If you are familiar with Ellis O’Connor’s work, you’ll know the dynamic energy to be seen in the paintings are her response to observed changes in the landscape – “the movement and rhythms of the sea and the land … the merging of sea with air, advancing rain and mist, ever changing light – elements that seem to be about something intangible.” We invite you to join Ellis on this 7-day art cruise vacation and let the elements around you inspire your art with her guidance.
We meet at a hotel in Oban for a welcome reception with dinner and on this first night we will stay over at the hotel. In the morning you’ll have a bit of time to explore Oban before we board the Seahorse II for our art cruise.
In the daily workshop sessions we will be working with a variety of media on paper – including acrylic paints, charcoal, conte, water based inks and chalk pastels – to capture the wild beauty of the places we visit. We explore the various ways in which to approach mark making, using mixed mediums to create texture, detail and depth whilst learning many techniques of drawing and painting to capture the spirit of the stunning surroundings. We’ll be working outdoors – on board and on land – as much as possible and there are several sheltered spots on deck to work outside but the ship also has a cozy saloon which we can use as our indoor studio.
This workshop is suitable for all artistic skills levels and art materials will be provided.
The cruise takes us along the majestic Sound of Mull, famous for its wildlife and bordered by the Isle of Mull and the Morvern Peninsula, and along historic Loch Linnhe. The voyage will give you the full flavour of Scotland from the sea: its sheltered sea lochs, tranquil anchorages, picturesque harbours, ancient castles and even a whisky distillery.
Oban: Your departure point will be Oban (Dunstaffnage Marina), the gateway to the Hebridean isles. After a short introduction to life on board our small ship we lift anchor and set sail to our first destination.
Timings will allow for daily drawing and painting sessions at the locations we visit. These may include:
Loch Linnhe: The long Loch Linnhe goes all the way to Fort William. We travel past Lismore Island for the sheltered anchorage off Shuna Island. We can go ashore and visit the local nature reserve on the mainland and admire the famous Castle Stalker. There are lovely walks across the causeway bridge to Port Appin.
Loch Spelve: A narrow entrance leads us in to the tranquil waters of Loch Spelve (on the beautiful Isle of Mull) with its surrounding ancient oak forest. If we are lucky we might spot an otter along the loch shore. We can also pick up some locally grown mussels in the morning before we leave to our next destination.
Duart Castle: Our daytime anchorage in Duart Bay is below the spectacular 13th century Duart Castle, the ancestral home to the Maclean clan. You can visit the castle, learn about its rich clan history and walk along the shore to find your favourite painting spot.
Tobermory: One of the most picturesque towns in the Hebridean Isles with its famous whisky distillery and colourful waterfront. We anchor in the bay where a Spanish galleon was supposedly sunk with all its treasure. We can spend a day ashore and for the adventurous there are fast boat trips that can be arranged to visit Fingal’s cave on the Isle of Staffa. You may want to paint the wooden fishing boats and the colourful waterfront.
Isle of Oronsay: Just south of Oronsay island, another Inner Hebridean island, lies secluded Loch Drumbuie. A squeeze between high sided cliffs and we are in a perfectly sheltered anchorage. We can spend a tranquil night here.
Loch Aline: At the picturesque Loch Aline there are woodland walks and, at the head of the loch, is the ancient Ardtornish estate with its woodland gardens.
Please note that our route is weather dependent. Weather doesn’t just mean good or bad weather. There are many considerations such as tidal gates, wind direction and strength, the strength and direction of currents, overfalls, and fetch. Depending on the weather and nature’s conditions, wildlife viewing varies.
If you wish to visit a specific place or have a specific experience, such as sea eagle tours or whisky tasting, then please do let your skipper know and he will do his best to meet your request.
This cruise departs and finishes at Dunstaffnage Marina near Oban.
Ellis is a contemporary landscape artist based in North Uist. To immerse herself in the environment, Ellis makes much of the artwork on site where extreme weather and the elements find their way into the pieces. She loves helping others cultivating a deeper understanding of the natural environment and describes the process of working outdoors in wild weather as almost ‘performative’.
Read more about Ellis and see examples of her own work on her profile page.
“I find meaning in the turbulent and chaotic ways of the landscape and elements around me. Everything is temporary, everything is shifting, we can only flow with it not against it.”
In this short video Ellis talks about how she sees art as a way of connecting people to nature and the effects of climate change:
Seahorse II (82 feet long and a beamy 23 feet) was built to the highest standard for the Norwegian fjords and life in the high northern latitudes. A 10mm Swedish steel hull, air conditioned and heated throughout, and winter sailing for the British Royal Navy for months at a time in the western approaches means that this wee cruise ship is more than enough for our summer adventures in the Gulf Stream warmed waters of the west coast of Scotland. Powerful enough to cruise the many spectacular islands and lochs of the Inner Hebrides and Outer Hebrides, yet small enough to anchor in remote and hauntingly beautiful places that the larger passenger ships are unable to visit. With a maximum speed of 11 knots (from a 350 hp Volvo diesel) and with 15 tons of fuel and 10 tons of fresh water Seahorse II is a sturdy, go-anywhere, yet comfortable adventurer.
Seahorse II can take up to ten guests plus the art tutor. There are two double (or twin) en-suites and two further twins, two single cabins and one double/single cabin with a 105 cm wide bed, all temperature controlled and with washbasin. All cabin linen and towels are supplied including towelling dressing gowns for the cabins with no en-suite. There is a wonderful deck saloon where we dine and view the spectacular wildlife. A bridge full of the best navigational aids, a high foredeck for wildlife spotting and a boat deck for lounging, Seahorse II is the perfect vessel for your life afloat.
On the spacious aft deck (ideal for alfresco dining when the boat is at anchor or under way) we have a powerful little crane for launching Seahorse II’s tender, two sea kayaks and paddle board.
In addition to the art tutor, who looks after your creative side, there is a crew of three taking care of you – a professional skipper, an on board chef and another crew member to provide assistance whenever needed.
Prices are in £ (Pound Sterling) and per person:
Single cabin (wash basin, shared bathroom) – £3150 – sold out – wait list only
Semi-en-suite twin cabin (two beds; wash basin and toilet, shared shower) – £2950 – 4 spaces available
En-suite twin cabin (two beds; wash basin, toilet and shower) – £3150 – 3 spaces available
This 7-day art cruise package includes:
Not included: flights to and from Scotland; transport to and from cruise departure/end location.
Guests are required to take out personal travel insurance. A non-refundable deposit of GBP 500 secures your space.
This cruise departs and finishes at Dunstaffnage Marina near Oban. Oban is well connected to the public transport network. The easiest way to get to Oban is by train from Glasgow Queen Street station. The journey takes around 3 hours. The train journey from Edinburgh is also via Glasgow Queen Street and takes just over 4 hours in total. Timetables will be available here.
We’ll be happy to help you find the best travel connections and accommodation before and/or after the cruise experience!