I sat down with Ian Lawson, one of Toronto’s most adventurous nature lovers. For him, disconnecting with technology and the daily grind so he can reconnect with nature, is not an option- it’s a necessity. He tells us why it’s so important to get out and explore new things, and separate from our busy lifestyles.
P: Why are the outdoors so important to you?
I: Since I was young, I’ve been drawn to the outdoors and hands-on activity. I was an only-child and since my parents always encouraged me to play outside, I was able to burn off the crazy amount of energy I had while also using and growing my imagination. I enjoy virtually all sports and forms of exercise, but learned early on that I gravitated towards those which brought me a mix of adventure and risk-taking (mountain biking, paddling, snowboarding, climbing). The outdoors for me is about tuning out many aspects of normal life and re-connecting with my sense of wonder and fear. It awakens in me a thirst for both danger and tranquility.
P: In addition to working at the Toronto Harbourfront, you’re a very talented artist. How does art allow you to reconnect with yourself?
I: My paintings speak for me with clarity which my words can’t match. The weightless state of focus which comes with any form of art-making is enjoyable and relaxing for me, but the cleanest connection I’ve ever felt between my heart and my hand comes from when I’m painting. Both my conscious and subconscious minds are present in each one. When I’m zoned in on a painting with a brush and palette knife crossed in my hand, it feels like lightning in my veins. The creative process can bring me both the highest highs, and lowest lows in my life.
P: How did your passion for creative arts develop?
I: Something sort of clicked for me around 14 years old, where I was so obsessed with graffiti that I would fill my notebooks with drawings instead of school work. I would even sneak out at night to paint and tag all kinds of stuff. Once I took my paint markers and spray paint onto canvas- that was it.
P: How did your love for nature spark your creative mind?
I: The outdoors provide limitless sources of wonder and beautiful visual inspiration, as well as opportunities for personal challenge and resilience building. I feel that my work is a lot about human energy and potential, which is why I feel so energized and ready to create after a backcountry trip. Even if I didn’t take any pictures to work from, I experienced and absorbed everything and grew as a person. That’s all I need to start creating.
P: What Are Your Favourite Outdoor Activities To Do In Toronto?
1. The Toronto Islands
– There are tons of fun activities, beaches, places to chill, and explore
– The bird sanctuaries, greenery and wildlife make it like a time capsule of southern Ontario
– The inner channels and outer Lake Ontario is great for paddling and swimming
2. Leslie Street Spit
– You can hike, bike, and paddle in the area
– There are many great places to chill and explore with weird sketchy stuff/people in the area
– There are also wildlife sanctuaries you can visit
3. Scarborough Bluffs area
– There are hiking trails, lots of exploring/hidden weird stuff you can find
– The beach areas can provide relative seclusion
4. The Don Valley
– Awesome mountain bike trails
– Re-vitalized Brick Works is super cool
– And lots of abandoned things to explore!
Find all these things to do and thousands more on Kibii.