Autumn in Argyll - the Western Highlands 2022
Wandering Crafters are a bit like the Postal Service - neither rain nor hail stays these crafters from the completion of their appointed art making! After a long summer of strangely sunny spells in Scotland, the moody, misty and atmospheric drift of weather from the North Sea greeted our unstoppable group.
They responded by declaring, "We dressed for the occasion!" and so they did..
Who cares about a bit of mizzle (that's Scottish for a light rain) when you have 5,000 year old stone circles to visit, and cozy fireplaces to sit around? Bring it ON was the spirit of the week for our lovely crafters.
We also had crisp autumnal days and glorious sunshine in Edinburgh, sketch strolling along the Undiscovered Royal Mile. Sharing our artwork in an impromptu 'Gallery Show' in a historic hidden garden at the end of our stroll. Journals look so good when they assemble in joyous company, resting on benches made from 17th century stone.
Our main home for the week in the lush Western Highlands of Argyll was the beautiful 1920's manor house that you see above. Ponds, ferns, so many shades of green surrounded us. Wellies donned, we strolled down the lane to the village shop, passing fields of sheep, spotting the flashes of colorful mushrooms growing under the canopies of falling leaves.
We gathered in a beautiful art room, with old fashioned bay windows letting the filtered light in, and we snipped and stitched companionably. The beautiful, lush grounds of the estate provided so much inspiration to feed our creativity. I truly think we channeled the ancient spirits of the woods and fields when Scottish textile artist The Pale Rook encouraged us to take our new doll forms out to bathe in the dew, and play in the mud. Teaching both technique and inspiration, Johanna creates a safe space for her students, where everything is possible.
The Celtic other worlds feel just within reach in Kilmartin Glen and in the standing stones of Temple Wood. The mist seemed to roll down from the hills and make the ethereal just a little more tangible. This is a place of energy. It is a place where the veil between this world and the eternal world is thin. Where one can simultaneously walk in two worlds fused together..
Brian from www.personaltoursofscotland.com regaling our travelers with the history of the landscape and its hundreds of Neolithic sites. The best part? We were the only people there - up close and personal with the stones. No sounds of other tourists, nothing but the burble of rushing waters from the nearby river, and the call of crows and magpies.
It wasn't all misty, brooding glens though - it was also smiles and laughter - as you can see from this adventurous group of artists. Friendships were enhanced, new friends were made, undiscovered talents encouraged and revealed. When we are away from the cares of our everyday lives, surrounded by nature and good, healthy food, these experiences become so much richer.
All you have to do is wander out the door to meet giant trees decked in mosses so deep they look like furry giant animals! Trees who are keeping themselves busy, umm..chlorophylling. I can't describe what that is in objective terms, but if you're in the company of those kind of tree spirits, you'll know it.
One of our wanderers even had the rare sighting of a Red Squirrel (they're endangered and only seen these days deep in the countryside.)
The Wandering Crafters 'crossed the Atlantic' too! Not to get here we mean. No, this was an unexpected bonus. As you ascend the humpbacked Clachan Bridge (built in 1792) and cross from the Scottish mainland to the Isle of Seil, you crossing an inlet from the North Atlantic, so technically speaking...yep. Frequent flier miles aren't earned but, we didn't even need a passport or a plane ticket for this travel adventure.
We foraged in the woods for the stunning autumnal leaves and nuts. We beach combed for green marble and shells, and gathered natural slate for the Magpie's Treasure Boxes, as taught by Summer Kiser. Guided by Summer's innate love of gathering flotsam and jetsam from her nature strolls, then a making a nest to gather them home.
Jane taught a watercolor class to complement the Sketch Stroll journaling from earlier in the week. We mixed paints, we got all up into color theory in a friendly kind of way, and we made this most misunderstood of mediums a lot less intimidating. Jane loves to teach one-on-one most of all, so having the opportunity to work closely with our guests was pure joy.
At our final dinner - a pub night at a salty seadog tavern in Oban, Gateway to the Outer Hebrides islands - Johanna toasted us with Scotland's other official beverage (no, not whisky) IRN BRU - slainte!
Nobody knows what Irn Bru made of (it's a secret) but it tastes somewhere between American cream soda, the color orange, and the iron girders of the Forth Bridge. Scottish people love it, and it outsells Coca Cola here. We keep it real at Wandering Craft Retreats.
If it's true that a pot of gold lies at the end of the rainbow, here in Scotland, you can reach out an touch it - and that's what our most recent group of Wandering Crafters did.
They found the gold in themselves, and they channeled it into artistic touchstones that will be with them long after these days have faded.
We were so happy to host you, Autumn 2022 Wanderers!