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What Raising The Yellow Flag Did For My Art

Alison Sherrow

Fused~ Random notes from my studio.

Today's note:

In motorsport racing, the yellow flag indicates caution and a need to slow down.  As we know, yellow flags occur in life too.

My most recent yellow flag was the result of a foot injury.  Recovery meant standing less and sitting more.  For months.  Being fairly active and a working encaustic artist, this was a complete game changer for me. I not only had to slow down but I also had to change my method of painting.  

Encaustic medium is worked on a horizontal, flat surface so the hot liquid wax will spread out evenly across the panel and not slump to the bottom like a stretched out sock. This requires a standing position while manipulating the wax with a torch.  

I heard a story about an acrylic artist who broke her right hand - you guessed it, the hand she held her brushes in.  With her hand in a cast, she began painting with her left hand.  I can imagine how much of a struggle that must have been.  But she kept at it.  Over time her work improved and eventually went far beyond anything she had painted before - in a good way.  Her previous efforts in frustration and her successes became evident in the paintings.  Her artwork blossomed.

I didn't have any grandiose expectations or anything, but I wondered how I could alter my process out of necessity and in doing so, make stronger art?

While I pondered this during the ensuing weeks, I embraced the art of relaxing.  I read more - often outside.  I called friends and family just to say hi - what we used to do before texting became a thing.  I napped.  I binged t.v. - including documentaries so that I didn't feel too guilty!  I exercised - seated yoga stretches and cardio while rocking out to some tunes (for the cardio, not the yoga...).

I slowly let go of constantly brainstorming a new way to create.  

Guess what?  Ideas began coming to me.  I just needed to make room for them, which happened automatically when I slowed down.  I began spending some time in the studio again.

Experimenting ensued.  A few ideas didn't pan out.  Okay, more than a few.  In the end, I was eventually able to eliminate a few steps of my process and thereby spend less time standing.  In short, using different types of paint and adding paper to my paintings modified my process, and also gave my encaustic art an exciting new look - one that I am happy with!  Maybe all that I have learned along my art path so far is discernable within each painting.  Afterall, how could that not be? 

Create while allowing life to unfold and always take the time to play and relax.  For me, that is the secret to making stronger art. For some ideas on how to slow down and enjoy life more, be sure to check out this blog post.

 fused is a blog by encaustic artist alison sherrow of agedpage fine art.

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