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. Post Script: I was using the app [Pacer, free on iOS] for a while, but I’ve given up – it uses up your phone battery too quickly. If you have a newer phone than mine, they’ve fixed that. But for now, I’ve just switched to an old mechanical pedometer. You clip it on and it counts. No ‘smart’ tracking. But the battery lasts for years. I’m just entering the daily count into a spreadsheet now.
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. Post Script: This is too much work! It’s nice to look at the map and see your pins spreading over the city – but frankly – it’s too much work to upload the images. It would be easier for me to do it as a weekly blog entry or something like that. Sorry to steer you wrong – it did make a pretty map – but ultimately – I’d rather be drawing than map making :)
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!
So – I have to be honest – fun as this was,
I probably won’t stick with it – Post Script: It’s Feb, and I’ve pretty much stalled out already :) What a disappointment I am!!! Hah! All that buildup and I’ve given up already! Well. What can I say? If anyone out there is keeping up daily sketching walks – mail me and tell me what a slacker I am!!! I still think it’s a great idea. Perhaps I’ll do something else with this in the summer?. ~marc