One of my biggest creative influences on Instagram, Shona – Adventure Sketchbook if you don’t follow her and want your entire house filled with her paintings then there is something wrong with you!! I’m thinking of buying a house just to fill it with her work! This makes me want to quit my life and just start painting all the time!!
1. Can you tell us something about yourself?
I’m Shona, a teacher, artist and lover of wild places. I love hillwalking, cycling and camping and I’m always on the hunt for a beautiful view to paint. I bring my ‘adventure sketchbook’, paints and pens with me whenever I’m in the outdoors and try to do at least one quick painting on each trip. Sometimes I take them home and create larger oil paintings from these studies but often I just leave them as they are, a visual diary of happy memories of the places I’ve explored. I always find I remember a place much better once I’ve painted it because I have to stare at it so intently while I’m painting it!
2. What is the first memory of an adventure you had? And why does it stand out?
My earliest memory of a ‘proper’ adventure was going wild camping in the Cairngorms with my dad and brother when I was about 4 years old. We took the chairlift up (which now makes me sound really old since it’s so long gone!) and walked up to the top of Cairn Gorm and into Coire an Lochain to camp for the night. We couldn’t sleep since it was so windy overnight so we got up as soon as it was light and walked out much to the disappointment of my mum who was hoping for a weekend of peace! That trip is actually one of my favourite memories ever.
3. What is your next big adventure? Tell us all about it.
This weekend I am off to the Cairngorms to walk a big loop of the Cairngorm 4000ers with a wild camp along the way. I’m doing a lot of bothy paintings at the moment and we will be passing a few on this walk so I’m hoping to get a couple of bothy sketches done on the way that I can use later for bigger paintings. Praying for dry weather with a little bit of wind to keep the midgies away!
4. What piece of advice would you give your younger self?
Hmm that’s a hard one. I’d probably tell my 14 year old self that life will continue even if someone sees you wearing those uncool walking trousers.
5. What advice would you give someone who is just starting their outdoor journey?
Learn some basic navigation so you can keep yourself safe, always pack jelly babies and (lockdown has taught me this) you don’t have to drive for miles to find somewhere incredible outdoors!
6. What is the hardest adventure/hike you have done and why?
Haha well the one that springs to mind is a trip on Skye where we forgot to pack the lighter for the stove and didn’t realise until we were starving, had set up camp at the end of a long day and got the food out ready to cook. That’s actually happened twice so I’m clearly not learning my lesson!…maybe not the kind of challenge you meant but is there actually anything harder than ending a massive day of walking with stale bread because you can’t cook your meal??
7. Is there a sport/adventure pursuit you would like to try? If yes what’s stopping you?
In the Alps last summer we hired electric mountain bikes which were SO much fun. Very lazy but they enabled you to get high in the mountains very quickly and cover much more distance before you got tired. Far too expensive though to actually buy one but I’d love to hire them again because they were amazing!
8. Your painting are absolutely stunning, have you always painted? What made you start?
I’ve always done painting and drawing for as long as I can remember, all the way through school. When I went to uni I stopped and didn’t really do anything creative until I started teaching and wanted something to do in the evenings after school. I started sewing and dressmaking for a while and learned how to make clothes. That progressed to textile art for a while and then three years ago I did a beginners oil painting short course one summer at the Glasgow School of Art. I absolutely loved it and that’s where the obsession really started! I’ve painted most days since then – it makes me so happy and keeps me sane 🙂
9. Where is your favourite place to paint?
It depends! I love love love painting in the outdoors, in the mountains or on a beautiful deserted beach with a wee flask of tea next to me. I did a lot of painting in Norway last summer and that was just incredible. I paint in watercolour and ink when I’m outside though since it’s portable and much quicker drying but my real love is oil painting for the vibrancy you can get and I do that indoors since it can be messy. I do love painting indoors on a winter afternoon when it’s raining and cold outside, with a good audiobook and a cup of tea!
10. Are there any women that inspire your adventures or that you look to for inspiration?
I’m really inspired by other women who combine art and their love of the outdoors, for example Nikki Frumkin of @drawntohighplaces who paints from the most stunning mountain locations and @emily.beaudoin who creates incredible watercolours from her adventures in the Canadian Rockies.
11. Do you struggle to find a balance between outdoor life and being an adult?
I’m very lucky that my job as a teacher allows me to spend a lot of time in the summer months introducing young people to the outdoors through hillwalking, kayaking and wild camping around Scotland. I’m also an assessor for the Duke of Edinburgh award so I get to spend quite a lot of time doing that during the summer term which I love!
Website and online shop: www.adventuresketchbook.com