Scottish artist returns to Outer Hebrides for inspiration

Last year, I decided to return to the Outer Hebrides. Returned in June 2024 inspired and motivated to capture its stunning beauty. I want to share it with you.

 

Travel

I crossed 154 miles and took 3 CalMac ferry journeys. Crossing from Tobermory to Kilchoan, followed by the Mallaig to Armadale ferry on Skye and driven through the Isle of Skye to catch the last ferry from Uig to Tarbert on Harris.

 

Accommodation

I was staying at Sandy Bay Croft Wigwams on the Isle of Harris. Na Bothain (Scottish Gàidhlig for “huts”) is located on a working croft in the picturesque Hebridean village of Scarista. On the main A859 Tarbert-Leverburgh arterial road. I recommend the location for its views, and my comfortable and cosy pod was the perfect spot to observe the changing scenery and unpredictable weather.

I could have barbecued while sitting by the fire pit in one of the drystone mini Brochs. My time was spent walking and exploring to find the perfect spot for painting. There were many. I was greeted with the most stunning sunset and sunrise within the first two days of my arrival.

Painting wildflowers on Isle of Harris

Painting wildflowers on Isle of Harris

 

Colours, textures, and shapes

I’ve spent about a week in this stunning area, admiring the colours, textures and shapes. Learning how the land, sea, and weather relate to each other, creates the most dramatic contrast between the sunny lowlands and the dark hills of Harris. Seeing it both on a rainy day and during a sunny spell.

Sometimes I paint from the car in a layby. Taking in the ever-changing pastel palette on a 

sandy canvas stretching for miles. Clouds cast soft shadows, meandering across the dunes and shallow waters of the tides. Interlacing with turquoise and blue shades of the undulating waves. Having the appearance of a smooth, undulating form.

Waves were roaring, and the sea breeze swept across the beach, carried by cold winds.

En-plein-air painting Harris

En-plein-air painting Harris

 

Coastline, shells, and rocks

Every beach is unique with its coastline, shells, and colours of rocks. The latter reminded me of marbled papers.

I set off across the hills from Hargabost to see the breath-taking bird’s-eye view of Seilebost beach. The Hebridean Way should be passing nearby. Never thought I’d be able to find it and yet I stumbled across one of the signposts while searching for the perfect view along the contours of the land. Walk along it up to the top of East Stocklett, 175 meters.

Greeted by breath-taking Caribbean colours, views of the beach, and white-tailed eagles.

 

Rocks Isle of Harris

Rocks Isle of Harris

 

Thin places 

“Thin spaces” are the places or experiences in our lives where we can easily or naturally encounter God—where we can readily feel God’s presence.  Understand the vastness and creative power of God.

I met up with my friends and we set off from Northton to see a ruined Chapel called Northton Chapel. During the 16th century, Outer Hebrides residents would have been travelling to worship there. We took a steep path to the top of Chaipaval 365m. Stunning views of Scarista Beach.

It was a sunny day and you could see for miles from the top. Towards the Isle of Skye, Berneray, Isle of Uist, all the way to Barra on the horizon. O, the array of blues and greens. I was in awe of nature and God’s creation. I imagine people who come to the Chapel would have been feeling overwhelming gratitude. 

Clouds shadows over Isle of Harris beach

Clouds shadows over Isle of Harris beach

 

Wonderful array of wildflowers

Last year I went to Harris and Lewis in August to see the Machair. The west coast near Aird Uig and north Harris didn’t disappoint. The variety of wildflowers and colours was amazing. 

This year I decided to see it in June. The blooming season not long has started offering the carpet of yellow Buttercups, Daisies, Clover and unusually big Orchid. Well, I have never seen an Orchid 10 cm tall. 

The following weekend I was staying in Stornoway at the Laxdale campsite. I recommend it. There’s even a well-equipped kitchen with a kettle, toaster, cooker and a fridge. 

Outer Hebrides wildflowers

Outer Hebrides wildflowers

 

“ Lost on the Machair ” Exhibition by Alastair Gordon in An Lanntair in Stornoway

Would recommend going to see it. I found his large-scale paintings of the Outer Hebrides landscape very expressive and inspiring. 

 

Visited the “ Seasonal selection” exhibition by Harris 365 in Talla Na Mara in Harris 

Depicting stunning photos of the Outer Hebrides landscape. 

 

I hope after reading my blog you’ll also feel inspired to visit the Isle of Harris and Lewis. Follow me to see the updates on new artwork from the Outer Hebrides. 

Seilebost beach Hebridean Way

Seilebost beach Hebridean Way

Sunrise Outer Hebrideas

Sunrise Outer Hebrideas

Sunset Outer Hebrideas

Sunset Outer Hebrideas

Sgarasta Mgor beach Harris