I’ve written a few times before about how a three mile run is about the perfect length to enjoy fitness and clear the head. This morning the winds were high and it was cloudy here in Illinois, but the temps were in the low 60s. That makes for some nice running weather. A blessing, you might say.
I was excited to run this morning because it’s been a couple weeks since my meniscus repair knee surgery and I’ve been adding a little mileage each week as I do some cycling, weight work and swimming as well.
Go for it
So this morning I decided to “go for it” and cover a three mile loop that starts at our house, winds through a neighborhood, climbs a small hill on an unincorporated road, circles a drive through a wooded neighborhood and returns by the same loop.
The run also felt good because last night I finished up painting the second giant fiberglass dog sculpture in the Bulldogs Unleashed public art project here in Batavia, Illinois. I’ve put in dozens of hours to complete two 44″ bulldogs for a public project titled Bulldogs Unleashed that raises money for the Batavia Foundation.
The first dawg was for the high school. It features views of the stadium and some athletes engaged in their sports. The lights on top of the dog symbolize people lost to the program over the years. The theme is titled Lights Over Batavia. I liked painting that bulldog because a friend of mine coaches at the high school and along with some students and faculty, we got to collaborate on the idea.
There were some cold nights spent in our garage painting because the dogs are so big we could not get them downstairs into the studio space in our basement. That meant the alternative was to paint in the garage.
Finally it warmed up a bit over the last few weeks, and I was grateful for that. I’m pretty good at tolerating a bit of chill after all these years of training in the damp and cold and discomfort. But when you’re trying to concentrate on a subject or paint a straight line, it helps if you’re not feeling like you’re going to freeze.
Each dog probably took about thirty-forty hours to paint. I did not keep track because it doesn’t matter to me. The end result will help raise funds for some great non-profits in Batavia. The artists get paid for supplies and for their work on the project, but the goal is to leverage the work as a fund raiser. So the hours you put in may not equate to much in terms of pay, but I figured that it still came out between $20-$28 an hour. That’s more than fair.
In the past I’ve painted a number of these projects and did them for free. I’d have done these for free as well. But it is nice to be compensated and respected. Many times in my art career that has not been the case. I once participated in an art show in which the patrons were treated to a seven-course meal while the artists were given brown paper sacks with half-stale ham sandwiches and chips for dinner. We had to buy our own drinks.
Such are the ways of the world sometimes. I well recall that after I’d won a running race there would often be a big ceremony to give away raffle prizes, but the winner of the race would get some worthless trinket. I never understood that. After all, we paid the same fees as those winning stuff in the raffle! Shouldn’t there have been some sort of return on investment for training hard enough to win? Apparently not. A reverse psychology perhaps. “You won. You already got your reward.”
Hmmmm. So I’ve learned not to take any show of respect in any endeavor granted.
Finish line rewards
But I will say that it is also a relief to have finished the projects and have them come out well. Like all objectives and plans, there were stumbling blocks of design along the way. Artists need to be problem solvers in order to be successful. Painting on a three-dimensional surface presents different challenges than working a flat canvas. One can map out a design and learn along the way that it won’t work. Then you have to call an audible on the spot. It’s like turning the corner in a race and finding out there’s a big head wind. You need to learn to improvise. Even painting is a competition of sorts. You’re competing to overcome challenges.
One of the fun aspects of the second dog was creating a little “world” themed around Batavia. It featured buildings and icons. I even included a pair of runners that were based on images of my wife Sue and I. It’s a fun thing to build a little of yourself into a piece like that.
Now that I’m done with the public art projects I have a commission yet to do and will be working on a number of new pieces for my June solo show at Water Street Studios. It will be titled Road Trip. This will be balanced with an increased training emphasis in preparation for the late May training camp we’re attending in North Carolina.
Time is so precious. But it’s a much more rich experience when you have something like art and fitness to focus upon. I feel blessed for that.