Showcase Piece: Inquisitive

In today’s article, I’m showcasing another piece from my portfolio – Inquisitive, the second piece made as part of my Feelings series.

Please keep reading to learn more about why I chose the colors and shapes I did to make this textured fiber painting. If you’re rather watch and listen, jump to the video at the end.

(c) Hilary Clark, “Inquisitive”, Fiber, 18″ x 23″
Image credit: Hilary Clark

Inquisitive was an experiment…

Inquisitive is one of the smaller pieces in the Feelings series, measuring 18” x 23”. There are two eyelet hangers stitched on the back, allowing it to hang on the wall with the use of a couple of small nails.

This piece doesn’t have the same dense stitching as the first in the series, or many that followed. I was experimenting with how much stitching I wanted to include and this piece, with its more representational shapes, seemed to call for a wider stitch pattern.

Why I chose yellow…

I chose yellow for the canvas because this color symbolizes curiosity and inquisitiveness to me. I tend to think and feel in color so when I’m choosing the canvas color for one of my textured fiber painted feelings, I go inside and ask my intuition what color best represents the feeling. When I did that for Inquisitive, yellow’s what rose out of my subconscious.

As with all of the Feelings series, the canvas is made up of different shades of the canvas color. I create a tissue paper pattern following the full outline of the piece, then divide that pattern into individual segments along abstract, flowing curves. Each segment uses a different shade of yellow in this piece, mostly solids, but occasionally I’ll use patterned fabric as I did here.

The “why” behind the design…

Once the canvas is created, I overlay the design elements on top. For Inquisitive, I chose question marks because to be inquisitive is to question. They symbolize the curious aspect of being inquisitive as you seek answers.

In addition to the slightly wider stitching, roughly ½” between each stitch line as opposed to my usual ¼” to ⅛” distance, this piece also uses more defined, real shapes with the question marks and the eyes overlaying each mark. I was still exploring how I wanted to best create feelings out of fiber and this piece, when compared with the rest of the series, is a bit of a departure. However, it is still an abstract with bright, bold colors and so it fits into the series in that way.

There’s always a poem…

The majority of my work includes a poem on the back. Each poem is inspired by the textured fiber painting and so each piece includes a copy of its poem fused to the backing as the label. I thought I’d share Inquisitive’s poem with you.

(Feeling) Inquisitive

What is the meaning of
life? Is it purpose,children,
love,or just living?

Why is the sky
blue, the grass green,
my hair turning grey? Are
these childish questions?

Who is God? Have you
met Him? On the other hand, is it 
Her? Is it both? What does 
God looks like?

When will the world
end? Have you wondered?
Do you care?

How do we know when
chicken is cooked or 
black currants are
ripe? Will you ask Google?

Where do the rabbits in my
backyard make their
nest? Are they happy?

I wonder…are you as
inquisitive as I am?

Exit through the gift shop…

If you’re interested in owning Inquisitive, it can be purchased for $750 through my Etsy shop, HilaryClarkStudios. Or reach out to me directly and we can make arrangements to get this piece into your home.

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!

Jewels of the Pandemic: Wearable Art Face Masks

Over the last few months, three different friends have suggested I make face masks as they’re needed during this 2020 pandemic. Each of these friends also suggested I make them as pieces of art, rather than as utilitarian masks. It wasn’t until the third time this was suggested that I connected to the idea.

So I made one. And I enjoyed it so much, I’m making more.

Please keep reading to learn more. If you’re rather watch and listen, jump to the video at the end.

Jewels of the Pandemic: Wearable Art Face Mask No. 1 ~ $250
Available for purchase in my Etsy Shop.

Mask No. 1 details…

The vast majority of the art I create is raw edged fused appliqué with dense machine stitching to “paint” each of the design elements. I applied this same technique to the face mask and created this beautiful gem.

The lining is grey felt, which is comfortable on the face and fully breathable. Because the felt is thicker than a single layer of cotton, it also provides a bit more fabric to filter out the toxins floating through the air **. The external side of the mask is made of a layer of cotton fabric as the base color, then overlaid with collaged design elements. While some of the design elements do overlap, they don’t impede breathing.

Embellished with purple ribbon, it ties behind the neck and head to hold it securely in place when you’re in any environment that requires facial covering.

The mask can be washed on the delicate or hand wash cycle in your machine (or by hand in the sink), hung to dry, and worn again and again. Over time, the raw edged design elements may fray. This is natural; any frayed threads can be trimmed with small scissors.

It’s priced at $250 due to the level of detail involved in making this beautiful work of art. If you’d like to own it, you can buy it directly from my Etsy shop ~ HilaryClarkStudios.

Jewels of the Pandemic…

I’ve had lots of interest in this piece, and I enjoyed making it, so I’m currently making ten (10) more, each with its own base color. I’m using red, pink, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, lavendar, black, and white.

This small collection of jewels will be available for $150 each as the design will be simpler. All will be uploaded into my Etsy shop when they’re complete, except for the purple one, which is already spoken for.

Exit through the gift shop…

The Jewels of the Pandemic collection is wearable art. Before you freak out over the price, I’d like you to consider something: The beautiful face you were born with is hidden behind whatever mask you’re wearing. The mask is now the face you’re showing the world.

So why not wear the most beautiful face covering possible?

Your face mask is an accessory. Just because your face is covered doesn’t mean you can’t dress yourself up and wear something gorgeous as you greet the world.

You deserve it.

If you’d love to own one of the Jewels of the Pandemic masks, drop a comment below or get in touch as soon as possible. I’m happy to reserve your favorite color for you.

(** Remember, please, the Jewels of the Pandemic masks are for personal use only and are not medical grade.)

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!

Full Reveal – New Work: (Feeling) Connected

It’s time to pull back the curtain for the full reveal of (Feeling) Connected! I finished this piece and it’s ready to share. I hope you enjoy it!

Please keep going to read about the inspiration behind this piece and more. If you’re rather watch and listen, jump to the video at the end.

Connected: art quilt, textured fiber painting
(c) 2020, Hilary Clark, “Connected”, Fiber, 34-1/4″ x 23-1/4″, $2500
Image credit: Hilary Clark

The inspiration…

As always with my Feelings series, most of my inspiration comes from my empathetic nature. This holds true for Connected as well.

When we first moved to Florida in late March, I knew there were two pieces I wanted to make. The first was Isolated, which I completed in May. The second is this piece – Connected. I couldn’t make one without making the other. The two pieces mirror each other and each includes squares as design elements, but there the similarity ends.

Using the slider, you can see a side by side comparison of Connected and Isolated, shown to demonstrate the mirror imaging in overall shape and the contrast in design
Image credit: Hilary Clark

While Isolated was inspired by a cross-country move in the middle of a pandemic, Connected was inspired by its polarity to isolation. Even before the rising tide of the Black Lives Matter movement in the wake of George Floyd’s murder, I knew I’d make Connected. I had to. It represents the connection we all have to each other, black or white, due to the irrefutable fact of our humanness.

I feel this connection, constantly. I sometimes see it, as strands of sparkling light, connecting me to everyone and everything, ala the Matrix. That doesn’t mean I don’t have loads to learn; it just means I feel the connection and so I choose to do what strengthens it, rather than what weakens it.

My color choices…

For Connected, I chose the canvas palette colors of black and white because, in my mind, connection is that straight-forward. There’s no grey to the connection that exists between all of humanity.

The black and white squares represent individuals, houses, neighborhoods, countries. Some are mostly black, some are mostly white (and of course some are mostly brown – I just don’t possess any brown fabric and that fabric choice didn’t play well with the contrast I was trying to achieve).

The connecting design elements – the waves of varying colors – represent the rainbow of uniqueness and individuality that exists for all of us. We are at once completely different from each other and yet remarkably the same, with flesh and blood and bone.

What this piece symbolizes…

Each square is linked to the others through the colored wave elements, a network of connection that can’t be broken, no matter how hard we might try.

The connection is ultimately a spiritual one, regardless of the form your belief system takes. We are all made of magical star stuff, coming from Spirit, choosing this human experience to learn and grow and love.

(Feeling) Connected is meant to symbolize the connection of universal love. I felt that connection as I was making this piece. In your viewing of it, I hope you can feel it too.

(To read the poem that accompanies this piece, you can do so here.)

Exit through the gift shop…

Connected is available for purchase and is listed at $2500. If you’d like to own this densely stitched, fused raw edge appliqué textured fiber painting, please get in touch.

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!

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!