Art and Running, But Mostly Running

by Claire Gaulin-Brown

I’ve been an amateur runner almost as long as I’ve been an artist. And by artist, I mean little kid who loved painting and signing her name on furniture. I think I was 11 when I realized that running was really fun, and that it afforded me some solitude since I could run down the road with no big brother in tow.

Some years I’ve run consistently 5 or 6 times a week, and other years it’s just once in awhile, but I always seem to come back to it. I’ve used it as a tool to get through sad times, and as a celebration if I finish a painting or reach a deadline, its like I can shake the cobwebs off and reset myself so that I can start something new on the work table. When someone dumped me over text message the first thing I did was go for a run, when I moved away from home for the first time, I ran, when I missed Michael during geographical times apart, I went running. Oddly, after my dad died I didn’t run, it’s like I lacked the clarity to know that I could get that clarity if I just ran. A dear friend told me that he hoped I would find stillness in a time of grief, and while I may not have that completely, the closest that I can come to finding that stillness is in moving.

Running right now is a simple part of my routine and it definitely informs my artistic practice in small ways. I finish up with work, change and run out the door. I don’t wear a watch, or listen to music. I just run, and think and breathe. I think about art and plan my future paintings, and get weird ideas. It’s all little stuff, but it feels so good. 45 minutes to an hour later of running in the trees, I’m home, and fresh and a little more present I think.

If you would like to read more succinct words about creative work and running, get your hands on a copy of “What I Talk about When I Talk About Running” by Haruki Murakami.