Sam Gare is an artist known for her mountain landscapes. A keen walker herself it’s the rugged beauty of the wild that gives her inspiration. Currently in a 12 week isolation period herself she has chosen art as a response. Creating a different piece of art each day. She calls it her 12 weeks of nature. The work itself has become a tonic. A calming natural space to share and for others to enjoy.
Her move to mountain and landscape painting was, according to Sam, ‘overnight’. A Eureka moment she says. It was trip to Scotland which brought everything together. Her love for the outdoors and a love for painting. “It really did just happen that quickly” she told me. “One day I wasn’t drawing landscape/mountains and the next I was. It might sound crazy but it was a true eureka moment.”
One of her aims is to help share the value of nature. This is especially true during isolation. “Helping those stuck indoors to experience the benefit from nature through memory and art” she tells me. Memories triggered by art which evoke thoughts of happy and special times within nature.
Twelve Mountain Landscapes for Twelve weeks of Isolation
1. The Clisham (An Cliseam), Isle of Harris, Outer Hebrides, Scotland, UK
799m, 57.9637° N, 6.8125° W
I’m pretty sure 90% of people won’t know my number one mountain. It’s the highest in the Outer Hebrides. It’s also the archipelago’s only Corbett. Corbett’s are the name given to Scottish mountains between 762.0 – 914.4m (2,500–3,000 feet) in height. This is the requirement to be a “mountain”.
Some of you might not be surprised a Scottish mountain made it here. My fiancé and I own a plot of land that is just in front of this beauty. We’ve dreamed of building a life there for years, and therefore this mountain has come to symbolise that future home to me.
The Outer Hebrides was also where I first drew a landscape. Before that time I never even went near landscape in my art. It was the ultimate muse. The place that started my current career, it sparked the path I am on. So it really has earn’t its spot as my true number one.
2. Bidean nam Bian (Three Sisters) Glen Coe, Highlands, Scotland, UK
1150m, 56.6413° N, 5.0271° W
Glen Coe, where do I start! This beautiful ridge of mountains, with three distinctive peaks. Known as the Three Sisters. It gets me every time I drive through Glen Coe on my way up North. I don’t think I have ever driven past this amazing view without stopping. And I don’t think this view will ever get old. I just love it. Love hiking in this area too. It’s just a place of sheer joy. Whatever the weather and whatever the season…dreamy sigh!
3. Scafell Pike, Lake District, Cumbria, UK
978m, 54.4542° N, 3.2116° W
It really isn’t just Scafell, but most of the Lakes at number three. The Lake District helped me to discover my love of the outdoors. Contrary to what a lot of people might think, I was late getting into hiking and the outdoors. Not until I was in my 20’s. It has since been a place I can put the world on pause. One of the things I love about nature is its ability to press reset. To put everything into perspective.
4. Ama Dablam, Himalayas, Khumbu, Nepal
6,812 m, 27.8619° N, 86.8612° E
Not only did Ama Dablam’s striking appearance help this mountain reach number four. It is what it symbolises that makes this wild giant stand out. Nature to me has a powerful ability to improve our health. It was the Ama Dablam which inspired a body of work sharing the protective and healing ability of nature.
Its name means “Mother’s necklace”. Named after its long ridges on each side appearing like arms of a mother (Ama) protecting her child and the hanging glacier thought of as the Dablam. I’m fascinated by the stories and symbols we create for the world around us. This personification of the striking Ama Dablam is a great example of how we used to, and still do, marvel and respect the world’s wild giants.
5. K2, Karakoram, Himalayas, China/Pakistan border
8,848m, 35.8800° N, 76.5151° E
K2 is an obvious pick being the 2nd highest mountain but it does deserve it. Before I was really interested in mountains, I remember being intrigue by K2’s very cold, nameless title. As I learnt more about its deadly nature it felt quite poetic. Summing up its unforgiving, bare, and dangerous nature.
Coincidently K2 is the largest drawing I have framed. At 1.5m x 1.5m. I have a love hate relationship with it. Like the real mountain. I love this work, but it basically takes up all my bedroom, and is quite imposing. It still hasn’t found an owner willing to take on its size. I’m looking for the art buyers equivalent to Sir Edmund Hillary! You must be out there somewhere?!
6. Villarrica Volcano, Southern Chile
2,847m, 39.4203° S, 71.9396° W
Villarrica is one of Chile’s most active volcanos. Rising above a village and lake of the same name, and for those interested, it has a ski resort. This one makes it to my number six due to many fond memories of my time in Chile. The friends I met, hiking up and snowboarding down this active volcano during my travels in South America back in 2009.
I’m pretty sure I won’t ever get to snowboard down another volcano in my lifetime, so it’s a good memory to treasure. This is also the very first mountain I drew at my now standard 1m x 1.5m, so it’s quite a pinnacle piece for me.
7. Kangchenjunga, Himalayas, Taplejung District, Nepal/Sikkim, India
8586m, 27.7025° N, 88.1475° E
I always felt a little sorry for the Kangchenjungo. Being the third highest mountain, it was always overshadowed by its more famous cousins, Everest and K2. I personally had never heard of this mountain when I first became interested in these giants. But it is a stunner. With an amazing ridge line, lending itself so well to being drawn.
This mountain is in fact the subject of my largest ever mountain drawing at 4m x 5m. I wanted to give it the dramatic response it deserves. This piece has yet to be shown publicly, but one day Kangchenjunga will have its day.
8. Eiger, Bernese Alps, Canton of Bern, Switzerland
3,967m, 46.5776° N, 8.0054° E
Eiger is on the list as it was the subject of the first climbing/mountain non-fiction book I read – The White Spider. It sparked my continuing interest in our relationship with mountains and nature in general.
9. Mount Everest, Himalayas, Nepal/China border
8848m, 27.9881° N, 86.9250° E
Being the highest mountain in the world, how could I not include the epic Everest. This mountain has come to symbolise so much to the world. Especially with all the harrowing or triumphant stories of the climbers that take on this peak year after year. It’s also a beauty. When the sun hits it, it’s just shouting out to be drawn, or climbed, depending on the kind of person you are.
10. Ben Nevis, Lochaber, Highland, Scotland, UK
1345m, 56.7969° N, 5.0036° W
The thing I love about Ben Nevis is that even though it is the highest mountain in Britain, the route up is pretty straightforward. Strenuous by hillwalking standards, but still very much achievable. This make Ben Nevis quite accessible. It allows more people to experience a mountain climb, how great is that? Nothing beats the feeling of reaching the top of this one. But make sure to climb on a clear day…I need say no more!
11. Mount Fuji, Chūbu region, Honshu, Japan
3776m, 35.3606° N, 138.7274° E
Mount Fuji’s historic link with the arts, and artist’s continuing fascination with this natural wonder make this my number eleven. Fuji is the subject of Japanese artist Hokusai’s (1760–1849) wood block prints sharing Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji. I, like many others, love his stunning prints. He was one of my first inspirations with my work.
12. Matterhorn, alps, Aosta Valley, Italy/Valais, Switzerland
4478m, 45.9766° N, 7.6585° E
Matterhorn…what a beauty! I just love this mountain and it’s one of my most drawn wild giant’s. How can you not just love the strong edges and its silhouette. I need say no more
A Q&A with Artist Sam Gare
Could tell me more about the 12 weeks of isolation and why it is you are doing that? Why 12 weeks for example?
This project is a direct response to the current Covid-19 pandemic, and I guess my own response to lock down and isolation, and the potential impact of starving the population of nature. I’m in 12 weeks isolation due to being a vulnerable person (chronic myeloid leukaemia, which I have had for 3 years now) I feel very lucky as I have a beautiful outdoor garden/space to escape too, but I know a lot of people won’t be so lucky, and we all know how powerful nature is for our health and happiness. I was concerned about the impact of our separation from the outdoors.
So in an effort to keep me busy, and to offer a little bit of solace I started #12weekofnature’ – Basically during my 12 weeks of lockdown I have been drawing a calming natural space every day and via sharing these on social media the drawings have become a form of communication, discussing and sharing the value of nature. Helping those stuck indoors to experience the benefit from nature through memory and art. Memories are powerful things, and what has been amazing is that the drawings are evoking happy and special memories of nature, like looking back over a photo album of a long and happy life.
During this time artists have had their shows, exhibitions and events cancelled, me also so each piece will be for sale for £60, with £10 of this going towards two charities @wildernessfoundationuk helping to heal people through nature, and @bloodwise, supporting people with blood cancers.
Both charities are close to my heart and we all need a bit of support and love during these times.
Can you explain some more about why you started to paint mountains?
I’m self-taught, and originally wanted to be a natural history documentary maker, due to my love of the natural world and animals, in fact I still have a love for film and audio. It wasn’t until I was in my 30’s, after a trip to Scotland, that I started drawing the landscape, and overnight my love for the outdoors was finally being reflected in my art. Up until that point I had never quite found my focus with my art. Nature had long been an escape for me, a second love (first being art),and it was a place to reflect and be happy.
I found I suddenly needed to share this feeling through my art after I had a memorable trip to Scotland (which co-incidentally was also the trip we decided Scotland was going to be our home one day) It really did just happen that quickly, one day I wasn’t drawing landscape/mountains and the next I was – it might sound crazy but it was a true eureka moment, and everything just slot into place following this. Looking back, I’m surprised I never even contemplated bringing my two passion together before this point, but I guess thing always happen when you’re not looking for them.
Can you tell me some more about your love of the outdoors? Where does it come from? What got you into it etc?
I would say that in a nutshell nature allows me to push the pause button on the craziness of modern life. I guess my love for the outdoors comes from me existing in a world that just doesn’t quite fit with my natural pace and state of mind, it’s just a bit too fast, too loud, and too angry.
Nature allows me a little solace and time to reset. There isn’t anything else like it for me, I find myself instantly relaxed, and intuitively I think I knew that nature was good for me. Maybe we all know this, and why nature now is so important for both our physical and mental health. We have had a close link to nature for thousands of years, we developed, grew and adapted to natural environments, not the urban environment we currently exist in, so how could we not yearn for nature, even subconsciously.
What do you get from being outside walking in these places? What do you feel and what does it give you?
Nature has this beautiful natural rhythm and stable balance and exists in the very much here and now…a positive way to experience the world. When I walk into these places, I’m not just physically entering them, but I find nature makes its way into my head and body. Nature is mentally restorative, and has a profound impact, reducing stress, calms me and makes me feel very grounded. It also inspires my creativity, which is a clear sign of my contentment & happiness.