This unique Wild at Art vacation on Lewis and Harris in the Outer Hebrides is led by artist Nicky Sanderson. We bring alive the human and natural history of this unique location to inform our art.
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. Fans of the ‘Outlander’ series will be very familiar with the magic of ancient Scottish stones and Scotland’s magnificent natural settings. The more we look at the sea, the sky and the hills, harbours and villages, the more layers of colour we discover. It’s easy to see why Lewis and Harris has been named the Top Island in Europe on Tripadvisor.
This week combines travelling with your pencils and paints to discover the roots of a civilisation and the raw beauty of its isolation on the edge of the British Isles, with indoor studio work to develop paintings and sketches further. From two different base locations – Stornoway in Lewis and Tarbert in Harris – we visit different sites, often working in plein air, with indoor alternatives to suit any weather. You will feel a connection to nature as you explore this landscape formed 3,400 million years ago, still sculpted today by wind and rain and human hand.
Drawing with mixed media in your sketchbook, using graphite, charcoal and ink, along with quick washes of colour from your paints provides a record of your experience and the basis of further work. We work with waterbased paint – watercolour or acrylics – and add elements of collage if we wish. The course is suitable for all skills levels.
Nicky explains using her own art work:
Stornoway is our starting location. International travellers are best to include flights to and from Stornoway when booking travel. Alternatively, Caledonian MacBrayne runs a regular ferry service from Ullapool to Stornoway. If there is enough interest, we will be happy to organise minibus transfer from Edinburgh to Ullapool on 25 August, and back to Edinburgh on 1 September, at an additional cost.
The Scottish weather is very changeable, so we have to be flexible in our itinerary and go with the flow. Sketch books, paints and cameras (or iPads) at the ready, we explore (typical itinerary):
You arrive in Stornoway in your own time. We meet at our hotel in the evening for a welcome reception, introduction to the week and 3-course dinner with wine.
As we work in style, our studio base in Stornoway is at the newly refurbished Lews Castle. Our tutor gives an introduction to the course and you have the chance to visit the museum.
Then, moving to the east side of Lewis, we visit the area around South Lochs teaming with wildlife from otters to osprey, whales and sharks, fishing villages. Catch the ever-changing colour and character of the sweeping land and seascape. Accommodation is Tarbert, Isle of Harris.
We take the Golden Road down the east of Harris known as the Bays, a wonderfully fragmented and beautiful coastline with a sad human history. Sharp contrasts also provide vitality for your work: bright coloured buoys and boats, a rusting vehicle sinking into the peat bog, the outline against the sky of ancient standing stones. Our lunch venue at Bays is also our studio space for the afternoon.
Experience the machair, the area’s unique wild flower and grasses, and fabulous white beaches of West Harris at Luskentyre, Seilebost and Scarista. Nature here is both raw and delicate. Explore South Harris, Leverburgh and Rodel and its 15th century St Clement’s Church.
Our indoor space is the stunning new Talla Na Mara. Overlooking the golden sands of Niseaboist beach and the Sound of Taransay, the Centre boasts one of the most photographed locations in the Outer Hebrides if not Scotland.
The ruin of Carloway Broch, a 2000 year old Iron Age defensive stone home – experience the coziness and harshness of traditional life lived in Carloway Broch and Blackhouses, where humans and farm animals shared warmth on the edge of the sea and cliffs. The mysterious Calanais Stones, the stunning white sandy beach of Uig, both rugged and peaceful sea lochs, and hills. Accommodation will be back in Stornoway.
The Butt of Lewis is the most northerly point of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides. The headland, which lies in the North Atlantic, is frequently battered by heavy swells and storms and is marked by the Butt of Lewis Lighthouse. Weather allowing, we’ll have a picnic lunch at the nearby Port of Ness before heading back to Stornoway to paint at Lews Castle.
A free day to do some more exploring and painting at your leisure. The studio at the castle will be available should you wish to do more in-depth painting.
Time to say goodbye after breakfast. You leave inspired and chances are you’ll have fallen in love with the islands :).
Check out some pictures from the 2018 trip here:
Cost: £1590 per person when sharing a twin or double room, £1890 for a single room. This includes:
– 5 full days of workshop tuition in different locations
– 7 nights hotel accommodation (Cabarfeidh Hotel in Stornoway, Harris Hotel in Tarbert)
– 7 full Scottish breakfasts
– Welcome drinks and 3-course welcome dinner on arrival night
– Refreshments and in-between nibbles on workshop days
– Minibus transport when travelling as a group while on the island (from and to Stornoway)
– Some art materials
– Studio hire fees
– Entry fee to blackhouse village
– And a member of the Wild at Art team will be with the group throughout to ensure guests are well looked after.
The itinerary is based on careful selection of suppliers and is accurate at the time of publication. But should it be necessary, Wild at Art reserves the right to make changes.
We aim to offer the best balance between touring the islands and working in an indoor studio. Lewis & Harris is a large island so be prepared for some minibus travel between different locations!
Flights and travel to/from the island are not included. Personal travel insurance is required.
This vacation starts in Stornoway – we will be happy to advise on how to get there. For flights to and from Stornoway please visit the Loganair website. If there is enough interest we may organise minibus transport from and to Edinburgh at an additional cost – let us know at the time of booking if you would be interested in this.
Since participants tend to prefer their own materials we will send a detailed list of what to bring and what we’ll provide together with pre-holiday information. We will provide some materials you may want to try, such as ink, charcoal and PVA glue. These are included in the price.
New service: pre-order your materials!
If you don’t want to carry your own art materials on your flight to Scotland you can now purchase them online from a UK supplier in advance and have them sent to our address. Your materials will then be waiting for you on arrival in Stornoway. Find out more
We can also arrange this experience exclusively for your group. For availability and group prices please contact us