The Short Walks Help

late afternoon sun in winter in Ystradgynlais

Walking helps. I’ve a vague recollection that this was mentioned by Julia Cameron in one of her Artist’s Way books. I started reading the first book last year. I didn’t finish it. Maybe it’s time to pick it up again.

I can easily tell when I’ve not gotten out enough — the numbers next to my monthly folders of photos in Lightroom dwindle — and the evidence for my lack of walking last year is damning. The routine of staying home once I get home from work is too easy, especially with the lockdown mindset and it’s something I’d fallen into.

Being trapped between four walls for too long, staring at the blinking cursor, or the blank canvas can be mind-numbing. With the pandemic in full swing, it’s almost an act of civic duty to stay inside. One of my biggest regrets from the first lockdown was not making the effort to walk every day. I can remember a handful of times when I did and how much better I felt for it — often coming back with inspiration for new works.

High on the newest bit of inspiration, I stayed at home for the weeks that followed working on my art. I guess I had this I must stay in and work on my art mindset. But this is the point I failed to see — walking is working on my art.

Art isn’t just being in the studio working on pieces. It’s full of feeling and subtle stimulus collected in the mind from experiences. The feeling I get from the way the light catches fresh foliage, the clouds scudding the mountain tops, the rich pink of dusky clouds, the scent of the woodland floor. It all contributes to the work.

It’s like a bank account. It depletes every time it’s drawn from. But more importantly, it can go overdrawn. I’ve clearly been overdrawn for some time now, and the interest charges get worse and worse. So for 2021, I’ve resolved to walk daily, just 15-20 minutes or so. Nothing too taxing. I vary my routes as and when. At some point, I’ll go a little further and explore new routes.

So far, it’s working. Yes, the grey days can be a little less inspiring, but the golden-hour and twilight walking has been exquisite. It takes me into a trance where I can literally feel my creativity recharging and my account gradually starts returning to the black.

So for now, I’ll keep walking and hopefully — no pun intended — I can figure out my next steps.

Published by Chris

Landscape artist Chris Richards lives on the edge of the Brecon Beacons in the village of Ystradgynlais. Chris works mainly in oils, but also dabbles with acrylics, ink pens, watercolours, and soft pastels.

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