Our love of Scotland and passion for art and everything creative are the starting points for the Wild at Art experiences we plan for you. For years we’ve been exploring Scotland’s vibrant art, crafts and culture so we can package things we like, to bring you up close and personal with them.
Sense of Place ~ drawing & painting holiday in Lewis & Harris, Outer Hebrides
Tutor: Nicky Sanderson
After 6 years of running this popular painting experience as week-long trip, guest feedback has inspired us to add extra days and additional locations. Join us on this unique art vacation on the isle of Lewis and Harris in the Outer Hebrides, 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 machair, peat and rocks, the dark hills and bright beaches of Harris. The more we look at the sea, the sky and the hills, harbours and villages, the more layers of colour we discover.
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 – inks and watercolour (or acrylics if you wish) – and add elements of collage if this pleases us. The course is suitable for all skills levels.
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. We will be happy to advise on travel options.
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.
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.
Optional service: pre-order your materials!
If you don’t want to carry your own art materials on your flight to Scotland you can 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.
We can also arrange this experience exclusively for your group. For availability and group prices please contact us.
*Have you travelled with us before? Enquire about the special friends rate.
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!
You arrive in Stornoway in your own time. We meet at our hotel – the 4-star Cabarfeidh Hotel – in the evening for a welcome reception, introduction to the experience 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 Nicky gives an introduction to the course and you have the chance to visit the museum.
Then we will head right up to Butt of Lewis, the most northerly point of the Isle 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 dramatic rocks and the Butt of Lewis Lighthouse. Nearby is the picturesque Port of Ness where we will pop down to the beach before heading back to Stornoway. Accommodation is at the Cabarfeidh Hotel in Stornoway.
Exploring the west side of Lewis, we visit Gearrannan, the blackhouse village, where until not long ago humans and farm animals shared warmth on the edge of the sea and cliffs. The mysterious and iconic Calanais Standing Stones are another highlight – were erected in the late Neolithic era, they were a focus for ritual activity during the Bronze Age. Accommodation is at the Harris Hotel in Tarbert on the 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. Accommodation is at the Harris Hotel in Tarbert.
Weather allowing, we head to Hushinish on the west side of North Harris for our morning painting session. This remote place at the end of a 12 mile long single track B road has a stunning beach and views to the Atlantic. The afternoon is free with opportunities to visit Harris Distillery or the nearby Harris Tweed shop if you wish.
For an early evening painting session followed by our evening meal we will head to Scalpay. Accommodation is at the Harris Hotel in Tarbert.
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.
Our indoor space is the stunning Talla Na Mara centre. Overlooking the golden sands of Niseaboist beach and the Sound of Taransay, it boasts one of the most photographed locations in the Outer Hebrides if not Scotland. Accommodation is at the Harris Hotel in Tarbert.
Our location for the day is Great Bernera, the largest island in Loch Roag, which is connected to the Isle of Lewis by the Bernera Bridge. Bostadh Beach on Great Bernera is one of the most beautiful beaches in Lewis and is also where an Iron Age village was excavated in 1996. Other historical sites are a restored Norse Mill, a Cairn commemorating the Bernera Riot, Lobster Ponds, Standing Stones, ruined Duns. Accommodation is back at the Cabarfeidh Hotel in Stornoway.
Today we explore the Uig region on the west side of Lewis, where the landscape is hillier, and more dramatic than elsewhere on Lewis, with its combination of myriad islets, wild cliff scenery and patches of pristine golden sand.
Uig beach is famous for being the site where the Lewis Chessmen, 12th century Viking chess pieces, were found. Six of them are on display at Lews Castle Museum in Stornoway.
A free morning to explore Stornoway some more and do some shopping if you wish. Our studio at the castle will be available all day should you wish to do more in-depth painting. After lunch we meet there for a review session where you can share your work and how the art experience has been for you. In the evening we enjoy the farewell dinner together at the Solas Restaurant at our hotel.
Time to say goodbye after breakfast. You leave inspired and chances are you’ll have fallen in love with the islands :).