Take Care of Yourself!
Even in the best of times, and this ain’t them, it takes energy and decent health to put in the hours needed to paint and take care of all the other parts of having a career. It’s also easy to get down, if not depressed. You know you have to nurture your art, but you also have to nurture yourself. And that’s a guy thing, too.
I’ve learned this the hard way having dealt with chronic sinusitis for ten years. It manifests in a low grade fever that leaves me too fatigued to do much of anything. I generally have it under control, but always need to be vigilant about getting quality sleep, eating right and exercising. I also get a massage every three weeks to keep me tuned up. I accept that I’m going to have to work at staying healthy and that it is as much a part of my routine as getting to the studio in the morning.
Exercise is really important, especially if you sit or stand all day at an easel. “Studies have shown” that the two most effective forms of exercise are walking and gardening, so you don’t have to join a gym or run marathons. We walk our dog 30-40 minutes every morning unless it’s pouring rain. Longer walks on the weekend. Nighttime walks too, which are fun because sometimes a couple of the cats come along (Fortunately, we’re on a dead end street with very little traffic).
I do like to garden. I just planted some primroses, pansies and tigridia bulbs. This year we plan to do a serious vegetable garden and see how much of our own food we can grow. (Wish we could grow our own peanuts. What will they recall next?)
You need to find what works for you. But being physically active will make you feel less tired.
I do yoga at home, too. It feels so good to stretch, especially my shoulders.
Eating well seems challenging sometimes, but try to have good quality, quick to fix food around. Maybe popcorn for a snack instead of chips. We keep sugar-free pudding cups, Laughing Cow cheese, string cheese and nuts on hand. I have half a protein or energy bar in mid-morning and afternoon so I don’t crash. My evening treat is a few squares of 80% very dark chocolate. We usually have a glass of red wine with dinner. I stay low on the glycemic index to keep my blood sugar stable. We just made our first soup stock from a chicken carcass (new Joy of Cooking) and added wild rice, celery, mushrooms and carrots. We’re still putting raspberries and blueberries on our cereal from what we picked last year and put in the freezer and there are still three bags of apples in the frig for Waldorf salad, cobbler and just eating. As with exercise, see what will work for you.
Even if you don’t have space for regular vegetable garden, you might try salad greens on a sunny window sill or blueberry bushes in containers.
Feel free to post comments to share your own ideas and thoughts and what works for you.
Drawing and painting animals has come relatively easily for me. It’s what I seem to have a knack for, not that I haven’t put in a lot of work at it. But landscape, now that’s a whole other challenge. I finally decided that I was going to get this “tree thing” down. I’ve been hacking away for the last few months doing small studies of trees in interesting light with cast shadows and I believe there has been progress. More next week.