Dream Totem

Dream Totem
mixed media and encaustic
12×16 inches

Last fall I took an Intuitive Painting class taught by Melanie Brown at Lill Street Art Center. I posted some of the paintings I made during that class here. I changed the title of this piece when I finished it this past Sunday.

Originally this painting came to be during a loosening up exercise on the first night of class in which we did an Exquisite Corpse round robin. We folded up a piece of paper into thirds. I drew the head, then folded it over so it couldn’t be seen. Melanie did the torso, then folded it, and passed it on. Another woman in the class finished the legs. We had to use ink with brush, ink with a stick, and charcoal-switching it up on each turn. Everyone’s results varied from hysterical to incredibly imaginative. But we didn’t stop there. Melanie had us cut up our Exquisite Corpses and then create a separate collage on another substrate, using the exercise drawings, plus paint and miscellaneous papers that were in a scrap bin.

While I was working, I felt a shift within. Really, I did! I remember during the critique I talked about that. I was really excited because the purpose of taking this class was not just to get out of the house after chasing a toddler all week, but also to tap into my personal symbols in a deeper way. And I felt something click that night.

I brought it home and I knew it wasn’t finished yet. It may have taken me 6 months to return to it and finish it, but now it’s done and I am happy to have this painting hanging in my studio. To remind me of that feeling of excitement, of discovery.

I finished this piece with encaustics and oil paint.

This detail below is one of the reasons why I love encaustics so very much:


Lately I have been turning to my ceramic tools- such as my pin tool- to draw into the wax. Scribble, doodle, write words, make my mark. And then I fill it with oil paint and wipe away.

Here is another detail of the second bird in the torso:



Thank you all for all your supportive comments left to me on my previous post about my encaustic barbie. I really appreciate it! I had a blast creating her and am thinking about returning to my ceramic roots, but adding the encaustic element….ah, if only I had more time!


  1. The texture and details that you can catch in the layers is incredible!! I have just gone into my local art shop for the third time to look at getting encaustic art supplies and have been talked out of doing it again! I really don’t know enough about it yet to argue with them. Must find some books, can’t find anything at the moment!

  2. Your last mention of time reminds me of a favorite lyric from a David Byrne tune…”time isn’t holding us, time isn’t after us”. Now to make that true 🙂

    This intuitive reworked piece is makingmy mouth water as I look at those luscious details. happy you.

  3. hi bridgette,
    i loved this piece when i saw it in your studio…it truly is magical and i love where encaustics took it. congrats on the house (i hope all goes smoothly for us both…).

    ** it’s funny you mentioned ceramics i’m selling my automatic kiln and slab roller if your interested???

  4. I love this painting, the combination of primitive and sophisticated and it’s clear roots in your deepest self. Congrats. If I were the artist I would call it done.

  5. What a great exercise and fun way to create an image in a a community/collaborative way! And the resulting image is fantastic. I love the title, too 🙂
    Those detail shots are simply divine. I would love them as large abstracts in themselves. I need to explore encaustics – you’ve totally inspired me. I took a class a couple years ago that was less than satisfying, and I know I’d have to practice for a very long time before getting to a point of competence, but dang these textures and surfaces are too gorgeous!

  6. Wow. Did you get inside my head??? I’ve had something like this in my head for a few weeks. Been thinking about making a large linoleum block of it to print on t shirts for my son!
    Your images are always so easy to connect with. There is so much going on in each piece that you do.

  7. Wow, Bridgette, amazing finish to this piece !! It is fantastic, you must be so pleased. Love the detail shot – absolutely what makes encaustic so captivating.

  8. Ooh, I just found you and I love this painting,..It’s wonderful. I want to crawl into it. Maybe I have to look into Encaustic and get waxing too!I’m going to have to follow you. Thanks for the eye feast! doris

  9. I REALLY like this painting and am now very intrigued with encaustics. What a beautiful effect. There is so much spontaneity within so much depth. I’m amazed. I wish I could see it in person.

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