Have I Passed This Way Before?

The above image is of a piece that I did back when I was in high school - probably circa 1975. I remember I worked from a postage stamp of Tom Thomson's famous painting of a battered pine tree.

The embroidery had been sitting in my Mom's basement for the last thirty years, and when she came across it last fall gave it to me in case I might want to do something with it. It was kind of appalling and fascinating at the same time to re-encounter something I had made so long ago. It was faded, stained and the moths had been at it, but I thought I would take it off its stretcher and see if I could refurbish it. Ah, it was not to be. The rust stains not only didn't wash out, they spread. I wasn't particularly attached to the piece, so I just threw it out.

I did take a couple of badly lit  photos before it went, though, and I share them with you now as evidence that I have come full circle. Once again, I find myself working with archetypal Canadian images, and I am using wool on canvas in a painterly way.

I think that my skills have improved over the intervening thirty-seven years. I have learned a few things about design, concept and technical processes. I can't help but wonder if I wouldn't have had a more successful career if I had just stuck with textiles from the beginning, instead of roaming off in all directions.  But I have come back to the path, and hopefully the knowledge and experience I have gained in all my travels will add a depth and resonance to the work I do now.


  1. The last sentence you write in this post...I would write that out big and pin it to my studio wall.

    "the knowledge and experience I have gained in all my travels will add a depth and resonance to the work I do now."

    I really believe this is true.

    So looking forward to seeing the turtle completed.

  2. I always think of life as a kind of wonky spiral. You come around again and revisit themes but from a new (and hopefully better) position.

    Love your old stitchery piece. But the nature of textiles is that they don't last forever. I think that's nice because then you have the best excuse to make new ones! Like Judy, I'm looking forward to each animal.

  3. I do like this piece of embroidery, I like the colours and the pattern.
    It is nice to look at it and see how much your skills have developped.

  4. Anonymous3:57 AM

    Can yiu tell us what your high school art teacher thought of an embroidered assignment? Did you get support? Unless you went to an unusually broad minded high school, embroidery in the art class probably wasn't part of the regular curriculum. Jean-Pierre

  5. J.-P.- Well, I did go to high school in the 70's, a time of great liberalism. We had classes in Applied Design in textiles and ceramics as well as painting, photography and graphics. I can't remember if I did this embroidery as part of a class or on my own, but I did exhibit it at the fall fair, where it won a ribbon.

  6. Anonymous9:58 AM

    YES! The good ol' Fall Fair. Many a Canadian artist got their beginnings showing work besides the pickled beets and giant squash. I put an oil painting in the Cowichan Fall Fair when I was in junior high school once,in the mid-70's. I think I got second prize for my age category. That sort of encouragement when you are young and living far, far away from the great museums in big cities should never be underestimated.


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