Keep moving


Dear Artist,

When I was a teenager I read a book by a hugely successful baseball player. He hadn’t always been successful, though. Early in his career, reporters referred to him as “poky” and “slow off the mark.” While he was talented and capable, he was on his way to the bush leagues when he saw the light. He got the idea that if he just started jumping around and looking active, he might build enthusiasm and proficiency. Reporters started saying he had “ants in his pants,” calling him “Fireball,” etc. Fact is, his game improved when he started jumping around.

Recent research at the University of Central Florida in Orlando indicates that children with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) may appear to be distracted by all that jumping and wiggling, but it’s really an effective method of keeping themselves focused. Teachers are now being advised to let the ADHD kids fiddle. While only about 3 to 5 percent of kids have ADHD, lots of others have it to a mild degree and many creative adults have it in spades.

While I’m a guy who mostly sits at an easel, I’ve always recognized the value of standing. Standing gives a painter more kinetic opportunity. Body movement and physical action become part of the creative act. At the same time, even an easily-propelled rolling chair can add to the art energy.

Artists’ studios may be sanctuaries of soft music and prevailing peace, but artists themselves need to be whirling dervishes within them. A little calmness is a dangerous thing. Elbows out and flailing, back and forth, here and there, the active artist keeps the adrenalin flowing, the ideas evolving and the work falling from the easel. Curiously, the artist who jumps around is less likely to fiddle with his work.

Teddy Roosevelt, late of the Rough Riders, advocated “the active life.” He had the idea that mankind needed sheer movement to thrive and evolve. Not just a matter of jumping on the horse and riding off in all directions; human action also needed self direction and self management.

In their observation of remote cultures, anthropologists often find wild action and compulsive movement to be the precursors of skills and proficiency. It stands to reason this might work in our relatively sedentary culture. We may get better at what we do when we keep moving.

Best regards,


PS: “Everything is in motion. Everything flows. Everything is vibrating.” (Dr. Wayne Dyer) “Learning is movement from moment to moment.” (Jiddu Krishnamurti) “It is difficult to steer a parked car, so get moving.” (Henrietta Mears)

Esoterica: The physicality of plein-air work is a good example. Getting the equipment out of the car, dragging it to the location, setting up and fighting the elements are all part of the action. In a way, every new set-up is out of the comfort zone. I’ve found that simply moving around magnifies the sense of event and stimulates quicker thinking. Last summer in the Rockies, we spied a young woman who was jogging in a tight circle around her easel. “It clears the brain,” she told us later by the fire. “We have to keep moving. Otherwise we’re slugs.”


Jump on it
by Norman Ridenour, Prague, Czech Republic


walnut and plum wood sculpture
by Norman Ridenour

As a sculptor the work process is slower than for painters but the idea development is not. When I am running dry, after an exhibit or a longish period teaching without much studio time, I go home early in the evening, fix a good dinner with a fresh bottle of wine and a second in reserve. I put on some good lively music; jazz, Greek folk music, Balkan dances, get out the roll of brown paper and the thick pencils. I spread out the paper, let myself start to dance, drink more wine, dance and let myself draw and draw. Sure, most of it will be crap when seen the next day, but the jewels are that and I am loose again and rolling again. I do usually do this on nights when my wife is staying over at her father’s.




Plein air and ADHD
by Bonnie Butler, VA, USA


“Dawning of a new day”
pastel painting with acrylic underpainting
by Bonnie Butler

I had a personal revelation recently when I wrote a summary about my art — en plein air in pastel and oil — and described it thusly: Working en plein air dovetails with ADHD, because en plein air demands both decisiveness and quick action while encouraging a lack of focus and detail, all perfect for my right-brained inclinations. Painting en plein air there is no need to labor over the minutiae when color and value will capture mood and emotion efficiently.



Creative energy of the Universe
by J. Bruce Wilcox, Denver, CO, USA


“Spiral Vortex”
art quilt
by J. Bruce Wilcox

Dear God In Heaven! May I never be so boring as to have nothing but soft music and prevailing peace as the only background for my art creation experience! My studio is on a street that handles emergency traffic several times a day — sirens and horns blaring! Certainly, I sit while doing certain aspects of what I’m doing — at a sewing machine or hand-stitching something. But I must be one of the folks who decided that dancing my talent and art into creation was a far more interesting way of BEING. All of my creative processes became states of meditation over the years, but my meditation is standing and dancing, not sitting on my ass. So even when I AM sitting on my ass, my Being is dancing. The music is LOUD. My First Friday Open Studios are a Party! The PARTY is a celebration of Life. Am I hyperactive? ABSOLUTELY! And proud of it. Do I have an attention deficit disorder? Absolutely NOT. (And our school systems that continue to try to make ALL CHILDREN behave using their definition of ‘normal’ are doing some of the children a great deal of harm.) I have a musical attention span that’s at least 8 hours long, and an ability to focus my attention into my creation experience for many hours at a time. So keep moving! Prove to yourself you’re actually alive. Keep dancing until you can’t dance any more. Keep evolving. It is actually possible for us humans to consciously evolve until we are in fact the EMBODIMENT of the Creative Energy of the Universe. And IT is dancing. And really — what are we all waiting for anyway? Something outside of ourselves to motivate us? Wake up! Get up! And dance! Or just sit there until you devolve into nothingness from non-action — bored to death.

There is 1 comment for Creative energy of the Universe by J. Bruce Wilcox

From: Liz Reday — Apr 24, 2009

Yes yes yes! My music is integral to my painting, the louder the better when I’m on a roll! Good rock & roll is inspiration to my art, and I owe many a DJ my undying love for keeping me wailing in the studio.


Daily jogging pays off
by Jeanne Long, Minneapolis, MN, USA


“The Essence of Spring”
watercolor painting
by Jeanne Long

Each weekday morning the alarm sounds at 5:15, and I proceed to jog around nearby Lake Harriet, arriving back at my studio by around 6:45. When I began this regime a few decades ago, I felt resistance to using up that time for exercise when I thought I should be working. But then, I just told myself that I was “taking the long way to work.” That helped in several ways. It got me up and moving, and not only did I get exercised, but I actually got into my studio earlier than usual.

There are 2 comments for Daily jogging pays off by Jeanne Long

From: Win Dinn — Apr 24, 2009

Highly valid, and your ‘Essence’ is beautiful!

From: Anonymous — Apr 24, 2009

Hear, hear! Your painting is marvellous.


Stand up for it
by Nancy Christy-Moore, Glendale, AZ, USA


“Time traveler”
mixed media painting
by Nancy Christy-Moore

I’ve been painting/drawing standing up for the past 28 years! All the professionals I’ve had workshops with and followed closely always stand while working and I’ve adopted the posture. Not only do you feel actively involved in your painting by your constant movements, you have a much better viewpoint on what’s taking place on your paper or canvas in front of you. I always keep a chair in the studio for resting should my back be a problem, but I never stay seated very long. I realized long ago that the minute I sat down in front of my art my focus became too restricted to parts of the painting; trying to perfect areas, while the rest of the painting suffered. Standing allows you to see the whole picture while it’s evolving and to step back and get an even better perspective. Not to mention allowing beautifully satisfying movement in your work to develop. I can’t even imagine sitting down and painting!

There is 1 comment for Stand up for it by Nancy Christy-Moore

From: Anonymous — Apr 26, 2009

Totally agree with you, plus, put on some music to dance in-between to get the juices flowing ;-)


Freeing the soul
by Jeffrey Hessing, Nice, France


“Tony’s Teahouse”
original painting
by Jeffrey Hessing

I’ve been painting en plein aire for 30 years and getting there, sometimes halfway around the world, driving, hiking, even trekking on horseback is such an exciting and soul-releasing part of the process. When I’m in the studio I listen to loud music of many styles depending on my mood, and dance alone like a wild maniac. It is relatively easy to learn to paint or draw. The real challenge is to set your soul free. The energy has to flow through your whole body. If not, it is just a mental exercise.



There is 1 comment for Freeing the soul by Jeffrey Hessing

From: Ellie — Apr 24, 2009



Ideas flow with constant movement
by Linda Harbison, Flatwoods, KY, USA

I have two sons, ages 19 and 15, each of whom compulsively paces in circles around the back yard. There is actually a path worn in the lawn. Both of them are creative. One writes fantasy fiction and the other writes fan versions of video games. Both of them have told me that they pace when they get ideas, and the constant movement helps keeps the ideas flowing. Both have also been diagnosed with ADD. Knowing this, I have tried not to discourage the activity, though it does cause the neighbors to think there is something “wrong” with both of them. A few days ago one neighbor went so far as to tell my older son that if he was so bored he needed to pace, he should mow the lawn instead. The neighbor just doesn’t understand. My son wasn’t bored, he was in fact, the opposite of bored. If my sons were athletes, and spent their time obsessing about “handling a ball” they would be heroes. Instead, they are both considered to be rather odd.

There are 3 comments for Ideas flow with constant movement by Linda Harbison

From: Rodrica Tilley — Apr 24, 2009

When I was a child, visiting my grandmother I cartwheeled around her house…repeatedly. The neighbors asked my grandma what was wrong with her granddaughter. I think she told them I was “artistic”.

From: Bill Hibberd — Apr 24, 2009

Linda, Ignore your neighbour, encourage your sons to follow their dreams. Our oldest son, now 23, was diagnosed with ADD at seven. He did have many coping idiosyncrasies but has overcome and is embracing everyday, dancing off to work each morning designing video games for Disney. Someday you’ll look out over a well mown lawn longing for that well trodden path.

From: Jeanette R. — Apr 26, 2009

Linda: What a beautiful letter. Your sons are blessed to have a mother who understands!


Four miles a day
by Terry Mason, Sarasota, FL, USA


“October in New Hampshire”
original painting
by Terry Mason

I have a rule. No walking, no painting. Four miles a day. It makes me feel better. It makes me paint better. But if you are an artist that stands, you are walking more than you think. A grocery store cashier averages 4-5 miles a day (in my other world I am a behavioral scientist and our company provides high risk and disease management counseling to employees in 16 states… and five of those states are grocery store workers. So yes, I measured). The cashier walks back and forth between the cash register and the easel. The artist walks back and forth too in a small space. If you stand at your easel you may be moving more than you think.

You may want to try a pedometer to see what you really do. Plein air artists will definitely be thrilled to see what they do. What is recommended? The Japanese did a study that showed that if you walk 10,000 steps a day you won’t get heart disease unless your family portrait shows heart attack below 50. The Americans did a study that said adding just 2000 steps a day… that’s 15 minutes of ACCUMULATED exercise… will stop weight gain. The data is pretty profound but most people think you have to do all your exercise at one time. That’s pretty old information. The US federal guidelines are 30 minutes of accumulated exercise on most if not all days. Walking the commercials of a one hour television show gives you 15 minutes of exercise.

The best news is that movement feeds creativity. It’s like steroids for your art. Adding movement is free. And if you think that taking time to walk is stealing from your painting time, think again. What movement gives back to your painting, and to your body and mood, more than compensates. The best way to boost creativity that I know of is simply to move.

Although I love my studio, I am a sucker for plein air. Adding 40 or more pounds of gear to my hike also boosts movement, and there is no better teacher than mother nature. Summer’s coming. The weather is turning. Hey, exercise costs nothing. Moving more is definitely my own stimulus package. Works for me.





acrylic painting
by Nelly van Nieuwenhuijzen, New Zealand


You may be interested to know that artists from every state in the USA, every province in Canada, and at least 115 countries worldwide have visited these pages since January 1, 2013.

That includes Dan Spahn who wrote, “Teddy Roosevelt did not advocate ‘the active life,’ but ‘the vigorous life.’ ”

And also Marjolein Witteman of Okanagan Valley BC, Canada who wrote, “I’ve done a silly ‘painting dance’ ever since I began painting seriously around age 18.”

And also Linda Keaford of Flagstaff, AZ, USA who wrote, “I love to take walks in nature or I jump on the rebounder to stay fit in body and spirit.”

And also Sy Rosefelt of Longwood, FL, USA who wrote, “Unless you’re the lead dog, the view never changes.”


Archived Comments

Enjoy the past comments below for Keep moving



From: Jeanette R. — Apr 20, 2009
From: Susan Holland — Apr 21, 2009

Even turning your easel so that it requires action to look at the model is helpful! Your eyes will hone in on what you need to see with such close attention if you are to hold the notation in your head until you can get it down on canvas.

Similarly, using a limited palette will set up a stress-current in your attentiveness department that will stir up your creative juices. Later you can broaden the color notes if you want.

Exciting stuff, Robert! Good motivation tools.


From: Lisa Chakrabarti — Apr 21, 2009

Just after breakfast and before getting down to work, I walk for a couple of miles. It gets me out of my head, keeps me observant and of course, gets the blood and ideas flowing. There are subjects for painting calling everywhere.

From: Dwight Williams — Apr 21, 2009

In forty years of teaching watercolors, I’ve always done my best to get the class members to stand, at least in the early stages of a painting. Often I’ve not provided chairs.

I personally stand when I start and stay up most of the time. Though I may sit to finish a work, doing smaller, detailed parts (if at all), most of the time I’m on my feet.

You are right! Moving around, swinging the arms freely, painting with more than the fingers makes a difference. I think you can tell work that was done in a “sit still” fashion from the freer pieces done while on the move.

Incidentally, the music in my studio is never very quiet. Try painting to marches, or some of Beethoven’s most lively, or my favorite J. S. Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D minor. Turn ’em up and dance as you paint. Why not? We are told that dancing is an even older art form than painting.

From: Toni Ciserella — Apr 21, 2009

I love when you justify AND validate my idiosyncrasies. It helps to know our odd behavior is one of our obligations as an artist. Seriously, I am an extremely laid back person except for the fact that I can’t sit still. Other than when I am sleeping, sick, or loaded, if I am made to sit in one spot for more than 10 minutes tops, something’s going to give. It’s either my observant consideration or my equanimity. I learned from a wise old gentleman while driving in Tokyo (not for the faint of heart) that if you scan your peripheral back and forth while driving you are much more attentive, focused and responsive. Still staying focused on the task at hand but picking up subtle messages around you. It’s those nuances we want to put in our art. The otherwise not seen or perceived unless we move about.

BTW you are a very shrewd man, Robert. I could not for the life of me figure out why you published last week’s letter “A dissatisfied artist”. My initial reaction was like many of the first to comment. Kudos to Tom for handling it so well. You probably already knew that.

From: Barb Foster-Jordan — Apr 21, 2009

Mr Genn (or anyone else who might know):

Who was the ball player that you read about & what was the name of the book? Was it FREDERICK “Fireball” WENZ or fellow pitcher-slash-stock car racer GLENN “Fireball” ROBERTS?

Baseball is still my first love as a sport (had my own successful career in womens ranks here in Canada) and you’ve brought it together with art in your latest e-newsletter, “Keep Moving”. This gave me pause for several reasons–as an artist & musician; a former athlete who had the opportunity/blessing to play with and against some of the highest caliber of women ball players in North America; and as someone who has been involved in education, more specifically working as a tutor, using creative & very “outside the box” approaches to solving problems or bridging gaps that impede learning for some people who dont necessarily fit into the cookie cutter way of learning (behavioural/emotional, ESL students, ADHD… et cetera).

Thanks, in advance, to Mr Genn or anyone else who might know the name of the book &/or ‘mystery player’ to which Mr Genn refers. I would love to read the book!



From: Anonymous — Apr 22, 2009
From: Rick Rotante — Apr 22, 2009

Active painting — Great advice! Several things come to mind. One, it’s good to paint with an extended arm. Standing helps this extension and allows freedom and fluidity of strokes. Usually I always stand when I’m painting. I sit when I work on a study or it’s the end of the day and I’ve been on my feet.

The other thing I remember is a story about Sargent. As I understand it, he would stand back, then rush up to the canvas and dash a stroke or two, then dash back again and repeat this process throughout all the while mumbling “out demons, out!” Many artists practiced this same routine. I don’t use epitaphs when I paint (too much) but standing allows me to stand back and compare views of the canvas and the model. And yes, it keeps the blood flowing.

I sometimes get complacent when I sit and my mind wanders. Standing seems to keep me in the moment. And it’s good exercise.

Some reasons artist sit may be because their studio is small and movement is restricted or they are painting after a long busy day or sometimes position of your pallet may be too low or not in the right place. Many don’t hold a pallet in their arms anymore. I know I don’t. I use and “easel buddy”. It’s a wooden paint box with foldable sides which allows me to keep my paint on the pallet and not have to scrape it off after each session. Since I’m painting every day, drying paint isn’t a problem.

Whatever the reason, I have to agree standing has many benefits -for the artist and the painting.

From: Mary Jorgensen — Apr 23, 2009

Moving around and active is the only way I can paint. My two easels have wheels, and I have chairs placed at opposite ends of my studio so as to encourage me to stop, to look at the painting from a distance.

One avoids getting lost in the details too early on. Pauses are also helpful since we often cannot really see what we’re doing without taking a break, a lunch break, for example. I have a stool to sit on but find myself standing most of the time. Of course, the type of paint changes things. Oil painting is not acrylic nor water color. I will try jumping some day, if for no other reason than to laugh a bit.

Thanks for the suggestion.

From: Rodney Mackay — Apr 23, 2009

I am an attention deprived adult. I cannot focus for very long periods of time. At age 75 I jump around quite a bit and walk a lot to drain off excess mental and physical energy. I stand and paint at an easel. At least I did, until an old glass cut in my left foot started acting up two weeks ago. That happened when we all went barefoot 65 years ago. Ran through an old garbage dump and collected a lot of glass shards. It hurts a bit to walk beyond the half hour. Any ideas?

Now and then my blood pressure and pulse go south! That has happened 6 times over the years.I think I need the rest! Amazingly, I have always come back and no longer experience the near death syndrome.

Fortunately, I am neither religious nor superstitious, and enjoy what I have. I am a messy painter. It all ends up on me as much as the canvas. I have been thinking that, for me, painting requires a lot of chaos. Those who execute very controlled works have my admiration but I think they are essentially uptight delineators who cannot stand straying beyond the lines. My first art teacher said that true painters seek to destroy lines!

From: Haim Mizrahi — Apr 23, 2009

How about starting to talk about things that are almost impossible to talk about because it will require us to face the harsh truth of the lame aspect of us pretending, pretending, pretending, pretending, standing still in the midst of the burning fire?

How about we start talking about the essential, unbearable weight of secret nights demanding attention of capable people, to cope with desires not yet explained through the varieties of colors? How about keeping to oneself while the discharge is operating under unfamiliar rules. Enough with the conventional, enough with the predictable, enough with downward motion, enough with the anticipated result. Let us Grow up for God’s sake.

From: Becky McMahon — Apr 23, 2009

As somebody with mild ADHD, I find that while I can sit and paint, my work becomes much more alive if I’m standing while I’m painting. My arm is free to sweep around and I can and do rock from one foot to the other while I’m working. I don’t usually have music playing as I find it distracts me. I enjoy listening to the birds (especially this time of year) and the neighbourhood sounds. Plein Air is fun but since I generally work on rice paper I have to clamp it down to keep it from floating away in the breeze. Now that the weather is improving I’ll try to get out with my friend and paint. Though most of my plein air work is not for showing, I do find I get a lot of satisfaction and a great creative boost.

From: John Burk — Apr 23, 2009

I stand at my easel. I haven’t always, but I do now. I wield a brush as a sword at times, and a dagger at others, and a mechanics tweezers at yet others, depending on where I am working and what I am after. Does this help the painting be more painterly? I think not. But it helps this painter be more bold and confident, the session to be more energetic and the self-perception to be more grand. Results help, of course, but dash and vigor are good for a painter’s psyche.

From: B. J. Adams, Washington, DC — Apr 23, 2009

Everyone sitting at a computer, right now, needs to get up and run around their chair, or at least think about it. Would thinking be active enough for stimulation?

I do remember years ago when playing a lot of tennis that bouncing while waiting for the serve kept you ready to return a winner. Caught flat footed would never allow a good return shot. Bouncing creates a readiness to move in any direction and I need to move into my studio direction right now.

From: Cathy Harville — Apr 23, 2009

I have moved my studio four times in three years! While it has been an upheaval each time, the new environment did bring with it new stimuli and promise. My current studio, although quite large, is a cozy cocoon. To make it feel alive, I painted it lemon yellow. It worked! People come in, and feel energized, and breathe in the art like the air on a spring day.

I sometimes find myself singing and dancing while I paint. Since I have interior windows to the hallways, I am sure more than one person has seen my antics. I have been tempted to bring in my yoga mat, but I am not quite brave enough for that — yet.

I have an artist friend that carries buckets of dirty water to the utility room. (None of us have sinks in our studios.) She hauls those buckets countless times in a day. Her work is exciting and vibrant. Now it all makes sense!

From: Karen R. Phinney — Apr 23, 2009

While I too am a gal who likes to sit while painting, I do think there is a time and place for moving around in front of the easel. There is definitely virtue in physicality rather than lassitude. But I think you want to be careful in advocating that kids with ADHD be allowed to wiggle and fidget in the classroom. There is perhaps some good to be gained, but many of these kids with ADHD are unable to read and have other learning problems, because they have this condition. From my own admittedly limited experience, mainly anecdotal and personal, ADHD may be in some cases caused by food allergies and sensitivities, which can affect the individual in many ways. A friend of mine had a son who was on the move in the class and couldn’t read and was I am sure, quite miserable (he was 11). She refused to have him put on Ritalin. A doctor finally had him tested for food sensitivities (there’s a distinction between that and allergies, you cannot be allergic to sugar, for ex.!!). Once he was off sugar and other things like milk, food additives and the like, he settled down and learned to read, plus was actually very bright. He was able to move ahead in school where before he’d been stymied. So, yes, movement and energy are good, but in the right proportion.

From: Karen Lorena Parker — Apr 23, 2009

I recommend students stand as much as possible when painting. I agree with the left/right connections in your brain with physical activity. Also, it allows the artist to step back every few minutes to critique and correct their work from a more objective standpoint.

From: Mick Davidson — Apr 23, 2009

Very interesting and I agree, if I need to solve a problem, walking around helps. Wish I could transfer movement to my job, I’m a writer, so am chained to the desk most of the time. However, when I’m out taking fotos I’m always on the move, searching, looking, studying, so I agree that movement is important and vital for life.

From: Denise Bezansen — Apr 23, 2009

People always make jokes about me as I am always on a tight schedule and have not much time for coffee and chatting, I never do the lunch thing baby. I get a lot done in a day by being efficient. I know the comment about me is always “Denise is always busy”, yes it’s true, I’ve managed to make it a joke by saying I am like the Rabbit in Alice and Wonderland (I’m late, I’m late for a really important date).

From: Paula Timpson — Apr 23, 2009


in the stillness, artists feel creation

in the spin,

as winds create new perspective art comes alive…

in spring petals forming pink carpets,

autumn leaves falling into pure oblivion

bliss kisses white snows fall

and summers breeze rushes


inside our souls…

From: Janis Zroback — Apr 23, 2009

An artist’s life can become sedentary, so I dance to my favourite radio station or to my ITunes playlist, while I paint…I get exercise and create at the same time…sometimes I stop painting completely…. and just dance…

From: Karen Quinton — Apr 23, 2009

I have a few young piano pupils.. When their parents try to keep them from fidgeting, swinging legs, etc., I politely banish the parents. I want the child to be able to be a child — and engaged, not disiplined. They always remain interested and do well in the lesson.

Also: there is apparently an African saying. “Pray and then move your feet.” Your letter reminded me of it..

Thanks; such a great idea to share your thoughts! I enjoy your writings.

From: Denise Tamayo — Apr 23, 2009
From: Wendy Palmer — Apr 23, 2009

I really enjoyed your article on Keep Moving. I have been blessed with ADHD and know my art and creative ideas come from this different style of learning. When I paint, I stand and move. If I do sit, it is on a stool with wheels. If I am not moving, I tune out. I have never told anyone what kind of music I listen to, because most people think that artists need to listen to classical to fit the role. I do like classical, however, when I paint, I need to listen to fast pace music. Some see ADHD as a disadvantage, I see it as a very hands on, active way to learn and work. I feel ADHD, when you can use it in a positive manner, can benefit your creative part of your brain, it is not a disability.

From: David Benjamin — Apr 24, 2009

Robert, I think you are right about those who move about may be the more productive artists. I have a house in Montana where I spend 5-6 months per year. It is quiet and serene but yet I feel far more energized there than elsewhere. As a result I do spend more time at the easel and drawing pad in Montana. I become focused and my surroundings disappear. I am always amazed when my wife tells me I have been at it for hours — to me it seemed only a few short minutes. It also clearly shows when I do finally step back and look at what I have accomplished. I wonder if it would be the same if I spent all my time there.

From: Marie B. Pinschmidt — Apr 24, 2009
From: Dorenda Crager Watson — Apr 24, 2009

Ok, maybe I’m the oddball here, but I absolutely HAVE to have quiet (instrumental only) music while I paint and NO distractions…except for the ocassional bird outside my window. My mode of operation is to “hole-up” as if in a cave to work on my art. I don’t stand because my paintings are very small and hyper-detailed and my eyes are not what they used to be, (can’t be too far from the canvas, you know! :) This is not to say that I don’t get up and go and work in my garden when I take a painting break…or go for a walk when I get a little stiff.

I think to each his own on this one…there is no right or wrong. I know in my classroom, the kids have the option of standing or sitting while they work and (usually) it runs about 50/50.

From: DM — Apr 24, 2009

Unfortunately I cannot stand while painting. I find that playing music is very important. Bach, Brahms, Mozart et al are some of the best painting companions that I have. Music helps me to focus and become involved with the painting. Sometimes though the early morning stillness can be music enough. I live in an apartment that faces the street and the noise of the morning traffic especially the dump trucks is not music to my years. It is not the equal of traffic going into the Holland tunnel but I wish for the quiet of the countryside. It also helps for me is to take a break for a cup of tea or decafe coffee every now & then. The right beverage along with the music & a comfortable chair are some of my more important painting tools.

From: Michael Epp — Apr 25, 2009

Supposedly Sargent, when painting, would stand well back from the easel, gaze for a time at the model, then rush forward to add a well-placed stroke — humming and singing the whole time, too.



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