Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Of Trees and Leaves

"Fern Walk" was finished just in time to submit it to the Vancouver Island Surface Design exhibit, Pathways. I will hear at the beginning of April whether it's been accepted. But regardless of whether it is or not, I feel pleased with the result, which is part of my series, Field Notes from New Zealand. I do love working with indigo and bright colours, and know there will be new pieces from this series to show you during the course of this year. I've already got my ticket back to New Zealand at the beginning of October, (yay!!), and my two month stay will include a 10-day artist's residency at the New Zealand Pacific Studio. So exciting! My work there will be to continue with this series, including collecting more ferns, and using cyanotype printing  to record their details. And then incorporating them into my work.
This is a detail of "Fern Walk", and shows you some of the hand-stitching and the "rocks" that delineate the path. I tried putting real rocks I'd collected on the piece to begin with, but they just didn't look right. And there was the problem of how to attach them without covering over the rock itself. So I appliqu├ęd rocks to the background squares.
This week also saw me completing my 8 1/2" x 11" entry to the FAN exhibit, "From a Tiny Seed". When I heard the theme, it made me think about trees, and how the great trees around us here on the west coast all began their lives as a tiny seed. How incredible is that! I know I often think of trees as permanent fixtures, and it's always a shock when I hear of trees that have ended their lives. Just this week, a friend from New Brunswick told me that the giant elms that graced the Officers' Square in Fredericton have almost all come down now. I thought they'd be there forever, and that I could go back and visit them again one day. But they are growing things just like us, and some are just starting their lives, while others are getting older.
Trees are also a recurring theme in my 100 Day Challenge. I've been trying out different backgrounds  in the last couple of weeks, and now I'm longing to make something a little larger. But I must be patient and wait until the Challenge comes to a finish. I've already let myself get a little bit behind in finishing "Fern Walk" and "Blue Tree". But I'll soon catch up, and this practice on a small scale has been good for me in many ways.
One of the key things, is that I have a clearer idea where I want to head to next. I've had a number of "aha" moments, such as when I realized that I want to return to this my tree series. And that I want to use bright colours in doing so, and that I want to lean towards abstraction in depicting my trees.
I'm very happy with my most recent leaves, which have evolved since I first started making them in early January, and I have the sense that they will be included in some new work too.
Recently I've been trying out different backgrounds. And different patterns of hand stitching. I have enjoyed using perle cotton enormously, and feel pretty sure that I will continue with this too. Now I don't feel I've finished something until I've added some hand stitching.
Even what shapes are most satisfactory to me has become clearer with time. And interestingly, while windows still intrigue me, they've become less of a focus. Houses too. I think both will be playing supporting roles in what I do next. Of course all of this is open to change, but right now I think this is where I'm heading. But I can only really see far enough ahead to keep moving, and who knows what might be around the next corner. 


  1. I enjoy seeing these pieces! Excuse me for seeming to psychoanalyze, but houses/windows/trees seem to be connected. House/home/hearth seems more inward looking/sense of place/security; windows look out or in, into home or out into the world, framing a particular view; trees evolve and grow, living long, but sometimes slow/stop/wither, like us. I totally feel the human cycle of this and why it might reoccur in your work.

  2. I think you're right, Lee, that there's a connection between these. I've made several pieces now which feature both windows and trees, one of which I called "My View of the World", and it was just as you described. The trees were what I was seeing as I looked out, and have come to have so much meaning to them. Thanks for the insight.