Encaustic mixed media piece, Resilience by Bridgette Guerzon Mills
Bridgette Guerzon Mills | Resilience, encaustic mixed media, 14×10 inches, sold

“Nature, with its fragile yet resilient magnificence, models for us what aliveness means and reminds us that we are mortal.” ~ Maria Popova

A few years ago when I was taking my Maryland Master Naturalist classes we took a hike through a wooded area that was undergoing rehabilitation. There were huge gaps between the trees where normally you would see the layered tree tops and branches fanning out and towards each other. That day the trees stood strangely distant from each other. But they were the survivors of the blight that had hit that area. Standing strong and ready to be the canopy for the fledging trees that were already coming up. I remembered taking comfort in thinking that in a few years the gaps would be filled. This is my first encaustic mixed media piece of 2021. And it seems appropriate to title it resilience. We’ve had a tough lessons in resilience this past year. And the first two weeks of this year seems to be continuing in the same theme!

Developing resilience entails a loss, a trauma and/or a significant stressor that causes one to have to adapt, but in a way that also brings about personal growth as well as new tools to help one rebuild and carry on. I read an article about the strategies to help one develop resilience and they have to do with —connection, wellness, healthy thinking, and meaning. There are so many ways to think about these strategies and relate back to our daily lives, especially right now. I really encourage anyone having a tough time right now to read that article and go through the list and how it could relate back to yourself at this crazy time we find ourselves in. But because this blog is my art journal, I started to think about art making and resilience and thought I’d share my initial thoughts.

connection: finding a supportive art community with other creatives is so helpful, even if your community is one artist friend or if it’s online. I have found though that actually having in person (or facetime) conversations with another creative person is so very helpful, insightful, and generally uplifting.

wellness: for me, art making is part of my wellness. It truly is a way for me to process the world, take the dissonant parts and mend it and turn it into something else. The process of creating is a process in creating hope. Journaling is also part of my wellness and I am happy to report that I have journaled or blogged everyday since my birthday in December.

healthy thinking: hmm, I guess this one comes in when our work isn’t selling or upon receiving rejection from a gallery or exhibition, or if you’ve hit a creative block. It’s important to remember that there’s an ebb and flow, that our work isn’t for every show or for everyone, but there is someone out there that your work will speak to. Artists really do need to be resilient- in our work, ie to keep on going when it seems nothing is going right; and then also once the work goes out into the world- critics and rejection is part of the reality of putting one’s work out into the world. This isn’t for the faint of heart, that’s for sure. But we create because we must and we put it out in the world so that our voice can be heard/seen/felt.

meaning: this past year with the seriousness of the pandemic, I often had thoughts of – what is the point of making art at this time? But there is a point. Being creative is part of being human- it can bring us back to our emotions and it does have a way of helping others. Many years ago, Judy Wise advised me to make an artist mission statement every year as it can help guide us in our thoughts and actions. I have followed her advice through the years, but I’m still thinking on that right now for this year. Right now I’m actually just glad that I have been able to get into the studio!

Sometimes resilience is just about showing up.

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