Wild and woolly and bursting with pride, there's nothing to match Scotland’s coast and countryside.
Follow in the Atlantic-lashed brush strokes of William McTaggart and step foot on the landscapes and lochs that inspired the likes of Alexander Naysmith, as you begin your own sojourn in Scotland armed with sketchbook and blank canvas. Painting holidays in Scotland encourage beginners to be brave, and more experienced artists to take flight, with a wonderful blend of wildlife, weather and the occasional whisky both on land and out at sea. Pipe bands, fishing boats, sea birds and seals; a week spent painting on and around the islands of Scotland's west coast is all the art education you'll ever need.


Inner Hebrides

Skye, Rum and the Isle of Mull provide no end of opportunities for painting within Scotland's Inner Hebrides. This is an archipelago where you'll find working waterfronts and whisky distilleries in fishing villages such as Tobermory, as well as heather-strewn munros and 13th century castles adorning saltwater lochs further inland. Learning about crofting and clans is just as inspirational as catching the sun set over a sea stack.

Outer Hebrides

The Outer Hebrides include over 50 large uninhabited islands and 15 habited islands which are home to crofters, weavers and fishing communities. Much of the Outer Hebrides was left abandoned due to its inhospitable nature and to the Highland clearances that took place from 1750 to 1860. Weather conditions dictate how close small ships and passenger ferries can get to these remote western shores; however, painting where populations of puffins cover cliff tops and monolithic standing stones overlook deep, dark sea lochs, is quite something.

Caledonian Canal

Cruising Scotland's Great Glen by boat is quite the experience and artists can rejoice in the seasonal splendour of Loch Ness and the beautiful banks of the Caledonian Canal. Autumn is the best time for painting along the 100km route from Fort William to Inverness, with numerous locks, bridges and Highland villages all to be captured on camera or canvas. Heading up from Loch Linnhe, the islands of Lismore and Shuna set the scene before Ben Nevis and Castle Stalker (as of Monty Python fame) leave artists in no doubt as to the enduring nature of this captivating canal.

Our top Painting Holiday

Art cruise in Scotland

Art cruise in Scotland

Scottish Island cruises perfect for relaxing and painting.

From £1860 7 days ex flights
Small group travel:
2024: 14 Apr
Travel Team
If you'd like to chat about Painting or need help finding a holiday to suit you we're very happy to help.


The Highlands and remote islands of Scotland are the realm of sea eagles, stags, ospreys and otters. Sketching and painting wildlife under the expert tutelage of professional artists is an absolute treat, especially in the animals’ natural environment. Take to the water around the west coast and you may be lucky enough to find basking sharks, whales, dolphins and porpoises.
Vibrant heather and flowering gorse cover the slopes of hills and munros, whilst abandoned tumbledown buildings and ancient standing stones create wild ambience in the Highlands. A wee walk around the shores of Loch Spelve or the ancestral home of the Maclean clan, Duart Castle, will take you into another world where mountains cast long shadows, and waterfalls tumble into the sea.
Anchorages around the Treshnish Isles and in Soribay Bay reveal a succession of seascapes to keep sketchbooks topped up and dashed by salty spray. Weather eroded sea stacks, clifftop lighthouses, shingle strewn beaches covered in basking seals; there's a reason why artists rate Scottish seascapes amongst the most atmospheric on earth. Capturing the moment a wave crashes into a cliff or an eagle exports a fish from the sea are always a highlights; however, for many, just being out at sea in Scotland is all that you need to channel your inner William McTaggart.

Small ship cruises

One of the best ways to discover the islands, inlets and lochs of west coast Scotland is by small ship cruises, accompanied by a skipper, crew and an art tutor. Ships, such as the 82ft Seahorse II, are designed to the highest of standards and built to withstand the weather and waves at these northerly latitudes. Vessels have spacious living and communal quarters as well as sea kayaks for those looking to dip into the water as well as their paint pots.
There is space for up to 11 artists in single, twin and double en suite cabins, with alfresco dining, when the weather's in the right direction, just the thing for putting the world to rights after another day of perfect painting. Small ships can also be chartered privately with extended or shorter sailing durations, accompanied by expert art tutors, allowing for a more bespoke itinerary.


May and September are the best months to paint in Scotland as you'll find the very best spring and autumnal colours around the remote islands and cloud covered lochs. Winters are way too cold for anything other than studio work and bowls of Scotch broth, so stick to April to October in the Inner and Outer Hebrides and along the Caledonian Canal.
Written by Chris Owen
Photo credits: [Page banner: Eddy Klaus] [Eilean Donan Castle: Sorin Tudorut] [Skye: Matthew Kalapuch] [Wildlife: Frankie Dixon] [Small ship cruises: Richard Swejkowski]