The writing itself is no big deal. The editing, and even more than that, the self-doubt, is excruciatingly impossible. -Jonathan Safran Foer

encaustic mixed media
on two stacked wood panels
24×24 inches

At last, at last, this painting is done! This was the painting that I’ve mentioned several times in my posts that caused me lots of staring and sighing and questioning. As I mentioned previously I try not to let these stumbling blocks get to me or stop me in my tracks. They are always a good sign actually. It means that I’m pushing myself into unknown terrain, doing something that I don’t know what the resolution will be. I’m lost for a bit, wandering, searching, making wrong turns. But it can really do a number on one’s self-confidence! And when it comes to painting, you have to have that trust in your ability to come through. However long that takes.

When I first got my driver’s license when I was 16 I was terrified of going anywhere that wasn’t in my immediate vicinity. My dad, ever the pragmatist, told me that it was essential that I get out there and get lost. He said in his deep and measured voice, “Bridgette, once you get lost in an area, you will never do it again because you become hyper-aware of your surroundings. You’ll notice everything and learn the streets. You always learn by making mistakes”. He also put an atlas and maps in my car, of course as that we pre-cellphone days. He didn’t want his youngest daughter to be totally lost and helpless!

It’s funny now that I write that out because it reminded me that when I teach, I always stress that there are no mistakes, just learning opportunities. Accidents can be gifts as that is how we learn. Do you hear that Dad? I was listening to you!!

Anyway, at the beginning of August, I was stuck on this big time. Fortunately I was on my way to Emily Rutledge’s studio for lunch and I decided to bring along the two paintings that I was working on just to get some feedback. My original plan had been to attach the panels, but one above the other, so that it would measure 36×24 inches. But it just didn’t seem to flow right. When I brought the paintings up to her studio, I had stacked them on top of each other to carry them up the stairs. And I leaned them up against the wall of her studio while we talked.

When I asked her to take a look at my work, I separated the paintings and she took a look at them and said, “I thought that when you carried them in here, that they were attached like they were stacked on top of each other and I thought that was interesting.”

photo taken from an angle

It was funny that she said that because when I was carrying the paintings from my car to her studio, I had looked down at the stacked paintings and thought, “hmmm, that’s interesting…” And when someone echoes a thought that runs across your mind, you just have to take heed.

So fast forward a few weeks and a couple of hours here and there and then one night of staying up way past my bedtime during those weeks and the painting is done. And attached. And I am happy.


Sometimes it’s good to let another pair of eyes see something that you may have missed, or perhaps saw but may not have had the courage to attempt on your own.

I am also really happy because I just found out that this painting was selected for a show called “Tactile Encounters: The Influence and Appearance of Textures” at the Kemper Gallery in Galvin Library at the Illinois Institute of Technology along with two other paintings. The jurors were especially interested in textures and layers that lend a real or perceived depth to the work. They were also looking at how layers and textures infuse meaning into the work. So, that’s exciting news. I will post more about that exhibit closer to the date.

And as for the title, well, sometimes there are situations, people, circumstances in life that are just negative. You know what I mean. We all have those experiences. A lot of my bowl paintings are actually about filtering the negativity out. Detoxing my emotional environment. My bowls are very peaceful…but they seem to be acting as my filtering system. I am so very grateful for the process! Whatever it takes, right?


  1. I love these pieces and the quote you opened the post with sums up so much of where I am at these days. Your words echo so much of what we all know about risking putting work out into the world. Congrats on your exhibit news.

  2. Stunning! Both the piece and your words. I agree with Annie…you’ve summed up all our feelings so well. Congratulations on the exhibit!

    By the way, I’ve been meaning to ask…how do you feel/what do you think of encaustic over fiber? I keep seeing [in my creative mind] pieces of my rusty cottons with encaustic covering them. Just thought I’d ask.

    1. I do so love your work and I love the thought process as well. it is always interesting to me to see and hear those things about the work. I see you have a link to Tubac Center for the Arts on your site. I love Tubac and try to go every year when we are out in AZ.

    1. Thanks Michael. It was an interesting connection to make- my dad and were always at odds at that time in my life as most teens are. But I was listening behind that stubbornness!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Search Icon Site Search Close Site Search
0 results
Text Newsletter