Skip to main content


25 x 35 cm

Stroma is an island just off the north coast of Caithness. At one time it had a small self-contained community, but no-one lives there any more. The abandoned houses can be seen clearly from the mainland, giving the island a ghostly atmosphere. The only inhabitants now are the sheep, which are taken over by boat to graze on the grassy pastures.

This painting was a recent commission. It was for someone who had visited the island and was left with a lasting impression of it.


  1. Good (early) morning Keith! We're off to Brockville on the St Lawrence River... some five hours doqwn the road for a few days.

    This lovely, crisp vista leaves an indelible impression on "Me" as well!

    You have captured that aura of loneliness and desolation that seeps in from the landscape into one's soul... when confronted by the passage of time and use!

    Your work... as always includes just enough detail to gently nudge the eye around... searching for information in every plane of your carefully conceived compositions!

    Another Tilley gem!

    The snow is now gone... replaced by a bit of what you have been experiencing!

    Got to make tracks! Talk with you soon!

    Good Painting!
    Warmest regards,

  2. This is lovely. It reminds me of the Island of Kerrera, looking across from the road leading to the Kerrera ferry:)

  3. Thanks Bruce. By the time you see this I expect you will be back from your trip, so I hope it was a good one and not too windy.

    All the best,

  4. Thanks Gwen. I wonder how Kerrera has managed to keep its residents, while Stroma hast lost them. It must be local circumstances I suppose.

  5. I have just been watching a programme on Ch4 about the amount of empty houses there in Britain. My thoughts wandered to the many empty cottages I have seen on my travels to Caithness. So sad ...
    A very lovely painting Keith! :)

  6. Yes, Ingrid, and it's a shame that sometimes the old cottages are demolished to build new houses.

  7. Good Morning Keith, we have a layer of snow here and the sun is shining brightly. You have captured the bleakness of the solitary island yet as always there is a choice of warm colours that takes away the chill when viewing. I think it is sad to see the old crofts knocked down to be replaced by modern houses. I dare say the modern houses have bigger windows and give more light yet they don't look at nice as the crofts. My only concern is that in time all the crofts will disappear and with it the old way of life that is remembered when viewing them.

  8. Hello Caroline, we have had the first snow here too. I think the wet and very windy weather is coming back though.

    Yes it's sad to see all the old buildings disappearing. The new ones are so uninteresting.

    The idea of big windows and lots of light sounds appealing. However, I live in a modern bungalow and, when the wind is gusting at 80 mph, I would prefer thick walls and small windows!

  9. I don't know. I know of Kerrera, not of Stroma.
    Kerrera has some important recent history and I know that every time I visit I want to live there. It is also very close to Oban, with all that that entails.
    Maybe some research needs to be done:)

  10. Keith, I find this a lovely restful composition and agree with Bruce about the way you've captured the solitude of the island. As always I remain impressed with your interesting sky and excellent sense of distance. Superb.

  11. Just wanted to say how enjoyable it is to find this - the joys of the internet mean that I can use it as a desktop background on my Macbook. My 19th Century ancestors lived here, and there are times when I look at its isolation and wonder if that is why I like a sense of isolation myself. This painting is different to many of the windswept photos of Stroma though, which makes it all the more attractive - if you did not know about Stroma it would look like a lovely community there now, which is how it must have been, on sunnier days at least. Thanks Keith - malcolm sinclair

  12. Hello Malcolm, I'm glad you've found this, especially as it means so much to you.


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Moorland Fire

Moorland Fire Watercolour 25 x 36 cm
There is a definite feeling of approaching autumn now, with some cooler days and more unsettled weather. It hardly seems any time at all since the spring, when there was a long spell of dry weather and the moors were tinder-dry. There were a number of serious fires at the time and several nature reserves were badly damaged. I think they were mostly caused by accident or carelessness this time, but unfortunately there are people who seem to get satisfaction from starting fires deliberately.

The fire in this painting is of a different kind. Every year between, autumn and spring, shooting estates burn off small patches of moorland to leave a patchwork of heather. This encourages the breeding of grouse, with the old growth providing cover and the new shoots providing food. The operation has to be done very carefully, because fires can easily get out of control, and once the underlying peat starts to burn it can burn for days and is very difficult to p…

Christmas Wishes

A couple of my latest watercolours and -

Best Wishes to all for Christmas

"The Fuel Bowser", Watercolour, 24 x 18 cm

"View at Skelbo", Watercolour, 16 x 26 cm

Trying Out a Pochade Box

I had an old box for storing photographic transparencies that wasn't being used any more. It was just the right size to make a good pochade box, so I thought I would see what I could do with it. I fitted out the lid to hold two 8 x 10 inch panels, with the base holding the paints and brushes and a palette holding everything in place.

For its first trial I took it out to the same location as the previous post. This time it was raining, so it was an ideal opportunity to see how I would get on painting with the pochade inside my vehicle. It worked very well in the cramped conditions and was very easy to use.

When I had finished I just closed the lid and went home. Later, when I opened the box again, I found a blob of Pthalo Green right in the middle of the painting! I think the wood that I used for the palette was too flexible, so it had got pushed up into the lid. I was using acrylics, so normally it would have been easy to wash the green off. Unfortunately, I was trying out Atelie…