Island Sketching

The small island of Iona, off the coast of northern Scotland, is a place of pilgrimage for many; but for me, it was a sketching paradise. Arriving in a gray drizzle, I dumped my suitcase and immediately pulled a chair from my bedroom into the hall of our charming rented house. From my perch in the hall, I had a perfect view of the Abbey on the top off the hill. No need to go sit outside in the rain. Let the sketching begin!

For a week, I roamed the island with my sketchbook and paints. One afternoon, I sat between stone columns in the cloisters’ courtyard listening to the sounds of visitors’ footsteps and flapping wings as doves flew in and out of the bell tower. In the late afternoon sun, their pure white wings were translucent against the blue sky. 

I discovered wildflowers everywhere. The island is small; and on my walks, views stretched beyond the farms and fields of sheep to the surrounding water and distant hills of the Island of Mull. One morning, I was amazed to find clumps of vivid magenta – a wildflower called thrift – growing in the rocky crevices sheltered from the beach’s salty, sea winds. After a morning sketching on those hard rocks, I left the beach a bit sore but full of admiration for that determined little wildflower.