A Journey of a Thousand Contours – Meet Artist Diane Shearer

I think I might want to be Diane Shearer when I grow up. Yep, a funny way to start a blog interview, but if you’ve had a look through her website and Instagram posts you will understand why a nature-lover like myself would be enthralled. Diane is an adventurer at heart with a creative soul and has found the perfect way to combine her two passions. Her images speak of someone with a love for high and wide places and remind of a birds’ eye view. I love the details she inserts so effortlessly into her sketches – flowers, trees and interesting cloud formations adorn her contoured images. She enjoys suggesting movement and life and I can feel the energy in her drawings.

Mountain sketch

I posed some questions to the interesting person behind the images:

1. You seem to actively seek adventure and I am assuming your sketches are inspired by your travels. What came first – the sketching or the adventuring? I would love to know how the idea of your ‘mountainart’ was born.

Wow, this is like asking what came first, the chicken or the egg.
I have been drawing since I could hold a pencil and I have been hiking since I could walk.
For my whole life, these two passions have been two completely separate things, it never crossed my mind that they could be combined until I started blogging about my hikes in the Drakensberg and road trips around Africa and drew a ‘cover page’ for each article and all of a sudden my whole world made sense. I went from drawing anything to having a purpose and today my work is driven by a desire to share the visual stories I collect as I hike, climb and run in the beautiful mountains of South Africa. I travel and explore the world and take that inspiration back home and create something beautiful that fellow nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts can relate to and enjoy. I absolutely love showing people my artwork when they can identify that particular peak in the Drakensberg and have their own little story about their trip to share with me.

Mountain Range Sketch

2. What is your process – do you do a lot of your sketches right there ‘on-location’ or do you prefer to bring back some images and rough ideas on which to base your final artwork?

I don’t often draw on location and if I do it’s because I am in one place for a long time or in between climbing routes when I have some time to kill. I do envy artists who can draw right then and there but I am not just an artist I am an adventurer as well. I want to be involved and do as much as I can, live in the moment instead of watching from the sidelines. I don’t want to stop and think about the composition, what pen I’m going to use or what style will work best. I want to think about how much fun I am having, I want to appreciate that view and that sunset.

By drawing on location I feel I have to sacrifice a huge amount of time to be alone and step away from everything that is happening (my work is not just a quick sketch, it takes hours to complete) Nature is forever changing and I get attracted to subtle things like the way the light catches the side of the mountain or the way the wind makes that tree move, all of that can only be seen in a second or if I’m lucky a few minutes. I don’t have time to get my pen and paper out and start drawing, I barely have time to get my camera and get the perfect shot. I don’t just illustrate the general landscape, I try to capture energy, light, weather and movement.

Once I get home I reflect on my experience and think hard about what part of that experience I want to show the world and sit quietly in my own thoughts and draw and draw and draw.

Colorful Mountain

3. OK, we love art supplies – that’s no secret!! What are your go-to supplies? If you have to travel light (as in backpacking up the Drakensberg!), what can you not go without?

I am a simple person. All I need is one black fine liner and I can do just about anything with it. I have just discovered the Pigma Micron PN which varies thickness depending on the pressure applied, which is cool because now I can have a variety of widths without having more than one pen on me. When I am at home drawing I have a large variety of pen thicknesses and a huge range of coloured pencils. I do tend to stick to my 5 favourites but the options are there.

4. I see you also do graphic design – did you study art? Tell me a bit more about Diane and your background?

Diane Shearer climbing mountain

I have a degree in Graphic Design. With my love of art and creating things, it was pretty obvious what path I was going to take. Graphic design appealed to me because it’s not just about creating attractive visuals, it’s full of a mixture of craft, communication, ideas and problem-solving.

Diane Shearer looking over mountain range

5. What is on your bucket list? Where would you still like to go and what is your dream destination to draw?

I am not really sure, I am torn between wanting to go to places not many people have been to but at the same time if I draw Mt Stanley in Uganda (which is actually the 3rd highest mountain in Africa) nobody knows what it is unless they are the small percentage that has actually been there. Or I can draw Table Mountain or Mt Kilimanjaro or Mt Everest and most people will be able to identify it. That is what I want, I want people to look at my artwork and be able to relate and tell their own story. But the adventurer in me wants to rather hike up Mt Stanley than Mt Kilimanjaro.

Onward and Upward Diane!  I appreciate the glimpse into your adventure and will live vicariously through your drawings! Follow Diane’s blog for a glimpse of the high and wide places as seen through her eyes and some tales of adventure!

Instagram: @art.from.adventures


Facebook: Diane Shearer Illustration

Diane Shearer Sketch

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