Thursday, October 3, 2019

Taking Time To Stretch In The Art Room

Taking time to stretch in the art room by Christy Sheeler Artist.  Artist stretching with arms linked above her head.

What I should be doing every day.

It's one of my biggest challenges.  Stretching and taking care of my body is definitely important.  Too much sitting and concentrating takes a toll on my body.  Lost in thought, intently focused on a painting, I don't want to stop for anything.  Is there any chance you know where I am coming from?  Why do we do this to ourselves?

Today, it might be a good idea to focus on how you and I can take better care of ourselves with some body stretching breaks.  I've got some tips.  Let's talk about taking time to stretch in the art studio.

To be honest with you, I am needing to take my own advice.

Where are you affected most?

When I am working at the art table, my neck and shoulders can become tight and sore.  Whether I sit or stand to paint with watercolors, my focus is on the painting in progress.  I get in the zone.  I don't want to quit.  At the end of the day, I am feeling it physically.  So where is a good place to begin?

Let's think about the areas of the body most affected by the creative work.

Hands, wrists, arms, shoulders, neck, upper back...and on from there.

Once you know your target areas that need some TLC with stretching, you can begin looking for stretches.  I did a Google search for stretches for neck, shoulders, low back, and hips.

Here are a few for starters:

6 Stretches to Relieve a Tight, Sore Neck from
16 Simple Stretches for Tight Shoulders from
Hand, Wrist, Neck, & Shoulder Stretches & Exercises for Artists with Ask Dr. Jo on YouTube.
12 Hand Stretches For Artists: Hand and Wrist Pain

Sheets of paper with my favorite stretches, a quick reference I like to use.

What will work best for you?

Think about what method or plan would work best in your daily art practice.  I created several pages for myself by copying and pasting into Publisher.  I selected the poses or stretches that appeal to me.  This gave me my own cheat sheet of stretches and yoga poses as a reference when I take a stretch break.

You can create a Pinterest board to save your own favorite websites for stretching and yoga poses.  YouTube is a great source for stretching and yoga videos; make yourself a playlist just for this purpose.

How can you focus on follow through?

For me, the best way to be sure I stretch is setting a timer.  A timer app set for 30 minutes helps me to work without having to watch the clock.  When the timer goes off, I take 5 or 10 minutes to do some stretching.  With a printed copy of the stretches I am using, I can do a few stretches per break.  If I choose a video instead, then I can stretch along with the video for 10 minutes and then pause it until the next break.

On YouTube, Yoga With Adriene is my favorite account to follow along in relaxing yoga sessions.  She has a large collection of yoga videos to choose from for all ability levels, target areas of the body, length of sessions, and many different purposes.  She has yoga for neck and shoulders, yoga at your desk, and yoga for your lunch break.

Also on YouTube, search for DoYogaWithMe.  Yoga for hands, arms and shoulders would be a great regular routine to follow.

Consider what gear might help with fitness.

Over the years, I have purchased the gear that helps me keep my body stretched and feeling better.  The exercise ball is helpful for stretching out my back after too much sitting.  The green curved foam form helps stretch the low back.  I use the rolled towel to give my neck a bit of traction as I lay on the floor.  The curved black S Backnobber, the two small Yoga Massage Balls, and the blue hard plastic tool all help with knots in the muscles.  (The last of those three came from a dollar store!)  The purple strap helps with many stretches.  The two black rollers on the left help with rolling out deep tissues.  I have a yoga mat and yoga blocks which I forgot to include in the photo.  It's worth investing in the tools that make stretching more effective especially if it becomes a daily routine.

My fitness equipment used at home.

A word of caution.

If you are currently experiencing pain and discomfort, ignore all this and go see a doctor.  I have injured my wrists and hands in the past.  I made sure to see a doctor, benefited from physical therapy, and I have stretchy wrist braces to help when I am sore.  Be cautious when you stretch.  It should not be painful.  Don't push through and ignore the pain.  Take extra care to be sure you are not doing more damage to your body.  In the long run, a break from art for self care is just smart.  You would not want to be taking risks that would cost you the ability to be creative for a long period of time.

There's art to make so the body needs to last.

There is no way our bodies will be able to continue supporting the creative pursuits unless we make it a goal to care for our bodies at all times.  I didn't really consider this when I was younger.  Now, I understand that my body can't take the abuse for long without feeling it.  I find that extended time at the computer affects my hands and wrists most noticeably.  The rest of me feels the strain, too.  This is a hard task for me to develop a better habit of caring for my body.  I have not mastered it and realize it's going to be an ongoing process to continue improving each day.

Do you have insight or tips to add?  What steps have you taken to help take care of yourself so you can be able to continue your creative pursuits?  Please comment below so we can all make this a better daily habit!

Take care and I'll be back with another post related to being a creative adventurer!

P.S.  I am done with the nannying season for another year and that means more time for creating and selling artwork.  There are more than 30 smaller pieces that need to be finished up.  For several, it means deciding what size will be best and cropping the artwork.  I have miniatures, 3 1/2" x 5", 4" x 6", and 5" x 7" in the stack.  I will try to share more in the next week.  If you haven't visited my website yet, I would love for you to see so go check it out next!


She must make art.

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