On the 4th of August, I set off to the Outer Hebrides for 10 days. My trip to the Isles of Lewis and Harris was very special, leaving me in awe of nature, of God, and of creation. I was embarking on a journey which I knew had been very inspiring for many people before me.
One sunny day, I even made it to St Kilda!
The moment I glimpsed the islands of Lewis and Harris for the first time, it was like seeing the landscape through the eyes of a newcomer when I first came to the Isle of Mull 16 years ago. I was immediately captivated by the stunning beauty of the island and heartened to see people still caring for their church buildings, keeping communities alive. The Outer Hebrides, too, offered a landscape into which I could easily immerse myself, surrounded by and living in it. Colours and shapes, sounds and smells entranced my senses. The serenity of this seascape will stay with me forever.
In search of inspiration: COLOURS, SHADOWS AND LIGHT
Setting off early each morning, just before the sunrise, I carried my sketchbook and a new sheet of watercolour paper, stretched carefully on my painting board the night before. In my mind, I pondered where the sun would rise and set that day. Would the tide be kind enough to expose the vast headlands?
Huge, turquoise waves crashing majestically onto shores, towering sea stacks and rugged coastlines – the Isles of Harris and Lewis have it all. For miles, I meandered along the sand until I spotted the ideal site: colour contrast, composition, a stone that looked like painted marble.
Gratitude overwhelmed me every time I arrived at a new location and breathed in its stunning beauty. Of course, I had seen many photos of these Outer Hebridean Islands before, but only seeing the landscape with my own eyes was I finally able to really appreciate its vastness.
Sitting amid the dunes, listening to the rustling of the tall grasses being gently swayed by the wind from the Atlantic, I felt completely at one with nature. Before me was an array of green and blue pastel shades, layered with teal in a perfect harmony, blending together so perfectly as if on a canvas. Velvet cloud shadows rolled gently across the bright-coloured sands, and the contrasting dark blues of the Harris mountains were silhouetted in the distance.
CONNECTION with the landscape and GRATITUDE
Every part of these two islands is so different and unique, every sandy beach and cliff. Each of my sketches from there has its own little story, a memory of how it inspired me as I was walking through the landscape.
In my work, I strive to capture those moments and feelings when looking at such a landscape, contemplating how best to convey it all on paper.
Once started, the reflective process takes me on a journey, guiding my way of painting and allowing me to encapsulate that inspiring moment on canvas.
“It is during our darkest moments that we must focus to see the light.”
In undertaking this fundraising mission through art, my aim was to convey the importance of cherishing the buildings that create communities within our landscapes and to highlight that often it is the small, everyday things in life – the ordinary things – that make us happy. Little gifts such as receiving a random act of kindness to appreciate and be grateful for, right where we are in that very moment. I hope that in these paintings, inspired by my journey to the Outer Hebrides, I share a little light, a glimmer of hope that encourages people on Mull and in other parts of Scotland to continue caring for their churches and their communities, protecting them for future generations.
To use a painting allegory, when the background of a work of art is dark and dull, it may not seem to have much colour at first. However, when we look closely, there’s always a wild flower or a brightly coloured shell, a sunbeam across a stormy sky or a streak of glowing sunset on a side of a mountain. All representing hope for the future.
FUNDRAISING for the Torosay Church in Craignure on Mull
I would like to say a huge thank you to everyone who purchased my postcards in aid of fundraising for Torosay Church. I’ve sold £55 worth of postcards so far, at £1 each, and the online fundraising page is still open at
https://northmullparish.enthuse.com/pf/aska-marzec for anyone who would like to support the cause.
All the funds raised from the sale of postcards and the fundraising page are helping to keep the Torosay Church building open, preserving it for those who come after us.
CURRENT EXHIBITION in the Torosay Church
The islands always fill my heart with gratitude, and they are guiding my artwork while I’m painting for the upcoming Exhibition at Torosay Church in Craignure.
The opening will take place on the 17th of September, from 5pm–7pm, and thereafter the exhibition will be open each day from 10.30am–4.30pm until Wednesday the 20th of September.
The exhibition features work by five local artists: Jennifer Howitt, artist; Alan Jack, photography; Morar Honeyman, ceramics; Priscilla Coleman, court artist. There will also be live portrait/pet drawing and clay presentations.
20% of ALL SALES will go to help maintain the Torosay Church building open for the future.
Please share far and wide. Thank you so much for taking the time to read this.