HIKING & SKETCHING WITH GEMMA O’NEILL – THE MOURNE MOUNTAINS

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With less than two weeks to go until the next Wild Women Creatives – this time round a Hike and Sketch, with Artist and Illustrator, Gemma O’Neill, the pair of us took to the hills last Thursday to plan our route and make preparations for the day.

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On arrival at the carpark of my chosen trail we were amazed at how still and bright the morning was – Storm Ciara was on her way for the weekend, so we decided that we were experiencing ‘the calm before the storm’ and were determined to make the most of it. We eagerly set-off through the gate and several little wild ponies greeted us as we joined the trail – I usually count 3 or 4 on that route, but amazingly, 10 little ponies were dotted along the track as we walked, occasionally coming across to sniff our pockets for treats!

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Gemma was immediately mesmerised by the scenery, the trail I had picked was new to her, despite her love for the Mourne Mountains, and it wasn’t long before the sketchbook and pencils were pulled from her rucksack and she began drawing. I watched on in amazement as her pencil strokes soon turned into a gorgeous capture of the landscape – she made it look so easy! I haven’t drawn much since my schooldays but kind of regretted not bringing a pad and pencil with me! Once the first sketch was complete we walked onwards and upwards, the terrain opening up and treating us to far-reaching views across the mountain range.

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This was the first time Gemma and I had met in person, another glorious Instagram connection of like-minded souls, but the conversation was easy. I soon learned about Gemma’s lifelong passion for creating, her education and journey towards working as a full-time Artist. Gemma’s inspiration comes from being immersed in nature and she feels that sketching outdoors is freedom-bringing and also a form of therapy. Having experienced her own ups and downs in life, and a complicated health issue, sketching in the great outdoors has been a huge form of comfort and escape from everyday life pressures.

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Quite remarkably for a February day in the mountains we were able to sit awhile and have lunch, the chat flowing easily as we sat back and enjoyed our surroundings. Although there was a definite chill in the air, the sun shone, sprinkling beautiful winter light across the hills and making them sparkle like gold – how lucky we felt!

The Wild Women Creatives: Hike & Sketch event which will be happening on 22nd February is a low-key affair Рneither hill-walking or drawing experience are necessary as Gemma and I will guide you through the day. The idea behind Wild Women Creatives is to bring women together in an outdoors location, spend time together in a natural setting, and enjoy being inspired by the conversation and the landscape. Wild Women events is a community for women who want to get back to basics, explore more and make meaningful connections. Walking in nature is known to be linked with creativity Рwhether than be making art or inspiring creative thinking in all its forms, so where better than our glorious mountains to have the flames of creativity stoked and enjoy some headspace?

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Photo by Rural Lane Photography

Gemma will share some of her creative journey with you during the course of the day and I will guide you on a gentle hill-walk. An informal sketch tutorial from Gemma will ease you into some doodling of your own using the art materials provided, with no pressure to produce a masterpiece, but simply enjoy putting pencil to paper and seeing what happens. Afterwards, you will be treated to a delicious 3-course al fresco lunch and are welcome to take home your art supplies to use again – you will undoubtedly be inspired by your day in the hills and want to draw some more!

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If you would like to join Gemma and myself for this fun and inspiring event in the Mournes tickets for Wild Women Creatives: Hike & Sketch are on sale here.

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