Here are a few more paintings I have been working on, all around 16 x 20. I am still using Golden Open acrylics, which I like a lot. The colors are pure and rich, and they really do stay “open” and workable for days.
I see this group of paintings as a direct continuation of the woodcut Saga series. This acrylic painting of a mountain from early 2014… led to the creation of the woodcut Saga series…
And now I am here…
And so things are coming full circle. In this series I am working the paint layers, and cutting through in a very physical way. Another link back to the woodcuts I was making just before this trip to Iceland.
My approach to painting has changed so much in the past year. It all began at Gullkistan, where I arrived with the intention of shaking off old habits, old approaches to painting that no longer felt right. Now my printmaking is influencing my painting, and my painting and my approach to color is influencing my prints. It’s an old story, I know, the artist’s path of discovery. But for me it’s as fresh and exciting as this new day!
I am continually puzzling to understand the color of the snow. In good weather the sun shines on Olafsfjorður for a few hours each day, technically from 10:00 am to 4:00pm, perceptibly shorter every day. But the light precedes sunrise and continues long after sun down. The snowy mountains surrounding the town are like giant reflectors that bounce the light around, illuminating the opposing mountainsides with a mysterious glow. The winter light up North here is weird and beautiful… and magical… and inspiring.
I have been feeling my way along, painting lots, but floundering around to make sense of all this atmosphere. I am pretty excited about a couple of paintings in progress. They might not survive tomorrow’s assault, but here they are in their current state:
More space: I reorganized my studio to accommodate an easel. I never needed one before, but since my residency in Iceland I’m painting in the studio, and painting larger.
More time: I changed my work schedule to have a more consistent studio practice in the afternoons. Now I’m off and running, happy to start the new year with several paintings in progress.
I’m picking up where I left off with the Icelandic mountain forms, the dream mountains, the snow covered mountains. I’m still working on these paintings, but here they are in progress. All 3 are based on memory, exercising my inner eye. The first two are 12 x 16 and the bottom one is 16 x 20.
These past few days, when not dreaming about mountains, I have been painting from the windows. These gnarly birch trees stand next to the farmhouse. There is ever-present Laugarvatnsfjall rising up behind the trees.
The days are getting shorter and shorter, the mornings are dark, and the evening comes on very fast. I have to start thinking about leaving…sigh. I have a few days left to paint, no need to think about leaving just yet… I’ll keep on painting these trees, the mountain, the darkness …and make time stand still just a little while longer.
These paintings of mountains, half dreamed, half remembered, have sort of bubbled up out of nowhere. I posted these two before, but here they are again to make a quartet of Icelandic dream mountains.
It has been very interesting to experience extended periods of flow and focus in the studio, allowing my painting to follow its own course. I mean without looking directly at a landscape as a reference, but instead working from previous sketches and drawings, and turning inward for memory and impressions of a place. I am curious about what comes next.
Seeing a stretch of warm-ish weather with little-to-no wind in the forecast, I decided to drive back Jokulsarlon, a favorite spot that I mentioned in an earlier post, “The Great Greyness”. I went back to experience the profound quiet of this beautiful place, and to soak it in as much as possible. I did a few small paintings, all around 6 x 8, 8 x10. My eyes were refreshed by the change of palette and the change of scenery. Here are some of my quick impressions:
Once again time stood still, in the ice, in the vapor of the cold air, in the drift of the tide, in the deep silence. It was very hard to leave. I hope that I can keep the memory of this place fresh and vivid, and recall it when I hustle back to my busy life in Philadelphia.
It was evening all afternoon.
It was snowing
And it was going to snow.
The blackbird sat
In the cedar-limbs.
Today the true winter palette of Iceland was revealed. The color and mood of this day are captured in Wallace Stevens’ poem Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird. Here is the link to the whole poem…I’ll wait while you go read it.