LIKE so many other people, TV presenter and artist Lachlan Goudie’s dreams of travel turned to dust during the nightmare of the Covid pandemic.

Not only was he unable to travel in the footsteps of Robert Louis Stevenson and Paul Gauguin to the Indian Ocean as planned, but he also contracted the virus just before the jags were issued and has been suffering from long Covid ever since.

His joy of painting has remained throughout, however, and his new exhibition, which opens this week, is aimed at spreading a little bit of that joy to act as an antidote to the current economic doom and gloom.

Painting Paradise captures the trip he finally made to Mauritius post-lockdown – and also to the Scottish “treasure island” of Barra, the wilds of Inverness-shire and the more douce environment of Edinburgh.

“It follows on from the Covid hell we’ve all been through,” said Goudie, whose critically acclaimed landmark series, The Story Of Scottish Art, saw him nominated as On Screen Personality of the Year by Royal Television Society Scotland.

“Long Covid has been an issue for me but the journeys and adventures I’ve been on to create this exhibition were a kind of tonic – a medicine in themselves – and I hope I can channel my experience of travelling through my painting for other people, who perhaps are unable to go to these places.

“At the moment, we’re so battered down by what feels like the lack of opportunity, the problems and the dead ends. If these paintings do anything, it’s to open a window out of that world and remind us all about what the point of all of this is.

“It is to be nourished by life; it is to be inspired by the world around us and to feel uplifted just by something simple like the sunlight or the colours of nature.”

While his journey to Mauritius was not the trip of a lifetime he had originally planned with his family, Goudie said he was still “extraordinarily privileged” to be able to work in beautiful places and try to convey the magic he finds.

%image('16101009', type="article-full", alt="Lachlan Goudie, The Lochan, oil on board, 86x97cm")

“I get to go to Barra, the south of France and tropical beaches to paint but for me this is not about making picture postcards – it’s really about using paints and canvas to transmit to someone in a slightly more dreich and overcast place what it feels like to be uplifted and inspired by the great treasures and delight there is in the world,” he explained.

Edinburgh was the start of his post-lockdown travels, which to Glasgow-born Goudie felt “exotic”.

“I had never spent more than a couple of afternoons in Edinburgh but this time I stayed for two weeks and never left the flat once because the views from the window were so wonderful and the light was so great for painting,” he said.

The light in Mauritius, where he taught as well as painted, also captivated him.

“It was absolutely magic and for four weeks I painted like a fury to try and capture what this extraordinary environment felt and looked like,” said Goudie. “Going to the tropics – a destination that people like Stevenson and Gauguin have made dreamlike and mythic – just blows your imagination. It was amazing to see the tropical vegetation, the very different colours and textures of the landscapes and the change in the light.”

Although Goudie believes humans have a primal need for something uplifting in their lives, he says it isn’t necessary to go to the Indian Ocean.

“I went to Barra and that is another treasure island,” he said. “It is extraordinary and we found ourselves on magnificent beaches which we all know about but when you go there they are even more beautiful.”

Blessed with good weather, his family dubbed the island Barrabados.

“There were blue skies every day so we were swimming and serenaded by seals out on rocky outcrops,” said Goudie. “People often talk about the spiritual quality of the Western Isles and there’s no doubt there’s a sense of energy and spirituality about being in these places which is really comforting. At least when the weather is nice. And the ferries are running.”

Gouldie did not deliberately travel in the footsteps of other great Scottish artists such as S J Peploe and JD Fergusson but inevitably ended up in locations they’d painted.

“You visit these places and they are so stunning you feel compelled to paint and you will invariably find yourself in a spot where they’ve painted,” he said.

“Painting pictures can often appear to be a solitary business, but every time I pick up a brush, I don’t feel alone at all. In fact, I sense a crowd of other painters bustling around me. They are my artist heroes, the people whose work I often study, the painters who always have something to teach me.”

Goudie’s book on The Story of Scottish Art is out now in paperback and his new exhibition, Painting Paradise, is at The Scottish Gallery in Edinburgh from November 3-26