Thursday, July 25, 2013

Exercise Your Mind and Body

Evening Light, plein air, 12"x16" oil on linen

You may be wondering what exercise has to do with art. I've put some thought into this and I have come to the conclusion that it's a lot easier to paint if you are in good physical condition. Plein air, especially, can be taxing. It is not easy to stand for several hours a day and lug your painting gear around when you attend these plein air events. I've tried sitting and that just make my back hurt. I make a point of exercising three times a week, I lift weights and whenever possible I do aerobics. I feel better, the easel is a lot lighter and I have more energy. 

It's just as important to exercise your mind. I'm interested in the world and what's going on. I don't watch the news because it's pretty unfair and unbalanced, despite what some networks want you to believe. The days of honesty died with Walter Cronkite. I tend to read a lot and use a lot of different sources to disseminate material. I rarely watch television, but I do listen to public radio. When you're actively engaged in what is happening around the world, you tend to be more appreciative of your own world and what you have. Every day I think of people in Syria and Afghanistan, and numerous other countries who have been bombed out of their homes. Our homeland is a paradise compared to most of the places on earth and I treasure it. 

I had a conversation a few days ago with my son, who is an avid runner and basketball player. We lamented the millions of Americans who sit passively in their armchairs and watch sports every day. I am not one of them, and neither is he. I would rather be doing anything than watching TV, and that has a lot to do with why I started painting. There is a limited amount of free time available to each of us. We can waste it watching others have fun or we can use it to have fun ourselves. This correlates to painting as well: it is much more interesting and challenging to attempt to create a piece of art than it is to watch a Seinfeld rerun for the 16th time. Your life is what you make it.

I painted the piece above in a an hour as the light changed and I chased it. It was done at the end of the day and I was pretty tired but the scene was calling me. 

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