All the World Is My Home

All the World Is My Home, mixed media painting by Bridgette Guerzon Mills
Bridgette Guerzon Mills | All the World Is My Home, mixed media on canvas, 20×16 inches

I just finished this mixed media piece and normally I wait to write about it, but I want to get it down because I have a lot of thoughts in my head. I’ve been reading two books simultaneously that have to do with the natural world, one is fiction and the other non-fiction, but some might argue that it is fiction because it combines science with mysticism, in my opinion. But it speaks to me.

In the fiction book, the main character is a crow at the end of the human world. In between his escapades other animal characters emerge and the author’s take on how they all communicate was so fascinating to me. Humans were actually called Hollows because they were hollow- they were creatures who had lost their connection to the energy that all living creatures feel connected to each other and to the earth.

The nonfcition book centers around bees and how they communicate with themselves and with the world and Spirit. It’s really beautiful.

I started this piece several months ago and I had added a photo of a mockingbird that I had taken on my walk with my dog. There is a shrub that we always pass and that he takes a pit stop at, at which point there is almost always a mockingbird nearby or within the branches watching us. I loved its sweet face and wanted to make a piece starring that bird. I had added papers and paint to the printed image of the bird, but then it sat on the wall of my studio for months. The other day in my new studio space, I ended up taking a tub of black paint and painting over almost all of it, except leaving the band that ran across the middle that was made of paint and textile bits. I wasn’t sure why I went with black instead of white, but I liked it. You can see it at this stage on my IG feed.

I wasn’t sure what to do next, but I decided to draw the mockingbird on a piece of paper I tore out of an old book. It already had some marks on it that I liked. Lately I’ve been on a kick of doing a pencil drawing and then just adding one bit of color to it. I decided to do that here. The orangey blush on the chest was done with Pearlex. I have a bunch of Pearlex sampler jars that I was gifted with one when I was teaching a workshop on encaustic. People add Pearlex to their wax surfaces to add some depth…but i’ve never liked the sparkle of it for my work. So I don’t use it. But this! I liked how this worked for the bird drawing.

Added to the top of the painting is a nature gelliprint I made late last year. And I like the pop of color. I’m always trying to figure out how to add more color to my collage work as I tend towards different shades of white and brown. I added piece of fabric that I used a sharpie to add dots to. A pencil drawing of leaves on an old book page painted with white. A piece of raw canvas with a bit of blue paint. There’s a bit of found text in there as well that reads: “All the world is my home.” Very gauzy cheesecloth added to the side of the bird drawing. In the black paint, I actually wrote a few things out that a mockingbird symbolizes, but painted bits of it out so it looks like random marks or a garbled message or a hidden message. If you want to know what I wrote, message me and I’ll tell you!

When I was looking up the mockingbird symbolism and folklore, I read that in Hopi and Pueblo traditions, there is a story that the Mockingbird taught humans how to speak. This bird is all about communication and song. The interesting thing is that while they are excellent mimickers of other birds and even cats and dogs, they actually have their own beautiful song.

This poem, The Mockingbird, by Mary Oliver speaks to that:

All summer
the mockingbird
in his pearl-gray coat
and his white-windowed sings

from the hedge to the top of the pine
and begins to sing, but it’s neither
lilting nor lovely,

for he is the thief of other sound–
whistles and truck brakes and dry hinges
plus all the songs
of other birds in his neighborhood;

mimicking and elaborating,
he sings with humbor and bravado,
so I have to wait a long time
for the softer voice of his own life

to come through.  He begins
by giving up all his usual flutter
and settling down on the pine’s forelock
then looking around

as though to make sure he’s alone;
then he slaps each wing against his breast,
where his heart is,
and copying nothing, begins

easing into it
as though it was not half so easy
as rollicking,
as though his subject now

was his true self,
which of course was as dark and secret
as anyone else’s,
and it was too hard–

perhaps you understand–
to speak or to sing it
to anything or anyone
but the sky.

{ok, i decided to add here what I had written on the bottom part. I had painted a few questions: Are you speaking up? Using your voice? Are you singing your true song? Also I made a reel of this over on IG}

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