Being Is

Bridgette Guerzon Mills | Being Is, encaustic mixed media, 7×5 inches

“What I am I am and say not. Being is the great explainer.” – Henry David Thoreau

I just love that quote. I guess I could just quote that and say nothing else, but I’m here to write a bit.

It’s been a while since I have written. After my show opening at Adkins Arboretum, I had to prepare for a workshop at Manor Mill. And then after that I had to catch up on everything that got put on hold. I had a hard time getting back into the studio. I just felt blah. And bleh. But honestly I was tired. I felt tapped out. I needed to send some small works to a local gallery and to the one in North Carolina, and so I was looking at my spreadsheets of inventory to see what was available and I saw that I had created around 40 new works just this year and it dawned on me- ah, yes, that’s why I feel kind of emptied out. I felt better after I made that connection and let myself have a breather.

But I did need to get back to making and so after my encaustic mixed media workshop I taught, I took a few of the demo pieces that I started and decided to try to see if I could finish them. For this piece I was demonstrating the translucent quality of encaustic medium and how you can use that with layering images atop something else, in this case it was a vintage letter. The image of the bird is from an old photograph I took when I was in high school camping on Assateague Island in Maryland. I love this photo and I remember the moment I captured that bird so well. Now that I think of it, this might have been my very first bird photo! How funny. I took the photo on film, as this was probably 1993 or 1994. In preparation for the workshop I had printed the image onto rice paper. I wanted to show the people in my class how nicely rice paper and wax play together.

Back in my studio, I kept layering encaustic medium and some glazing with pigment sticks/oil paint. I stitched onto some fabric and added two different fabric pieces on the bottom. And of course a red thread.

When I gave my artist talk at the Adkins opening, I talked about how thread often appears in my work as a metaphor of how we are connected. Both Caitlin Gill and I talked about how thread and stitching references back to the feminine realm of domestic work and craft. After the talk, I kicked myself for leaving this part out too- that when I do stitching, I am often thinking of mending and for me, mending is an act of mindful caring. I remember the first time I mended a hole in the knee of my son’s pants when he was just a crawler. And the slow stitching of repairing his pants was a quiet act of love. It’s the opposite of our throwaway culture. What we love, we take care of, we pay attention to, we mend.

How I wish I remembered to say that, ha! It’s hard to remember everything when I am speaking extemporaneously. I do my best. I am a better writer than speaker. Good thing I have this blog though to say what I forgot to say. Next time! Writing this down here helps the words cement themselves to my brain. Because sometimes, you have to explain your art even though at times it would be nice to just be.

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