Europe19: The Isle of Lewis and Harris

July 6, 2019 | 8 Comments

It’s always a big highlight of my European trip to spend some time with family and (church) friends on the Isle of Lewis and this year I had over two weeks.

I spent most of my days working in a lovely AirBnB house and then in the afternoon I would hang out with my sister and the children – my niece 6.5 years old and my nephew 2.5 years old.

My AirBnB had a great view and I loved watching the weather – even on wet days. The long evenings were gorgeous.

On the last weekend, my great friend Esther Semmens came over from Edinburgh. She had never visited the island before so I had fun showing her around.

I sketched a far amount despite the 6-8 hours of work I did most days and I really enjoyed doing a lot of landscapes. I have a lot of images to share (as always) so let’s get going.

Around Stornoway – the main (only) town on the Isle of Lewis.

Iconic blue shop in town.

First cafe visit of the trip – Artizan

Full spread showing a friendly seal and a fishing boat (before the rain started)

Another visit to Artizan.

After-school fun: climbing trees and then drawing them.

Here is my sketch of the best tree to climb in the backyard.

The owner of my Airbnb found my work online last year and knew that I liked teacups. So she got out her granny’s teacup and pot for me. How special is that? Thanks Ann-Marie!

Trying to sketch Lews Castle between showers.

My sister’s teacup after a lovely afternoon tea with her sweet neighbour.

Tower of the Nicholson Institute

More after-school fun on a sunny day!

Bits and pieces sketching

A nice lunch with my sis at the new Smokehouse

Esther in town – sketching the Town Hall

My version of Stornoway Town Hall

Other areas on Lewis

The famous standing stones at Callanish on a very hot afternoon – it was 27C.

A magnificent broch – Dun Carloway – sketched in 10 minutes.

My yearly visit to the lovely Morven Gallery

A quick end of the day visit to Port of Ness

A morning in Uig included stopping at Cliff Beach for a sketch.

Valtos in Uig – so peaceful.

Part of the stunning view from the new restaurant: Uig Sands

The landscapes of Harris

I went down to Harris three times. Once for the day with my sis and family, and the other two times I stayed overnight with my friends (a minister and his wife) in Leverburgh so I could go to their church on Sunday. This is the view from their house looking south towards North Uist taken on the weekend with the better weather!

A stop at the Machair kitchen for a coffee means sketching the view.

Another version of the best roadside view of Harris Hills.

Another view from the Machair kitchen on my second visit to Harris.

A day at Luskentyre Beach with the family

Flying a kite and feeling as if we have the whole beach to ourselves

My sketch of Luskentyre beach…

… and a few experiments exploring ways to get Scottish hill texture using pigment magic.

Showing Esther around Harris – here is the view of Seaforth Loch – the border between Lewis and Harris.

A quick incomplete sketch of the food cart at the spot.

The next stop was on the highest point as we drove through the Harris Hills. It was too windy to paint outside so this was from the car.

We didn’t make it to Luskentyre but we did stop on the road to it for a few sketches. Looking one way…

… and then the next.

Sketch of ‘the toe’ from Northton.

Sketching two views of Leverburgh.

The view of Leverbrugh which I want to sketch next time (needs to be in the late afternoon in the sun like this).

And my final Scottish sketch was this one done passing through Edinburgh again.

So there you have it! A fantastic (and productive) time on the Isle of Lewis and Harris.



  • Terry Elrod says:

    Wonderfully generous, Liz. Beautiful sketches, always an inspiration. Thank you.

  • Virginia Rogers says:

    Liz, I went to the island after having read the Lewis trilogy by Peter May. His beautifully descriptive writing about it moved the island to the top of my travel list. I remember most of the places you sketched. Thank you for sharing and bringing memories back to me. Your sketches are beautiful and really catch the spirit of the island. Virginia

  • Jane Jackson says:

    What a wonderful post, your love of family and the islands really comes across. I especially admire your misty mountains and will use them as inspiration and example to paint the mountains here in north Wales.

  • Marilyn H says:

    Wonderful sketches Liz! And I too love teacups. You have inspired me to sketch my collection!

  • Peter Joscelyne says:

    Hi Liz. It’s all been beautifully said in the responses above – sharing a piece of family life, your holiday, and and sharing from simple day-to-day sketches to the scenic travel sketches. I can’t really add much without being repetitive, except to say that put together the whole is a wonderful narrative…a marvellously illustrated short story.

  • Wow! Great sketches and photos. How nice that you were able to visit family (adorable kids) and have your friend come and visit and sketch too. Looks like you all had a fun time.

  • Rockie Weymouth says:

    I’m sure you’ve addressed this in earlier blog entries, but what do you use to create the blue lines for your hand printed text in the upper left corner of some sketchbook pages?

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