Thursday, July 24, 2014

Studio Strategies--The Treadmill!

Consider this idea as you have started to gain momentum in the studio, or have a problem area in your current artwork.

Over the winter I got into the habit of using our treadmill in my studio.  What a great way to look at art!  With nothing else to distract, aesthetic issues get an in-depth viewing with plenty of time to consider, “What if…”

I saw an article on CBS Sunday Morning about incorporating treadmills into the office, with workstations outfitted for pacing.  They made the point that endorphins are released, increasing creative thinking.  I’ve definitely experienced this as I tread before my paintings.

I regularly have concerns about my abstract images.  What’s working, what isn’t; what’s the matter, why doesn’t it work?  Often I will put off decisions about that next step until I’ve had a chance to tread before the artwork.

Sometimes I am anxious as I enter my studio:  what needs doing, deadlines, or ordering my day.  The treadmill is a great way to sort it all out.  It’s perhaps counter intuitive, because I feel urgency about getting started.  But the exercise orders my thinking.  Inevitably, I end my workout knowing what to do and how to do it.

I go for 45 minutes at the beginning of my studio day.  I slowly build up to 3.5 mph at 6 degrees incline.  It takes about 20 minutes to get there; I hold it for 10 minutes, and then back off for the final 15 minutes.  Not a grueling pace, but it gets the job done.  Hydrate!

I’m considering including treadmills in exhibitions of my artwork.  I want to encourage viewers to regard my pieces more thoroughly.  It’s an accomplishment to get 30 seconds of serious consideration for a painting from exhibit attendees…how about 5 minutes from treading? 

5 minutes while looking at an artwork won’t release any endorphins, but that’s a significant increase in viewing time.  What if a treadmill was installed for every painting—or maybe every 2 or 3 pieces?  That would be a more practical arrangement as a number of artworks could be viewed per station.  What about groups of treadmills, so more than one viewer could participate at once? 

Would this encourage interaction between viewers?  Would people become self-conscious? 

The treadmill creates an interactive element, which is novel for a standard exhibition of paintings.  Perhaps this would create opportunities for different kinds of exhibits and venues?  Maybe the gym!

At any rate, if you’ve got the machine give it a try!  I’ve been surprised by the quality of viewing experience.  By the end of my session any aesthetic choices have been well considered.  I have utter confidence going forward.  I've weighed my options, visualized the results and resolved the situation...all before touching brush to canvas.

It’s a great approach to problem solving!  

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