Saturday, September 5, 2009

Making Strides

graphite sketches of Iron Pigs first base coach

A few weeks ago I started taking an exercise class with a friend. The program we are doing is called First Strides. The program's goal is to encourage women to be physically active and prepare them to participate in a 5K race.

This is actually our second time in the class. We joined the first time because our walking program wasn't giving us the results we wanted. We decided to increase the intensity of our exercise by adding in some jogging. This round we are using the class to motivate us to continue jogging and to increase our speed and distance.

I love the method this program uses. It makes starting very easy and then builds gradually. Our first week of class last Spring required walking for 4 minutes, jogging for 1 minute then repeated the walk/jog combination three more times. Who doesn't feel like they can jog for one minute? It's only 60 little seconds. I was pretty confident that I could jog for one minute. But my thoughts about jogging two minutes were along the lines of "No Way!!"

However, at the end of the first week, which included the class and two walk/jogs as "homework", when I was still alive I figured I could give two minutes of jogging a try. After all it really only meant adding one more measly minute.
graphite sketches of lifeguard at indoor community pool

The start of every week was the same. I told myself I could "try" that week but knew that surely the following week would do me in. In the end I made it through all 12 weeks of class. My longest time jogging was 40 minutes (10 minutes jogging, 1 minute walking, 4 reps). Had you asked me before I signed up if I could jog for 40 minutes I'd have died laughing. But using this method of incremental increases I did it.

I was thinking today about how this methodology could be applied to an art career. In the beginning when I was just learning to paint I painted when the mood struck me, marketed my work never and didn't even think about business responsibilities. Had I thought then about all the things that go into a successful art career--
things like making painting a daily practice; having a marketing plan including regular upkeep of a blog, creating a presence on social networking sites, and being a member of several local art clubs; keeping track of inventory, expenses and income; and becoming proficient at matting and framing--
I'd have run away screaming and never come back.

You know what I mean right? It's like the time I decided that TODAY was the day I was going to start getting in shape. So I went out and ran two or three miles. And the next day my legs hurt so much I couldn't even walk. Which meant I had to take the next week off to recover. And after the week had passed I had forgotten all about my assertion that TODAY was the day, and I didn't run again until the next time I decided TODAY was the day. We've all been there, right?
sketch with Micron sepia pen of people relaxing at community pool

That's what would have happened if I tried to tackle everything that goes into a successful art career at once. Truthfully, some days I still feel like screaming and running away when I think about all I want or need to do to keep growing as an artist and business person. That's when it's good to remind myself that today I only need to do the equivalent of jogging one minute. If I try to do it all at once I'm likely to hurt myself or get discouraged and never try again. But if I break it into manageable increments, and I continue to build one on another, in a few months I'll have made meaningful progress. And that's what I really want.


The sketches in this post represent some "one minute of jogging" thinking. I really want to be able to sketch moving figures. I feel it will be a critical skill for growth in my series of tap dancer drawings. But currently I am not even very good at sketching still figures. My compromise...draw figures who may change their position or move away while I am sketching them. Knowing they may move encourages me to sketch quickly and to try and hold the pose in my mind so I can attempt to finish the sketch even if my model walks away.


Teresa Mallen said...

Hi Stacy, congrats on the jogging and the sketching! I think we probably all feel overwhelmed from time to time with the to-do list. Perhaps the key is just to do what we can each day. I am always amazed at the cumulative results that come from consistent effort. So keep on sketching those moving figures!!!

Stacy said...

Thanks Teresa! You have it right, do what we can each day because even baby steps eventually add up. :)

Robyn said...

Nice figure drawings, Stacy. I thought for a moment you were going to say you were sketching while jogging ;)

After a month of slothfulness I need to start walking one minute per day.

As for art - I closed down my etsy page to revise it and it's never opened up again. I think I need some of your personal coaching.

Jennifer Rose said...

I need to get it through my mind that I can't get everything done art wise all the time, that there isn't enough time in the day :/ I have actually yelled out loud when I think of things I should be doing. There needs to be more time in the day, or I need a few fairies to help me :p

good for you for jogging so much! something to be really proud of :)

Stacy said...

Robyn, sketching while jogging would make for a funny video because I'd probably last three steps before I fell on my face. :D And I'll be happy to provide personal coaching anytime you want. Coaching someone else is so much easier than coaching myself because I don't actually have to do the work. LOL

Jennifer, I've been hoping for more hours in the day, but I like your fairy idea! If they show up to help you out, please send any extras my way.

Anonymous said...

Very thoughtfull post on personal coaching. It should be very much helpfull

Karim - Creating Power

Anonymous said...

Very thoughtfull post on personal coaching. It should be very much helpfull

Karim - Creating Power