Island Hopping: Lewis, The Black Isle and Skye

July 16, 2016 | 11 Comments

I am currently on the Isle of Skye for a brief visit and so much has happened since my last update.

I’ve only just passed the halfway point of my trip (was Italy at the beginning or was it another trip?) and starting to get a little travel weary. So sometime in the next week I have to recharge my batteries as I head south for the big sketching event of the year – the Urban Sketchers Symposium in Manchester.

I am now solo travelling and although I have a bit of driving to do, I’m finding the time alone energising. I just LOVE driving through the Scottish landscapes – have I mentioned that before?

So what do I have to fill you in with? The last day and a bit on Lewis, ferry and bus to Inverness, pick up a car and then drive to the Isle of Skye. And in between I had a few social visits and a quick outing to the Black Isle.

I have been enjoying the challenges of sketching the Scottish landscapes and a few things I have been experimenting with are:

  • simplifying the shapes while describing the rock formations or plants in the landscaping
  • preserving whites for the wee houses and rethinking my usual practice of little white gaps for landscapes so that the houses stand out better
  • working in a more traditional way with watery first washes – yes, very radical for me!
  • trying to get the right colours – especially the green – and using potters pink a lot
  • mixing up techniques
  • working smaller and creating more journal style spreads (remember this was one of my goals)

Ok, time for the sketches and photos.

Monday and Tuesday on Lewis.

A few cafe visits…

and I wasn’t the only one painting!

I am missing this funny little girl a lot. And just for the record her father is an artist so she has plenty of encouragement without me!

On the final day we went to the beaches in the Uig area. First Kneep beach where I attempted a sketch.

Freezing wind and rapidly approaching storm.

By the way, this is Scottish summer beach attire!

The sun came back out just as we arrived at Uig – a huge expanse of sand.

My sketching time was often during my nieces snack times, so this sketch was done at a picnic table at Uig looking towards the surrounding hills.

Wednesday: Lewis to Inverness and outing to Black Isle

Time to leave Lewis – black pudding on the ferry.

I’ve had it three times this week and have decided that although Macleod and Macleod is great, I prefer Charlie Barley.

Trying to mix it up with smaller landscape sketches.

Ullapool from the ferry and then from the bus.

And as soon as I picked up my hire car I drove to The Black Isle. I have many special memories of visits here before my sketching days so it was fun to sketch Avoch -pronounced ‘Och!

I love the harbours in these seaside or loch-side villages but an approaching storm and a visit to my ‘scottish granny’ prevented me from  be able to sketch it. Next visit I seriously want a week at a good fishing village!

But I did manage this line sketch of the main street. A wee sketch of the Free North in Inverness before I drove out the next morning, and a ‘stuck in traffic sketch’ on Skye. A watercolourless page!

Thursday: To the Isle of Skye


I had a bit of a messy day and wasn’t able to achieve my plan but no matter. Instead of Eilean Donan Castle I sketched at Kyle – showing the Skye bridge and first view of the Cuillins. I am a bit obsessed with the Cuillins as my snapchat followers will know – breaking out into song “the far Cuillins are puttin’ love in me!” Oh dear!

A few sketches of the Old Man of Storr, Staffin and another view of the Cuillins. Drawing this incredible range of hills a few times has meant that I am getting to know the individual peaks – that is very special.

A big attraction on Skye is to walk to the fairy pools – I just sketched them from afar as I was more impressed by…

the nearness of the Cuillins. Surprise surprise!

I then drove through an lesser road and had fish and chips at Portree. I was running out of time and was thinking of adding paint but decided to leave the half completed bottom sketch as it is.

So here is a photo of the view!

I can’t resist sharing this photo taken while I was stopped in a passing place. In the highlands there are a lot of roads that are only one lane wide with frequent spots so cars can pass. It gets a little crazy in peak season on Skye.

Friday: Wet day on Skye

Today was a very wet day. Locals tend to apologise for the weather, but I LOVE the Scottish landscape in the rain. I love the feeling of the big mountains hiding in the clouds and…

you never know when you will get a glimpse of them.

I spent the morning talking art, inner critic, journalling and music with Anna and Joe whose B&B (Cuillin View B&B) I am staying. Anna is a facebook friend and Sketchbook Skooler.

BTW1 the view from here is GREAT!
BTW2 this photo was taken yesterday as today the cloud was low!

It wasn’t a day for hills, I headed to Sleat in the south of the island (hardly any tourists – yay!) to re-visit the grave of my 4 x great grandfather that we discovered 13 years ago. It was a lot fun finding it again – easy to locate but still a delightful discovery.

Beautiful graveyard in Kilmore.

I then went to the place where he lived – Duncan was a wealthy merchant at Isle Ornsay – and sketched the hotel there. Ah! that was fun!
And finally I sketched the nearby locality at of Camus Cross. This might be the last sketch from the Highlands this trip. I have had a ball in my favourite part of the world.

Wow! this is a long post and I have done a lot this week. Despite family time, social visits and lots of driving I have achieved more than I expected. I’m really in the groove now.

I know some of you would like to see these sketches larger, but you will have to wait a bit longer for that. I hope that you are enjoying what I am able to provide when I get a free night! It is pretty hard to find the time to get these updates done but I am really loving being up to date and being able to share with you all my adventures now rather than the mammoth backlog when I return home.

Thanks for coming along with me!

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To read other reports from the trip click here


  • Wonderful sketches and I’m enjoying seeing part of the world that I haven’t visited yet.

  • Patricia Wafer says:

    I’ve always wanted to see Scotland but haven’t got there yet so your photos and sketches are a real treat. Lovely work!! I do get my occasional emails read out on BBC Radio Scotland on the Iain Anderson Show from Glasgow on Tues and Wed nights. Great show and great music!!

  • Anna says:

    An absolute pleasure to host you Liz! You have given me a huge amount to think about and I am excited for the next stage of the journey. One step at a time for 10,000 miles….. all the way from Scotland to Australia!

  • Murray W says:

    All that green on your paper, but you only have Sap Green in your palette?!

  • Annie Fortenberry says:

    Enjoying you sketches and photos of Scotland, so much, Liz. My awareness of the UK is from all the books I have read since early childhood and I am eager to soak up the atmosphere. Thanks for taking me along.

  • Linda Barnhill says:

    HUGE thank you for posting photos and sketches. Thoroughly enjoyed them all and the info. My excitement rises as I plan to leave for that part of the world in about 10 days. I live in the southern part of the USA. Its Hot here. I’m new to journal sketching and plan to give it a try while on my trip.

  • Jo Morton says:

    All this is soooooo familiar, as I draw and paint a lot in the Western Isles! Love your sketches , and will perhaps meet you in Manchester!

  • Kirk Whiteside says:

    I enjoy the landscape views shown in the BBC series “Shetland” and then to see similar views in your blog posts of your trip has”made my day”. Thanks!

  • David Rodgers says:

    really enjoyed seeing your scotland posts in particular; I live in the UK and have visited scotland many times, including various of the islands you have been to, and you are doing great.

  • Sietske spyker says:

    Really enjoy your updates. Your sketches is so beautiful and very inspiring. Thank you so much for sharing so much of your work and travels.

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