Kayaks, Pilates and Painting
It may seem odd to consider those subjects together, but humor me for a minute by following an admittedly convoluted train of thought. Last weekend we went kayaking under less than ideal conditions, into a strong current, with high winds. It would've been great for sailing, but we didn't have enough time, so kayaking it was – good exercise on a gorgeous day, taking advantage of proximity to the water. Said water proved more challenging than this amateur paddler is used to, but after rounding a small point things got more peaceful. A lovely time was had by all until we faced up to the fact that we had to deal with getting back. Here's where the Pilates comes in!
This little voice runs through my head frequently – not to worry, it's just my Pilates instructor – saying "get your shoulders down, use those back muscles, this is about core strength, not arms!" So I did. (A shock, perhaps, as some believe me unwilling to take direction.) I paddled against the waves, against the wind, away from the rocks, and safely home. Fearing sore back and shoulder muscles, but wanting to paint this week, I popped some arnica, lay on my Pilates foam roller to stretch and hoped for the best.
Not seeing the connection? Painting requires hours of standing at an easel. Thanks to Pilates, improved balance and posture let me do that without the back or leg pain many people suffer. Painting also requires nearly constant arm movement. Pilates again, reminding me to make bigger motions (yes, from my back, not my wrist) that keep my pastel strokes looser. This helps prevent me from getting too tightly detailed or finicky while painting. After all, I'm not a camera and don't want to copy what I saw. Instead, I want to show you how it felt to be there.
Here's an example of a painting done with mostly broad, loose, wide strokes of color from the pastel stick. The detail on faces, clothing and buildings is minimal – just enough that you know what you're looking at, but not enough to distract you from the energy of the scene, which was the amazing San Telmo street fair in Buenos Aires. It's held on very old, irregular cobblestone streets – thanks once again, Pilates, for enabling me to keep my balance and not break an ankle while buying wonderful crafts!