Bridgette Guerdon Mills, an award winning mixed media artist and book artist. Her artwork incorporates a variety of materials including photography, oil paint, acrylic paint and encaustic. Bridgette is drawn to the inherent beauty and spirit of the natural world and her artwork is a “personal dialogue that reaches into the stillness of that spirit”. Through both imagery and medium, she creates organic pieces that speak to the cycles of life, growth and decay, memory and the passage of time.
How did you get started as an artist?
I have always been a maker and always drawn to creating whether it was in the form of paint, clay, food, or even words. As an avid journaler, I had always made my own handbound journals. When I started receiving requests for them, I began to make and sell one-of-a-kind handbound blank journals that I sold in small boutiques in Seattle and online on my website- this was before Etsy. The journal covers were original mixed media art, incorporating my photographs with paint and found elements. I did this for many years, but I really wanted to create art that could be larger and where I could explore themes that interested me. I listened to that urge and began to paint and then exhibiting my work. I still create my journals, on a commission basis, and always for myself. I primarily paint now, but I am often exploring other media.
What five words best describe your work?
Ethereal, earthy, patchwork, tactile, quiet.
Tell us a bit about your technique.
That is tough to answer easily as I work in a variety of media – I paint, but I also create book art. Both involve the use of found materials and incorporating them into my work. Found materials can either be natural materials such as sticks, leaves, paper from a hornet’s nest or man made materials such as rusted bottle caps, old paper, wire, nails, anything really! Taking natural elements or man-made, discarded elements and incorporating them into my mixed media work really excites me. Finding a new way to use that material aligns with my beliefs that so much ends up in the waste stream and in landfills.
Because I paint with encaustic, I am able to use the beeswax as an adhesive for these found elements and incorporate it with my imagery. I paint in many layers, using pigmented paint and oil glazes to create a natural and organic feel to my paintings. I also use my photographs and incorporate them as either transfers or embedded in the beeswax. My aim, through both imagery and medium is to create organic pieces that speak to the cycles of life, growth and decay, memory and the fragile beauty of the natural world.
What is a typical workday like for you?
As a mother of young children, my morning begins with getting them ready for their day. When they are off to school, I first sit at my computer and answer any pressing emails, write a blog post, or do any website updates. I try to limit my computer time to 10 am at the latest. I purposely do not have a computer in my studio. When I am in the studio (above our garage in the backyard), I need to be focused on making, so the computer stays inside the house. I then head into my studio and generally have a game plan of what needs to be addressed. I go in there and I stick to it in terms of what I am supposed to be working on- whether it’s a painting, book art, framing, or packing up. Once I begin working and my hands get busy, the plan may change and I follow that. My time in the studio ends when I have to leave to get my kids at the bus stop.
What do you listen to while your work?
I usually listen to a variety of podcasts such as Radio Lab or This American Life as I love to hear stories. Another podcast I enjoy is On Being which are interviews that speaks to the question of what it means to be human. I have found that often threads of these stories and interviews will find their way in my work.
What is your favorite thing about being an artist?
My favorite thing about being an artist is always being curious and the asking of why, what if, and why not and the excitement that builds during the creative process.