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Iceland Greens

Well, I’m now into the many, many greens of Iceland and the purple shadows and the burnt sienna soil and the little white sheep in the distance, and the occasional white farmhouse with a red roof.

I’m really happy with my first larger painting based on my recent trip to Iceland.  It’s abstract but, … you can see the path of the meandering river, the purple shadows, some of the many greens…

Iceland Flood Plain

Iceland Flood Plain

I’ve also started to add to the colors:  in addition to the greens and purples, I’ve added some of the burnt sienna and orange I saw in the soil and foliage.

Glacial Runoff

Glacial Runoff

And, I’ve started to make the colors more vibrant.  On sunny days, of which there were many, the colors were just spectacular.



Although I expected my trip to India to inspire a lot of paintings, it’s the quieter, less hectic trip to Iceland which is getting me to create more watercolors.  Perhaps I shouldn’t be so surprised.  Of the two countries, India has the more vividly colorful people and clothing, but Iceland has the most spectacularly beautiful landscapes.  And I have always been drawn to paint landscapes, rather than people.

Iceland, the perfect sequel to India

India was an assault on the senses in every way: noisy, dusty, dirty, crowded, poor, rich, beautiful, ugly, wildly colorful, hot (both temperature and spice), smelly and aromatic, exotic … I could go on and on.

Iceland is quiet and peaceful, though it has some of the most violent geography on earth.  It is never crowded:  total population is 320,000 in a country the size of Kentucky and most of them (200,000) live in the greater Reykjavik area. It’s also clean: grafitti only in a few places in Reykjavik and no garbage or debris anywhere.  The food is fresh, good and flavorful, but not spicy. The fish was delicious. Summer temperatures were in the 50’s and 60’s … very comfortable.  Its people are good citizens of their land:  they don’t pollute or litter.  The country is fueled via its own geothermal energy and there are very few cars.

The scenery is spectacular:  vast open areas with the occasional small white farm building with a red roof completely dwarfed by the surrounding volcanic mountains and lava formations.  The glaciers are dramatic and huge and numerous.  The countryside has more colors of green than I know how to paint.  Waterfalls everywhere, complete with rainbows.  Absolutely magnificently beautiful.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have much time to paint.  But I did take 3000 pictures (my husband took 200) and I have just finished organizing them, so now I’m adding to my quick sketches.  We’ll see what happens after that.

Interestingly, what I’ve been painting so far doesn’t have a lot to do with the beautiful scenery.  Rather, it’s all about the patterns in the rocks, the water, the flowers.  Half the pictures I took, I took because I couldn’t believe how vibrant and varied the greens were.  And yet, what I seem to want to paint isn’t green.  Go figure.  Maybe when I get further into it…

Anyway, my first sketch was of the reflections in the water from our boat cruise around the islands on Borgarfjörður.

Bogarfjordur Reflections

Bogarfjörður Reflections

My second sketch was based on the foam wash at the side of the boat when we went whale watching out of Húsavík. I actually did it first in reverse, making what was white foam, blue and purple and leaving what was dark water, white.

Reverse Foam

Reverse Foam

Actually, as I look at it now, I don’t really think it’s finished.  It needs something more to give it more depth, not sure what.  I’ll post it again when I’ve made the change.

Next I experimented with laying down the basic structure of the foam with masking fluid, adding the darks when it dried and then pulling up the masking fluid and adding more color when that dried.

Husavík Foam

Húsavík Foam Dance

Now I’m using a similar technique to try and show the colors I saw on one of the many flood plains in Iceland:

Flood Plain II

Flood Plain II

I’m just starting to get into the beautiful sunlit greens and purple shadows…