Towards the Heart

Bridgette Guerzon Mills | Towards the Heart, encaustic mixed media, 5×11

How surely gravity’s law,
strong as an ocean current,
takes hold of even the smallest thing
and pulls it toward the heart of the world.

Each thing-
each stone, blossom, child –
is held in place.

Only we, in our arrogance,
push out beyond what we belong to
for some empty freedom.

If we surrendered
to earth’s intelligence
we could rise up rooted, like trees.

Instead we entangle ourselves
in knots of our own making
and struggle, lonely and confused.

So, like children, we begin again
to learn from the things,
because they are in God’s heart;
they have never left him.

This is what the things teach us:
to fall,
patiently to trust our heaviness.
Even a bird has to do that
before he can fly.

~ Rainer Maria Rilke, Rilke’s Book of Hours: Love Poems to God


I made this piece a few weeks ago but I still want to build a frame for it, so it’s not quite finished yet. I am working on a series of encaustic mixed media pieces of birds in flight to send to Cappaert Contemporary Gallery for the 2021 season. I’ve really been enjoying working on this series. At our new house we finally have the front porch that I’ve always wanted and in the mornings if it’s not too cold I like to sit out there with a blanket and coffee and watch all the birds that visit the three big trees that live in our front yard. I find it comforting. I could watch for hours. But the mornings are the busiest.

I have to share a crazy social media story about this piece. I post my paintings as I make them over on IG, so I posted this there on March 19th. And within 24 hours this piece got almost 800 likes. !! For people with huge followings that is a drop in the bucket, but for me, that was pretty insane. I figured out that someone who has thousands of followers, shared the image to his Instagram stories.

While it feels nice to see those likes rolling in- wow, they like it, they really like it!- it’s also gives that reality check that it’s all about algorithms. The more interaction an image gets, the more the platform will share it and more people will see it, then more people interact with it, etc. etc. It’s a crazy cycle that often doesn’t make sense. We’ve all seen things that get hundreds of likes and we’re left scratching our heads , like, really? Or vice versa where a painting that shows tremendous skill and dedication barely gets any attention. Or I’ve also seen with my own work that I get more engagement on Instagram than on Facebook and I don’t know why. Is it because Instagram actually has more more people who are visual people and are there for the art or that on FB that people want to see pictures of cats and dogs? I have no idea. You just can’t take it personally. I have seen people get so caught up and worried about the likes, and have it stop them. It’s a very vulnerable thing, this putting of our work online. It’s pretty much inviting our Inner Critic voice to broadcast itself to the world.

I’ve been sharing my work on the internet since 2001 (holy cow, that’s 20 years) and I’ve been through it all, so I’ve pretty much developed a thick skin in regards to how people interact with my work online. Always, I create for myself. And then I offer it to the world, whether that’s by sharing online or sending it to a gallery. Of course, it’s nice to get that response from the internets, but does it change the way I felt about this piece when I was making it or when it was done? No. I already felt very connected to this piece, regardless. Am I glad that the guy kindly and generously shared my piece to his audience? Yes, of course! We share what we make to touch the world and hopefully to find people who love art and collect it and bring it into their corner of the world. And when people share the work of other artists and “like” them, it helps in that aim.

Anyway, I’m not sure if I’m articulating what I’m trying to articulate. I listen to a lot of podcasts about art brands, followings, marketing, SEO, various social media platforms and how to “leverage”, blah, blah, blah and I get it because for some of us who are trying to make a living of it, we are also running a business, but it all makes me want to run into the hills. I guess what I want to share is, that algorithms are just that, a program of calculations, and not to place the value of one’s work on social media. It’s hard, I know, in this weird virtual world we find ourselves in.

Take heart, and trust, and know that falling is always part of the process, but so is catching that wind and letting it carry you.


  1. What a wonderful piece that adds solace to our eyes and souls
    You articulated your point of view, ie perspective very well
    It is an honest and treasured perspective for artists as well as for those who collect from others, hopefully furthering their own

  2. Thank you for your insight… it is hard to not feel driven by the business end of making and selling art but if you share your gift, your vision, your thoughts, your feelings… then I am positive you will find your audience…. to thine own self be true! ❤️

    1. It is really hard and mind numbing with all these “experts” telling us what we’re supposed to do. bleh.

  3. Gorgeous piece. And what you say about social media is so spot on. It’s weirdly inconsistent. Sometimes I’ll see posts on both platforms and other times it will only show up one one. Sometimes I see the exact same posts day after day. I prefer IG for the visuals. FB is kind of boring except when real posts like yours show up.

    1. Thanks Tina, yeah, it is really inconsistent and we go by the whims of the algorithm. It’s like a twisted high level of a popularity contest. I always think of the Dark Mirror episode of where everyone’s life is determined by the likes they get. scary! 😀

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