The Day Iceland came to life!

The Day Iceland came to life!

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“Oh No we have run out of storage already!”

I had a difficult week about a month ago.  This was despite having created 5 large canvases depicting beautiful scenes of Iceland.  I just felt like I was moving further and further away from the genuine essence of the subject matter that is Iceland. I was really pleased with the 5 paintings- even proud of how they had turned BUT something had changed in my motivation and I couldn’t quite put my finger on it.

I spent many hours talking to anyone who would listen (or not block me on Messenger- “Thanks Nesh!”) and allowed myself to share the important insecurities that can often underpin development in our work.  I questioned if I had done the subject matter justice, did I truly understand the subject matter and the usual “Would you hang that on your wall Fran? And the scary thoughts such as “Why can’t I capture that….. I have tried everything but it’s just not quite there yet!”  That last one is a killer as the artist’s own eye is so critical of their own work.  I think that is why certain networks become so important and in particular networks outside of family and friends.  Thank you to the @Arts in Wales Facebook Group for being a great source of inspiration and a ‘confidence booster’.

In my last Blog I set up the background to this next phase of my Iceland Road Trip.  I have already touched upon Day 1 of the Trip in a moment by moment account of arriving at our Luxury Apartment and then abandoning our lovely Luxury Apartment.  The only reason we were abandoning it was because we had booked one night in a bunkhouse up on the West Peninsula to ensure we submerged ourselves in the landscape.

I also noted in my last Iceland Blog that whilst trying to give you an insight in to the trip I had needed to stop and reflect on what I had told you because it had already highlighted that I genuinely felt I had not yet even scraped the surface of that day as the enormity of the subject matter covered in one single day would it seem, require and deserve several blogs.  Let’s face it we had taken over 2000 photos.
It may have become obvious that I can’t help but always want to get deep inside the subject and almost give it a spring clean before I can sit back and admire the outcome.  So with this metaphor in mind I have gone back to my sketchbooks and begun capturing a sense of place once again.

Furthermore, learning from my new awareness whereby I let the creative process lead and guide me and see where it takes me I would like to introduce some more images from Day One of our Road Trip in the hope you too can get a step closer.

Some of these paintings from sketchbooks will go on to provide the source of inspiration for further larger canvasses OR paintings in other media OR simply stay as moments in time.  However, the importance of these pictures is insurmountable.  Let’s face it-
“These sketches are my story of Iceland.” And that’s an enormous responsibility.

A Window on Iceland- 
Day 1. Sketchbooks continued……

Oh my goodness where to begin again …….!!!!
I described us leaving the apartment on the Friday morning and what I failed to comment on was the landscape that we saw as we left Reykavik and headed up the West Cost.  We left Reykavik quite a few times and left in slightly different directions.   The landscape as we headed up the West coast took a while before it became more remote and the two images below give you some idea of how the built environment of Reykavik diluted in to what would soon be sparse landscape dotted with sporadic suggestions of dwellings.

However, before showing those images of what we expect Iceland to look like I want to show you the red rooftops and golden beech trees growing in random rows.  The Beech trees tickled us as they did not seem to reflect any any kind of boundary but rather a random linear expression worthy in its own right!

Gerduberg Basalt Columns

I talked a bit about the trip to the the basalt columns and captured images whilst in situ.  I have since worked again and again on the scene as it is quite spectacular and the sheer size of the columns that shoot out of the earth in great shards need something to scale themselves against to really appreciate their prominence. I am currently working on a large canvas of this to suggest just that.
However, in the mean time here are a few images of the area to set the scene.

Once we had left the columns we carried on travelling along the West Peninsular toward Budir where we would be staying that night.  Other than visiting the church at Budir we did not have a plan so took the approach of simply looking and stopping when something took our fancy or made us gasp!.
It was not long before the landscape and I will call them hillsides overhung with low clouds and mist began to play with our mind.  In one breath we took in a beautiful albeit misty scene such as the one below.


Then within a blink of an eye the cloud lifted and that same vista became something truly magnificent for its oranges and yellow replacing the darker more burnt umbers and sepias from before. The images below suggest as closely as I feel I can at present.  However, I do believe this image deserves a greater audience and I aim to develop it further on to canvas.

As you can see I have spent quite a bit of time on this scene already because I need you to know it for the magic it offered us that day.

What may surprise you is that the next few images are just a little way further along the road to Budir.  Looking in land like before but looking further out along the peninsular we took in some of Iceland’s beautiful water features in the form of cascading waterfalls.  The spray of the water as it plunged over the rock face and sprayed with the wind direction was another marvel that captivated us for sometime.  Below are some of the ink sketches I have done as I prepare and identify how best to capture this scene if I were to make it in to a larer painting.



Once again I have to leave Phase 1 of Day 1of the Road Trip despite having so many more images to share.  But at least now I feel I have done this stage of the journey justice.  Next time I will get you to the church in Budir and introduce you to the bunk house before enthralling you with what revealed itself on Day 2 of the Trip.

Before I go though I would like to reflect on what the last few weeks have told me?  Well I have learnt that a project like this thrives on giving it time to breathe and showing some respect to the phases that come from telling a story such as this.  When I teach students how to tell stories I keep it simple by reminding them that stories need a start a middle and an end.  However, I think I forgot to remind myself of this until recently.

Stories will grow and develop if we give them space and a purpose and an audience.  There are insurmountable other facets we can bring to it that fill the gaps but the only other one I give maximum attention is the storyteller’s motivation as I feel that is where the magic lay.  We are all potential storytellers and I realise now that I have a need to tell stories.  As a storyteller we have a responsibility to understand our motivation as this will help both the listener and storyteller get the most from it.

The Story of our Iceland Trip is of many layers.  It is the story of a family helping each other achieve something for the first time together. It is the story of an artist raising her game and taking on Iceland and absorbing the opportunities that arose, the experiences that it allowed and the perspectives that evolved.  It is also the story of how creativity is proving to be a force of nature no less powerful and game changing than other forces such as the Northern lights or volcanoes, hurricanes, tidal waves and so forth.  Whilst hurricanes and tidal waves and volcanoes bring much destruction they increasingly come with a degree of predictability due to developments in scientific research. Furthermore, the Northern Lights and Volcanoes, hurricanes and tidal waves are increasingly sought out for their beauty and incredulous nature. Creativity is a powerful force of human nature as it strives to express perspectives and change and open minds and awaken and stir responses in the world around us.  And all theses forces leave a mark on those who experience them.

I nearly ended by saying “I have set myself an enormous challenge” but what I really mean is “Creativity has set me an enormous challenge” and the more I accept the process the more exciting the possibilities become.

Thank you again for reading.
Francine xx

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