On Letting Go

 |  September 5, 2013

…and opening up the path to possibilities. When I was first starting to really feel like I was ready to embark on my painting journey, I would give myself writing assignments to figure out what themes or issues I wanted to tackle on canvas. And one of my themes was “Loss”. I won’t go into all the gory details, but it seemed to me that I had experienced a lot of loss since I was child. To the point where I often felt scared to get attached- to expectations, to things, to people. But then strangely, the opposite would happen. I would hold on too tight and rigidly to things that I would bring into my life and even events or perceptions.

From one of my flooded journals
a page from one of my flooded journals

And of course, life is about loss and renewal. You can’t go through life without experiencing loss. It’s impossible. I’ve been listening to Carolyn Myss‘ audio when I’m in the studio about how life is about the reversal of life, meaning having your life turned inside out and upside down and what you do with it then. It’s about choice even when it seems that you had no choice in the matter.

This year, I’ve learned to instead choose the words “Letting Go” instead of just “Loss”. It’s softer, more forgiving, it’s about going forward.

I mentioned before that several artists contacted me when they found out about what happened earlier this year and gave me such encouragement through sharing their similar experience of losing much of their own property through floods, fire, or other natural disasters. Thomas Frank, a fellow FUSEDChicago member, suggested to me to think of it as a chance to start anew and to create a new work space and work from scratch. A clean slate. Paula Roland told me of the choices we make after being on the receiving end of destructive natural occurrences. Some of her work is a beautiful and sensual dialogue with those experiences.

Black Eyed Susans nearing their end in a neglected part of my garden. #flowers #blackeyedsusan #maryland #mygarden #PhotoToaster
Black Eyed Susans, letting go, cycle of life

I was thinking of all of this when I finally got some time to sit down this week with Catherine Nash’s ebook/dvd called Authentic Visual Voices: Contemporary Paper and Encaustic that she so kindly sent me to start building up my media library after the flood. I was watching David Clark’s interview and it was one of those moments where I guess it’s what they call synchronicity. What he says during the interview really resonated with me. He says in his artist statement in the ebook “Loss and destruction can be devastating, but they also have the ability to renew and transform”.

Indeed.

Authentic Visual Voices by Catherine Nash

Catherine’s book addresses how artists communicate their ideas as well as how they came to their ideas. Such wonderful insight. The video interviews were done in the artists’ studios, so it’s really such an intimate peek into the work, the space, as well as the creative well that they draw upon. I highly recommend this DVD video ebook which can be viewed on your computer if you have Adobe 7.0.

I am honored to have had one of my encaustic paintings selected for the gallery section at the end of the book. Catherine also included one of the collaborative books that I did with Hanne Matthiesen M(Other) Love in her lecture at the 7th Annual International Encaustic Conference in Provincetown, Massachusetts earlier this year in June. Her lecture focused on these questions and issues:

What do artists make their art about? What contemporary issues do artists address in their work? Gaining expertise in technique is only a first step. Our goal is to create truly innovative, authentic art that resonates with such things as our core beliefs, our curiosity or our emotional self. With the emphasis on content rather than technique, this pertinent lecture will present international artists who push the boundaries of encaustic while addressing current trends in contemporary art.

Truly honored to have been included. That collaborative book on a mother’s love/love of self was such a release for me. Often in my work, I am not even aware that I am working things out during the creative process until I am done. Working things out, pulling it all together in a way for myself to grasp. And then release. Let go. Renew.

Studio door
the door into my new studio

So grateful every time I step across this threshold and marvel at where I am today. Working on some deadlines and preparing for my upcoming Red Thread Retreat encaustic workshop (still a few spots if you want to join us!), but soon I will be back to painting. This blog will get back on track with art posts, rather than all this processing out, although the processing is so necessary for me! It feels so good to be in the studio finally. Life is settling in. It feels good to be in the studio finally. Life is settling in.

Holding on is believing that there’s only a past; letting go is knowing that there’s a future. – Daphne Rose Kingma

12 Comments

  1. by Amelia on September 6, 2013  7:30 am Reply

    sorry to hear about the loss element of life, but your work and journal pages are so evocative. This summer has been challenging for me in a totally different way and I definitely get inspiration from others honesty, sharing, encouragement and strategies through tough times.

    It seems you have many (good things) going on, and you've got me thinking. I'm intrigued too by how artists (as a fellow artist) gather and process their ideas.

    Good luck with your projects :)

    Amelia.x

    • by bridgette on September 6, 2013  9:27 am Reply

      Thanks Amelia. I hope the challenges you experienced this summer are lifting. I have always been so intrigued by artist process, studios and inspiration too. There's a great book by Joe Fig called "Inside the Artist's Studio" that I love.

      Good luck to you too!

  2. by d smith kaich jones on September 6, 2013  9:34 am Reply

    thank you for this and for all the links. baby stepping my way back into painting after many losses over the last few years (including myself for a bit) and struggling. perfect timing. :)

    • by bridgette on September 6, 2013  4:59 pm Reply

      The loss of self is the hardest, but most important to get back to. happy to hear that you finding your way back to painting- you have a gift. Let it bloom!

  3. by Hindsfeet on September 6, 2013  2:54 pm Reply

    Talk about synchronicity.....I can't *tell* you how much I needed to read this today, Bridgette.....

    *Thank You*

    • by bridgette on September 24, 2013  9:55 pm Reply

      I'm so glad Hindsfeet!

  4. by Kathie Vezzani on September 7, 2013  12:52 am Reply

    Love the Red door and doormat, Bridgette.

    • by bridgette on September 24, 2013  9:57 pm Reply

      Thanks Kathie. My sister asked how I got a doormat with a blackbird on it and I said that it was in the halloween section of the store I went to. :) I heard somewhere that red doors are for good luck. I've always loved red doors.

  5. by mary mccloskey on September 7, 2013  10:06 pm Reply

    Ah, Bridgette,
    You sound GOOD! Your new studio with the brilliant red door--the threshold into new beginnings!

    • by bridgette on September 24, 2013  9:57 pm Reply

      Mary, I am doing good! It feels good, I feel good, and everyone is getting settled in. Thank you.

  6. by Seth on September 15, 2013  11:08 pm Reply

    I just love how you reframed the word 'loss' and it became 'letting go.' Now that is positive thinking!

    • by bridgette on September 24, 2013  9:58 pm Reply

      Life is all about reframing, isn't it? We have to make it work somehow or just get defeated. Hope you are well Seth!

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