Some of the preparations have been pretty straightforward and clear, but with others I have chosen more creative avenues in order to achieve them. In the case of fitness for the strength and endurance required of lugging a 50-lb. backpack for days at a time over rugged country, I looked at options. I could hike as often as time, weather, and studio work would allow, which I do as often as I can. I could pay money to go to a gym... that one really didn't set well with me, as I don't want to spend any money unnecessarily while I'm saving for this. Then, as I worked away in the studio, an ad came over the radio - UPS driver helper! Perfect!! I can go through hours of intensive physical work on these remaining days leading up to Christmas and get paid for it! Who could ask for better?
This was a 2nd-hire UPS was doing as they found themselves short-staffed just before Christmas, with not enough helpers. The work was very intense with long hours. I came home exhausted each night. It's definitely been a jump-start in fitness during these cold dark winter days though, and the driver's route and schedule provided plenty of motivation to keep moving at a rapid pace. The wide variety of terrain on our semi-rural route was great for increasing stamina, balance, and agility. Happily, I am still on call - so I may get some more fitness training out of this yet!
More growth underway - this involves various art media for field sketching. I've been gradually gathering a variety of graphite, charcoal pencils ink pens, colored pencils and watercolor pencils - and I am experimenting and exploring which combinations of these will do well for me. As I become comfortable with them, I'll begin paring down their quantities and colors to see what will be adequate in the field, providing color array and versatility without being too burdensome. When your home is on your back for two months, every ounce saved really does matter! As Spring approaches, I'll be using my pared-down plein aire sketching kit in a variety of circumstances and terrain. Expect a lot of camping trips and field sketches from me in the future as July draws ever nearer.
There will be other areas of growth in the coming months. These will include training hikes with elevation gain and a full pack, brushing up my skills with map and compass, testing all gear in bad weather, drawing out-of-studio and on location whenever I can, indoors and out. I will also be immersing in more studies in the Scots Gaelic language.
The graphic at the top of this post really sets 2015's tone for me. I've printed it and pinned it to the wall above my art table to remind me daily of everything that I need to become.
Until next week!