" The Outer Hebrides are amazing – but in February?” was a frequent response to my announcement that we were heading north to visit dear friend and artist, Margaret Ferguson, and her family who live in Stornoway.
Ahead of our departure I was hoping for dramatic weather, but nothing prepared me for the snows, winds, storms, hail, bright sun and intense blue skies – and the most breath-taking coast, moors and mountains of the Isle of Lewis and Harris.
Lewis to the north is flatter: peat bogs, between sparkling lochs, covered with grasses, gorse and bracken, all of which glowed bronze and gold in the intense sunshine as dark, leaden snow clouds swept across the skies; the crashing waves (big as houses!) on the beaches at Uig, Luskentire, Dal Mor and Dal Beag.
Harris to the south is mountainous and wild; lochs glistening between snow-covered slopes. The small ports of Tarbert and Leverhulme nestled into deep valleys.
Painting en plein air was not an option for little ol’ me in those temperatures, although I am sure that some stoic souls would have braved the elements. Instead, I spent my evenings in our cosy cottage recording notes from the day in pastels.
The limited palette of colours available to me and directness of the medium meant that the resulting images had an immediacy, simplicity and impact that extended drawing and careful painting perhaps may not have held. I really enjoyed working in this way and want to explore this further with paint and introduce the images in to the mixed media work that I am also quietly working on.
Our time on Lewis was an unbelievably exciting and wonderful experience. Thank you to our friends and all the wonderful people we met there. And so many fabulous images and ideas now to be brought back to the studio.
Watch this space!