Workshops/Wild Ink Walks

The Art of the Trail

What is a Wild Ink Walk? It’s an experience that fuses mindfulness, sense of place, and inspiration through movement — walking and creating along natural and urban trails.

Wild Ink Walks give participants the chance to experience the synergy of three practices:

  • walking/hiking outdoors
  • creative expression (writing/drawing)
  • mindfulness

The walks explore each activity as a practice that enriches the others to deepen participants’ experience of focused awareness, creativity, and connection with landscape, biome, season, and senses. You can be new to these activities or an experienced artist, outdoor enthusiast, or mindfulness practitioner.

The movement of walking helps jog us out of usual ways of approaching the world and our own creativity (and can, recent research suggests, be good for our brains). Being outdoors and observant (mindful) can help unleash something, scrape something away, let in some light.

Every set of prompts includes suggestions for writing and drawing. Athletes cross-train — so can we.

“Mindfulness—that quality of acute attention to the Now—is at once a technique, a purpose and a result of Poetry.”

Dick Allen “Knock on the Sky and Listen to the Sound: On Zen Buddhism & Poetry.” Rattle Winter 2011 Tribute to Buddhist Poets.

Why Do It?

There is a long tradition of being mindful out in nature and a strong connection between mindful awareness and creativity.

Although he gives plenty of tips for more formal walking meditation, often practiced by walking very slowly, Tich Nat Hanh also suggests that you can “walk in a way that others do not even notice that you are practicing” (The Long Road Turns to Joy: A Guide to Walking Meditation. Parallax Press, 2011).

You can go for a walk in the woods on your own, of course, carrying a notebook or drawing pad — and I encourage you to do just that! Joining me on a Wild Ink Art Walk offers some benefits:

  • the ease of following a path chosen for its interesting terrain and fruitful places for writing and drawing,
  • stimulating creative exercises and readings that other groups have found helpful,
  • an adventure that will take a known amount of time
  • the joy of  exploring the intersections of mindfulness, walking outdoors and creativity with other people

What Do We Do?

On these walks what we do is very simple: we walk in mindful silence, we sit and write or draw for brief periods, following suggestions I provide for paying attention, or following our own intuition. We take breaks for snacks and lunch. At the end we circle up and discuss our experiences, and I provide some suggestions about how to bring this level of awareness into everyday life, and how to use the draft writings and drawings you have created.

In some events we work on a group collage/mural that represents the collective experience, and is distributed later as an image for sharing or printing. Sometimes I distribute a packet of readings and bibliography to participants (if it is a class/workshop) and we discuss these, and use a workshop format to examine our revisions of the art walk drafts.

There are half-day and full day versions, urban, nature trail and wilderness versions, and seasonal walks. I’ve done these with adults and with teens, and could design a shorter version for younger children. One version focuses on awakening the 5 senses. I have designed 4 walk routes, two in or near Charlottesville, and two in Nelson County. I can also design a custom version for your group, be it a school class, an artists’ or meditation group, nature club, a group of wedding guests, etc.

The Five Senses

The Five Senses Walks can be held in any location, and focus on mindful exploration of all five senses. The (always optional) prompts will help you focus on sound, touch, scent, taste, and sight, explore synesthesia and non-conceptual awareness.

The Four Seasons

These walks take you along the same trail in each of the four seasons and the prompts help you to investigate the seasonal changes in the landscape, what cycles, what seems timeless, and encourages concrete observation of our surroundings in any weather, in every condition.

Custom Art Walks

I am happy to design an art walk for your group or event. These can be a great activity for  bridal shower or  wedding guests, for small organizations or workplace teams, for environmental, art or spiritual/meditation groups, for reunions. 

Locations

I have designed walks in many terrains, including:

  •  a loop in Nelson County that includes river and creekside walking, some paths and some off-trail wooded slopes
  •  along a riverside nature trail – for several springs a Nelson County Parks and Rec activity
  • an urban trail in Charlottesville that includes green spaces, light industrial, retail areas, and sculpture
  • A loop through IX Art Park in Charlottesville and into the nearby cemeteries.

Other Workshops

Learn about my Poetry Unfolding workshops and other offerings on the Hybrids page.

Amelia L. Williams

Metaphors Be With You!

wildink@pm.me

AmeliaLWilliamsPoet

@wildinkpoet