Hello everyone, happy Tuesday!  Today I  have two pages to share with you as part of my language theme. One is a page in my current journal and the other is a larger 12 x 12 inch loose page that I don’t know what I am going to use it for yet but I was testing out some new paint and wanted to try it on different paper, and this paper is thicker than my journal paper and a better quality so I ended up with a second page.

As you know, I am Guest Hosting the May challenge over on Art Journal Journey this month and my chosen theme is…


You can find a nice list of ideas about language inspired pages in my introduction post just click here.

For today’s post, I was inspired by the Scottish Gaelic language and the Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis.)  I have some art to share, plus some photos from my trip to Harris and Lewis, so this might be a long post.

This is the journal page I created for the Gaelic language.  Na Fir Chlis is Gaelic for the northern lights; it translates as the nimble men and refers to the magical lights that dance across the sky during the aurora. The whole spread is painted with watercolour, really only four colours – a blue, a green, a yellow and Payne’s Grey and then some white paint pen for highlights.  I got some new paint on Sunday and wanted to use it for this page and ended up not using it at all!  This page is based on the lights I have seen personally which are usually this greeny colour, and I painted a mountainous highland loch background with clouds and stars to set off the na fir chlis.

Here is some information from Aberdeen University about where Scottish Gaelic is spoken:

During the eleventh century, Gaelic was the main language of most of Scotland (including parts of the North East), as Gaelic place-names evidence. Since this period the language has receded. Geographically, a ‘Gaidhealtachd’ region emerged around the late fourteenth century. Today, the Highlands and Islands region accounts for 55 percent of Scotland’s 58,652 Gaelic speakers. It is the island communities of Skye, the Western Isles and, to a lesser extent, the Argyll Islands, which are now regarded as the ‘Gaelic heartlands’.

Emigration from the Gaidhealtachd has been commonplace since the eighteenth century, when Gaelic-speaking communities were established in the urban towns and cities of Glasgow, Greenock, Paisley, Edinburgh, Dundee and Perth. Today, all Scotland’s cities have vibrant Gaelic-speaking communities.

The number of emigrants in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries were so large that Gaelic communities were also established in other countries. The largest and most well-known of these was in Canada. There is still a notable Gaelic presence in Canada, most especially in Nova Scotia, where there is still a small community of na­tive speakers and a larger group of people who are learning the language. In contemporary society, the Gaelic community is increasingly global in its membership.

Scottish Gaelic (Gàidhlig) is an historical language of Scotland which belongs to the family of ‘Celtic’ languages. More specifically, it is a member of the Q-Celtic languages together with Irish and Manx Gaelic. Along with varieties of Scots, including Doric, Shetlandic and Orcadian, Gaelic is recognised as one of the indigenous languages of Scotland.

Today there are some 58,000 speakers in Scotland. In 2005 the Scottish Parliament passed legislation with a view to securing the status of Gaelic as an official language of Scotland commanding equal respect to the English language. The Gaelic Language (Scotland) Act 2005 is testament to a new political will to support Gaelic’s revival. There is also a new understanding in the general population of the value of Gaelic to Scotland. This unprecedented support to Gaelic in Scotland means this is a very exciting time to be studying Gaelic. Find out more by following the links below.

A few years ago I travelled up to the Hebrides to visit the islands of Skye, Harris and Lewis.  I expected to find a lot of Gaelic speakers there and so I wanted to learn at least a few phrases in the language in the same way as I would travelling anywhere where a language other than English is spoken.

Despite travelling all around the islands I did not find anyone speaking Gaelic.  I was so disappointed after my study and really wanted to practice what I had learned but at least I could understand some of the signs, not that I needed to as most had dual languages on them like this one in the local supermarket. I tired talking to this black sheep but he seemed confused too!

It took me seven hours to drive to the Isle of Skye, where I stayed overnight before catching the first ferry over to Harris.

It was June, midsummer, and it hardly got dark at all.  During the “night” in Skye, I woke up at 3am to see this from the bedroom window – the sky is purple, there is no filter used on this photo to make it this colour – it was amazing!  The view from the window shows the ferry terminal all lit up and in the distance, the Isle of Harris.

Here is another photo of the same view, taken from the restaurant downstairs that day, and since it is T day, I am sharing my glass of wine which I definitely needed after all that driving! Happy T Day!

Or perhaps you would prefer something from the gift shop?  I bought these for other people, not for me!

Here are a few more photos from my trip (14 in total).  The slider will scroll through the photos automatically or you can just click the arrows on the sides to go back and forth or the circles along the bottom. Each photo has a brief description of what it is or where it is.

I’m sure you all know about the Northern Lights but here is some info just in case you don’t.

The northern lights are a natural phenomenon caused when solar winds send charged particles into the Earth’s atmosphere and magnetic field. They collide with atoms in the North Pole, resulting in a dazzling display of emissions that light up the night sky in a rainbow of colours. You might see the northern lights – or aurora borealis – as green, purple, pink or red hues dancing above you. Their enchantment has been the source of many myths and legends across different civilisations. For example, in Scottish Gaelic folklore, the northern lights are called Na Fir Chlis – “the Nimble Men”. Or in the Shetland and Orkney Islands, you might hear them being endearingly referred to as the “Mirrie Dancers”. These magical dancers never fail to delight anyone who lays eyes on them!

I have a small Gaelic poem to share which made me think of the northern lights over water even though it is talking about a sunset over water.  The English translation is next to it.

feasgar ciùin foghair
’s thu air do shlighe dhan bhaile,
uisge rèidh a’ bhàigh na teine
fo gathan fada na grèine

~ Air Acair – by Deborah Moffatt ~

quiet autumn evening
On your way to town
the flat water of the bay on fire
under the long rays of the sun

And finally my second page which is not based on reality and just something I made up, but I did get to use my new paint, well one of them anyway, a Cobalt Teal from QOR.  This is painted with three colours, Cobalt Teal, Ultramarine and Payne’s Grey. The QOR watercolours use a different binder that allows the paint to feather out and spread more than other paints so I wanted to try it out on this page idea and it seemed to work quite well. Then rather than just leave it as it was not looking like anything in particular, I painted some little trees at the bottom of the page to put it in some kind of perspective.

I hope you feel inspired to join me at Art Journal Journey this month.  Language is all about communication, and I would love to see you communicate using language on your pages, in whatever form you choose. I have a lot of ideas for language-inspired spreads to share with you over the course of this month, so do keep checking back if you need some inspiration or ideas, or even just to say hi!  I can’t wait to see what you do with this month’s theme and I will be dropping by to see all your lovely creations.

Let me know what you think in the comments. If you have any questions about anything in this post, just ask.  As always, thanks for reading!


My handmade art journal, hahnemuhle 300gsm watercolour paper, watercolour paint, white paint pen, gold and white gel pens


Art Journal Journey – Language – May Challenge For the language theme I chose Gaelic language
T Stands For Tuesday – T stands for totally exhausted and in need of wine in Skye

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25 Awesome Comments (btw comment moderation is on)
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May 22, 2021 9:47 am

A fabulous journal page and I liked the photos you shared with this post. The Northern Lights must be awesome to see for real.
A great inspiration piece for your theme at AJJ.

May 19, 2021 7:24 pm

The ancient languages of Britain are interesting and should be kept alive. Hubby and I love to listen to Gaelic folk music (Ha ha! just seen Lisca’s comment – we saw Julie Fowlis at the Bridgwater Hall in Manchester a few years ago) Your page is beautiful as is your second page! I loved seeing that purple sky – I really would love to see the Northern Lights, doubt that I ever will. A glass of wine would be great but it isn’t really allowed with my medication so I will stick to coffee, Happy T Day, Chrisx

Lisca Meijer
Lisca Meijer
May 19, 2021 4:27 pm

What a beautiful page! I have never seen the Northern Lights in real life, and I would love to, but I would have to ‘suffer’ a cold country to see it. An acquaintance, who used to live not far from me (Granada, southern Spain) has recently moved to Stornoway. What a difference. Her husband is Scottish, that is probably why.
I love hearing Gaelic. My husband and I are into folk music and a lot of Scottish folk music is in Gaelic. Check out Julie Fowlis, if you haven’t already (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x7jW5qDexnc)
I love the photo of the ‘purple night’. Very beautiful. And the ‘heiland coo’ made me smile indeed.
Thank you for a lovely post.
Belated happy T-Day,

May 19, 2021 1:50 pm

Fabulous journal page with wonderful colours! Have a great da, Valerie

May 19, 2021 12:19 pm

I so enjoyed your paintings of the Aurora. It’s on my bucket list to see. Every time it’s visible in my area, we get rain or fog! The purple sky in your photo is amazing. I’ll be going on an art retreat in the Fall where we will be doing a calligraphic tonal piece in Payne’s Grey. Happy T Day

Nancy Williams
May 19, 2021 11:26 am

Elle, I LOVE all your great pictures! Wow. When I did my DNA, I found I had some Scottish (I know a lot of people do) so this was even more interesting to me. Such lovely country and the language sounds so beautiful. Those sheep are totally cool!

Your art work is beautiful a well. Both pieces have gorgeous colors and capture the magic of the Northern sky. So lovely.

Love the picture of your wine to – always good after a long drive. Sounds and looks like a fabulous trip!

Happy late T-Day too. Hugz

Jo - Let's Art Journal
May 18, 2021 9:54 pm

Such beautiful pages! I love the blue colour palette and the magical scenes that you created – amazing ?. It was fabulous to see Scotland too and I hope that you enjoyed all those goodies too, so yummy! Happy T Day wishes! Hugs, Jo x

Bleubeard and Elizabeth
May 18, 2021 9:49 pm

I was so impressed with your wonderful trip to Scotland to see the northern lights and to learn a bit of Gaelic before you went. Quite aspiring and inspiring. I loved the photos you shared, and of course, your incredible journal page you created specifically for your theme at Art Journal Journey. Beautiful art.

Glad you were able to have a glass of wine after all that driving. And so glad you got to appreciate the experience. Thanks for teaching us a bit of Gaelic, showing us a bit of Scotland, sharing the northern lights with us in art and information, and your wine for T this Tuesday, dear Elle.

Kate Yetter
May 18, 2021 6:38 pm

Lovely photos and enjoyed seeing a bit of Scotland. Loving your journal page and reading about Gaelic.
Happy Tea Day,

Erika N
May 18, 2021 6:06 pm

What a fantastic post Elle. I’ve heard of Gaelic and I always think of Ireland, but perhaps that is Irish. I will have to look that up. I would love to visit these places as it looks really beautiful in that “night time” photo. I’ve seen these nights in on Iceland trip and also a trip to Sweden, which is really amazing. I would actually like to see what it is like in winter although people call me crazy for that. The sheep does look confused, but he is a cutie. Loving the art for AJJ too. It is really wonderful Elle. Have a great T day and thanks for the fun language lesson. hugs-Erika

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