Monday, December 13, 2010

Therapeutic Sketching

sketch of wooden leaves
8" x 11" graphite on paper
©2010 Stacy L. Rowan

Although I've been very busy over the last month or so, one of the things I haven't been doing is exercising. I typically do a combination of walking, running and tap dancing to stay in shape, with the occasional weight lifting, Wii Fit or pilates workout thrown in for good measure.
sketch of bamboo plant
approx 8" x 11" graphite on paper
©2010 Stacy L. Rowan

Around the middle of November I noticed some pain and swelling in my left ankle which I think is tendinitis. The prescribed treatment for tendinitis is rest which translates to no walking, running or tap dancing.

While it is good to have a little extra time in my schedule (i.e. time I would normally spend exercising), I quickly realized that I miss the stress relieving benefits of physical activity.
sketch of mug
approx 4.5" x 4.5" graphite on paper
©2010 Stacy L. Rowan

One night I was feeling pretty restless and frustrated. What's an artist to do if she can't go out and run a mile or two?

I decided to try some therapeutic sketching. For me that meant sketching big (8" x 11" paper instead of my typical 3.5" x 5.5") and loose a without a care for the outcome or likeness. The results of my sketching session are shown throughout this post.

face sketched while watching TV
approx 2" x 1.5" graphite on paper
(this was the fourth sketch and I was back to sketching small)
©2010 Stacy Rowan

Sketching wasn't quite as effective at releasing stress as exercising is, but it did help some and it definitely distracted my mind from chewing on the sources of my frustration.
another face sketched from TV
approx. 1" x 1.5" graphite on paper
©2010 Stacy Rowan

How does sketching compare to other stress relieving activities for you? Do you find sketching relaxing? Is more tension released when you make big loose marks or when you lose yourself in the rich complexity of detail? I'd love to hear about the ways you relieve stress, especially if they don't require the use of your ankle!!


Jennifer Rose said...

I am getting stressed because it is so slippery out that we can't take the dog for her usual walks, which was great for both of us. activity for her and me and time to think. so its small walks around the park and crossing my fingers I don't fall on my backside.

sketching can be relaxing for me, but only if I am very loose when i do sketch. concentrating on little details can be stressful, its much easier to let the mind go when I am not thinking of where ever little mark goes.

hope your ankle gets better soon!

Stacy said...

Jennifer, be careful out there in the slippery weather. I don't want to read any stories about Skye dragging you around the park on your backside!

Like you I find sketching is much more relaxing when I sketch loose. I'm not sure why I don't do it more often. I'm considering some sketching goals for next year. Maybe that point deserves more thought.

Lazy KZ said...

Like you I am in somewhat of a limited physical form. I tore the muscles in my foot 2 months ago, spent 6 weeks in a boot and now in shoes 1 entire size larger. I love to paint in my sketchbooks. Right now I am focused on decorations from my Christmas tree. The moment the watercolors get wet, I am transformed to another place entirely. Love it. Can't wait until I am better at it.

Stacy said...

Lazy KZ, so sorry to hear about your injury. I hope you will be fully recovered soon. Isn't it amazing how painting can claim our focus so entirely. When I realized that 3 hours of painting could feel like three minutes and could make me totally block out what was going on around me, I knew I was an artist. Good luck with your watercolor journey! Watercolors aren't easy to master but they are worth the effort.