Darlene Friesen: Quilt Artist and Coach
Quilting and sewing coach serving the North Okanagan in British Columbia: Classes offered in my studio or your home. I provide consultation to aid your personal projects. I also provide longarm quilting service.

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For 22 years, we have lived in beautiful Lake Country. When we first moved here, we would be driving to the beach, and rounding a corner would elicit the response, “Wow, look at that view!” Our 2 year old son would yell,

“Yook yake”, meaning “look lake.” His excitement said it all.

This month’s offering in the “Desire fulfilled is a tree of life series”, is called My Neighbourhood Strata. It is a more contemporary piece that evolved in a unique way.

My Neighbourhood Strata

I had been admiring a lot of Emily Carr’s work and loved her representation of trees. I was struck by her portrayal of movement in the trees and sky. I felt captivated by her work, and set out to recreate a similar image using fabric.

Because my work is mine, and not Emily Carr’s, I was delighted, when on one of my walks in our neighbourhood with Hobbes the dog, a rather magnificent tree caught me eye. I was excited. An Emily Carr tree just a block from my house! I could own it. It was mine! Once home, I brought out my fabric paints and started the printmaking process on fabric. At this early stage of this work, I made a pact with myself. NO more commercial fabrics, only printmade original fabrics for this series! I felt quite virtuous and smug. But, then an interesting thing happened. My work stalled, sputtered and stopped. A roadblock. Hmmmm.

From the corner of my eye, I noticed my collection of commercial landscape fabrics, overflowing in their basket.

They beckoned, they screamed, “Come play with us!” Play? Me? “ Enticed, I thought, “ What can it hurt? I’ll play for just a bit, and then get back to work.”

And so I began making pleasing combinations of colours, cutting random shapes. The curve of a landscape emerged. I really had no idea where I was going with this. I simply took the next intuitive step. Layers emerged and this piece evolved. What I had thought was going to be blue sky, revealed itself instead to be mountains. I continued to work intuitively, knowing when to start and when to stop. It was play and it was pleasing to me.

Once the strata was done, I begun working on the tree, focusing on the texture of the bark. Yarn, organza, silk and cottons conspired to create part of a tree. Roots dangled daringly from the bottom.

The machine quilting part was next, pure joy as always.

When I stopped to view the finished work, it didn’t feel finished. Even though I was tempted to add more detail to make the tree look more like a tree, my husband wisely cautioned against it.

Instead, I used a rough cut batik wood like fabric to create a rustic frame.

Then I finished my work by adding another larger quilt as another frame. While I had left the main work unchanged, here I took the liberty to machine quilt branches and leaves, hoping to give a more tree like effect to the piece. So, I did. Couldn’t’ help myself. This piece had evolved into something that I hadn’t expected.

An interesting discovery for me was to realize that the process of play had led me to where I wanted to go all along. I had the beautiful backdrop, sky with movement, mountains, movement within the strata, and I had my grand tree.

This tree of life is a tree of life for me. It surprised me and the process of creating it gave me joy.

Similarly, when we moved here 22 years ago, it was not for the beauty of the area, and yet we have been fed by its beauty since.

As we have lived our life here, busy with raising a family and work, it’s beauty has caught us from the corner of our eyes, beckoned and enticed us. It has given us joy, just like my basket of landscape fabrics. Beckoning us, it calls, “Come, play….”

Desire fulfilled is a tree of life.