Sunday, June 3, 2018

Scotland Plein Air Painting Retreat - Interim Report 1

What’s a visit to Scotland without sheep? We’ve seen plenty of them on our travels. On the single-track roads, they wander at will, offering up photo opportunities and road hazards; others roam the boulder-strewn hillsides. Sometimes you’ll see a boulder-strewn hillside and realize after a moment that most of the boulders are moving.

Trina and I arrived in Glasgow last Tuesday after a short, red-eye flight from Halifax, traveling with our friend and fellow painter from Florida, Lyn Asselta. After a couple of days in Glasgow, taking in the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum and the botanical gardens, plus a bus tour to Oban and Glencoe, we boarded the train north for Mallaig, traveling through miles of beautiful Scottish scenery. In Mallaig, which is a small fishing village that reminded us of our own home in the Canadian Maritimes, we enjoyed an afternoon’s ride in the bay, looking for wildlife.

The next day, we boarded the ferry to Armadale, a tiny village on the Isle of Skye. In Armadale, we were picked up by a private car for Portree, our destination. But as we had a few hours before we could check into our self-catering cottage, our driver took us on a tour. After a stop at Armadale Castle, home of the Clan Donald, we drove to the Cuillins. There are two sets of these mountains, the Red Cuillins and the Black Cuillins, and they couldn’t be more different. The Red Cuillins are tall and round and made of granite; the Black Cuillins are taller still and pointed and made of dark gabbro, and were swathed in mist.

Now we are comfortably settled in our cottage with the rest of our group, members of which hail from Ohio and Michigan. The cottage is right on the water with beautiful views, and it’s just a short walk to the main part of the village, where there are plenty of shops, restaurants and things to paint. But over the next week or so, we’ll be exploring a lot more of Skye with the help of painter Marion Boddy-Evans, who lives here. Marion and I connected about a year ago when we started planning our retreat, and I am grateful for her assistance. We’ve already had one outing with her, up to the village of Uig to paint, plus to explore a bit farther toward Carm Mor and the northern tip of Skye.

So far, the weather couldn’t have been more perfect: cool morning mists, followed by plenty of sun and a breeze to scatter the midges. The weather report for the foreseeable future is bright and sunny, and we’re all looking forward to our time together on Skye.

As much as I would like to include all of the hundreds of photos I’ve taken so far, I’ll include just a sampling here, plus the sketches I make as I go. I am working only in gouache on this trip, and the sketches will all be 5x7. Enjoy!

 Our happy group

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