I spend at least three hours a day walking. It is part of my daily routine, early in the morning, then again in the afternoon, and maybe another one before bed. I enjoy being outdoors, experiencing the different colours, smells, sounds that accompany each walk. The same walk can feel totally different from one end of the day to the other. Regular walks become like familiar friends. This year I have spent more time in Penwith, in the Mounts Bay area, simply walking from my front door. I have, for years, walked extensively in Cornwall, yet I always seem to discover a new pathway, a new line on the map, that then joins up with a familiar walk. I relish discovering ancient paths I never knew existed, that cross over into my more familiar territory. Seeing St Michael’s Mount from so many angles and viewpoints never becomes tedious; it looks so different according to the weather, the light, the time of day or night, and how I feel in myself on a given day. 

Sometimes I draw upon the sensations I feel in my legs, hips, feet, arms, breathing or muscles. These are not from visual observation, but the shapes I feel myself making, or the pressure / contact with the ground. Often, I get lost in my thoughts whilst walking, and I can walk a whole section of coast path and not really ‘see’ it. I go into auto pilot. Concentrating on my breathing, on how different parts of my body feel, makes me experience ‘real time’ more, almost like a meditation. It is then that I start looking around and engaging with my surroundings, and become more observant. 

Walking for long periods of time is critical to my practice and who I am. I rarely draw whilst out walking or running, but the daily discipline of these activities forms a bedrock in my life, and I often resolve visual / drawing problems whilst outside. Repetition of movement, muscle pain, my feet pounding on the ground, breathing, exertion and exhaustion can be starting points, initiating the marks I make on a drawing surface.

Early morning runs and walks are a time of quiet, of solitude, a window of time to connect to nature and myself before the business of life begins for the day. Throughout a childhood and adult life of stopping and restarting, of relocation and transience, the disciplines of walking and drawing have become ways in which I ground myself, familiarize myself with my surroundings, or create a sense of security, belonging and home.