What do Art and Exercise have in common?


The drought has finally broken. I pulled the brushes out again this week and had a crack at another still life set up. After concentrating on mainly flora for the past few months, I was feeling pretty rusty and procrastination techniques were at an all-time high. (Let’s just say my kitchen has never looked cleaner.)

Painting really is a lot like exercise now that I think about it... the first time back on court or at the gym after a break feel like you’re running uphill with a boulder on your back and an overweight sloth clinging to your ankles. But the more often you brave the pain and get sweaty, the more bearable it gets. I think they call it stamina. Or stupidity. Maybe both?

Anyway, standing at the easel for long periods takes stamina too. Currently, I last about an hour of uninterrupted focus before I have to go investigate the fridge or sort the never-depleting array of odd socks that I swear must be drifting in off the street (where do they come from??!).

To help me bite the bullet this week, I planned on painting something really simple. The painting equivalent of telling yourself you’ll go to the gym just to walk on a treadmill and watch other people sweat. Maybe get fit via osmosis?

Somewhere between telling myself that and setting up the easel, I got distracted and found myself reaching for these novelty book-ends that my son gave me to use as props about a year ago. I think it was his not-so-subtle way of getting me to paint him a picture.


So. Chess pieces. How hard could they be? ‘I will paint these for my first-born and I will paint with the reckless abandon of someone who does this everyday of their life and doesn’t consider the outcome until they arrive at it, and even then they don’t care because there’s beauty in imperfection anyway.’ I thought to myself.

Yes reader, I went into this painting like someone signing up for a marathon having only recently walked on a treadmill while watching other people sweat. Lots of stupidity, not so much stamina.

The drawing side of things was fine. I’ve been doing a fair bit more sketching over the last little while and it’s paying off. The colour mixing - also pretty good. When it came to putting paint to canvas, however... I could see I was running out of puff. The spontaneity died off and it was a bit more of a slog than I’d have liked.

I ended up painting this over a couple of days. First; The chess pieces and the support they were sitting on, and later the background. I also used digital media to firm up colour usage along the way before committing to paint.

As with any return to exercise, it’s good to be back at it. There’s always satisfaction after any workout - paint-fuelled or otherwise. Despite the difficulty I had in maintaining focus, and feeling a bit uncoordinated with the brush, it’s great to have this one under my belt.

The key - as with exercise - is to keep at it.

‘It’s all fun and games - till someone gets hurt’   8 x 10” | 20 x 25cm - oil painting on canvas board - NFS.

‘It’s all fun and games - till someone gets hurt’
8 x 10” | 20 x 25cm - oil painting on canvas board - NFS.

I’m not sure my son planned on having his chess pieces situated in such a lollipop-party environment, but frankly, if this painting has anything to say, it’s that plans aren’t always followed, and they rarely guarantee an outcome. The same theory also applies to keeping socks together in the wash, by the way.


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