Most years at this time I make a trip to the Highlands.
It had been a year since I had last crossed The Firth and left Orkney. My annual summer trip to Bridge House Art in Ullapool had been a casualty of Covid, so this time I returned to one of my favourite places in Wester Ross.
The scale and drama of the Assynt and Coigach mountains are a profound contrast to the Orkney landscape I am used to for most of the year. The huge personalities of the mountains demand attention, cloaked in vast sweeps of rusty velvet. The vivid colours of autumn trees and the silhouettes of larch, spruce and pine are refreshing respite from the grip of the relentless Orcadian horizon.
This year it felt more valuable than ever to experience and appreciate these differences.
I think soaking up a sense of place, walking and looking, sitting and watching, can sometimes be as valuable as drawing and responding to make a sketchbook record. I brought most of the colours and shapes home in my head, and returned with fresh eyes for the familiar.