Darcy Hunter is a fibre and quilt artist based in Fredericton, New Brunswick. She is unique among the artists to have been featured in this space because her paintbrush is actually a sewing machine.
Her original art landscape wall hangings are visually striking but often reflect the subtlety that can be found in nature.
She came across to me as a very genuine, kind person. We also both got distracted easily and went down a few rabbit holes that didn’t make it into the below conversation (like a lengthy chat about the Rocky mountains where I offered her travel tips if she ever travels to them).
But, enough about those rascally rabbit holes, I hope you enjoy the our chat.
[Featured Artwork: “Split Rock Trail” by Darcy Hunter.]
The following responses are lightly edited for length and clarity.
01. Rock, paper, or scissors?
Definitely scissors, I have lots of scissors.
02. What are three interesting facts about you?
A. The first thing is I do hot yoga and I do it religiously. I have some back problems and it keeps me going. It allows me to do what I want to do.
B. When I was a kid I had two favorites things to do. The first was creating — drawing and crocheting. There was an elderly lady across the street who took me under her wing because she didn’t have kids of her own. She taught me a lot of textile things. She was like another grandmother to me. And second, I loved to play teacher. When I went to university, I took science and worked in the corporate world for awhile. And then, when my kids were really little, I went to school to be a teacher. And now I’m a teacher and an artist, and I also teach my art to people. That’s my passion.
C. I’m working on two grants right now. I finished one working with kids at a school before summer. We did the unveiling in June. And the other is an Arts New Brunswick grant that I’m hopefully going to finish by the end of the summer.
03. What is the main medium you use in your art?
I work with textiles. A lot of people see my landscape work and they can’t really tell what it is until they get up close. I like to say I paint with fabric, other textiles, and thread. I use my sewing machine as my paintbrush.
04. What inspires your art?
I’m a big nature lover. I love the ocean; I love the forest. I love wandering in the woods and hiking. Every time I go for a walk I usually take my camera and snap some inspiring little moments. Most of my art — I’d say 80-90 percent of my art — is based on the photos that I’ve taken and the inspiration that came from that.
05. Are you more productive at night or in the morning?
Definitely the morning. I teach elementary part-time. If I teach during the day, I might take a couple of hours and work in the evening but I’m definitely way more productive in the morning. It’s fresh and new and exciting and inspiring.
06. What is the most unique thing about the city you live in? (Fredericton, New Brunswick)
We have a beautiful train bridge downtown that they’ve made into a walking bridge. We love to walk down there. There’s a beautiful green that you can walk along with a couple of art galleries there and you keep walking and you can walk right onto the bridge — the Bill Thorpe Walking Bridge. It crosses the Saint John River (Wolastoq) and across the bridge is the Trans Canada Trail network. It’s really beautiful.
07. Is art your career or a hobby? Something else?
I wish it was my full-time career. I’m working toward that hopefully. I usually teach 1-2 days per week and that Art Smarts grant I had earlier this year really helped out to let me do my art in the school system. I’d like to someday be doing it full time. It’s difficult. It’s hard work, but I’m getting there.
08. What kind of training do you have?
I have a Science degree. I took biology and psychology, a double major in University. I don’t know why. *laughs*
I worked at a phone company — Bell Alliant — for over 11 years. Then, I was a business representative managing projects for the McCain company. When I had my kids, I was at the point where they wanted me to transfer but my kids were really little and I didn’t want to move. That’s when I got a grant to go back to school. So, that’s when I went back to be a teacher.
09. The art is one thing, but what’s your secret to generating interest and ultimately selling your art?
Sticking with it. The more you practice, the better you get. I always tell the kids that everyone’s creative, you just have to practice. When I first started as an artist, I didn’t feel like I was a true artist, but as I practiced and became better and people kept being very positive, it pushed me on. I opened an Etsy shop and another shop in a hotel and just kept working at it; trying to figure out what people liked about my art.
A lot of people can’t afford a large piece of art, but you can make something smaller or you make a print of your art. I sell a lot of little card-sized prints.
I guess that’s the secret: Just working really hard and trying to feel your customer out but also trying to fulfill my own need for what I want to make.
10. Where did your passion for art start?
As I said, when I was little there was an elderly lady that lived across the street. I started crocheting and knitting. I used to draw a lot and dabbled in painting a bit.
We weren’t really well off when I was growing up. We didn’t have a lot of money. I loved to play Barbies but the Barbie clothes were super expensive. So, I started making and selling my own Barbie clothes. That’s where the sewing part started for me.
Also, I always love gifts that mean something. I’m very sentimental that way. So, a handmade gift to me is the best gift you could ever get. I wanted to do that for my children. Before I had my first son, I decided I wanted to make a quilt. So, that’s where it started and it just grew from there.
11. What would be the most annoying thing about having yourself as a roommate?
I’m trying to think about what annoys my husband. *laughs*
I like to keep the control of the situation. If I’m cooking something, I want to make it the way I want to make it and you just do what I ask you to do. My husband has become pretty used to that. He’s become my sous chef and if he questions me, I’d rather he just do what I say.
12. What is your go-to band or singer?
We have a yearly festival here called the Jazz and Blues Festival. It’s really popular here and we go every year. We try to listen to every band. I really love that kind of music but then I really love rock too.
Also, I love the Tragically Hip, of course, being Canadian. It depends on what mood I’m in. Sometimes I want dance music if I want to get moving. It’s just one artist or one band for me.
13. What’s something you’ve been meaning to try but just haven’t got around to?
I would’ve said pottery a couple of months ago but I actually did it.
I want to travel to Europe. I haven’t done that yet. We’ve travelled to a lot of places but every time we start planning a trip to Europe it always seems stuff comes up where we end up not going, like COVID. I think I would be really inspired seeing the old buildings and history there.
14. What household chore do you actually enjoy?
I used to hate folding laundry but now I like it because I put on my favorite show and I start folding. So I’d have to say that’s probably what I like best. I like things folded a certain way too, so that’s another problem with that control thing I was talking about earlier. *laughs*
15. What app do you use most often?
Instagram, definitely, but I have been struggling a bit with the Reels situation that has been happening more and more. I am learning how to do them but I just really liked it when Instagram was just pictures. I feel like it’s changing into something else that I don’t love as much. I absolutely refuse to go on Twitter or Tik Tok because they’re just one more thing.
16. What is one common misconception about being an artist?
That you just get to create art all day every day. There’s a lot of business behind the scenes. I sit in front of my computer quite a bit, sometimes too much. Right now, I’m working really hard to schedule a time to create. My Etsy listings, my grant applications, my exhibition applications, taking photos of my work and editing them — all that stuff takes so much time.
17. What is your favorite drink?
I have to say gin soda with lime. I also like white wine, Pinot Grigio.
18. What do you hope people get out of your art?
Because I love nature so much, I just want people to get the same feeling that I get in nature. I hope that it transfers into what I create and that it makes them happy; that it makes them feel like if they have a piece of my art in their home, they have a piece of nature in their home.