Building an Inner Resilience

 |  November 28, 2021
Encaustic mixed media painting, Building Inner Resilience, by Bridgette Guerzon Mills
Bridgette Guerzon Mills | Building an Inner Resilience, encaustic mixed media, 20×16

Lately in the studio I have been taking some of my older pieces and reworking them. There are many layers to this piece. But parts of the original painting are still there as I really liked them to begin with and didn’t want to lose them. The top right for example was created with layers of pulled encaustic prints on rice paper with additional encaustic paint and I loved that effect when I made it several years ago. Sometimes though getting too attached to a section of a painting can keep the painting from moving forward. For example, the black that is peeking out from under the stitched cloth- I loved that black square and I did not want to cover it because there was some really interesting marks on it. But not covering it up, was holding me back. I finally caved and covered it….but I did make a compromise with myself and let a small rectangle peek out at the bottom. I had to be ok with letting that square go though.

I created the stitched cloth this fall sitting on the sidelines of a field during my daughter’s field hockey practices. I used to do these small stitched pieces all the time during those awkward in between times of waiting when my kids were younger. I wasn’t sure what I was going to use it for, but a moment came in the studio when it occurred to me to add it to this piece and it just felt right.

I thought it was done and even posted it to my IG. I also brought it up to my house and hung it on the wall. And every day I would look at it and say, hmmm, something isn’t right. But I didn’t want to bring it down to my studio and mess around with it, so I ignored the nagging feeling. However, ignoring things that don’t feel right, never works out in life…. or in art. So I brought it back down and added a few things-the blocks of color on the right side and then the little bit of bright pink on the left.

So much of art making is about listening, moving things around. Being ok with being wrong and making mistakes, but able to keep. moving forward. I wish I was better at applying all these things to real life. How do I let things go in order to move forward? I have always had such a hard time with that.

I recently read an article about building resilience and it said something that I thought was important- that in order to build resilience we need recovery time. A time to heal. Resilience is built from going through difficulties and continuing on with the understanding that stuff happens and we need to adapt. But we forget that we also need recovery time, otherwise we just feel beaten down or go into shock mode. I kind of feel like the past almost two years have been about building resilience….but have we had our recovery time? Maybe some have. I think people are tired. And sadly it’s not over. More resilience building I guess!

Whenever I would leave the parking lot of my local Safeway, I would see a tiny plant growing out of a median strip. It wasn’t in the median strip, but a crack between the strip and the road. This is a very busy intersection. Through the summer I saw it grow taller until it was probably a foot tall. Then autumn came and I saw the leaves change. I marveled every time at the plant’s resilience. That was probably the very worst place that a little seed could pick to plant itself! I know that it will be cut down sooner rather than later. But I’m rooting for it in the meantime. Talk about tenacity

I learn more about God
From weeds than from roses;
Resilience springing
Through the smallest chink of hope
In the absolute of concrete….
~Phillip Pulfrey


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