Category Archives: Isle of Skye

A lot of it will be wrong, but just enough of it will be right

oil pastel plein air sketch, Skye sunset

A6 sketchbook plein air drawing in oil pastels, sunset over Loch Pooltiel

So much has happened I haven’t had time to write. I’ve been ill, in hospital, had surgery. All new things. My sister died today. Lots of difficult things, incompatible with a cool head needed to paint. I’ve been to Skye again and, mustering everything, managed to make some scrimpy plein air sketches. That was just after the last time I saw my sister. One of the sketches must become a larger painting. I hope it will work.

plein air sketch in oil pastel, A6 sketchbook, Skye evening

oil pastel sketch of Loch Pooltiel, early evening, plein air, A6 sketchbook

The river god is gone. The stream flowing through the rocks is unimpeded. Summer is over. There is deep snow up on the hill where I sat and painted in the summer evening air. Even then, the sky held melancholy feelings. Now those feelings linger in the pale blue over the distant peaks with their blank coverings.

plein air [ainting, Howgills, 9x12 inches

on the ridge near Crosdale, Howgills, summer evening, plein air painting, oil on canvas, 9×12 inches

The moon tonight deserved a painting. It sailed diagonally across golden waves of cloud, a huge yellow boat. Maybe my sister was sailing there, away from the thick frost and up into starlight. Perhaps this afternoon’s sunset was hers. It looked like an Edvard Munch painting, one where the sun’s globe had a path of white light beneath it so it resembled a figure, standing against glowing pink and orange.

Over the sea and under the sky on the island of light

sea view from Neist Point, Skye

sparkling sea, looking west from Neist Point

We just came back from a trip to Skye. It’s a cold island with beautiful silver light that many artists try to capture in paint. I think Winifred Nicholson managed it but I haven’t seen any other painters succeed. Still, that was no reason not to attempt a few sketches of my own, with a possible bigger studio work in mind. The sea shimmered and the coral beach looked like a tropical lagoon.

This was a hasty plein air attempt carried out on a beach miles from anywhere. I sometimes wonder about such places, visited after hours of walking, and wonder if I’ll ever visit them again.

Dibidal beach sketch, mixed media

remote beach at Dibidal, Skye, with white sand and surf, mixed media, sketchbook work, approx 8 inches square

The tropical shores of Skye.

photo of coral beach, skye

the coral beach

On the Durinish coast there are many outlandish rock formations, including MacLeod’s forbidding Maidens, seen in the distance, waiting to surprise unwary travellers.

Sea of the Hebrides sketchbook painting

Sea of the Hebrides, mixed media sketchbook work, approx 8 inches square

On the way to the sparkling sea views near the lighthouse you pass through the otherworldly landscape of Waterstein.

at waterstein on the isle of skye

Waterstein

The local beach, virtually ignored by tourists, is just as delightful as any of Skye’s more famous locations.

loch Pooltiel watercolour sketch

watercolour sketch of loch Pooltiel painted from the beach at Glendale, approx 5 inches square