I paint hikes and was recently asked the simple question of, “What do hiking and painting have in common?” It was an intriguing question because I had never framed up my thoughts in this way before. But, they are a few things the two have in common for me.
Hiking is a way for me to simultaneously escape and to recenter. When I am out on a trail, I get to be away from my list of to-dos. I am reminded of what is important in my life. Getting to sit down in the forest I will let out a sigh I didn’t know I was holding in. While walking I will feel my muscles work and my body move – instead being stuck behind some computer for hours. We all seem to need a way to do this, and for me, hiking is that way. And so is painting. When I paint I am free of other distractions. I am working on accomplishing some task – color to use, shape, scale… whatever the question, I am problem solving. It is a mediative process for me. Even on those days where I blast music and practically dance the paint onto the canvas. And if I haven’t painted in a bit, I find myself getting edgy and grumpy. Just like that itch to get back out on the trail again.
When hiking and painting I find myself really looking at the world closely. How does that branch move in the wind? Where does the sunlight fall? How many colors does the water reflect? I don’t have that experience separate from hiking and painting except perhaps when my girls were young, and I held my baby in my arms and watched her sleep. What a gift to allow ourselves to be in the moment.