Hello from Hrísey! I’m back on the island and am fully enjoying the second half of the Artist in Residence program.
I’m off the north coast in Iceland the month of September for a residency program at Gamli Skoli (Old School Arthouse) in the Eyjafjordur region. This is my story.
The first part of my residency I was working heavily on a painted illustration project, an exciting opportunity I am pursuing this Fall and will have further updates on this project when I return to Alaska.
In today’s entry I would like to dive a bit more into the actual art of my painting and my style. I often have people ask me my favorite medium of paint and how I use it to make my art. I’m excited to discuss my process of creation with you today.
I’ve been diving fully into oil painting the latter half of my residency, a true passion of mine. Oil paint is my favorite medium to paint with because of it’s rich color and pigment.
With oil paint I am able to get delicious, thick paint on my palette knife and paint in an impasto technique. Impasto allows me to have raised texture of the paint on the surface of my art.
I only use one tool the entire time. Most artists jump around with different sized brushes and knives, but I’ve found my favorite, in this case this tiny, triangular palette knife.
A palette knife is like a tiny spatula for painting. You can use it flat like a plate to get thick paint which covers wide surfaces, or you can use the sides for a narrow, defined line.
I love using the flat side the best for my skies, water, and ground, it’s flat like a plate so I can get more coverage of paint faster (this is relative of course because look how tiny this is!) I use the sides of the palette knife for defined areas like the top of my mountain lines, or the fine areas in my clouds. The sides have been very helpful when I paint things like the Hrísey lighthouse for proper geometric proportions.
I’ve been painting on wood this month. I brought canvas board, but once I used all of this material up on my painted illustration project I decided to take full advantage of the woodworking shop below our schoolhouse for more medium to work on.
My husband graciously cut thick, beautiful birch wood we found in the woodworking shop at the residency for my use. I love painting oil on wood because the wood tends to soak up the paint quickly and I can work faster as oil is notoriously slow to work in.
As I paint on the birch I need to dry my pieces. Remember, oil is very slow to dry as more oil than water is in the paint. The cool 36 degree weather allows me to open the windows and this cool air dries my paint quickly. 36 degrees you ask, yes, I tend to wear some thick wool Icelandic sweaters while I’m painting to stay warm!
I paint in an impressionist manner. This is a dreamy abstract way to see the world through paint and usually impasto technique, oil, and palette knives are used. With Impressionism you can think of artists styles such as Vincent Van Gogh or Claude Monet… these two are great examples of painters that mimic how I paint in oil.
They use tiny little tick marks or dashes, like you see in this piece below I’ve painted based on Autumn blueberry bushes of the Icelandic landscape here on Hrísey island.
Mostly I like to paint thick, straight oil paint from the tube, without using additives, I do this because I love the rich pigment and don’t want to dilute the color. Look at how the phalo blue in the sky of this piece below, based on a sunset here in Hrísey, stays vibrant and deep in color, this is because I didn’t add any paint thinner, I painted straight from the tube and the paint does all the work!
But sometimes I use a paint thinner such as linseed oil so that my paint goes farther. In this piece below where I’ve painted the Myvatn nature baths (hot springs located in northern Iceland) with a mountain sunset scene in the background. I could only get that turquoise blue by adding thinner, without thinner my paint would be too dark and opaque. Thinner worked best for this piece because I wanted the water to feel translucent, just like you’d see at the Blue Lagoon baths in Iceland (the nature baths are amazing by the way, out it as a must do on your list when you make it to Iceland). Different styles such as using thinner or simply painting from the tube render different feelings in paintings.
Well if I’ve overloaded you with paint terminology and too much in depth technique speak, my apologies. Because I love painting and teaching the art of painting this is truly my passion and I feel fortunate to describe my process to you today.
If you feel inspired by my process you may always pursue art in one of my public or private paint courses. An option for you would be to audit the college course I teach at the University and learn many of these techniques in my Studio Arts class. Checkout www.alaskapacific.edu for more info, you can also contact me on how to register for this course. You may also contact me if you are interested in a private art lesson for one-on one techniques and training. I believe everyone is an artist, the key is finding your own style and what inspires you.
2 other international artists and I are holding an exhibit at Saeborg here in Hrísey on Saturday to showcase our work this month (side note: Saeborg is reputably haunted as an exhibit space & many artists have interesting stories to tell during their show… more to come on that.)
I’m looking forward to my first international art exhibit, it’s been a year of many firsts with my art from showing in New York City at a gallery, to flying up to the northernmost point in Alaska to teach art in a rural community, and now spending a month off the north coast of Iceland to create a body of work I’m proud to exhibit with other international artists and community members. I feel fortunate to have so many people surround me with support as I pursue my passion and love for painting.
A heartfelt entry for sure, I hope you have enjoyed reading about my painting process today and thanks for following along. More photos of life in Hrísey, Iceland, as well as exhibit photos, to come!