My Arctic Circle Journey – Getting Outfitted

My Arctic Circle Expedition is still months away (I leave on September 28th, 2018), but I’m trying to take advantage of end-of-season sales to get myself better outfitted for the Arctic.

Some of you know me as the guy who wears shorts year-round (Denver, Columbus, Portland… doesn’t matter!). I’m usually warm, so I just don’t have much colder-weather gear in my closet. But, on a recent winter trip to Boise, I was reminded that I CAN actually get cold, so I need to be prepared for the Arctic by planning on more than shorts and tees for my wardrobe.

Trying on big, puffy jackets isn’t a whole lot of fun for me and I began to overheat in the snapshot below, but here I am hitting an end-of-season sale for warm outerwear that I just don’t have…

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While technically an “mid layer”, I’m calling this a “puffy layer”…
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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!

Dog Days of Summer, 2017…

I think we’re officially into the dog days of summer here in Portland with temps expected to rival our all-time high of 107 this week. Even though it’s summer, this is one of my least-favorite times of the year. Heck, I’m hot if the temperature is above 65!

The good news is that my studio is air-conditioned and cool, so I’ve been working on larger and larger oil-and-metallic-watercolor abstracts. But, I think the psychological effect of the heat outside is impacting my success since I’ve recently failed at two attempts of a 52 x 52 inch original… each has clear process mistakes in them and the overall finished paintings just failed to come together. And, due to my unique process of layering oil paints and metallic watercolors, these aren’t “fixable”.

I must keep trying though, as I must finish a spectacular 52 x 52 inch painting for a special exhibit that starts in September… the dog days are ticking!

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My studio set up, ready to start another 52 x 52 inch original!

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!

I love them… I love them not…

For the last month and a half, I’ve been working on a large commission triptych project for a client’s office. Today I’ll apply the final coat of varnish, so the project is nearly complete. And, my client loves these paintings, so… yay!

However, the last week of finishing these paintings up has me stuck between loving them… and not loving them. In general, I love my birch tree paintings and, with this particular set, think I captured (from left to right) a solid feeling of Summer, Autumn and Winter. In fact, I wish I was sitting smack in the middle of the Autumn panel right now!

So why am I sometimes feeling that “I love them not”? Is there something wrong with my composition across these 3 panels? Is it just my usual feeling of depression that I experience whenever I finish a painting?

What do you think?

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“Tall Birch Trees – Summer, Autumn, Winter”; oil and metallic watercolor on panel (middle panel is 45×18″).

Painting the Sea and Sky Like This Calms My Nerves

This year has been a struggle for me as I live my artist’s life with ongoing depression and rising anxiety. Some might say I’m just another “tortured” artist, but it has taken me 20+ years to become accustomed to what “normal” feels like for me. And how I feel has changed alot this year for me.

So, as I work to get back to my own normal, one of my trusty therapies is my painting process. And besides trees, the sea and sky is one of my most favorite subjects. Painting the expansive sea and the ever-changing sky along with a nice, crisp horizon line holding them together almost always calms my nerves.

See what you think (and feel) with my latest sea and sky painting below. It’s titled No. 6 but is the only larger sea and sky painting to date that I’ve completely finished and mounted on panel. Click the painting or the link below to view it on my website.

Sure wish we were there in No. 6, don’t you?

Thanks for looking and for supporting my art!

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“Oregon Coast Sea and Sky No. 6”, oil and metallic watercolor on panel, 12 x 12 inches, $400 (available on my website).

TBT: “Purple Day”

One of my all-time, most favorite paintings I’ve made is “Purple Day”. Finished back in 2005 and sold right here in Portland at the Art in the Pearl festival, I miss this painting every time I think of it.

As an artist, I have many of my own paintings that I rotate on my own walls at home and a few – maybe five – that I consider in my “permanent” collection… “Purple Day” would have been a fine addition to that collection!

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“Purple Day”, watercolor, 18 x 18″, 2005. Fine art reproduction prints available at http://www.DavidCastleArt.com