Creating on the Go: Backpacking! / by Rebecca Stern

Creating outside of the studio is a challenge in general as it imposes limitations on size and materials. However, when preparing for my first backpacking trip knowing I wanted to create on the trail was even more of a challenge. My Fiance Tom and I planned to hike part of the Appalachian Trail with our dog Sansa. We had done a lot of hiking and camping but never backpacking - we were excited for the adventure!


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I knew that keeping the weight of my art-making supplies down was going to be key, so I ended up having to make a lot of sacrifices in that regard. I later learned while on the trail, that the simple supplies I brought were just enough and something I looked forward to doing at the end of a 12 mile day - along with my Top Ramen of course.


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As an abstract painter, I take my thoughts and emotions and use the materials at hand to translate into a visual representation. But on the trail, creating felt different. I was present and focused on taking care of my basic human needs. I didn’t care that I hadn’t showered and didn’t have makeup on. I didn’t stress about the future or the past. Instead of my emotions dictating my work, I noticed my surroundings influencing my work.  My color choices were based the things I saw on the trail, especially the colors of all of the different types of moss. My line use was indicative of the terrain I hiked that day and my brushstrokes were fluid, calm.


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In a way, this trip felt like a hiatus from my normally overactive brain - a welcome retreat.


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