things don’t go according to plan, is just one more lesson to learn. And maybe, as I share my own learning, you’ll find ways to evolve too.

With joy and ease…

If you’re someone like me, who finds themselves needing to protect their energy when things don’t go according to plan, what do you do to bring yourself back to yourself?

I’d love to know. Please drop a comment below or send me a DM and let’s have a conversation – together, we may find just the solution you need.

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!

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 I’ve been working on recently

It’s time for a progress update from the Studio! I took a little break from creating feelings out of fiber to try my hand at a few different artworks.

Please keep reading for news from the design table and the sewing machine. If you’re rather watch and listen, jump to the video at the end.

© Hilary Clark, “Fish Tails”, Fiber, 12” x 12”
Image Credit: Hilary Clark

Fish Tails…

This past month, I did something I don’t ordinarily do. I worked on two different projects at the same time. This turned out to be good for my production rate, but it made my mild OCD a little twitchy. 🙂

I almost always work on one project at a time, usually the next in my Feelings series. However, in mid-July, I accepted a challenge to make a wearable art face mask for these COVID times. I ended up creating ten – the Queen of the collection and her Ladies of the Court. You can read about this Jewels of the Pandemic series here. One has sold; the others remain available in my Etsy shop.

In keeping with my focus on smaller work (the masks have a lot of design detail in a small space!), I also created a 12” x 12” artwork I’ve named “Fish Tails”. This piece was created as a submission for the Studio Art Quilt Associates (SAQA) Florida Fresh Fish Exhibit, which will be on display at the SAQA Global Conference in April 2021. The Conference will be held virtually as no one really knows where the world will stand in terms of COVID. As we get closer, I’ll share information in this space about how to view the Fresh Fish exhibition.

I’m really pleased with my little fish. My drawing skills remain about second grade level when it comes to drawing anything that ought to look like something real. There’s a reason I create abstract art – my drawing skills are cartoonish and childlike. It’s just not a skill I’ve cultivated. So when my fish outline came out looking like an actual fish shape, I was pretty fucking happy. Still am.

This little fishy is super colorful and created using fused raw edge applique and machine stitching, incorporating the dense textured stitch lines I prefer.

For fun, I used a pre-printed undersea fabric I found in my stash as the facing for this piece. “Fish Tails” is a fish, through and through. You can read this piece’s accompanying poem here.

© Hilary Clark, “Fish Tails” – detail view, Fiber, 12” x 12”
Image Credit: Hilary Clark
© Hilary Clark, “Fish Tails” – back, Fiber, 12” x 12”
Image Credit: Hilary Clark

Abstract geometrics…

While I can’t really draw anything that looks like anything – if you ask me to draw a tree, it’s going to look like a second grader drew it, all lollipop or Christmas like – I can draw geometric shapes. A ruler and a compass help me with this. I never discount the importance of using tools.

A few months ago, I started creating abstract geometric drawings, using gel pens and markers on paper. I quickly found my voice in those abstract compositions made up of geometric shapes, line, and arrows. I’m entertained by these – I hated geometry class in high school.

I create a new drawing a couple times a week and share them on my Instagram (@hilaryclark13 if you want to follow along). They cross post over to Facebook too. I’m playing with ideas for what I want to do with these; I think I’m going to be uploading my favorites to my Fine Art America shop (opening soon!!) and offer them as prints as well as designs on items like throw pillows, phone cases, coffee mugs, and more.

I’m also experimenting with turning these little drawings into acrylic paintings. I’ve never practiced painting as an art form before, or at least not since I gave up finger painting as a kid. I’m finding it a fun way to spend a small portion of my Sunday afternoon. As my painting skills improve, and I find my voice with the paint, I’m sure I’ll shift from creating little 8” x 6” paintings to larger canvas’. Until then, I’m enjoying playing with paint. These are the three I’ve created so far, all taken from one of the pen and marker drawings.

© Hilary Clark, Abstract Geometrics, Acrylic on canvas, 8” x 6”
Image credit: Hilary Clark

(Feeling) Enlightened…

I’ve begun the latest in my Feelings series. I’m creating Enlightened, which incorporates a yellow canvas. Yellow = light in my mind. As this piece is still in its infancy, the only progress photo I have to share is the canvas.

Canvas for (Feeling) Enlightened
Image Credit: Hilary Clark

The design for Enlightened will use primarily fuchsia, red, and purple. I’m sure blue, green, and even some orange will make their way into this piece. Abstract, curving shapes will dominate the space, representing the Knowing we experience as we evolve towards enlightenment.

Exit through the gift shop…

I’ve been busy over the last month, creating wearable art face masks, a vibrant fish, drawing and painting, and beginning the work on my latest Feeling. It’s been a good month in the Studio and I’m grateful to share my work with you.

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

Where I get my inspiration

All artists are inspired by something (or multiple somethings) and I’m no exception. So I thought I’d share where I get my inspiration.

(Keep going to read the article and find out more. If you’re rather watch and listen, jump to the video at the end.)

Light for Yvonne

Inspiration from external influences…

Much of my earlier work was inspired by things outside myself. Things I’d seen on walls and wanted to replicate in fiber. Suggestions made as calls for entry for a particular fiber show I wanted to apply to. Favorite hobbies or interests related to the person I was creating a piece for. Things like that.

The photo above shows “Light for Yvonne”, which I made in response to a call for postcard sized fiber pieces. The pieces were collected and then shared with Yvonne Porcella, who started Studio Art Quilt Associates (or SAQA, to which I belong), as she journeyed through her experience with ovarian cancer. My piece used her signature fabric – black and white check – and depicts a candle with a cross to symbolize her devotion to God. Yvonne was also my cousin; making this piece and donating it as another way to express my commitment and love for her was inspiration enough.

I’ve made a kite, inspired by a painting I saw on a wall. I’ve made the Hulk for my nephew, inspired by his fondness for the green guy. I’ve made the Eiffel Tower for my niece, inspired by her attraction to all things French.

The Kite Perspective
Hulk Smash!
Someday, Paris

Inspiration from memories…

My memories of my grandparents are strong, even though they’ve all been gone a very long time. I created a series to honor them, using their favorite color as the base.

My paternal grandfather had a number of fun sayings, one of which was “Any color’s all right as long as it’s red”. When I first started creating fiber work in the late ’90s, I remembered that saying and thought it would be a fun name for an art piece, however, it wasn’t until much more recently that I allowed my memories to inspire me to create my “Any Color” series.

I made “Any Color’s All Right As Long As It’s Red” for Basil, using lettered beads as embellishment to spell out the word he’d made up – transmugliforcandambumshamity. None of us ever knew what the word meant and he wouldn’t tell us. Most of us decided it was an elaborate cuss word.

I used green for Lucille, my maternal grandmother, and attached clip on earrings via thread to embellish her memory piece because she wore earrings absolutely everywhere, including while kneeling at the side of her Airstream trailer, hooking it up to the various campground hook-ups.

Purple was Neska’s favorite color, my paternal grandmother. She delivered soft kisses to the cheek at every visit and embodied love, so her piece includes lip prints and heart pendants and a couple of bees because she was my grandpa’s “Honey girl”.

And finally, blue for Gene, my maternal grandfather, who died when I was 10. He was a volunteer fireman and ran a cold storage and gave me a Jolly Green Giant doll and loved to fish for abalone, so I added his fireman’s badge and stitched on little round bits that represent an abalone shell and created a tiny green giant as part of his piece.

Any Color’s All Right As Long As It’s Red (for Basil)
Any Color’s All Right As Long As It’s Green (for Lucille)
Any Color’s All Right As Long As It’s Purple (for Neska)
Any Color’s All Right As Long As It’s Blue (for Gene)

Inspiration from intuition…

My most recent work, the work I’ve been creating for the last 3 years, has all been inspired by my intuition.

I’m an empath, so I feel a lot. That’s why I create feelings out of fiber.

Everyone has feelings; it’s one of the ways we’re all alike. When I’m ready to create a new feeling, I close my eyes, center myself, and ask my Higher Self (my intuition) which feeling is up next. I always get an answer. And I always get an image that includes color choices, shape arrangement, and the overall outline shape for the piece.

And then, as I work on making the invisible visible, I feel the feeling. Often, I’ll discover the feeling is also being felt by a large segment of the population at the same time. I know this from information in my social media feed or through headlines from various news sources or messages from friends, which all just goes to confirm I’m making the right feeling at the right time.

I allow my intuition to guide the work. If I feel a little stuck, I’ll step back and take a little break. This gives my intuition space to channel more detail about what the feeling looks like. And then I go back to work to create it.

For example, I recently made “Isolated”, which was a feeling felt around the world as we settled into lockdown for the pandemic.

Isolated

In closing…

My work is inspired by many things. Sometimes, there’s an underlying social message, but most of the time, for most of my work, my inspiration comes from the voice that lives deep inside my heart.

My purpose is to make the invisible visible and the intangible tangible. I do this primarily by creating feelings out of fiber.

Inspiration is everywhere, as long as I remain open to receive it. The same holds true for you. Open yourself, and you’ll find inspiration.

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

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