Personal Trainers Hate this Sketcher – How to lose weight by drawing!
Like many professional artists, I’m about 20 pounds heavier than I ought to be.
I think that’s normal for anyone with a desk job. And being an artist and blogger is definitely a desk job. I probably do seven hours at the computer for every one drawing.
Oh, I have more excuses too: we were doing a lot of travel last year – that’s always detrimental to proper diet. And I did all the artwork for my recent digital-art book this summer. That was a lot of butt-in-chair-time. To make matters worse, it’s the holiday season with all the celebratory eating that entails.
To that end, I’ve recently completed a 1 week (7 day) experiment in tracking sketchwalks.
My goal was daily walks of 10 thousands steps, interspersed with motivational drawings of whatever I encounter along the way.
Spend any time reading about fitness-for-the-un-sporty, and you’ve probably heard this 10 thousand steps rule. A magic number that began with the Japanese Manpo-Kei “10,000 step meter” and later adopted by the Fitbits and Nike Fuelband wearables. Both of which I have tried, and either broken, lost, or lost interest in maintaining.
This is definitely one of my odd-ball ideas. Only valuable to a very niche audience. You have to be someone like me who resents any time spent doing exercise – because of the time it takes away from drawing!
I have to admit, I got this idea from playing Pokemon Go. A game which is designed for this very thing – to get gamers to invest in exercise, by giving them a game that rewards walking. I actually prefer Niantic Studios‘ grown-up version; a game called Ingress.
The main thing you need for this idea – is time. About an hour a day for the sketch walk. Maybe a bit less if you’re a brisk walker.
Gear wise, it’s just a matter of a pocket-sized sketchbook and a couple of basic pens – my usual minimum: a fine nib and a brush pen.
Painting your sketches should be optional. It’s a bad idea even. A distraction from the main point of MORE WALKING. Though will say, I am doing this in a Stillman and Birn Beta Sketchbook – so if I *do* want to throw on some color – the paper is very nice for watercolor. I’ve done this sort of thing in the past in cheap cartridge paper books, and sort of regretted it later on when I happen to get a nice drawing.
Mostly the drawings should be as simple as possible. I would ask Siri for a 7 minute timer while I dug out my pens, and I’d accept whatever I could draw in that time window. I could see right away, if I didn’t use the timer – and limit myself to line drawing – I’d end up over my one hour-ish time-allotment.
Maybe in summer I’ll try this with 7 minute watercolors. About 1/3 of the time I spent on my miniature marathon sketches. That would be a challenge :)
To keep score: I’ve been using a pedometer app to count steps. [Pacer, free on iOS].
The app works on older iPhones (like mine) lacking the improved motion tracking in the iPhone 5s or better. It has all the expected features – a graph of your daily step count, little motivational messages to cheer you on, and/or yell at you when it doesn’t detect enough activity.
In order to get visual feedback, I’ve been using a custom google map to record a GPS position for each sketch. I just drop a map pin at my location, and upload a cellphone shot of the drawing to the map pin’s custom description. It would be nice if there was an easier way – after all, your phone can geo-locate a photo automatically – but I couldn’t find a simple way to covert my Places album into a shareable map. Any geeks out there know a solution?
What I do like about google maps is the potential to collaborate with other sketchers. If anyone really loves this idea – why not message me and I’ll give you editing permissions on the map. If we are both adding pins we might stick with it longer!
Yes, I had to stop by the grocery store and sketch the lobsters. I never get tired of drawing lobsters.
So yes, after seven days, here’s my results:
- I’ve taken 50K steps I would not have otherwise taken,
- Not quite reaching the daily 10k goal, but giving a respectable effort.
- I went outside seven days in a row (ish – not counting Christmas day).
- I filled 42 pages, finishing the 3.5×5.5″ Beta Softcover Sketchbook (*affiliate link, thx) I cracked open for my recent night-crawl with the Expeditionary Art palette.
- And, for the month of December, I’ve netted no change in weight. Not as good as losing, but still beating the historical odds!
- I call that a successful test.
And, I’m serious – fun as this was, I probably won’t stick with it – unless someone else wants to do it with me :) Drop me a line, and we can see about holding each other accountable.