Creative celebration of Scotland’s Coasts & Waters #YCW2020

In Scotland, 2020 will be all about putting the focus on our stunning coastlines, lochs and waterways as it’s officially the Year of Scotland’s Coasts and Waters (#YCW2020). We’ll be joining into these celebrations big time with a fantastic programme of creative breaks in different locations across Scotland.

Year of Scotland’s Coasts and Waters- so what does that mean? – The initiative promotes responsible engagement and participation around and in our waters and coastal environments by the people of Scotland and its visitors. Responsible travel, respect for the natural environment and working with local communities is at the heart of everything we do at Wild at Art.

And what better way could there be to connect and engage with a location than through art? Being creative gets you to REALLY see and feel a place. Join a small group holiday with like-minded spirits, book a short break on dates that suit your travel plans, or let us create a tailor-made art experience just for you and your travel companions – the choice is yours. And there’s lots to choose from!

What makes it even more special – a small share (£10) of each booking under the #YCW2020 programme goes to Linlithgow Union Canal Society (LUCS), our chosen charity for 2020. LUCS is a small local charity and 100% run by volunteers. Their mission is to promote and encourage the restoration and use of the Union Canal, particularly in and around Linlithgow.

So here’s what we’ve planned for you to celebrate the Year of Scotland’s Coasts and Waters 2020 – just click on the title to find out more about a trip.

Small group holidays & retreats (6-10 guests)

3-10 April 2020 Hidden Treasures Art Retreat – painting, creative writing, yoga
Tutors: Kate Cunningham (painting) & guest tutors Sarah-Alexandra Teodorescu (creative writing), Sarah Blackaller (yoga)
Location: Arbroath, Angus
This week-long art retreat is the perfect opportunity to immerse in all things creative and explore the grandeur of nature.

10-17 May 2020 Drawing from the Land – drawing and painting
Tutor: Ellis O’Connor
Locations: Lewis and Harris, North Uist, Berneray (Outer Hebrides)
Join us for an inspirational and dynamic week of drawing and painting in an extraordinary setting. Each day will involve going to iconic spots in the Outer Hebrides to work and gather inspiration from the vibrant landscapes, big skies and wild waters.

22-24 May 2020 Peregrinatio Wilderness Retreat – time out from too much activity; poetry; hiking; meditation; you may want to bring your sketchbook and paints
Tutor: Chris Goan and co-host
Location: a Hebridean island (exact location tbc)
This retreat to an uninhabited Scottish island, which includes poetry writing, offers real time out for recharging and refreshing artistic focus.

YCW2020 feature image 1

23-30 August 2020 Sense of Place – drawing and painting
Tutor: Nicky Sanderson
Location: Lewis and Harris, Outer Hebrides
Be inspired by the most ancient landscapes in Europe, the magical stones of Calanais, the colours of the moorland and rocks, the dark hills and bright beaches of Harris.

9-14 September 2020 Gongoozler Canal Art Experience – drawing and painting, herbalism
Tutors: Lesley Banks(drawing, painting) & guest tutor Anna Canning (herbalism)
Location: Union Canal, Linlithgow, West Lothian
An artistic celebration of one of the most beautiful waterways right in the heart of Scotland. You tutor will be no other than Scottish artist Lesley Banks, who as artist-in-residence at Scottish Canals spent a year walking and painting along the entire 137 miles of the canal network. Includes a herbalist workshop.

12-18 September 2020 Landscape Photography Retreat
Tutors: Margaret Soraya, Paul Sanders
Location: Isle of Lewis, Outer Hebrides
Find your connection with the landscape and be inspired to develop your own style in this photographic retreat in one of the most historic and wild corners of Scotland.

Also coming soon: Art & Photography retreat in Orkney
Dates: 3-10 November 2020
Hosts: Margaret Soraya & Ute Amann-Seidel
Location: Stromness, Orkney Islands

You can view our other small group offers – i.e. those that are not directly part of the #YCW2020 programme – here.

Short breaks with flexible dates (from 2 guests)

Short breaks consist of a 2-day art workshop and 3 overnight stays in high quality accommodation (check out descriptions for details). They can be arranged for your preferred dates, subject to availability.

Watercolour painting in North-East Scotland – watercolour with mixed media
Tutor: Gemma Petrie
Location: Portmahomack, Easter Ross (close to North Coast 500), Scottish Highlands
Portmahomack and its surrounding area offer beaches, an iconic lighthouse surrounded by heathlands, and a castle. You may also want to capture some wildlife with your brushes and paints.

Tapestry weaving in Kilmartin Glen – hand loom weaving
Tutor: Louise Oppenheimer
Location: Kilmartin Glen and Lochgilphead, Argyll
An introduction to weaving on wooden frames with renowned Scottish weaver Louise Oppenheimer. Paint the shapes and colours using wool!


Pottery & Poetry in Argyll – pottery/ ceramics, poetry/ creative writing
Tutors: Michaela & Chris Goan
Location: Dunoon and Innellan, Argyll
Create your own beautiful clay pieces, inspired by the sea and landscapes of the Cowal peninsula in Argyll.

Tailor-made art experiences (any group size)

We love curating bespoke art experiences – there are so many amazing artists, places and activities to choose from! We can arrange a tailor-made art experience with any artist in our team, depending on availability, to explore our coasts and waters – meet our artists here.

Below are a few examples of who could lead your bespoke workshop, and what they could teach you (among other things). Click on a tutor’s profile to read about them and see examples of their work:

Steve Bretel – Watercolour, inks and acrylic painting
Katherine Cowtan – Oil painting, watercolour with mixed media
Leo du Feu – Watercolour and acrylics painting
William Brian Miller – Oil, acrylics, watercolour and mixed media painting
Jackie Philip – Oil and acrylics painting
Karen Strang – Drawing and oil painting
Dave Hunt – Photography
Avesha DeWolfe – Pottery inspired by the shapes and colours of the sea
Hephzibah Kilbride – Printmaking
Simon-Burns-Cox – Stonecarving
Sarah-Alexandra Teodorescu – Creative writing

In Spring, Summer and Autumn 2020 we will also run a small number of 1-day canal-based painting workshops in Linlithgow for local residents – dates will be announced in January.

So, we look forward to take you on a creative adventure!

In 2020, Scotland celebrates its Coasts and
Waters with a year-long programme of events and
activities which will shine a spotlight on these vital
elements of our landscape.
Join the conversation #YCW2020


Scottish Islands Explorer magazine recommends Wild at Art

Scottish Islands Explorer magazine

“The creative aspects of travel and application of the skills of art lay the foundation for transformative experiences through visual sensations and that sense of place.”

We were delighted to learn that Scottish Islands Explorer was going to publish a full page article on our small group art holidays! It’s the only magazine devoted to exploring the islands of Scotland and serves a readership of Scotland-lovers across the globe. The article appeared in the November/ December issue so flagging it up here is long overdue!

“Here is an organisation well aware that the personal touch matters when people gather to learn and holiday. “

scottish islands explorer article

Find out more about the magazine here.

Hebrides-inspired poetry

Scotland’s places inspire – not just guests’ visual art but sometimes also poetry. We’ve just received this poem written by one of our guests on the Sense of Place Lewis & Harris Art Experience 2019, Lilian from Stockholm:

Are these not the rain blessed Hebrides?
Where stones rein and trees struggle in vein?
Where the weather forecast is always the same?


The simple everyday pleasure is wandering on the machair,
hugging stones, absorbing colors, searching purple linings in the horizon
whilst sipping raindrops from our lips.


Art has neither end nor beginning.
Brush strokes neither start nor finish.
And the universe remains there waiting….
for our brains to meet it’s infinity in color.


I shall never forget the shared desire
to paint and explore together.
In this place where we created a world in a world,
where we helped each other to see.


We came with the plane
and went with the rain,
trusting that the stones, peat, gneiss and rain
will always remain.


Lilian, Stockholm

Personally, I don’t quite agree with the weather forecast always being the same ;)…but the poem is wonderful. The weather may have been wet and grey some of the time while we were on tour, but the spirit in the group was always sunny. Thank you, Lilian!

Review session back at our studio at Lews Castle in Stornoway

Peregrinatio ~ recharge and refocus Celtic-style in the Scottish wilderness

From Spring 2020 we are offering a new type of retreat. Imagine spending a weekend on an uninhabited Scottish island in the Inner Hebrides…with your tent as the only shelter and no sockets in sight. Scary thought? Maybe, but to me also intriguing. What happens when we’re far away from the comforts and distractions of wifi, a full fridge and hot shower? You can find out on the wilderness retreat weekend with writer Chris Goan 22-24 May 2020.

The ancient Celtic tradition of Peregrinatio is described as “a journey that involves the elements of seeking, quest, adventure, wandering, exile…”. The word comes from the time of the Celtic missionary monks, who would set themselves adrift in a small boat, trusting to wind and tide to take them to the place of their becoming. A chartered boat will take us to our island, exactly which island will depend slightly on the weather. We will seek to divide our time into purposeful silence (when we spend time on our own) and community (when we enjoy each other’s company and share stories).

Although we follow in an ancient Christian tradition, this retreat is for anyone, of any faith, or none. We will neither presume, nor impose. What we can promise is to make space for your own encounters with the natural world and the beautiful beyond.

So what has this got to do with an art holiday? Wild at Art caters for creative travellers, for those visitors to Scotland who are curious and seeking to connect with our stunning locations in an authentic way. There’s always an element of learning involved. The wilderness retreats include poetry writing sessions and you may also want to bring your sketchbook and paints. This weekend offers an opportunity to recharge and refresh your artistic focus. A truly enriching experience.

Find out more…

Artistic time travel – Outlander Art Experience 2020 now open for bookings

A few weeks ago we said goodbye to the seven wonderful guests who came on our first ever Outlander-inspired Art Experience. What can I say- we had such a great time! Travelling with our sketchbooks signed by no other than Jamie (AKA Sam Heughan) himself, we visited many of the Outlander filming locations and got artistic guidance and lots of fascinating stories from our fantastic artist guide Nicky Sanderson.

Our handmade sketchbooks signed by Jamie AKA Sam Heughan

At Culross Palace Garden we enjoyed a private herbalist workshop with herbalist Anna Canning, who also taught us how to make our own herbal balms and potions, and at Highland Print Studio in Inverness we learned the ancient drypoint printmaking technique with guidance from artist Jan Baxandall. All this and the shared love of learning and spirit of camaraderie made made it a truly amazing trip!

We held back on opening next year’s tour for bookings until we had the feedback from our “guinea pigs” (as they called themselves ;)). The 2020 Outlander Art Experience will run from 28 June to 9 July 2020 (12-days). You can find the details here . The itinerary is very similar to this year’s, but listening to guest feedback we’ve built in a free full day in the middle and one studio day at the end of the tour. Click here to see the itinerary and visit our Feedback & Pics page to see photos and feedback from the 2019 tour.

New! Cruise the Caledonian Canal with your paints

We are delighted to offer you a new way of discovering Scotland’s stunning sea- and landscapes and do art – on board a small cruise ship! The first of these all-inclusive tours will cruise the Caledonian Canal from Oban to Inverness 8 to 14 September 2019. In a small group of up to 11 guests, and an art tutor, a professional skipper, an on board chef and another crew member looking after you, this will be a very special creative journey. And since this is the first art cruise we’re offering places at introductory prices.

Find out more

New! Castle-based painting shortbreak in Stirlingshire


Imagine staying in a medieval Scottish castle and developing your painting skills with guidance from their own artist in residence? We’ve created a fantastic opportunity for you to stay at Culcreuch Castle in Stirlingshire and enjoy a private workshop with Katherine Cowtan, at dates that suit you.

Find out more here and enquire about your preferred dates so you can build this amazing creative break into your Scottish vacation!

Culcreuch Castle near Loch Lomond, Scotland