Interview with Bridgette Guerzon Mills

May 22nd, 2009

bgm innate

I'm so thrilled to be sharing an interview with artist, Bridgette Guerzon Mills. I absolutely love her creations! Her work fits so well with the Creative Every Day Challenge theme of nature this month. I know you'll be inspired by Bridgette's gorgeous art, the ways she connects with nature, and how that comes through in her work. Enjoy!

LPK: Please tell us a bit about yourself.

BGM: I am a self-taught mixed-media artist living in Chicago, Illinois with my husband, our 2-year-old son, and our dog.  I incorporate a variety of materials into my artwork, including photographs, oil paint, acrylic paint, and encaustics (wax-based pigments). I have always been drawn to the beauty and spirit of the natural world.  Through both imagery and medium, I create organic pieces that speak to the cycles of life, memory, and the passage of time. I layer paint and photo transfers, papers or fibers to create depth in both form and meaning.

LPK: How does nature inspire your artwork?

bgm where memory resides
where memory resides

BGM: I think nature has a strong hold on my psyche. I grew up roaming around outside, climbing trees and playing in mud. The imagery in my paintings always include something of the natural world - a tree, a plant, a bird.  The patterns and backgrounds that  I create are attempts to mimic nature's effect on surfaces through the passage of time and the elements. 

On a conscious level, I am always looking for and searching out the details of what is around me.  I think of myself as a sponge, absorbing the colors, surfaces, and emotions of what is around me - even when I am not aware of it. For example, when I lived in the Pacific Northwest my palette was very moody with different tones of grays and blues, reflecting the clouds and the water around me.  I have recently moved to Chicago and my palette has shifted to more earthy tones that include the rust and patina of the urban cityscape of my new environment.

LPK: I've noticed that like me, you seem to be drawn to trees and birds.  Can you tell me what these elements mean to you?

bgm origins

BGM: Ever since I was young, trees were my playmates, my sanctuary.  If my mom couldn't find me in the house, she would send my sisters to look for me in the branches of an ancient Magnolia tree!  As such, it is only natural that trees appear in my artwork.  Trees symbolize growth, life, roots and strength. 

It is interesting, though, that most of my trees are bare winter trees.  I think that I am attracted to bare trees because a bare tree is the essence of a tree pared down. To me, a bare tree represents the idea of strength being found in the bare bones. Trees have the ability to withstand anything that life and nature throw at them.  A tree often works metaphorically as a self-portrait in my work.

Birds are creatures of both earth and sky. Because of this, they often represent to me the go-between of the two realms.  Crows in particular appear in my work when I am speaking of dreams and/or visions.

LPK: Do you have any special places you go to gather inspiration?

bgm beneath the prairie
beneath the prairie

BGM: Anywhere!  Inspiration is about keeping your heart and eyes open to the beauty and the messages that surround us.  As a mother of a very active 2-year-old I am no longer in the studio full time as I used to be.  It is challenging because I do believe that inspiration is not something that appears out of nowhere, but rather in coming to work at your table or easel everyday.

However, I have found that in the moments between, I am constantly gathering information, experiences, inspiration from my everyday life.  I always try to have my camera with me at all times. When I do get concentrated studio time, it is like an eruption!

LPK: Are there any natural symbols that are especially powerful to you  right now?

BGM: Right now I am working on a series about prairie life and plants.  Working on this series has been instrumental in helping me adjust to my new home in the Midwest.  My work with this series has helped with both accepting where I am and embracing what is around me.

LPK: You create gorgeous journals for sale at amanobooks. What role does journaling play in your creative process?

bgm heartland

BGM: Journaling plays a huge role in my creative process.  When I first began to paint, I dedicated myself to journaling about each painting that I created, as well as studio notes for myself so I wouldn't forget the painting lessons I was giving myself! 

Little did I know when I started that process that I was essentially creating a dialogue with myself - putting words to what I was doing on canvas.  This dialogue helped me figure out my symbols and what I was trying to say with my paintings.  I believe that the process of journaling empowers my work and helps me hone in on my objectives.

LPK: Do you have a favorite quote you'd like to share?

BGM: I love quotes!  Here are some favorites:
"Art is not living. It is a use of living. The artist has the ability to take that living and use it in a certain way, and produce art."
~Audre Lorde

"The artist is a receptacle for emotions that come from all over the place; from the sky, from the earth, from a scrap of paper, from a passing shape, from a spider's web." ~Pablo Picasso

"We are cups, constantly and quietly being filled. The trick is knowing how to tip ourselves over and let the Beautiful Stuff out." ~Ray Bradbury

Thank you, Bridgette, for all the inspiration! If you'd like to see more of Bridgette's work visit her at her blog, art website, or her art journal shop, amanobooks.

14 Responses

Lovely interview and great art, so dreamy…

Ooo one of my very favourite artists!

Great interview LPK and wonderful answers BGM.

Great interview. Loved the art also. Thanks for sharing this.

Looking at Brigitte’s art is so calming. The green piece at the top of this post reminded me of an article I found (and then blogged about) about the affects a walk in nature has on our attention. Supposedly we can be more focused even after looking at a picture of a natural setting. I wonder if the same is true for gorgeous artwork. It feels like it to me…

Bridgette is one of my absolute favorite artists. She has inspired me more than she’ll ever know.

Great interview!!!


This is beautiful. “Origins” really speaks to me about reaching up and sinking down at the same time. It reminds me of a grounding exercise taught by Starhawk in her book, The Spiral Dance. I would love to know more about Bridgette’s journaling process!

My wish has been granted. I just found Bridgette’s blog! Thank you.

Great interview. I love what Bridgette said about trying to imitate nature’s effect on surfaces for texture. The painting “Innate” looks like stones in a riverbed.

happy to be introduced to this (new to me) artist! Thanks! Love the quotes.

Thank you Bridgette! What a fabulous interview. Resonance abounds!

I love Bridgette’s art, she is so amazing! Great interview, thanks Leah!

” . . . inspiration is not something that appears out of nowhere, but rather in coming to work at your table or easel everyday.” This quote from Bridgette jumped out at me. She gathers everything inside herself, but none of that gets to be seen without the coming to work every day. She is an amazing artist, growing constantly, working constantly, and makes me feel a tad ashamed for blaming my not-being-able-to-do-it-ness, my agonizing, on my muses’s absence, instead of just doing it, doing it, doing it, and tossing that which doesn’t work, and holding close with great joy that which does. I am listening, Bridgette. Thank you. And thank you, Leah, for this interview.

Thanks for this interview. Bridgette’s blog is a treasure I happened upon just a few months ago & now I am a follower. I love her use of color & imagery. These insights into her work are very helpful & interesting.

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