Forrest Walking

So I feel it is safe to assume if you have been following me on here and on my socials you will know I have embarked on a self discovery and healing journey. I have no real anchor point as to how or why I started walking on this path, but never-the-less I have found myself wondering this landscape. I guess the COVID isolation of 2020 and 2021 was the gate way to this journey, as in the past I was always good with, blocking, masking, even escaping myself when I felt this familiar uncomfortable sadness creep in. 

Forrest Walk – acrylic on canvas

Basically I was an expert at avoidance, I would avoid anything that was vaguely uncomfortable. Things like conflict, boundary setting, saying no, and other aspects to life that generally made me feel “awkward” I would either acquiesce to the demands of situation evolving (my usual tactic), change direction, or run away. However this was not possible during lock down, I could not escape myself, I had no other choice but to confront this sadness dwelling inside. Why? because alcohol is an excellent masker and lets face it fun but not super practical when it came to coping with remote learning, a distressed and confused 9 year old and the trauma that came with being in a situation that had no answer or could see no real end to.

Now in terms of situation I couldn’t have chosen a more beautiful place to start my mid life crisis. 

I am very lucky to be living in Australia and in the Dandenong Ranges (The Hills) where not only are we away from the suburban sprawl that is typically Melbourne but we live above the concrete flat that can sometimes crowd the mind like the pollution suspended over the city’s horizon. 

Living in the The Hills, the air is cooler, crisper and clearer. The light bounces off the bush in ways so magical I am in awe of the dance being performed in front of my every eyes. This is what I have discovered when I started walking in the mornings, and is the direct inspiration of this painting I am sharing with you today, titled “Forest Walk” – acrylic on canvas.

What made you start walking? I hear you ponder. Walking became a way to clear my head and also give my dog (walking partner) some much desired exercise, it was also just great to be out of the house and on my own. I do not remember the day I started on these walks, I just all of a sudden found myself being drawn to it until it started becoming a need. 

With most of my walks they are quiet, absolutely no one is around, and sometimes on the colder mornings I can feel like the only person on the planet and my feet crunching the gravel are the first steps ever made. It is truely a magical place and when you are encircled in this quiet balm of nature, only hearing your own breath and beating heart, here I began to realise that focusing inwards was not so scary. This is how I have found myself not only walking in the forrest but also through my heart and mind as well.  

The morning walks are my favourite, as I get up, I immediately start wondering what type of sunrise it will be and what colours will be presented to me. As I am putting on my walking clothes, tying up my shoes and negotiating the excited jumps and whimpers of my walking partner. I wonder what creatures or other walkers will I see. I don’t really plan where I walk I just head out the front door, only when I am out the front gate do I make the decision. The weather does have an influence on where I go, if it is raining heavy I take an umbrella and stay on the path, if it is dry and the wind is calm I take the harder unsealed tracks, these are my favourites. 

I love walking deep in the rain forrest where you can feel like the only person in the world. The bird song seems magical, bouncing all over the valleys and ricocheting off the amazingly tall gum trees that seem like pillars for the sky. The rosellas and king parrots munch on morning seed as the kookaburras and magpies warble and laugh welcoming the sun out of its rest. 

The sky change is something I often find hard to describe and even harder to paint. The darkness just seems to melt away like steam, giving way to the warmest blues, greys, pinks, purples and oranges you will ever see, and the silence that comes with this is so immense it can take your breath away. There is a point between half light and the fullness of the sun close to the horizon, that vibrates the earth in one long hum or Om. This is why I walk and what I experience makes me feel small and all my worries and sadness fall away, appearing insignificant, so when I come back from my walk I know I can move forward into my day regardless of what is in front of me.       

Published by allihoward123

Allison Howard main passion has always been story telling works predominantly with illustration and completed her MFA at Monash University, Melbourne 2012. Graduating with the Chancellors award for best Thesis. Allison Has worked and collaborated with many artists and exhibitions, in both Australia and New Zealand. To be kept up to date with Allison's latest activity and to view her current and archived works please visit Instagram @alli.howard123 and hit the follow button.

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