Acrylic landscape painting, Perseverance, by Bridgette Guerzon Mills
Bridgette Guerzon Mills | Perseverance, acrylic, 15×30 inches, sold

I found a little bit of time to finally present the cumulation of my studies of a day spent out by the Chesapeake Bay that I wrote about in my last post. I kind of feel like this should be seen in person. I had trouble capturing the “freshness” of it with my camera. This painting really put me through some major ups and downs and emotional upheaval. I’m sort of joking, but sort of not. First it started out fairly easily. I love painting skies and horizon lines. I did most of the sky with my palette knife.

I wanted to do this in acrylic because I have been thinking about going back to that medium. There are several reason I’ve been thinking along these lines. I don’t have to worry about ventilation. I don’t need a ton of equipment and tools. I love Golden products and all the different mediums. But. It was driving me insane. It felt so plastic. Duh. And the quick drying time was irritating me. I did use some mediums to slow that down.

When paintings don’t come easily to me, or should I say, I have difficulty getting in a flow, I get emotionally discouraged. All the inner critic voices start being super annoying and loud. But because I have been dedicated to my studio practice for so long, I knew that I just had to stick with it and keep at it. Past history proves that eventually it gets worked out.

Stylistically, I don’t want my paintings to be realistic. I really like them to look like pieced together blocks of color and shape, sort of like a quilt. But as I was painting, it felt “too patchy”. How do I give it that pieced together look but still come together as an organic living landscape?

Somehow, after many days returning to this painting over and over again, at some point it came together. I was still a bit unsure, but I did not want to work on it anymore and risk losing what I had built up. When this happens, I bring the painting to my house and I hang it so I can live with it for bit and see it everyday, and keep away the temptation to work on it some more. If while on my wall in my house, something keeps tugging at me then I know that I need to bring it back down to the studio and work on it. It’s been up now in my house for almost 2 weeks I think, and honestly every time I see it, I feel HAPPY. Like I actually feel a feeling of joy and contentment. It’s so funny. The painting that gave me so much heartache and made me doubt myself so much, now makes my heart happy.

I’m glad I didn’t listen to that inner critic voice telling me that I should toss all my art supplies out the window. ha!

I really need to remember the advice I give to my 11 year old daughter who really loves to draw right now. She gets discouraged when her drawings aren’t working out in the beginning stages and I tell her over and over, just stick with it. So many paintings go through that ugly phase and you just have to stick with it and have faith in yourself. And also, if it doesn’t work out, then it’s a lesson. And also, imperfections are where you’re going to find your style and your voice. And also, it’s all going to be ok. And also, you can also always start fresh. It is art, not a minefield.

Painting’s always a challenge. Sometimes my brush sings its wonderful song, sometimes I wade through quicksand, but always I persevere in gratitude. Julie Nilsson

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