Painting Is Like A Dance The act of painting is surprisingly kinetic, and involves the entire body


Far from being a still, motionless pursuit, painting is a surprisingly kinetic activity.

It’s not merely holding the brush and making small movements with the hand and wrist.

If you watch a painter at work, it is almost like a slow, understated ballet.

The brush is always gliding through the air in motion – coming at the canvas from above, below, left and right, at different speeds and durations, and with a wide variety of pressures and touches.

There are many different kinds of movements – long slow stokes, quick darting flicks, deep forceful smears, light gentle blends.

The painter uses their entire body to control the brush and generate these motions – fingers, hand, wrist, arm, elbow, shoulder, torso… and back.

I was reminded of that in the most unpleasant way this week.


On Monday, I was trying some new exercises and felt a little twinge in my lower back. I didn’t think much of it, but stopped that particular exercise and moved on to something else.

By Tuesday evening, the twinge had become a dull ache. 

When I woke up on Wednesday, the dull ache had become a howling vortex of pain with every single motion, and I could not even stand upright.

After considering my options, I decided to make the best of it and get to work on the painting I wanted to finish this week.

Of course, each one of those little movements I described above was a seismic jolt of agony.


I wasn’t getting anything done, so after an hour I accepted the reality that my efforts were valiant but useless.

Sitting at the computer and typing was out – even holding a book and turning the pages was uncomfortable.

So… I sat in front of the TV for the next 12 hours… something I don’t feel I need to do again anytime soon.

On Thursday, I was feeling well enough to work a few hours. 

By today (Friday), I’m mostly better – my back is still a little tender, but I can paint without any limitations.


The only damage done was that I didn’t finish this painting, which I had hoped to do by the end of the week.

It’s actually quite close to completion; the remaining area is all cloth, which doesn’t have a lot of exacting detail and only consists of two colors – tan and blue.