The Art of the Journey
The subject matter of my work has often been paths and trails leading to some unforeseen place or future. In my twenties I read Joseph Campbell’s “A Hero With A Thousand Faces” which describes the characteristics of the hero’s journey with fascinating imagery and very old stories from many cultures and religions in disparate parts of the world. These myths have an uncanny similarity – a person sets out on a mission, encounters all sorts of characters along the way, becomes changed by the experience and returns from the journey with new wisdom to share with others. In retrospect this book, as well as others, caused me to start thinking of our lives as a “journey”, a path we must follow towards greater self growth.
I’ve travelled on many trails in a variety of landscapes; such as circumnavigated the Yosemite Valley, hiked up Mt. Albert Edward in Strathcona Park or a ridden a myriad of trails in twenty years of mountainbiking. Every time I set out on a hike, bike ride or even start a new painting I am aware that I am assuming some risk, taking a step into the unknown and that I may emerge from the ordeal or event, changed in some way. I find this process to be an essential part of who I am.
I believe humans are meant to keep growing, changing and learning throughout their lives for which a trail serves as a fitting metaphor. As in life, the trail unfolds in front of us and we do not always know what weather, conditions or events may transpire, forcing us to adapt and find our inner strength. Often we find helpers or new friends along the way. As we keep choosing to discover and follow new trails (actually sometimes it is not always our choice), our fears may slowly be replaced by skill, knowledge or understanding and we, sometimes unwittingly, will become the guides to those just setting out.
Image above: “Lone Rider”, acrylic on canvas, 24″ x 48″, 2014