No life can be barren which hears the whisper of the wind in the branches, or the voice of the sea as it breaks upon the shore.William Winter
I’ve always loved going for a walk. As a kid, it meant independence and a chance to experience the natural world. As an adult, I also appreciate the exercise but walking has always meant no walls to hold me back. It’s an important element of my creative practice.
I’m not sure if I’d be so faithful about my winter walks but Joey the Dog insists. He comes equipped with an inner clock that signals when it’s time to go. There’s no arguing with a dog who wants his walkies and his enthusiasm is infectious so out we go.
We walk in the late afternoon. After a session in the studio, I feel the need to be moving and my eyes also appreciate the chance to refocus. Too much up close work is tiring. Long vistas are the ticket and they are certainly available out over the Bay of Fundy.
Even in winter there is beauty. It may be more subdued and even monochromatic but it’s there. When the sun is out, the shadows are blue but at sunset, which comes early in the heart of winter, there are also tints of pink and purple. It’s a good reminder to look closely and not listen to my brain which assumes it already knows everything.
Taking a walk engages all my senses. There’s the physical motion, of course, but I love hearing the crows calling to each other in the treetops and chickadees trying to get my attention in the brush. In the snow at my feet are the tracks of unseen neighbours, the shy, wild ones.
I don’t need music to accompany me when there’s the sound of waves on the shore and wind in the bare branches. The scent of salt air and woodsmoke from my neighbours’ chimneys add a bit of spice to the package.
I always carry my phone with me. Having an easily portable camera is a godsend because it allows me to be in the moment but also to capture that moment. I have more reference material than I could possibly use but I never let that stop me. Taking photos keeps me watching for that something special, even on a route I take every day.
All those experiences return with me to the studio and inspire me with ideas like my painting of “Sunrise Over Isle Haute”.
Not every day, though. I’m not a masochist. When a blizzard blows through, we stay tucked up by the fire and I am extremely grateful to have walls to shelter me.