I recently took a trip on a boat sailing from from Ardrossan to Fairhead in Northern Ireland. Once there the intention was to climb, conditions permitting, on the sea cliffs .

Traditionally my main inspiration comes from the Western seaboard of Scotland. Venturing further afield from Scotland, especially on a boat, always helps open my eyes. It is good to get a different perspective on the ever changing colours in the sea, the coastline and the sky.

Our route would provide plenty of opportunities where I could fill my sketch books with new ideas.

Here you can see some of the essential equipment needed for the trip. This includes a large, medium and a small sketch pad.

The small one is used for capturing random ideas and thoughts relating to the journey. This could be as random as the surrounding wildlife, wave sounds or the colour of the sky.

Quick pencil drawings to lay out loose design and perspective are done in the medium one. These are then used as reference for my larger sketches.

My large pad is for finished sketches that form the basis for my oil paintings. These are done using compressed charcoal and pastels. This process allows me to add colour and fine detail to my sketches prior to starting painting.

As you can see I am unable to resist sketching even when I am supposed to be packing the climbing gear away.

The trip started with a beautiful sunset over the Isle Arran out to the West with a fishing trawler in the foreground.

Alazarin Crimson, Cadmium Orange, Brilliant Yellow , Magenta, Prussian Blue with touches of green were just some of the gorgeous colours in the sky and sea.

It was a perfect opportunity for a sketch.

I worked on the sketch as we sailed towards Sanda. The sketch allowed me to capture some of the range of colours and provides me with a frame of reference for a final painting.

I tend to re-visit a sketch to add in more colour and detail prior to painting. This happened several times with this sketch over the course of the trip.

Afer an overnight sail we dropped anchor at Sanda Island off the Mull of Kintyre. This was perfect timing as it let me sketch the sunset.

I’m fortunate to have painted several oil paintings here at different times of the day but this was a first time for a sunset.

Due to the diminishing light I will finish the painting in the studio with the aid of my sketches. I prefer to paint to completion plein air but on this occasion as the light failed it could not be helped.

The palette for the new painting will be slightly stronger and darker than the one I used for the previous painting of Arran.