Interview with Bridgette Guerzon Mills
May 22nd, 2009
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: 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: 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: 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: 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."
"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