Stand up

Dear Artist, The mentally challenging nature of artistic activity may help avoid the inconvenience of early senility. I don’t know about you, but a steady diet of crossword puzzles to tune up the mind just doesn’t cut it for me. I’ve got enough mind-benders with my painting.

Winston S. Churchill
Miami, Florida, 1946
The Illustrated London News Picture Library, London, UK

On the other hand, there’s the sedentary nature of our business. Long hours sitting at an easel can be as dangerous as computer work or couch TV. Recent studies by James Levine, a medical researcher at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota has surprised and shocked the conventional wisdom. Specifically aimed at understanding the sources of obesity, sensors placed on the bodies of a wide range of folks with similar diets found that those who moved around more and, most important, stood a lot, tended to stay trim and fit. Levine figures we have to stop thinking of food as the source of fatness and begin to understand that it’s inertia that does us in. People who move around, even nervously, and stand rather than sit, also reap creative benefits. According to Levine, even really bad habits can be somewhat neutralized by sheer movement. There’s quite a bit of evidence that Levine may be on to something. Take Winston Churchill. He smoked cigars and drank every day until his death at age 90. “Smoke good cigars and drink fine brandy,” he advised. Churchill wrote 77 books (He won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1953), most of them simply dictated while standing or pacing in a cloud of smoke before a lectern in his office. Physical movement was part of his creative process. While most of the photos of Churchill painting show him sitting, he often stood at his easel. His active bricklaying and gardening are well known. I recently heard of a workshop instructor who gets his students to lay down a tape on the floor six or eight feet from the canvas. He encourages students to stand behind the line and lunge forward to make strokes, then immediately get back to survey the situation. In an attempt to make myself into a better person, I’ve been lunging for the last couple of weeks. So far I’m happy with the results, but I’m a bit puffed out. Then again, friends gave me a few cigars for my birthday. And brandy.

Winston Churchill at a painting easel, January 7, 1946
by Hans Wild

Best regards, Robert PS: “Sitting still is highly dangerous.” (James A. Levine) Esoterica: It’s somewhat the same effect you get when you go for a walk. The heartbeat goes up even if you’re only pacing back and forth. You may also be burning a few calories (sitting — your calorie burn goes down to one calorie per minute), but the main thing is that the subconscious brain is prodded into a relaxed mode where ideas bubble and confidence rises. Here’s a simple test to prove the worth of Churchill’s method: Try dictating long, compound, grammatically correct sentences while pacing around and also while lounging on the sofa. Believe me, standing up or pacing wins out every time. That’s how this letter was written.   Stand back for all sizes by Pamela Simpson Lussier, Willington, CT, USA  

“Duck walk”
original painting
by Pamela Lussier

In art school, where I studied figure sculpture, our teacher made us take a view of the subject a few feet back from the model. We had to observe from this position and then go back to the sculpture and do whatever slapping around and piling of clay needed to be done. I always do this when I have a really big painting or drawing going because it is the only way I can keep the whole concept. But I should also do this for the little paintings, it would be good for their energy and the workout would be amazing. Thank you for giving me this idea. There are 2 comments for Stand back for all sizes by Pamela Simpson Lussier
From: Kay Christopher — May 23, 2011

Wonderful painting! Love the light and the ducks.

From: Jackie Muehlstein — May 24, 2011

I design quilts, putting the work up on a large wall of knit sheet coveres insulation board. I can see my progress as I walk down the hall to approach my sewing room (aka quilt studio). It’s only by viewing from afar am I able to discern what needs tweaking. Sometimes a camera view finder works, and so does one of those stick on Hot Spots that you stick onto your vehicle side mirrors to reduce blind spots. As for moving about, I try to do some yoga each day!

  Lunging for fun and profit by Malcolm Cudmore, Stafford, UK  

“Red-Nosed Deer”
coloured pencil
by Malcolm Cudmore

I certainly prefer to work standing and have long advised that it’s always best to stand up when making telephone calls, especially difficult or important ones!! It’s not always possible — especially with some of my smaller coloured pencil work. But, standing outdoors at the French easel or pochade is such a pleasure. I’ve also tried “lunging” in the studio. It’s highly encouraged at the London Atelier of Representational Art where I did a summer school a couple of years ago, where sight-size is taught and practiced. I understand that Sargent was a great “lunger,” often standing on the opposite side of the room to his portrait subject and canvas and leaping forward to make his marks.     There is 1 comment for Lunging for fun and profit by Malcolm Cudmore
From: Grace Cowling — May 24, 2011

Nice to see a fine piece of coloured penicl art, Malcom. The medium is gaining much deserved awareness.

  Using the whole body by Sandra Bos, Cookeville, TN, USA  

original painting
by Sandra Bos

There are folks who sit down while painting, especially watercolor painters, and those with health problems, mostly because of being overweight. I always strongly suggest that students learn to stand while painting. I’m an oil painter and find that it’s good to use your whole body, not just your arms and wrists. When you use your whole body, you put more energy into your canvas and into your brush. Also, you can move back and forth a lot more while you’re working. You would be surprised how much your canvas talks to you, and if you have your nose up against it all the time, you might miss those wonderful things that your subconscious (your higher self) is trying to say. I realize that sometimes it’s not possible to stand for some people, but if you can, I think it’s very important to do so. There are 3 comments for Using the whole body by Sandra Bos
From: Jan Ross — May 23, 2011

Outstanding painting and thoughts, Sandra!

From: Paul — May 24, 2011

Sandra: Being a watercoloist,and instructor, I rarely let my students sit. As a matter of fact, I paint at an easel just as an oil painter would. The added freedom, and gravity, enhances the flow of watercolor and gives me a better view of the work as any other painter. I’m not offended at all, just pointing out that watercolor can be done at an easel, more importantly, while standing. Even my beginners “learn to paint” while standing.

From: Loretta West — May 24, 2011

Yes, I also paint watercolor on a easel and if I have to have the paper flat, I raise the level of the table so that I can stand as much as possible. I also like to put down a drop cloth and paint on the floor on all fours, standing (while pouring paint from above) and squatting. I think the more you can move around while painting the better for the body and the painting.

  Eating and exercising by Dr. Hal Martin, San Antonio, TX, USA  

original painting
by Hal Martin

Interesting that you began this letter with a comment about how the mental challenges of art may ward off early senility (true), and then proceed to physical activity with respect to weight. Regular activity also benefits mental status; there have been numerous studies in the medical literature indicating that regular physical activity/exercise is a very strong factor in diminishing the onset of dementia including Alzheimer’s Disease (by a factor as high as 50%). The fact that activity also aids in fitness and weight control is not new information as implied in your current letter; this has been known for many years and I discussed it at some length in my previously published response to Sitting vs standing submitted 31 August 2010. What Dr. Levine’s study demonstrates is that for any given amount of food (caloric) intake, those who are more active gain less weight or lose weight and they could not identify any other independent factor in this regard. However, I’m afraid that food is the ultimate source of fatness. A totally sedentary person will not gain weight if he has no food intake and anyone who consumes more calories than they metabolize and burn off with exercise will gain weight. Add physical activity to the artistic benefits of plein air painting. Hauling all that stuff cross country and in and out of canyons is great exercise.   The art of constantly moving by Carol Morrison, Oakville, NS, Canada  

“Family portrait”
original painting
by Carol Morrison

I found your information on the benefits of standing very interesting, because all my Nova Scotia College of Art and Design instructors expected us to stand (with moans from some of the younger students in our first sessions — I graduated in 2005, but was one of the “mature” students). The thinking was that it encouraged you to step back to see where your painting was going, and enabled you to move your arm more freely than if you were sitting. I found it painful at first, but now it is not a problem. I find standing still a problem, but then realized that when I am painting I am constantly moving. I am glad to hear that this is helping me to lose weight!   What a deal! by Peter Gluck, Romania   Very true, dear Robert — I agree completely. May I quote myself and will you excuse my lack of modesty? “Dear friends, you all know the if we will eat less, drink very moderately and abstain from too much sex, we will live more than if we eat as much we like, we drink too much and make a lot of love. That’s true, and our Romanian scientists have determined that statistically, the mean difference in duration of life is exactly 3 weeks! May I ask you, my friends, is it an intelligent choice to sacrifice all the pleasant things of the life, for those unhappy three weeks? My personal answer is NO, let’s drink!” The essential is to be contented, to be in harmony with your modus Vivendi. There is 1 comment for What a deal! by Peter Gluck
From: Anonymous — May 24, 2011

I’m with you! Enjoy life to the maximum!

  Making the best of a small studio by Charles Frizzell, CO, USA  

“Midwinter Thaw”
watercolour painting
by Charles Frizzell

I have been a professional artist for almost 40 years and much of that time has focused on easel painting. I have always stood to paint, and made sure to have plenty of room to move back and forth. You mentioned going back eight feet, I usually try to have room to move 12 to 16 feet. Due to a recent life change, I lost my wonderful large studio and am now living and working in a fairly small house. The bedroom dedicated to easel painting is only ten feet by eleven feet, so setting up my easel diagonally in one corner and having the diagonal to pace back and forth to view the work gives me almost 12 feet. I sit on a stool only for small details on small commercial paintings. Then for a few weeks a year ago after breaking several bones in my right foot I used the stool exclusively. I felt confined and ‘tight’ while sitting to work. I also stand while working at my watercolor table in the other studio/office (dining room) of the house. Standing and moving, sometimes even moving to whatever music is on, not only promotes clear thinking and free work, but gives a more balanced view of the progress. My friends sometimes comment on how I stay trim and flexible, and I’m sure much of that has to do with years of pacing back and forth with my easel. Plus walking and hiking in the Colorado Mountains. There is 1 comment for Making the best of a small studio by Charles Frizzell
From: Patsy, Northern Ireland — May 24, 2011

My husband spent 40 years as a professional photographer, where he was on his feet all day, as well as up and down ladders, constructing sets (he did mostly product photography in later years), and moving heavy items. He didn’t realise until he retired six years ago what good exercise he had every day! He has struggled since to keep off the weight, even though he eats carefully and tries to get out every day for a walk. He’s out at the moment, dodging showers… ;-)

  Inertia’s quick result by Nina Larkin Mateyunas  

“Pony Tail Profile”
oil painting
by Nina Larkin

Just last night I complained to my husband about not getting enough exercise lately. Now, our diets are basically healthy without a lot of red meat, fried or fatty foods, alcohol etc, and we don’t smoke, but I’ve spent the last few months sitting hunched over an illustration project that required me to produce a large number of drawings for a children’s book. It’s amazing how weak and flabby you become after just a few short months of that type of inertia! Not only that, but for some reason, I’ve noticed an increased appetite! Maybe there’s a connection ! But it’s easy to see why so many sedentary people working at their 40 hr per wk sit down jobs have obesity issues. Most of my art, which is not illustration work, has been produced standing at an easel, and like you suggested, walking away often to view it from afar. If I get another illustration job, I think I’ll set up at an easel, and remember to shout and pace about!   Advice to the finicky by Robin Shillcock, Groningen, Netherlands  

In the studio

Standing at the easel makes it easier to stand back and that facilitates judging the progress during painting sessions, as I’ve learned in thirty years of painting. However, as in all stand-up occupations, some people are prone to varicose veins, and I doubt very much if brandy, even the finest quality, and that goes for the cigars too, will be any help in preventing this affliction. Thinking of the obese in North America, no doubt Levine is on to something. Here in the lowlands we tend to move about on bikes for just about anything, not just for work-out purposes as I noticed most Canadians regard bikes when in your country last summer. Here we jump on a bike to go shopping, or to a wedding, or to the movies or for a downtown coffee. But preference for standing or sitting whilst painting also depends on what kind of art you make: Broadly painted landscapes and such require painting at arm’s length and stepping to and fro, in a kind of jerky jig whilst applying paint and moving back to judge the effect. Artists working with the sight-size method stand at a distance of ten feet or more from the easel to study the subject in relation to the canvas, darting forward to paint from memory what they saw then rushing back to their previous position to ascertain their handiwork. But those that paint more finicky paintings tend to hunker down in front of the easel on chairs or stools, beer crates or a variety of those backless chairs claimed to be better for backs and necks. I’ve moved from being a slasher of paint to a more detailed painter, from always standing to usually sitting and sometimes standing. Painting in the field I still prefer to stand but I’ve also been known to kneel in front of large watercolours, because I like to have various enamel plates and various bits of paper and the rest of my outdoor studio spread in an arc around me. Yep, I usually go on my bike for painting sprees around town but also further afield. Right now I’m working on some large vertical Masonite panels showing the four seasons on the tidal flats off the Dutch north coast (with lots of birds and other animals), for a visitors’ centre that will be opened next month. I either stand or sit on a two-step ladder, so it’s up and down for about eight hours every day and then cycling home from my temporary studio.    

Archived Comments

Enjoy the past comments below for Stand up

From: Marvin Humphrey, Napa Valley — May 19, 2011

My synapses fire much stronger when I’m on my feet. Even when I sit to work on small, fine details, I’m on the edge of the (wheeled) chair, ready to kick it back when the spirit strikes. The tape-on-the-floor “lunging” idea is great.

From: gail caduff-nash — May 19, 2011

Absolutely. I’ve often said that you look like what you sit in. I never had a bad back until I became a computer graphic artist. So I stand up a lot. It gets painful sitting too much. And painting often feels like I’m attacking the canvas. I parry and thrust. It’s fun for the outset of a painting when you don’t want to bury yourself in detail and you want an overall view. Especially when painting plein air. But I don’t recommend the behind the line thing. You could really hurt yourself that way – and have a lousy painting to boot. So en garde! and work more than just the brain muscles.

From: gail again — May 19, 2011

p.s. Churchill is really a bad example. Only good genetics had to have kept him from dying of ‘consumption’ early on. Really. Bad cigars and cheap booze is much better for you. Then you don’t want to consume either one.

From: Daniela, Sydney Australia — May 20, 2011

What you say is so important…if you paint cranky and stiff it encroaches upon your creative ability. Years ago I went to a yoga class where the middle aged tutor was as limber and flexible as a teenager – I forget all of the exercise names etc., but what I did keep was the idea of keeping flexible – everything in the body that gets scrunched up, including fingers and wrists, needs to stretch. I think I may have invented a few exercises of my own in the process…I have names for them sort of, but, not very yogi-ish.

From: Kathleen Crosby — May 20, 2011

You are so right Robert! I particularly enjoy painting on large canvasses which enables me to stand. Placing my easel a couple of feet from my palette, the movement back and forth give me a certain type of momentum, which feels a bit like dancing. Its joyous! I highly recommend it.

From: William Scott Jennings — May 20, 2011

Besides being good for your body, standing to paint produces benefits to the painting itself. You paint looser and quicker with more energy of movement embedded in your painting strokes. I wear a path in my carpet as I go back and forth between my viewing distance and painting distance!

From: Harvey Lantis — May 20, 2011

Brandy and cigars? Congratulations. I do enjoy this myself at times and as for the lunging part — I’m going to put lunging into a study of my own. I wonder what a piece would look like if it was a series of lunges? How would it be with music — lunging with wisps of wet brush awaiting canvas? Would the work then be considered a Lunge style of art? Would they consider calling it LungeArt? — Lunge Art – how to be a cast out with reel ins. Artist, some just taking things a little too far and yet…the possibilities are endless.

From: Caroline Trippe — May 20, 2011

Well, in defense of those who do not lunge at their work…I doubt we’d have had the great illuminated manuscripts of the Middle Ages if those monks had been lunging instead of focusing on finely executed, exquisite detail of miniature painting. I believe they perched on high stools. Big, loose and bold, isn’t the only style of painting. However, I have to admit that although I usually sit to paint, I always stand to draw —that’s where I do the spontaneous part of my work. But I like to think it carries through.

From: Darla — May 20, 2011

I’m the opposite of Caroline — I sit to draw, but stand to paint all but the smallest painting details. My arms don’t seem to make good brush strokes when I’m sitting down. Besides, you get drowsy and stiff faster when you’re sitting.

From: Sue — May 20, 2011

I stand to paint my watercolours and keep my wine on the countertop about 10 steps away, my version of lunging!

From: Sandra Taylor Hedges — May 20, 2011

Stepping Back is the first lesson I teach my students, and the one most ignored, that is until I walk up behind them and say “Okay, Step Back! Now we can see what is working or not”. Myself I am exactly like the workshop instructor, paint a couple of strokes; step back; couple more; step back…….keeps me slim and aware of what is going on in my work.

From: Caroline Trippe — May 20, 2011

I suppose I could as easily stand up to paint, if I raised my easel, , but stepping back is not a problem, because I am constantly bouncing out of my chair. I do limbering up exercises, go for walks before or after a painting session. So I’m really moving around quite a bit, which I guess upholds the “theory.” The wine is for after I’ve finished, for the contemplation period. Otherwise, I might become too contemplative to get any work done.

From: Celeste Nikkel — May 20, 2011

I’m one who stands/paces while painting; cannot do it sitting down!! However, its really hard on the joints–back, hips, legs……..wherever your weak spot is, it’ll hurt there. I’ve found padded flooring helps, and so does yoga, but not enough. Any solutions for this?

From: Rick Rotante — May 20, 2011

While I have nothing against standing there are some disadvantages. If you are to stand while painting expect varicose vein’s later in life. Add to that many who stand are standing on the wrong surface i.e. cement floors. While standing and moving back and forth are beneficial not only to your health but also the quality of your work, other extremities can suffer. Bunions and calluses may develop if you are in the wrong shoes. I’m sure Mr. Churchill dictated while smoking, pacing to and fro but I will bet he did so standing on a plush carpet. Padding is essential if you are to stand. Also having the space to move back and forth isn’t always available. As a result if we stand in one spot we don’t get the true benefits of this exercise. It’s the “moving” part that holds the secret of heart health. From the many sources I’ve read, John Singer Sargent stood and paced back and forth incessantly though he used this practice to exorcise demons which prevented him from achieving his goal. To each his own I guess.

From: Dorothy Sherwood — May 20, 2011

Well, I stand to paint and pace back forth with my hand mirror. And I celebrate my daily work at the easel with a large glass of red wine at about six while washing my brushes. And I am a tidy 130 pounds and 5′ 3″. With three solo shows as feathers in my cap, guess my regimen is working. So, Robert, keep me on my toes !!!

From: Tatjana Mirkov-Popovicki — May 20, 2011

When I was first taught art, most of the instructors had us used the tape on the floor method. I thought that was common practice. Only after I got out of that school and started taking workshops I noticed that it wasn’t. Now, after several years of lazy painting (+ office work), I am noticing impact of health and waistline. Thanks for the reminder to go back to a healthier practice. You may be saving some lives here.

From: Virginia Andrade — May 20, 2011

I have a request I hope you will be able to satisfy. About 3 months ago you wrote a great “check list” to go over when viewing a painting. Particularly ones own work. Seems there were about 20 different points to pay attention to. Is this description enough to stir your memory banks? Being a loyal reader of your blog I want to let you know how much you are appreciated. I hope everyone lets you know that enough to keep the fire in your belly.

From: Michael Epp — May 20, 2011

‘I recently heard of a workshop instructor who gets his students to lay down a tape on the floor six or eight feet from the canvas. He encourages students to stand behind the line and lunge forward to make strokes, then immediately get back to survey the situation.’ This reminded me of something: there was supposedly a line worn into John Singer Sargent’s carpet because he ran back and forth in front of his paintings so much. Apparently, he used the ‘sight size’ method, which I’m not quite clear on. Perhaps you could devote a future column to this topic?

From: Sharalee Regehr — May 20, 2011

I thought Churchill owed his success to the naps he took. My grandfather used to say, why stand up when you can sit down and why sit down when you can lay down.

From: Ann Holstein — May 20, 2011

I hope you enjoyed the cigars and brandy. Also (about stand up painting) I had a teacher tell me to always stand instead of sitting. He says to paint as though it were a dance. It keeps your body healthy and your brain working better.

From: oliver — May 20, 2011

When I hear of things like lunging at the canvas etc I often think gimmick. There is a time and place for everything….. For some reason an old Youngbloods song keeps running though my mind. Turn, Turn, Turn. Focus on what you are doing at the time and do it well. Don’t make painting your exercise too (Though of course you could decide to do plein-aire and take a day hike with your tools and canvas on your back…….)

From: Pat Zaliskio — May 20, 2011
From: Georgeana Ireland — May 20, 2011

I paint to lively music, flamenco, orchestra rock, even belly dancing music. I am guilty of dancing when I am painting. I think the passion I feel from the music is reflected in my work. I also paint to the fast beat of the music- sometimes the music is so fast that it is impossible to think or plan- I am caught up in the passion of it and the subconscious takes over. This is when my best work happens… the magic I cannot explain or even re-create.

From: Zoe Evamy — May 20, 2011

I like standing up to paint large watercolours because it allows you to go…. literally….. with the flow!

From: Doug Hoppes — May 20, 2011

I used to sit down all of the time when I was working on watercolors. However, learning how to mass paint encouraged me (by my instructor) that I was supposed to keep stepping back to look at how the value masses related. So, I pretty much am required to stand at the easel. It was tiring on my knees at first, but got much stronger standing there for hours. Plus, it helps for my plein air work, also.

From: Gary B — May 20, 2011
From: Brian Romer — May 20, 2011
From: Noell Shimomaruko — May 20, 2011

I’d like to take your advice Robert, about standing up and pacing around, but I’m busy getting ready for the end of the world tomorrow. Bye.

From: Noell — May 22, 2011

Damn. Wrong again.

From: Peggy Bagshaw — May 22, 2011

When I was studying painting at the Alberta College of Art (Calgary, Alberta), my instructor insisted that all the students stood while painting. The advantage to this is that you get into the habit of standing back to see the whole picture (as it were) and aren’t there with your nose to your painting missing out on the full composition. 14 years after graduating, I still always stand at my easel and find myself moving back and forward without even thinking about it. However, I don’t think that standing has led to any positive changes to my weight. (Oh well) I must say however that after seeing you at Painter’s Lodge (British Columbia) with your very comfy looking “sitting-easel”, I find it difficult visualizing you in a standing position!

From: Elizabeth Johnson — May 22, 2011

As I continue to find the balance in life both standing and sitting down, I want you to know that receiving emails from you is part of my nourishment. Thank you. P.S. Happy Birthday.

From: Jo Bain — May 22, 2011

Stand up…… recommended by the researcher at The Mayo Clinic is good and I value that facility so much I have an appointment at Rochester next week. I have all the art equipment I need in my studio, and if all goes well with my medical challenge, I plan to be painting standing up, sitting down, lunging forward with wc/acrylic/oil and stay on the move……in which case I’ll need to sign up for your “mini website”. I’ve got Mexican handmade Amate paper acquired a few months ago just waiting. Your letters inspire and excite my creative juices!

From: Daryl Woo — May 22, 2011

I tried dictating, carrying a small recorder like a mike, and it works. I went ouside, went for a walk in a private place, spoke when I thought up sentences, thought some more, even for a while. Then spoke again. The hardest part was remembering just how the last sentence ended off.

From: Raymond Hawkins — May 22, 2011

Thank you so much for your letters. I always enjoy them, profit by them, and often share your wisdom with good friends. Happy birthday. With admiration and good wishes. Pinson, Alabama

From: anonymous — May 22, 2011
From: Lee — May 22, 2011

I have always stood to paint mostly because I like to move around and when using pastels, easier to reach them. Years ago, I ordered an “artist’s back weight” from Jerry’s Artarama (have no idea if they still sell them.) It helps one stand up straight when painting and has the additional benefit of weight bearing pressure on the spine for osteoporosis prevention. One could also use a small backpack with a book or two in it. It is most comfortable to wear it up as high as possible. Is it a pleasure to wear? No. But if you get dizzy and pass out because of standing so long, at least you will fall backwards and not mess up your painting.

From: Gail Mcdaniel — May 23, 2011
From: DM — May 23, 2011

I am sure that there many artists who because of foot problems find it difficult to stand for any amount of time. Therefore I sit and it does not have any negative impact on my art. If I were to stand the pain would interrupt my concentration. I have had to deal with this problem for many years and thankfully there are several portable chairs for en plein air. Inside the studio I use an office chair with casters outfitted with a cushion form another chair. So I have a choice-stand and be unable to work or sit and create. I know that I am not alone in dealing with this situation..

From: Patsy, Northern Ireland — May 24, 2011

Without even consciously thinking about it, I stand up to paint. Even if I start off sitting down, I leap to my feet eventually, occasionally to the detriment of the chair, which has gone flying a few times. I used to make theatre costumes, and worked standing up unless I was actually stitching on a machine.

From: Maude Manderling — May 24, 2011

I often step back from my french easel. So often, and so reflexively, that I never, ever paint with my back to a nearby body of water.

From: Lorraine Khachatourians — May 24, 2011

That convinces me. I have a small room, with a french easel, which I trip over if I stand to paint. So I am going to get an H-easel so I can stand and save the other for outdoors.

From: Mary Stewart — May 24, 2011
From: Suzanne Frazier — May 24, 2011

I get in miles of walking when I am finishing a painting…especially a large painting. I stand back about ten feet from my painting, during the last few weeks of painting and then walk forward to make a stroke…and then back ten feet to take another look. Its the only way that I am assured that my images/colors/composition are working for the entire painting. I wouldn’t even think to sit down to paint. That stifles the flow of energy. Your brains end up in your feet.

From: Pat in New Mexico — May 25, 2011

I sit to paint… or do I? I sit in a draftmans chair… I raise it up to suit the height of my canvas… and scoot back and forth ad lib. Woiks for me!!

From: Shayna Stonehouse — May 27, 2011

I too have often found sitting down at an easel or table very resticting; having the urge to move around. I find that using an exercise ball, instead of a chair or stool, suits me wonderfully. I can roll around, bounce thereby creating movement. The exercise ball helps strengthen your core, balance, and improve your posture. Just make sure its the right size that you can place your feet on the ground and comfortably reach the table.

From: Lillian Pellegrino — May 30, 2011

Fun news is good , I will enjoy standing even more now when I paint.

From: DeeDee Ponton — Jun 01, 2011

Great advice but I paint in watercolor. no throwing that from a tape line onto a canvas. However I definitely agree with your theory, I am in need of a knee replacement so no moving about or standing for any length is advised at this time. Diet seems to be my only alternative. I am an artist too, so I do appreciate the advice; I also sit all day at work. Waiting to win a lottery so that I can quit this sedentary job and paint full time.

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Sunny stream

oil painting, 16 x 20 inches by Doug Downey, Springdale, Newfoundland, Canada

  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 Marilena Fluckiger of Vancouver, BC, Canada, who wrote, “Could you please make a video of you lunging and painting?” And also Claudia Roulier of Idledale, CO, USA, who wrote, “The reason Churchill got so much done was that he was manic depressive and he, like others, accomplished quite a bit during his manic states. He also self-medicated with liquor. I think a fairly large number of artists are bipolar, compared to the percentage for the general population.”