Stratification is an encaustic mixed media piece by Bridgette Guerzon Mills

Bridgette Guerzon Mills | Stratification, encaustic mixed media, 8×6 inches

This piece originally was created either at the end of 2022 or the beginning of 2023 and it was part of my Portals and Pathways series. But more recently, maybe two or three weeks ago I added a piece of cloth that I had stitched red plus signs onto, oh probably two or three years ago. And my happiness meter for this piece went up exponentially. I was like, ah, yes, this is what it had been waiting for this whole year.

I share this because it’s such a great illustration for how the creative process can work. People just see a finished piece and think that it just came together, just like that, in one go. But often, it’s a long process. And maybe for me, with my mixed media pieces, I can always keep working on it. Sometimes it is absolutely done. But I am always open to what can be.

The title comes from an article I was reading this morning about seed stratification, where certain seeds, particularly perennials, need a period of cold in order to germinate later. In nature, the stratification process takes place when fallen seeds overwinter underground or beneath a layer of snow. I love that idea, that some things take time. And that some things need a period of dark and cold in order to get ready for growth. People tend to only focus on the warmth and sunny days and immediate growth, but we also need the opposite. The period of dark and cold is when we get ready, that’s when we build up the sustenance for the growth.

I used to come up with a gazillion and one goals and intentions for my art practice at the beginning of every year. This year I’m going to think about stratification. Of course, I am still getting in the studio and I have a show that I need to prepare a few pieces for, but I’m thinking of winter and rest and shoring up the reserves for down the road.

Now, if only we could actually have winter here in Maryland. We didn’t get any snow last year. Today they said we might actually get 2-4 inches this weekend! We shall see….

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