Best Art Tool: Patience

My studio is full. Full of pieces of paper in various stages of project-becoming. Drying. One of them is coated with Golden’s Clear Tar Gel, the only substance I know that flouts the Arizona atmosphere and takes more than a day to dry.

First layer of faux encaustic collage. At least five more to go. This one is drying.

Earlier today I became fascinated with the faux encaustic lesson in Surface Treatment Workshop: Explore 45 Mixed-Media Techniques by Darlene Olivia McElroy and Sanra Duran-Wilson. Surface Treatment and Raw Art Journaling have been swapping places as #1 on Amazon’s Mixed Media list. The book looked fascinating, so I ordered it. It is a wonderful, useful book on many surface design treatments that work on paper, board, and fabric.

I love encaustic, but a lot of it uses beeswax, and when the inside temperature is about 85, and the outside is 115, as it was today, I just don’t see myself working with beeswax a lot until November. So I was interested in the faux encaustic.

Covered in a flat gel, this ink spray is waiting for a 24-hour dry time. I have no idea what will happen with it, but it's clearly a work in progress. So am I.

The faux work involves using gel medium, maybe with a drop of paint added to look more like wax. It requires long hours of drying, to make the layers distinct. I am not a patient person. but patience is perhaps the most important tool in art.

You need patience to try a thousand ideas. Patience to choose one you want to explore deeply, setting others aside. Patience to not make art simply to photograph it for your blog (I know whereof I speak). Patience to get it wrong and do it over. Again. Patience to get it right and push harder to make it better. Patience is fueled by dedication and polished with repetition, each layer teaching a bit more, taking on a secret glow.

Patience is not easy. It doesn’t come in a kit. You can’t mix it up  at the sink. The worst thing (for me) is that patience come with practice. And practice takes time and effort. But when you work on creative projects, nothing replaces patience. Rushing won’t make art come together faster. Skipping steps won’t create a more integrated project.

Nothing replaces patience, and it is hard to master. I have to pull myself back from stopping too soon, from racing off in another direction when the right path is slow and tedious. I may have to work on patience my whole life. But then again, what else do I have? And what else really works as well?

-Quinn McDonald is still practicing patience. It is possible she is incrementally getting better at it, although the word “practice” seems to be the point.