How The Sun Caressed the Mountains

How the Sun Caressed the Mountains, oil on canvas by Bridgette Guerzon Mills

Bridgette Guerzon Mills | How the Sun Caressed the Mountains, oil, 24×24 inches

I actually finished this painting the first week of January and was my very first painting of 2024. I had started it several months ago and had to leave it on my easel for a few months while I worked on my November shows. I was anxious to finish it and so even though I needed to work on some encaustic paintings for the recent series I have posted about here and there, I just made some time to work on it.

This morning I was reading an essay by Laura Sewall called “New Words, Lost Words, and Terms of Endearment” and how our language (English) already lacked ways to express our relationship to the natural world, but now it’s losing what we had. She writes: “But according to ecopsychologist Robert Greenway and a host of like-minded thinkers, our linguistic baseline has long lacked an adequate language to account for the true texture of our lived relationships with all things natural. Either way-by virtue of a long decline in a language rich with natural reference, or as a result of recent losses in basic biological terms-the fundamental cost of an impoverished lexicon is a form of collective forgetting. It’s altogether (and all together) forgetting that we have forgotten the value of deepened experience with non-human others, essentially relegating wild and natural experiences to romanticism or oblivion- a form of collective cognitive loss.” (p 90 in Nature, Love, Medicine: essays on wildness and wellness edited by Thomas Lowe Fleischner)

She mentions how the Inuit have dozens of words for snow. There is also the Japanese word “shinrin-yoku” which translates to forest bathing. I just found this one in my online search: another Japanese word, “komorebi” which translates to ‘The sunlight that filters through the leaves of the trees.” You read those words and you know exactly what that means. This word brings me back to my painting I posted above.

I took the photo that this painting is based on while we were driving to a cabin by Mount Rainier in Washington. While we were driving through the mountains, the sun was setting and the light- the light!!!! I was just in awe of that beautiful, warm, golden light that was streaming across and around the mountain peaks and dipping into the valleys and anywhere the rays could find a passageway. Is there a word for that in any language? Maybe. But I don’t know it. So I paint it in my way. Or try to.

Her essay was interesting and made me think about how we relate to the world around us. Language shapes our perceptions of our world. She worries that as we lose our words for the natural world and specifically how we relate to it, we will continue on our path of forgetting, which of course leads to inaction to right the environmental wrongs happening right now. When I first posted the image of this painting over on Instagram when I finished the painting I had to write a paragraph, like the one above, about the light that was filtering around the mountain because I didn’t have a word for it. Maybe there’s a word for it and I just don’t know it. Maybe there was one once. Maybe there is one now in another language.

All I know is that I experienced that moment and it moved me. And I am fortunate to have the obsession of trying to paint what I experience.

I might possible paint another 24×24 that continues that landscape. I had cropped it for the painting, but I’m thinking I was to make it a diptych. Hmmmm.

Leave a Comment

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

Search Icon Site Search Close Site Search
0 results