Holiday Sketchbook

Aug 20, 2021Latest News

Although I usually take my sketchbook on holiday, I don’t always get much chance to sketch and draw as we tend to be rather active when we’re away. However, it’s surprising what you can achieve with a quiet five minutes here and there.

A recent family trip to the Scottish Highlands provided the perfect inspirational landscapes and abundance of wildlife to really get in the creative vibe. I particularly enjoyed watching the plethora of sea birds that inhabited the wild shores near our cottage.


Travel kit for sketchingMy very basic travel kit consists of watercolour paper (a sketchbook and some loose sheets), pencils, ink pens and a little tin of watercolour paints. This is enough for what I need.
I like to combine quick, spontaneous pencil sketches with areas of finer details, watery washes and some dashes of more vibrant colour hues. I finish with outlines and details with the black fine-liner ink pens.
I fill the sheets randomly with a variety of sketches and poses. I use direct observation in addition to referring to photographs to help understand the subject a little better.
These little sketches can then be used to inform larger pieces of work on my return to the studio.


Whilst out and about exploring the shore of the sea loch I encountered lots of oyster catchers and herons. In fact, whilst enjoying a leisurely kayak up the shoreline, I spotted ten herons flying off the rock in front of me. Although I spot a lot of herons here in North Yorkshire, I usually only see a solitary bird, so ten in one go was quite a spectacular sight. Their wing span and tall, skinny stature is very distinctive. I presume they have plenty to eat here!
Watercolour sketches seabirds
I really enjoy doing these little sketches and I find it extremely relaxing. It also helps me take note of my surroundings and pay attention to the abundance of wildlife. I have noticed since becoming an artist I am more visually aware and take note of how light falls on a subject and striking colour combinations.
By drawing on holiday it also means you have a unique souvenir of your time away. However, on this occasion I decided to leave our lovely hosts my drawings as a thank you for our stay. They were delighted with this and have told me they are going to frame them and display them in the cottage which is really lovely. 

If you haven’t been to the stunning West Coast of Scotland I would highly recommend it! We stayed near to Skye and the Kyle of Lochalsh. This is an excellent location to explore from and to enjoy the landscapes and wildlife. The midges can be a real problem at this time of year, but we were really lucky as they weren’t too bad at all since it had been so dry prior to our stay.
A real highlight of our trip was seeing dolphin when we took a boat trip from Portree Harbour. The food is also pretty amazing – especially the Plockton Prawns!!

Plockton Prawns

Highland Cow Calf

In addition to the sketches I undertook during the stay, I was also looking out for inspiration for future artwork projects. To that end, I was lucky to get some up-close photos of some gorgeous Highland Cows and I will definitely be using these to inspire further work when back in the studio.
I do already have some Highland Cow pictures available and they are extremely popular.

Shop – Sketchy Coo

Shop – Coo with a Yellow Earring

Shop – Heilan Coo (limited edition print)

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