And Then It Was All Gone

“Abstract art has helped us to experience the emotional power inherent in pure form.” -Anton Ehrenzweig

And Then It Was All Gone
encaustic and oil
20×16 inches

So, I’m on a new-ish journey in my art practice. I remember many, many months ago running into Kathleen Waterloo (one of my art she-roes) at an open studio night back in Chicago and having a discussion with her about wanting to move towards abstraction. In our brief discussion over the din of a lively open studio in the Cornelia Arts Building, she gave me good advice and feedback- that I already have it down in my paintings, but that I always add something to it that is recognizable- whether it’s a plant form, tree, bird or as of this year, a bowl. She told me that while I’m painting, to just let myself stop. Sounds easy, doesn’t it? But it’s much harder doing it, than not. I think that what it takes is experience and confidence to be able to stop. And I’m getting there.

While I still do, and will always do, my small panels inspired by my nature walks, birds, trees, sticks and stones, I am firmly on the path towards abstraction. Fueled by the flood, and the upheaval from it, there came a period where there was nothing to express how I felt- no words, no images. Nothing. I even stopped writing in my journals. And because I didn’t really have a home, much a less a studio, there was no creating of any kind. Yes,I could have sketched or written, but I just couldn’t. I was exhausted. I was kind of in that mode of just taking the next step day by day. And I was focused on my kids and helping them get through all the many changes we went through in such a short amount of time.

I’ve been exploring different ways to work through all that I experienced this past year through my artwork. So many different ways. But one that has been sticking with me are the many many pages of numerous journals and sketchbooks that had been under water for over 24 hours that ended up looking like this:


The painting above is my first completed. It really needs to be seen in person. There are so many marks under layers of wax that just don’t come through the screen. Markings that were there, but then obscured. Washed away. Wiped Away. All gone.

“I don’t even talk about abstraction and representation, because I think we’re beyond that. I think we’re at a time where everything is abstract and everything is representational. It’s more about how you find your own language with paint. It’s really just your body and its relationship to the world. Using the senses is not anti-intellectual.” -Josephine Halvorson


  1. My oh my, Bridgette. There lies redemption. I absolutely love the piece. This starting over is quite a business. I look forward to seeing how your work changes following such great loss. xo

    1. Thank you Chris.Starting over is definitely a rough go, but it’s also like giving ourselves a pass to see what we can create and do with what we have. Thank you

  2. beautiful
    esp. love the look of the waterlogged journal
    absorbing it as a whole and losing the details
    some lesson in that
    retuning again and again to a wabi sabi framework
    yes, to Josephine’s quote

  3. That quote is a gem, to be taken out and polished frequently. The road to abstraction is difficult, but ultimately liberating…I’m beginning my journey now. Your waterlogged journals are a comment on our existence…. intense in the moment, fading in the past.

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