It is February so by now most of us have made our New Year’s diet/health resolutions and have either made strides toward fitness or given up until the threat of swimsuit season looms.
Amoung my resolutions, maintain a healthy weight, make more art. The first is an ongoing struggle for me, having lost nearly 38% of my body weight to reach the top end of my healthy weight range. I know I have sustained metabolic damage, because it should not be such a struggle to stay in that range. However, since we are talking about my health, rather than merely my vanity, I feel the reward to be worth the unceasing effort.
I’m a big believer in having goals that support each other, but those last two can work against each other. Art making is a very sedentary endeavour. Even though I stand while painting, which is much better for the body, I barely make 2000 steps on a studio day without taking intentional exercise.
A few ideas for getting more exercise in the studio:
- Stand – you’ll move back and forth from the art more often at least
- Aim for inefficiency – store things farther away so you have to walk farther to get them.
- Tidy frequently – put things away between uses so you have to walk back and forth to get them again
- Work ‘en plein air’ – nothing like hiking through nature with your kit over your shoulder to boost steps
- Work big – climbing up and down a ladder to work on a painting incorporates a lot of movement
- Take walking breaks – Studies have shown we think better when we are walking.
- Make your art your health – incorporate your health journey into the work you are making.
I think this last one is possibly the hardest to do in a simultaneously earnest and yet critical fashion. The art could verge into documentation. What elevates it from that? And are you interested in focusing your creative production that way? For most artists the answer would be no, and understandably so.
The work I am moving forward with in 2022 is drawn from my own health journey. The art and my concerns, struggles and efforts toward maintaining good health are entwined. It is not something I originally intended; the realization of this emerging influence in my work came to me like a flash of light illuminating what I could not previously see happening in my art practice. I decided that if my art was being unintentionally coloured by my health journey, it would be better and more interesting to investigate that, rather than attempt to deny or purge it. Since then it has been a slow and ‘feeling my way in the dark’ type of growth, interrupted by other projects, including a global pandemic. This new direction in my work is one which questions, empathizes, and seeks insight.
However my ongoing research has given me so may connections and avenues to explore as I understand where health, evolution, body acceptance, vanity, subconscious desire, diet industry and patriarchal pressures intersect in my own personal weight loss journey, that I am excited to see where this new artistic journey takes me. I hope you will find that direction satisfying as well.