Articles, Artist of the Week

Artist of the week – Iona MacPhie

Artist of the week - Iona MacPhie


Welcome to our first “Artist of the week”.

Iona MacPhie.

Iona is 24 and is lucky enough to live on the beautiful Isle of Skye in Scotland where she was born and grew up.

She creates beautiful animal portraits which she sells on Local Art and Craft at and on her Facebook page[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]I sat down for a chat and a cuppa with Iona over the magic of FaceTime.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

What did you do before you discovered your talent for art/crafts?

I love drawing and painting but it’s more of a sideline for me at the moment rather than a job.

After attending West Highland college on Skye I was accepted into Anniesland college in Glasgow. I didn’t take up my place though as I decided fairly quickly that cities aren’t really my thing and I wanted to stay in Skye. I did briefly move to Inverness where I studied Beauty at Inverness College for a year. The call of home was too strong though and I soon moved back to Skye. I took a job at a local confectioner making fudge and Scottish tablet then at the Talisker Distillery as a tour guide for a year. I worked at a local web design company, Skye Websites, and since 2017 I’ve worked as a distiller at Torbhaig Distillery.

I’m working a lot of late shifts which gives me plenty of time to indulge my passion for art.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”2/3″][vc_column_text]

What inspired you to become an artist?

I’ve always painted. I’m lucky enough that it just comes naturally. The animal portraits started two years ago. A friend has a Beagle, she asked me to do a portrait and I never looked back. I’m pretty much booked up for commissions till Christmas although there’s always room to fit one in if your interested.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_single_image image=”4441″ img_size=”medium”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_single_image image=”4444″ img_size=”medium”][/vc_column][vc_column width=”2/3″][vc_column_text]

What’s life like as an artist in your area?

My partner and I have just bought quite a large house and we’ll be running a self catering holiday business in half of the property.

I’m also studying for a diploma in distilling and have loads of commissions to complete so finding time to work on my own art and build my portfolio is really tough. [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]I’ve never exhibited but I’m trying to build a portfolio. I’d love to be able to show my work in local art & craft fairs and galleries. That having been said, any work I do is quickly whisked away so it’s tricky having enough original pieces to exhibit. The pieces I sell in my shop on Local Art & Craft are high quality prints.

I usually work in pencil. In fact the only piece in oil I’ve done so far is a little robin, but I’d love to do more work in oil. I’m finding it’s much easier to cover up the occasional mistake when you’re working in oil.

With pencil a good eraser is your best friend.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

Is your family artistic?

Yes indeed. I have an aunt who is a painter but never pursued it to any great extent and a very musical uncle.

On the other side of the family there’s an artist and an art teacher but we don’t keep in touch.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”2/3″][vc_column_text]

Who is your favourite artist?

Van Gogh definitely. “Starry Night” gives a view into his mind while he was gazing from the window of his asylum room at Saint-Rémy-de-Provence. I’m intrigued by Van Gogh and the mystery surrounding his death.

Edvard Munch’s “Haystacks” touches a personal note as my family make haystacks and it reminds me of them.

Also Clair Millington who is an animal portrait artist in Yorkshire I actually came across on Instagram.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_single_image image=”4448″ img_size=”medium” add_caption=”yes”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_single_image image=”4449″ img_size=”medium” add_caption=”yes”][/vc_column][vc_column width=”2/3″][vc_column_text]

What advice would you give to beginners?

Learn to draw before you start to learn to paint.

In my opinion anyway, you really must master the drawing side of things before you start laying paint down. Being able to sketch out an idea is essential.

There are plenty of drawing books out there and YouTube tutorials are a very modern way to get into the art. Having a human being explain the process to you as you’re going is far better than reading it in a book.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

Would you be interested in LA&C’s mentoring scheme?

Yes please!

As well as being able to help artists myself I’d love to be mentored by someone with more experience of exhibitions. I’d be really grateful for help finding ways to sell my work. I have no idea how to approach a cafe or gallery or exhibition and discuss the business side of things so the mentoring scheme would be fantastic for that.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Many thanks to Iona for becoming the first ever Artist of the week on Local Art & Craft.

If you’d like to tell the UK art and craft scene about yourself and your passion for all things arty and crafty drop me a line at



About TJ

Tom is an Artist and Designer and our Art and Media Director. He supports causes such as "Drop scones not bombs" and "Cornwall for jam first!".

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