Golden October

On the Highland hillsides the bracken is turning from green to gold to sienna; the colour of the Moroccan desert, where a Vistas holiday group should be enjoying some warm autumn sunshine.
It is now a whole year since we sped across dusty plains, crouched in lush pomegranate groves, brush in hand and wandered the dark, twisting tunnels and sunbaked adobe walls of mysterious kasbahs. We will be in Morocco again as soon as we can be, and we can be assured a very special welcome. In the meantime, we hope our Moroccan friends are staying safe and healthy and are able to do what the rest of us have to do – sit this thing out.

It is some years since I spent an entire winter in the deepest, darkest depths of the Scottish Highlands, a thought that usually sends a few shudders through me, sun-worshiping nature-lover that I am. We have days, in mid-winter, where it scarcely gets light and you would not set foot on the hill without sturdy wellies. Until this week, though, we have been quite lucky with the weather. It’s as if it’s put on a special effort, understanding that we have no choice, we can’t go anywhere just now and it must provide us with all the artistic inspiration as well as emotional soothing we need during these craziest of times. The autumn colours are still breathtaking and on calm, sunny days the reflections of the birch trees in the lochs has mesmerised me almost to the point of obsession; I anticipate many hours in my attic studio trying to recapture such perfection, while eagerly anticpating the Spring and – we hope – some idea of when Vistas Sketching Holidays can resume properly once again.

For now, I have begun a Nature Journal, documenting the passing of the seasons through found objects. Foraging for something to paint adds a focus to a walk; it encourages one to go outside when feeling less inclined to do so and, of course, it’s good for honing the observational drawing skills. I’m having fun with the autumn leaves and wild berries, while trying to forget I should be eating dates straight from the tree.

If you would like to register your interest in a Moroccan sketching holiday, a short break in Assynt (or any other destination) once we can get going again, I will add your name to the list; you can also sign up for our occasional newsletter. Stay safe, stay sane, stay productive, stay hopeful!