say what?

 |  July 30, 2012

“How do I know what I think until I see what I say?” ― E.M. Forster

detail from a work in progress

I have not been able to get into the studio very much this summer due to preparing for teaching and just general summer busy-ness. But when I am able to get in, I am so geared up in anticipation. Lately I have been really pushing myself to work larger, to work more abstractly. Still fighting off that need I have to add a recognizable image in terms of a transfer or collaged bit. I still like to use tansfers in my work….but I just have been having this itch to work more abstractly since early this year. I’ve mentioned this struggle a few times in this here blog.

My work is so very much based in the personal, and the images that I have used in the past for my transfers and collage have become rich symbols for me to draw upon. They help me get my meaning across to myself while I am in the process of creating. But now with this move towards paintings that have less reliance on that…puts me on uncertain ground.

How do I get my meaning across?

And I don’t mean to the audience. That’s a whole separate issue and not one that I actually think about too much when I am working. People are going to look at my paintings and come to there own conclusions and read their own meanings into it. That is how it is supposed to be. What I mean is, how do I get my meaning across to myself, which is my most pressing concern when I am working. It’s all about me! ha!

The interesting thing though is that I am learning that it really is about listening to my gut, pushing forward and trying things out. The ground may be uncertain, but it is actually exciting for me. Sometimes I just need to shake things up a bit and just see where it takes me. And I’m learning that abstract concepts are based on the concrete. For me it’s always about that elusive chase between questions and answers, the internal dialogue.

The E.M. Forster quote at the top of this blog post sums up so much of how I process things personally. I have found through the years that through my creative process I do find resolution that I would not have been able to otherwise. Visual communication, getting my hands involved in a physical way opens doors that otherwise may have stayed closed. I am grateful for this discovery. Right now I’m just learning that all that is still there, it’s just taking me deeper.


an exercise I did recently in my journal to loosen up


I just finished reading a really great book Shaping Destiny written by the sculptor, Destiny Allison. It was recommened to me by a very dear friend, Karon Leigh who stopped by for an impromptu visit on her way through Chicago. There are so many tidbits that I underlined in this book. Here is one:

“I had instructed my students to be open to their work and embrace the fact that they couldn’t know how a piece was going to turnout because sculpture was a process of questions, of trial and error, and, in the end, revelation. I told them that if I knew what I wanted in a piece, I would build a table, not create a sculpture. The process of self-examination is about asking questions, not getting to a predetermined answer. My life and art coexisted because art was the language through which I could question my life.”


  1. by Crystal on July 31, 2012  4:21 pm Reply

    Such an insightful post Bridgette. I find myself asking these questions as well, lately I've been struggling with the desire to add imagery in my work in some form but am still processing what that might look like for me without going all the way back to my party hats and butterfly wings days! lol! I can really relate to both of these quotes you included. Thanks for the musings that help me to process my own questions.

    • by bridgette on July 31, 2012  4:25 pm Reply

      Thanks Crystal for sharing your thoughts on this. I know that we have both going through a similar process, although to me it seems like you have resolved all that! You should check out the book I mentioned, I think you might like parts of it. You can borrow, next time I see you, which I hope is not too far in the distant future!

    • by bridgette on July 31, 2012  11:01 pm Reply

      yep! Your last blog post has me on the edge of my seat Angela...can't wait to hear what is going on in your world. Wish we could meet for coffee and just chat!

  2. by Carol on August 1, 2012  12:37 am Reply

    A beautiful post and so much to think about.

  3. by Jann Gougeon on August 1, 2012  11:13 am Reply

    Hi Bridgette . . for me, I've discovered that unless I put down what "wants" to be there (from my gut), I struggle to try to "figure out" what I "should" do. Best wishes in moving forward!

    • by bridgette on August 1, 2012  12:21 pm Reply

      hmmm, that's interesting Jann. I'm going to ponder what you wrote for a bit. Thanks!

  4. by Destiny Allison on August 18, 2012  3:38 pm Reply

    Hi Bridgette,

    I stumbled on your blog by accident and was honored that you quoted from my book. I love what you have to say and love how you express the fundamental struggle of the artist. I wish you luck in your abstract pursuits and look forward to seeing where you go with them. Thanks again for the nod to Shaping Destiny!

    If you get a chance, take a look at my blog at I am featuring different women artists through a series of questions and would love to have you participate. All the best!

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