The Arctic Circle Expedition – Icy Inspirations

I’ve always been inspired by anything water – rain, puddles, the Pacific. And the frozen water of the arctic circle didn’t disappoint me in how it all inspired my paintings made onboard the ship and once I returned to my Portland studio.

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Arctic sunset behind the tall ship Antiqua.
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Flat icebergs in front of the glacier at Blomstrandbreen.
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Icy blues and greens near Ny-Alesund.
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Setting up a safe perimeter among the ice.

 

 

The Arctic Circle Expedition – Part 3

Daunted by the experience itself and the 900 snapshots I took on the Expedition, I’ve clearly taken several months off from blogging more about my trip. Today I finally finished going through all of my snapshots, pulling out the better ones for publishing here on my blog and posting on my website.

The good news is that in the meantime, I completed the last larger commissions for my Kickstarter backers in late February, so everyone now has their arctic abstracts – over 80 that I painted – all inspired by my time in the ice and cold of the arctic circle.

Preparing for the Expedition, I had thought I’d be able to possibly paint on a table set up on the outside deck of the ship. But after two failed attempts to paint in the cold, snow and wind, I set up a makeshift studio on my bunkbed in my shared cabin.  Tight quarters for sure, but I made it work and at least was out of the extreme elements!

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Tight painting quarters on the bunkbed in my shared cabin.
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Yes, for this hot-blooded guy, I did actually feel cold for most of the trip!
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Our first glacier hike.
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The glacier at Esmarkbreen.

The Arctic Circle Expedition – Part 2

By the way, I had two very simple goals for my time on the Antigua in the Arctic Circle…

  1. Soak up the frozen landscape: I was mainly looking forward to seeing glaciers and lots of ice and was certainly not disappointed!
  2. Paint my abstracts: I committed to painting smaller abstracts (12 x 12” and smaller) for my Expedition Backers (from Kickstarter) and completed them just before the end of the trip.
    Now begins the project to get them all sealed with spray varnish/fixative and ready to ship out in November!

Here’s a snapshot from the ship as we departed a calm but cold fjord (Ymerbukta) on the second day.

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The water in this fjord was calm enough to start freezing… you can just see the thin frozen layer in this snapshot. Every day was a new opportunity to soak up the frozen landscape around Svalbard!

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The Antigua from a hike up to a glacier in Esmarkbreen.

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I’m still working through all of the over 800 snapshots I took with my little travel camera, so will have more to post soon!

 

My dreams of icebergs coming true…

Nearly a year ago, I posted that I was accepted for a truly epic artist’s residency: The Arctic Circle 2018 Autumn Arts & Sciences Expedition in October, 2018.

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Me in my cozy, warm studio thinking about making art in the Arctic Circle. [photo: Mercy McNab]
Wow. I’m super excited as the super-long anticipation and lead time gets shorter… 18 months from when I was accepted has now shrunk to just 6 months. And, I’m thrilled to announce that after a month-long campaign on Kickstarter to raise the funds necessary to participate, I am fully funded!

A huge thank-you to those Backers on Kickstarter who pledged funds now to receive paintings of various sizes at the end of this year to help me get to the Arctic Circle. Now that I’m through the funding phase, I have lots of work to do to get organized, outfitted for the Arctic environment and experiment with how I’ll paint my abstracts on a ship in the middle of the Arctic Circle!

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Arctic Circle Environs. [photo: Risa Horowitz]
As a guy who generally likes to be well-prepared, I’m thinking this summer will go quickly and in no time I’ll be in the Arctic, soaking up the frozen inspirations and making art… somehow and of some sort!

I Dreamt of Trees and Sky… and Painted This

Did you know that I dream my paintings before I actually paint them? Well, I do — whether a daydream among a stand of rustling trees, or a dream while I slumber under blackberry skies, I see my next paintings vividly in my head before they ever hit my paper canvas. Huh… just like Vincent van Gogh who said simply, “I dream my painting, and then I paint my dream”.

And, if we’re talking about how my process is like the Masters, Picasso explained it in more detail this way:

“How can you expect a beholder to experience my picture as I experienced it? A picture comes to me a long time beforehand; who knows how long a time beforehand, I sensed, saw, and painted it and yet the next day even I do not understand what I have done. How can anyone penetrate my dreams, my instincts, my desires, my thought, which have taken a long time to fashion themselves and come to the surface, above all to grasp what I put there, perhaps involuntary.”

Here’s a large format painting I made after dreaming of trees and sky:

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“Dreamt of Trees and Sky”, oil and metallic watercolor on panel, 52 x 52″, $5,400.

The Story of My Painting, “Pooled on the Horizon”

Once in awhile I complete a painting that is especially meaningful to me. I just finished such a painting, “Pooled on the Horizon”, and thought I’d share its story with you.

One scene in our natural world that inspires my paintings is the horizon line between sky and ocean. I’ve spent many hours watching the horizon line as presented by the Oregon coast over the last 30 years. It is always a seemingly simple line, but is also full of the infinite complexities of the sky and ocean that extend far beyond my tiny vantage point.

One of my Pacific Rains Series, “Pooled on the Horizon” is my capture of a moment in this simple-yet-complex oceanscape.  A moment when the sky is raining down silver rivulets and “pooling” upon piles of clouds resting heavily on the horizon line. And the sea? All quiet, calm and clear below but with the evermore movement of the waves and tide in and out. It’s a gray day for sure, but the colors are infinite. Lots of dark and bright metallic silvers in the sky and deep indigo and frothy whites in the sea. Studying this painting now in my Portland studio transports me instantly to this scene on the Oregon coast.

As I worked on this painting, I referenced some of the countless photos I have taken of the Pacific coast over the years. Each photo puts me at that vantage point where I can soak up the horizon and everything above and below. Now completed, I love this depiction – what do you think?

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“Pooled on the Horizon”, oil and metallic watercolor, 30 x 30 inches, $2,000.

Arctic Circle Art & Science Residency: I’ve Been Invited!

After 2 months of anticipation, I just learned that I was one of a few artists chosen, out of hundreds of international applicants, for the 2018 Autumn Arctic Circle Residency Expedition!

As an artist primarily inspired by place and water, I’m sure this will prove to be the expedition of a lifetime and I couldn’t be more excited!

In October 2018, I’ll be traveling nearly 4,000 miles from my studio in Portland, Oregon to our port of call, Longyearbyen, Svalbard. Near the edge of the polar ice cap, Longyearbyen is a mere 600 miles south of the North Pole and is about the same distance north of the Norwegian mainland. And yes, it is truly the land of icebergs and polar bears!

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Portland, Oregon, USA to Longyearbyen, Svalbard, Norway = 3702 miles

For nearly three weeks in October 2018, I will sail on an ice-class barkentine tallship, exploring the arctic region around the Svalbard archipelago. I’ll be joined by a small group of artists, educators and scientists for this once-in-a-lifetime residency program. Yes, I have nearly a year and a half to wait, prepare (and raise funds!), but that enables me to focus on other events already on my calendar for this coming autumn here in Portland.

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My home for nearly 3 weeks during the 2018 Arctic Circle Art & Science Residency

Stay tuned in the coming months for more info and thoughts as I prepare for this epic adventure! In the meantime, I’d love to hear from anyone who has traveled to this part of the Arctic – please share with me and my readers what you thought of your adventure!