Must Paint Scot

Painting the Cuillins of Skye, Scotland’s most spectacular mountains

With the Isle of Skye so popular, it isn’t surprising to find that painting the Cuillins of Skye is a subject for artists, both professional and amateur, using just about every medium ever invented.

And, of course, everything that could be said about Skye and the Cuillins of Skye has probably been said. The whole island seems to be a ‘must-see’. It’s wildly popular and very busy in the main season.

It can’t all be to do with ‘The Skye Boat Song’ can it? I mean, of course, that lyric sung about the Young Pretender, Bonne Prince Charlie, and his escapade to acquire the crown. Folk have been travelling ‘over the sea to Skye’ since tourism began (that is, about half a century Prince Charles Edward Stuart passed through).

Today, it’s the place that many from furth of Scotland regard as their dream location, maybe for retirement, maybe just as soon as they can sell up ‘down south’ and get there. It’s got terrible midges and it rains a lot but those factors are no deterrent. The Misty Isle has a pull that is beyond reason, because, when the rain stops, it has magic.

It also has the most spectacular mountain profiles in Scotland. Sometimes the Cuillins of Skye just stand like… oh, I don’t know, a dragon’s knobbly back, perhaps, when the sky behind is blue. Sometimes they vanish entirely – the place isn’t called the Misty Isle just for the poetry.

And sometimes, they just peer out, half in and out, from the rolling cloud…

Painting the Cuillins of Skye: looking across Loch Eishort to the misty Cuillins.
Looking across Loch Eishort to the misty Cuillins of Skye

Painting the Cuillins of Skye

Well, the painting here is how I think of the Cuillins, especially after a recent trip to the island, while based in the south, in Sleat, by Isle Oronsay.

Incidentally, it’s well worth taking that coastal loop by Tarskavaig and Tokavaig, if you’ve come off the Mallaig ferry at Armadale, instead of rushing off to the delights (is that the word?) of Portree.

Anyway, that day the tops were drifting in and out of visibility and so, later, I took advantage of the opaque qualities of gouache (as opposed to watercolour) helps create the effect of solidity partly screened by cloud. I really hope I’ve not been too pretentious here…

In this instance, in the foreground, there are also some wee birds, sometimes hard to see – but then the wading tribe that pokes about the foreshore is usually like that.

If you find yourself on this recommended loop road, the viewpoint for painting the Cuillins of Skye is actually north of Tokavaig, with the OS map marking it as Ord, looking north-west across Loch Eishort towards Blaven and the main range further to the left.