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Scotland + Iceland 2018

Way back in 2018, I spent 12 days traveling around Scotland with my husband, and it was one of the greatest 12 days of my life. It wasn’t my first time in Scotland, but this time I had a goal of doing some serious travel sketching for the first time ever. I had just gotten back into watercolor painting in earnest and wanted to make the most of the trip as I could. I posted a version of this post on my reddit account, but I wanted to give it a place of honor here on my site. Now let’s think back to the simpler times of 2018 and look at my Scotland sketchbook!

I just spent 12 days in Scotland and 3 days in Iceland. It was incredible! Of course I took a million photos that I could share with you, but I did something a little different with my time, and sketched and painted wherever possible. That’s what I’m going to share with you now. I didn’t capture my entire journey, but I’m pretty thrilled with what I did document, and now I’ve got an amazing souvenir and set of memories that I’ll carry with me forever.

Starting my sketchbook in the Sea-Tac Lounge. I’ve always wanted to sketch while traveling but I’ve always been terrible at it and felt really awkward doing so. I resolved to change that on this trip, since I’ve really gotten back into focusing on creating art again for the first time since I was in college. I spent a month or so prepping my palette and getting to know it, and practiced sketching at home and around town to get comfortable with that again. I’d call my efforts a success, and I hope you think so too after seeing this album 🙂

Sea-Tac International Lounge. I needed something low-effort to break the ice with my sketchbook. The first page is always the most stressful.

I didn’t sketch anything until the end of our first night in Edinburgh. But this felt like the right place to start. This is the 10-year flight at Abbey Bar in Edinburgh. Despite having traveled through Scotland before, I’ve had shockingly few Scotches in my life, so I was working to rectify that this week. I’ve always been more of a bourbon person when it comes to whisk(e)y.

The next day we walked all over Edinburgh. Here’s Arthur’s Seat from Calton Hill.

Rosslyn Chapel. We met William the Chapel Cat, but got no pics of him, because he was napping inside where photos are prohibited. Sad. While I was drawing this one, I said “wow, a straight edge would be really helpful” and lo and behold, in the gift shop there were rulers. It’s a sign, right? I had to get one. I finished this one that same day, after touring Stirling Castle and eating at The Portcullis. This was my only sketch that day. I was still just getting the hang of this travel sketching, so it was a slow start.

Now we’re leaving Edinburgh and heading north. We stopped at Blair Castle after doing the tour at Edradour Distillery.

We did lunch at Blair Castle, and this peacock was trying to get our food the whole time. I painted it that night in Inverness.

We stopped at Clava Cairns on the way into Inverness. I love this place.

Painting at the Castle Tavern in Inverness. Dinner here was great! It was crazy busy when we arrived, but I’m glad we stuck around and snagged a fantastic table on the patio. I got the pigeon and black pudding. Delightful.

This was our room at the Heathmount Inn in Inverness. Cute place. I hit my head on the ceiling a few times.

Loch Cluanie on the way out to Skye. I painted this one at our camp in Iceland.

Another view of Loch Cluanie. I still haven’t gotten around to painting this one.

We stopped very briefly at Eilean Donan. I painted this one a few days later on the ferry to Port Askaig on Islay.

Kilt Rock on Isle of Skye, painted that evening at Staffin Caravan and Campsite

Sunset in Staffin on the Isle of Skye. I sketched this one suuuuper fast. It was so cold, and I was just wearing my little pajama shorts and jacket. But I had to do this sketch because the view was too perfect.

Castle Rock at Fairy Glen.

Sketching at the Quiraing. This is one of my favorite spots on Earth. I was here nine years ago and have been dying to come back since then. My husband says this is his favorite sketch from the trip because of how happy I was doing it.

I painted this in the back of our van at Glenbrittle Campsite. Such a gorgeous place. Such a terrible photo in the moment. So windy!

Lunchtime stop in Glencoe, at the Clachaig Inn. This was one of the few that I actually got to paint on the spot.

This palette treated me well the whole time. Now we’re in Iona. The Sound of Iona, looking towards Fionnphort. I got to paint this one at lunch at the Martyr’s Bay Restaurant. Tasty fish too.

Freaking PUFFINS! On Staffa! Amazing time! This was the only time I wished that I had had black in my palette.

Roseview Caravan and Campsite outside of Oban. We stayed here two nights. Loved it.

Waiting for the ferry at Kennacraig.

We escaped the extreme lack of hustle and bustle of Islay for something even calmer. Claggan Bay. A most serene place.

Our “wee brown budget” campervan. We picked it up in Inverness and spent 6 amazing nights in it (2 on Skye, 2 in Oban, and 2 on Islay). We were in love with it by the end! This is my final painting from Scotland, so if you don’t care about Iceland, bail now. After this night, we drove back to Glasgow and flew out from there. We were quite sad to go.

Switching gears, now we’re in Iceland. This is Gullfoss. I still haven’t finished painting this one.

Seljalandsfoss on the ring road. This is the one you can hike behind.

Black sand beach and sea stacks at Reynisfjara. It was windy AF here. This is the last one that I painted. I had one final spread left in the book, but I think I’ll leave it blank. It’s symbolic that way, or something.

And that’s the trip! This trip was truly a dream come true, and it felt so great to fill up the sketchbook. Like so many other artists, I’m a chronic sketchbook-abandoner, so seeing this through from start to finish in a short amount of time and seeing the evolution of my process in under two weeks was really eye-opening and fun! Thanks for reading! I’m sure I’ll post more blasts-from-the-past up here as this place grows.

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