Photos: On the Ferry on a Sunny Hebridean Spring Day

Yesterday I caught the ferry from Uig to Tarbert to deliver a painting, being met at the terminal because the ferry turns around rapidly, 20 minutes between scheduled arrival and departure. It was a nary-a-cloud-in-the-sky day with glorious sunshine, albeit wish-I’d-remembered-my-gloves cold.

This is the painting:

SOLD. “Neighbourhood Watch” 60x80cm

My Head in the Clouds

Driving home yesterday from my usual Saturday at Skyeworks, I was compelled to stop and take some snaps of the clouds. The light was simply too beautiful and dramatic to resist. (I also thought the group of photographers I’d passed at Uig Hotel with their tripods and long lenses aimed at the incoming ferry were in the wrong spot!)

Clouds Over Trotternish 3

Clouds Over Trotternish 1
The rectangular shape in the photo above is the “allow people to pass” single-track roadsign, not the megalith from the film “2001”.

Clouds Over Trotternish 2

The layers of light and dark, the light pinks and yellows behind the purple darks, the streaks of rain connecting land and clod, the calm blues above the drama. The photos were taking facing north. The sun was low on the horizon, and behind me on the left.

There are various contemporary Scottish landscape artists whose compositions are dominated by clouds, which is one of the reasons I’ve mainly created compositions with only a sliver of sky. But it’s tempting to add cloudscapes to my seascapes…

A Grave Lesson

In the old cemetery at Kilmuir (north Trotternish, Skye), dominated by the tall memorial to Flora MacDonald, there’s another gravestone that to me is a reminder that sometimes not finishing something will make it more memorable.


“Here lie the remains of Charles MacKarter whose fame as an honest man and remarkable piper will survive this generation for his manners were easy and regular as his music and the melody of his fingers will”

There’s apparently no record of the rest of the inscription was, so we’ll never know what the melody of his fingers will do. But this is probably the second-most photographed tombstone in the cemetery; if you watch people, the finished inscriptions on the other graves mostly get ignored but most come and have a look at this one. Things left unsaid and implied can be more intriguing, where they might have gone. A painting may be finished long before everything is neatly sorted out. A grave lesson.


The third most photographed is probably the knight. The house-shaped shadow of another tombstone falling on him was serendipitous.







5 Days of Creative Retreating (Part 3: Photos of Nature)

There’s an abundance of inspiring landscape/seascape at Gardenstown, with the changing light and weather adding variations throughout the day. These are a few moments I felt compelled to photograph:

Kate Downie retreat (97)
Bright wheatfields on a headland near Pennan
Kate Downie retreat (87)
Pretending I’m Van Gogh.while information gathering out on location.. though it’s mixed grass not wheat
Kate Downie retreat (42)
View from The Creative Retreat studio, with the hillside reflection turning the sea green
Kate Downie retreat (25)
Sun breaking through downpour catching the fronts of waves as they rolled in
Kate Downie retreat (123)
Surely amongst the most photographed laundry in Scotland… the beach-side washing lines in Crovie
Kate Downie retreat (152)
Weird cloud shape, and saw similar the next day again.
Kate Downie retreat (155)
Rippled reflections
Kate Downie retreat (157)
Echoes: shape of ruin gable vs slippage.
Kate Downie retreat (183)
Pebble pastels.
Kate Downie retreat (298)
Harbour water.
Kate Downie retreat (270)
Looking back along the beach to Gardenstown

Photos: Summer Colours of Skye

Royal Mail Van Skye Scotland

An assortment of photos, of things that have caught my eye recently. Lots of foxgloves this year; apparently cold weather helps this profusion.

Photos: Colour Palette for a Skye Spring

Colours of Skye Spring:

Wandering around the gardens at Armadale Castle on Sunday felt like I was walking through a palette of colours for painting springtime Skye. The intensity of colours, the variations in light and shade, the different species… I could have spent all day looking. These snapshots were taken when I encountered particularly irresistible moments. Think colour, pattern and texture.

Colours of Skye Spring: Bluefells
Which blue are bluebells, or is it more of a purple?
Colours of Skye Spring: Light and Shade
Bluebell blues and grass greens in light and shade
Colours of Skye Spring: Ivy
Texture contrast
Colours of Skye Spring: Yellow
Contrasts of colour and texture
Colours of Skye Spring: Green Gold
Is it a greenish yellow or a yellowish green or both? Time for some greengold I think!
Colours of Skye Spring: Leaves
Green and yellow
Colours of Skye Spring: Greens
Yellow-creams and greens
Colours of Skye Spring: Greens
Greens in light and shade
Colours of Skye Spring: Water Droplets
What colour are waterdrops?
Colours of Skye Spring: Greens
Greens heading to greys
Colours of Skye Spring: Leaves
Light from behind
Colours of Skye Spring: Blossom
White blossom
Colours of Skye Spring: Trunks
Tree trunk colours
Colours of Skye Spring: Old Man's Beard
What colour is an old man’s beard?
Colours of Skye Spring: Spots
Monkey tree texture
Colours of Skye Spring: Reds
Autumnal reds in spring
Colours of Skye Spring: Pink Rhododendrons
Pink rhododendron
Colours of Skye Spring: Skye Blue
Sky blue and castle grey
Colours of Skye Spring: Bluebells
Bluebell in a breeze; still trying to decide what colour it is.
Colours of Skye Spring:
Which colour/texture direction will I choose go?

Photos: There (Stornoway) & Back (Uig) Again

Uig to Stornoway Ferry Trip: Shiant Islands

There’s a temporary ferry running between Uig and Stornoway whilst work is being done on the ferry terminal at Ullapool, presenting the opportunity to do a journey and?to see bits of seascape I couldn’t usually. All I needed was a “ferry weather” day, i.e. sunshine and little wind so the sea would be calm. That day was Friday. The in-house art critic’s comment: “Someone who’s not a good sailor,?subjecting themselves to a six-hour boat trip, must be seriously keen to see the view.”

It was a beautiful journey, calming and mesmerizing, intriguing and familiar, inspiring and overwhelming. I took lots of snapshots of bits of coastline, the view down over Skye to the Cuillin, the snow-topped mainland mountains, the various small islands, the open water…

Uig to Stornoway Ferry Trip: Shiant Islands

Uig to Stornoway Ferry Trip: Shiant Islands

Uig to Stornoway Ferry Trip: Cuillin
Cuillin (mountains) in the distance

Uig to Stornoway Ferry Trip:

Uig to Stornoway Ferry Trip: Lighthouse Uig to Stornoway Ferry Trip: Traffic

Uig to Stornoway Ferry Trip: Calm Sea

Uig to Stornoway Ferry Trip: Harbour
Stornoway harbour
Uig to Stornoway Ferry Trip: Sea Monster
“Here be sea monsters…”

Uig to Stornoway Ferry Trip: Isle of Lewis Uig to Stornoway Ferry Trip: Sun Glare on Sea

Uig to Stornoway Ferry Trip: Shiant Islands
Where’s my Perylene green and Prussian blue?

Uig to Stornoway Ferry Trip: Shiant Islands

The ferry itself has all sorts of intriguing shapes and patterns. Geometrical abstract paintings anyone?
Uig to Stornoway Ferry Trip: Abstracts

Uig to Stornoway Ferry Trip: Abstracts chairs

Uig to Stornoway Ferry Trip: Abstracts chairs

Uig to Stornoway Ferry Trip: Abstracts chairs

Uig to Stornoway Ferry Trip: Abstracts funnel

I did also sketch, a little. I mostly simply looked and absorbed:
Uig to Stornoway Ferry Trip: Sketching

A Day for Reflection

Crisp sunshine, ultramarine sky with fluffy white clouds, snow-dusted peaks, no wind… today was the northwest Highlands in tranquil mode. Calming, majestic, mesmerizing. Full of visual puzzles if you look at pieces rather than the whole. So many starting points for abstracted landscape paintings, using pattern and colour from reality rather than painting the postcard view.

Reflections Loch Lochy 1
Loch Lochy
Reflections Loch Lochy 2
Loch Lochy
At Loch Garry


Reflections Cluanie Dam
Cluanie Dam
Reflections Cluanie Dam
Cluanie Dam. Inset photo shows a wider view.
Reflections Cluanie Dam
Cluanie Dam. But for these two taking photos, I would’ve tossed a pebble into the still water; I waited a bit but they weren’t leaving any time soon.
This is my favourite photo from today. It’s taken standing on a bank of Loch Garry, looking down through some trees onto still water reflecting clouds. Inset photo shows the scene looking across the water to the hills on the other side of the loch.