Traveling Artists and the Coronavirus:
Our author Dr. Belle Heppard is a physician and surgeon, as well as a Plein Air Artist of two decades
My recommendations to our artists awaiting conferences, workshops and classes—
Practice These 10 Items Daily
This practice allows us to center ourselves & maintain whether we are plein air painters (PAP), studio still life artists or those who work from photos or finish plein air creations, and also for the sculptor, and figurative and other drawing artists, know contributes to a content life. By nourishing our souls, we can nurture and serve our communities as we are called to do throughout this complicated time in history. (for simplicity, I will refer to all of the above methods of art as PAP just for the purpose of this piece)
1) Get into Nature
Plein Air Painters (PAP) know the importance of fresh air and space, and all that this does for our inner most being. Those who do not engage in our passion, often seriously underestimate how importance of the the out-of-doors. Being in nature reduces stress, as well as improves many aspects of our memory. It sparks creativity. I’m able to reclaim my focus on mindfulness, and personally, when I’m packing up after 90 minutes, weather going on to another location, or heading somewhere for other nourishment, I treat myself a bit better, as well as those I interact with in the upcoming days
I’m preaching to the choir here. PAPs have an exercise routine built into our artistic endeavors daily. We have a calisthenics every evening and morning which we perform religiously: Packing our gear, and special equipment, requires learning to bend our knees but not our backs as we do this multiple times up and down, strengthening our lower and upper leg muscles, along with out gluteus, and hip stabilizers. we step out in lunges in all directions, we stretch out arms, too, in all directions, we flex and extend our torsos, all in an effort to grasp that special, board, brush, tube of paint, or instrument such as the only tool ever invented world -wide, to easily teach, and capture perspective: the Artist Angle.
It is well established that even minimal exercise endures as this.We all know how important this is, but few people do it consistently. Other than health benefits too numerous to mention, exercise makes you smarter, happier, improves sleep, increases libido and makes you feel better about your body. A Harvard study which went on over 70 years, teaches us this a secret for a good life.
3) Spend time with friends and family.--whenever possible--but respect state mandates for distancing right now.
Once again, just as we enjoy seeing each other year after year, and go on early morning plein air expeditions or during another time of day, we enjoy another’s company often, when we set out to paint. It so happens, we have built into our art, appropriate social distancing. I personally prefer the term physical distancing, however. We each paint from a perspective we find interesting..we virtually never are stacked like sardines on top of each other, and our group size is self limiting.
Relationships are worth more than the calculated extra $131,232 a year). socially connections allow us to thrive, and live (medical studies have shown the opposite, too—without socialization, people loose many functions, and pass away after a much shorter life than their doubles who have social connections).
Loneliness can lead to heart attack, stroke and diabetes. The longest lived people on the planet all place a strong emphasis on social engagement and good relationships are more important to a long life than even exercise. Friends are key to improving your life. Share good news and enthusiastically respond when others share good news with you to improve your relationships. Want to instantly be happier? Do something kind for them.
4) Express gratitude
Allow yourself to smile and be happy (imagine those Rocky Mountains that we’ll soon be viewing together)
this improves relationships and makes a day more enjoyable for everyone around.
Meditation classically is done alone, in a sitting pose without any distractions. Many online referenes are available to teach the traditional methods. I have modified meditation for myself, to include this traditional method, but also, as one who has a joy for creating, I integrate it, as I feel many of you do, too, into our act of creating art. We might help ourselves "get into the right minset" to create, by having a certain familiar area where we work, wear comfortable clothing which does not inhibit our movement, and perhaps we enjoy a certain time of day, or a special setting in which we work. Additionally I enjoy listening to differenrt types music as I work.
-- Researchers find these activities increase happiness, meaning in life, social support and attention span while reducing anger, anxiety, depression and fatigue. Along similar lines, prayer can do this, too, even for those who are not religious.
6) Get enough sleep
Lack of sleep = more likely to get sick. “Sleeping well improves decision making. Lack of sleep can make you more likely to behave unethically. There is such a thing as beauty sleep.Naps are great too. Naps increase alertness and performance on the job, enhance learning ability and purge negative emotions while enhancing positive ones.
Once again, this is almost a given to be an artist! I certainly, have learned to laugh at myself and my creations quite a bit! It helps us cope with stress, improves immune function of our bodies, reduces heart attack and stroke risks and when we all encounter a physically painful moment, our overall pain level is decreased. Some research suggest it may help us live longer. Take a dose (or pass one on) daily.
9) Touch someone (who is quarantining with you!)
Touching reduces stress, improves team performance. When I studied back east, after growing up in theHawaiian islands I immediately realized the social norms for touch were 180 degrees different from those with which I was raised. So depending on what one is comfortable with, try to push that boundary and initiate touch of even just one's hand, if you see someone in need.
10) Look on the bright side
Optimism is contagious. If one is not naturally optimistic, work at finding SOMETHING positive when the world is filled with gray..or COVID-19, See did you crack a smile right then? Know tomorrow WILL be better. And that sometimes when we say tomorrow, it might not mean the actual VERY NEXT day, but a few days down the road.
Optimism does extend your life. The Army teaches it in order to increase mental toughness in soldiers. Being overconfident improves performance.
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My recommendations to our artists awaiting conferences, workshops and classes—while we await our gat