Europe17: Isle of Lewis & Harris

June 19, 2017 | 13 Comments

The next part of my trip was 6 days on the Isle of Lewis (and Harris – the southern part of the island) hanging out with my sister, brother in law, 4 year old niece and meeting my 6 month old nephew called Ruairidh (Ru for short).

I wasn’t sure if I would get any dedicated sketching time, or if the wild Lewis weather would be sketch-friendly! In the end I sketched more than I expected and the weather was better than it was last year. Please refer here, here and here for articles from last years visit.

Time for an Aunty moment!

I love hanging out with J and G, wee Catronia is a lot of fun (and developing a strong Lewis accent) and Ru charms everyone with his smiles and happy disposition. Special times!

Stornoway isn’t one of the most picturesque towns in Scotland but the more I visit it, the more I love its rugged beauty and the more I want to sketch it. Maybe next trip I will be able to carve out some time to sketch in and around town.

This trip, all I managed was this sketch of the tea store – Hebridean Tea Store. On the left is a quick cuppa sketch from ‘the best cafe in town’ – Artizan.

I love the big skies and the long twilights – this is the view out of the window of my B&B at 10pm.

I don’t do a lot of landscape sketching so it was a bit of a crash course for me to get up to speed immediately.

Here are a few spreads showing some of my landscapes – some of them were done with the constant threat of distraction in the form of my 4 year old niece!

I’m half tempted to re-do a few of these in the coming weeks in the hope that I can be more effective next time.

Another landscape sketch done from the comfort of a cafe table at Talla Na Mara.

Not quite swimming weather at the beach.

Trying a lighter approach on a day with flat lighting – this is the wonderful St Clements church at Rodel at the bottom of Harris. I spent a wonderful Lord’s Day with my friends Rev and Mrs Smith in Leverburgh and am thankful for Mary’s suggestion to make this detour on my way back north.

Another light sketch of the incredible Dun Carloway Broch – I was battling high winds while sketching this.

Although there are more dramatic places in Scotland (eg. the Isle of Skye) I have decided that Lewis/Harris has become my favourite spot.

The beaches are incredible (especially the colour of the water on a good day!), the hills are spectacular (in any weather) and there is such variety in a small area – much less touristy as well.

Although it is sometimes hard that my sister and family live on a remote island, it’s definitely worth the effort to go and visit them. Hope to return again next year!

For more articles from my Europe trip – check out the full collection here.



  • Emily says:

    I love your sketches, Liz! And wow, you have the cutest niece and nephew! I love all the baby smiles.

  • Sabrina says:

    We’re going to the Outer Hebrides for 3 weeks in September. I will have another look at all your blog posts about Lewis and Harris! And I need to practice my landscape sketching skills, too…!
    Do you have any tips on what we need to see besides the obvious tourist attractions? And which colors are essential? I guess turquoise is a must have!

    • Liz Steel says:

      Hi Sabrina – hope you have great weather. there isn’t really much else except for the tourist areas there – certainly no extra galleries/cafes that are not on the map. I do recommend you visit Morven gallery.
      I didn’t make any changes to my palette – I like adding potters pink into my green mixes for granulation and a touch of heather.

    • Sabrina says:

      Thanks for the recommendations, Liz! I guess with 3 weeks there we’ll get lots of great weather, and lots of not so great weather. My husband is into nature photography (and I do my share of it, too), so we are looking forward for some stormy skies, dramatic light and hopefully autumn colors. And of course we hope to see otters and eagles and any other wildlife that crosses our way!

  • Julie-Anne Rogers says:

    Liz – you and your sister look so alike! And your niece and nephew are gorgeous.

    Enjoy your break,


  • Bernadette Darbyshire says:

    If you visit stornoway again do take a look in the castle grounds .also cuddy point where if lucky one can see curious seals .lovely places you have visited .

    • Liz Steel says:

      Thanks. I do walk the castle grounds each visit but didn’t know about cuddly point. Will ask my sis about that.

  • Bob Cochran says:

    Thank you, Liz, for capturing a part of the world I’ve never seen. Regarding the family pictures, I certainly agree with Emily and Julie-Ann.

  • Patricia Wafer says:

    That must be the cutest baby in the world!

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