Jolie Guillebeau

Archive for June, 2013


Wednesday, June 26th, 2013

The countdown has begun. Today marks 11 days until theWorld Domination Summit, and we’ve kicked it into high gear over here.

So for the next few weeks, I’m going to focus on some things other than the daily painting.

There’s WDS, of course. Then a bit of travel. And my students.

I still have a few birthday paintings to send out that aren’t quite dry yet, and I’m already planning the next series. Chris has some big projects in the works, and I’m going to step in to help him a little more, too.

And though I hate to be a tease, I heard some good news yesterday– but I’m not allowed to publicize it yet. Though I promise that as soon as I can tell you, I will.

Meanwhile, I’ll leave you with a shot of my encaustic palette. These are the waxes I’ll be using in the next series, and every time I heat them up, I’m excited about the possibilities there. I can’t wait to show you what I’ve been up to.



Wednesday, June 26th, 2013

There were so many incredible things about this image I discovered as I painted.

See, when I’m out on in the world, sometimes something catches my eye, and I can’t quite figure out what it is. So I’ll take a couple of quick photos and hope that whatever I see still comes through on the tiny screen once I’m back in my studio.

Most of the time, it doesn’t.

But this time makes up for dozens of failures.

For weeks lately, I’ve been watching the sky. I’ve been looking in hopes that I can see the moment that the sky gives over to the clouds. For most of the day, of course, the clouds are lighter. But for just a little while every evening, the clouds darken as the light changes.

Then later the lights of the city begin to reflect back, and the clouds become lighter again. It goes so slowly that it’s hard to see.

But it wasn’t until I sketched this painting out that I discovered I had actually caught that very moment. This isn’t just a bridge, but it’s also a crossing. For me, the light almost seems to move in the painting.

It seems like a great way to end as I think about this as the twilight of a painting series too.

I’ll be back on Monday, with a quick update, so you’ll know what happens next. Until then, have a great weekend.

photo26 (1)


Tuesday, June 25th, 2013

This is the final piece of the final painting of this series. I’ve followed eleven longer threads through eleven stories. That’s 99 paintings, which brings my total to 899 daily paintings.

I feel like the next series is a bridge of its own.

Tomorrow, the final complete painting. And then we’ll cross a new bridge together.




Tuesday, June 25th, 2013

With so many bridges in this town, choosing one for this project was a little tough. Clearly, the St. John’s Bridge is the prettiest. The Fremont Bridge defines Portland’s skyline. TheSellwood Bridge is going to be replaced soon, so perhaps I should paint it for posterity…

But ultimately, the choice was clear. The Hawthorne Bridge is the oldest. It’s the one I cross most often, whether on bike, bus or foot. The geometry makes it interesting to paint, plus I had an amazing shot of it at sunset.

I often feel attached to inanimate objects. My bike and my electric mixer both have names. I felt disloyal to Mt. Rainier when I finally acknowledged that Mt. Hood was prettier. And I feel the same way about these bridges. I can’t really name a favorite bridge, because the other bridges might get jealous, so I’ll just say that the Hawthorne Bridge is my favorite bridge to paint.



Monday, June 24th, 2013

Thanks for your kind emails yesterday. I know that Father’s Day is a hard holiday for many people and I just thought it might help to know that you’re not alone.

My love of bridges is only one part of the magic that came with making a home in Portland. Yes, it’s also called Beervana, PDX and Little Beirut, but the bridges are a defining feature of the skyline from every angle.

I’ve painted most of them. In order, the bridges along the Willamette (it rhymes with dammit) River are the St. John’s, Fremont, Broadway, Steel, Burnside, Morrison, Hawthorne, Marquam, Ross Island and Sellwood. That doesn’t include the Columbia River Crossing, or the railroad bridge, or even the new bridge in progress.

Bridges are again part of my daily life, but I don’t hold my breath anymore.

photo22 (1)


Saturday, June 22nd, 2013

Bridges are usually a metaphor for something you want to accomplish, though sometimes I think they’re a good metaphor for things to avoid, too.

One example is the phase, “Don’t cross that bridge until you come to it.” I usually think it means don’t worry about something that hasn’t happened yet.

Or, don’t stress about something you can’t control.

Yesterday was Father’s Day. The third Sunday is June is never a great day for me, but this weekend I spent a lot of time with friends and it was a great weekend. So I didn’t have the usual dread or worry that normally comes with this holiday.

Seven years ago, I realized that despite my hopes and a lot of effort on my part, I didn’t really have a relationship with my father. I called him, I visited him, I acknowledged holidays and birthdays, but he didn’t.

So I simply told him that I wouldn’t call anymore until he called me. And I waited.

I’m still waiting.

Sure, it makes me sad. It’s something I’ve never mentioned publicly, but it’s definitely a thing I deal with on a regular basis. Rejection is never fun.

But I can’t control it, can I? I can only take care of myself. And part of that means I’ve made space for new ways to look at this holiday. I can read the dozens of Facebook posts about everyone else appreciating their dad and instead of self-pity I can feel gratitude.

Because sometimes bridges collapse. But I also know how to swim.



Thursday, June 20th, 2013

Here’s the thing. Burning bridges opens up space. If you’re feeling safe and content, you have time and energy for amazing people and new relationships, because you’re not continually stressed or dealing with drama.

I have hundreds of examples of this, but I think the best example comes from the bridge I’ve built here.

This newsletter, these paintings, your emails are a wonderful example of building bridges. I’ve made so many new friends and learned so much about myself.

Indie Kindred is just one example. I painted, then Jen and Liz and I collaborated on a book of my paintings, then Jen made a film about collaboration and connection and now it’s going to debut this summer at the World Domination Summit. All that awesome was nudged along because of these emails.

I’m so excited about this– and even if you’re not attending WDS, it’s likely that Jen will be near you on her coast to coast tour this summer. Go check it out and go see this film.

Until then, you can watch the trailer here.



Wednesday, June 19th, 2013

I think in metaphor. A lot. Enough that people close to me (coughChriscough) get annoyed by my metaphorical explanations, when I could “just say it already”.

I think that’s why I like bridges so much. They’re so good for metaphors. We build bridges and we burn them.

Most of the time when people talk of burning bridges it’s something they want to avoid. And while I get that– I certainly don’t want to alienate people or cut off relationships– I was also considering another side of this metaphor.

In war, bridges are burnt to prevent the enemy from advancing. Sometimes it’s a safety measure. And at some point, you have to evaluate a relationship and decide if it’s serving you. I’ve burned a few bridges for sure. Some of them I regret.

But some bridges should’ve been burned long before I actually lit the match. Burning those bridges made me feel stronger and safer.

The important part of the decision is that I’m the one who decides.  And I guess I’ve said all of this to ask you a question: Are there any bridges you need to burn to take care of yourself?



Wednesday, June 19th, 2013

So while I held my breath going over bridges, I also looked for any chance I could get to sail under them.

It helped that I lived on a ship for a few years. We sailed under bridges all over Europe– I loved seeing a side of something that not many other people got to see.

We’ve also sailed under the Lions Gate Bridge in Vancouver, and best of all– the Golden Gate Bridge.

I dragged Chris out of bed at 5:30 that morning, and we stumbled our way to the upper decks. It was foggy and wet, but somehow that was just as it should be. Gradually the fog got lighter and we started moving.

Because of the fog, we had little warning– suddenly there was a big red bridge ahead. It was so cool to watch as it took shape and then seemed to fly over us.

Just as quickly, it was gone. Though in that three minutes I managed to capture one really good shot with my instant film camera. It hangs on my bulletin board as a reminder of that magic morning.

photo18 (1)


Monday, June 17th, 2013

I moved ten times before I was ten, so geography is one of my specialties.

When I was in third grade we moved to Guntersville, Alabama. It’s a small town on the Tennessee River. In fact, if you look at a map of the Tennessee River, you’ll notice that it forms a wide V-shape. Guntersville is at the tip of that V. Technically it widens there, so the official geographic name is Lake Guntersville.

It was the first place I lived where I crossed a bridge every day. My house was on one side of the lake and the elementary school was on the other. Any time we left town, we crossed the river on a larger bridge that led to the highway. Bridges loomed large in my third grade life.

And somewhere along the way I learned a superstition from some other third grade girl that you were supposed to hold your breath when crossing a bridge.

So I made this a habit. Except I never actually made it across the bridge before I had to take a breath. I tried and tried, and I came close a few times, but just before we’d be back on land, my mom would take her foot off the accelerator and grin with a mischievous look in her eye.


photo17 (1)