Tag Archives: aurora borealis

Icy In The City

16 Nov
Across the ice

Across the ice

Some people thought we were nuts, visiting Iceland in November but it’s so beautiful! We saw the Northern Lights – I can die happy now. Proper snow that sticks, not like over here. Bright, crisp days and iced up lakes and that low slanting sunshine that makes everything glow. We walked alongside the frozen lake in Reykjavik, past a house that we had heard about the day before during our afternoon at the Icelandic Elfschool. The house had been the site of Elf sightings and contact for decades.

Like many old European cities, it has grown organically and the older parts are full of little nooks and crannies, lovely odd houses and surprises around corners. Bright paint decorates many of the corrugated metal walls and roofs and the climate in the city is warm enough for trees.

The food is fabulous! Fish is a staple, in many forms, cooked, pickled, soused, salted, smoked. Lamb is another staple and the national Icelandic Lamb Soup, Kjotsupa, is very similar to the Welsh Cawl and Irish Stew, possibly a nod to their mixed Celtic / Viking heritage. We ate mostly in Cafe Loki which has the maddest mural Husb and I have ever seen. It takes up an entire wall and has scenes from the life of the Nordic god Loki, who was a bit of a bad ‘un so it’s full of slaughtered corpses receding into the distance. But that doesn’t detract from the ambience of the cafe, nor from the delicious food.

I Have Seen The Lights!

14 Nov

I have finally seen The Northern Lights and it was a truly awesome experience, in the real sense of the word. It inspired awe and wonder. Extraordinary.

Shadows and reflections at Harpa opera house, Reykjavik, Iceland

Shadows and reflections at Harpa opera house, Reykjavik, Iceland

That was at the end of a long day, beginning with a walk around the fantastic Harpa opera house on the seafront, with a view of snow capped mountains across the bay.

Mountains from the Harpa opera house

Mountains from the Harpa opera house

Then we went off to explore Reykjavik on foot through the light snow and ended up at the Elfschool for 4 happy hours eating pancakes, drinking tea and listening to the school’s headmaster, Magnus Skarphedinsson, relating marvellous stories about the Icelandic elves and the people who have seen them.


On my last visit to Iceland, I had a very odd experience, seeing some strange sights. I drew what I had seen and blogged about it and I have just republished my original blog earlier today. Check it out if you want to see what I saw that time. I thought it might have been the Huldufolk ( Hidden People ) but the head of the Elf School thinks they might have been trolls. How cool is that?

Land Of Ice And Fire

4 Nov

trolls small

Husb and I visited Iceland (the country, not the shop) three winters ago and we managed to get a really cheap package deal to go again in a couple of weeks. It’s a fabulous place for an artist, although hard to draw outside in winter temperatures. I tried out different preparations for the papers I took last time so I’ll be replicating those when I go again. You need robust, thick paper, like a heavyweight Khadi, or card – I used mount board (matte board). I laid down some colours onto my papers and cards with ink washes and acrylics last time and drew over them with oil bars and soft pastels. I’ll be doing that again. My usual M.O. of lightweight sketchbook and drawing pens just doesn’t stand up to the moisture in the air and the piercing cold.

We’re hoping to see the Aurora Borealis this time – they didn’t show up on our last visit and I’ve booked myself into a half-day introduction at the Icelandic Elf School.

Life Drawing And Northern Lights

11 Sep


Just back from life drawing at Swansea Print Workshop. I did quite a few digital drawings on my Samsung Galaxy Tablet Note 8 using the free Markers app. Here’s 2 of them. I’ll blog the others tomorrow.


Husb and I are off out now in a minute. There’s been a massive solar flare over the past few days and there’s a possibility of seeing the Aurora Borealis this far south, but we’ll have to get out of the city centre away from the artificial light. It’s going to be chilly. And late.

Out Of Practice

9 Jan


Just back from life drawing at Swansea Print Workshop and I’m a bit out of practice. We had a three week break over the holidays and it was good to get back into the discipline of anatomical study. This post is a bit difficult so I redrew it until I was reasonably happy with it. I like the pose a lot and I will probably develop it into a mixed media piece or a print.

I used a traditional dip pen and Indian ink onto an A4 piece of Bockingford that had been prepared with an acrylic ground in orange.

Husb and I are staying up late tonight because there has been a massive solar storm this week and the Aurora Borealis might reach this far South. So far it’s a very clear night so we might get lucky.

The (Late) Morning Star

6 Dec

morning star

It was a bit weird getting used to the very short days up near the Arctic Circle and waking up, breakfasted and out into our tour bus for a comfortable 9am start meant that we were stumbling around in pitch darkness. But it gave us a chance to see the sunrise every morning over the extraordinary volcanic Icelandic landscape. Although the nights were too cloudy with snow for us to see the Aurora Borealis, we seemed to have some fairly clear dawns and were lucky to see the moon (almost full) with Jupiter earlier in the morning and then a bit later, Venus and Saturn shining brightly over the mountain tops. Here’s the Morning Star above the heavy mountains with the slightest streak of an orangey dawn just starting to peep over the horizon. I prepared a Khadi sketchbook with a grey ink wash, applied randomly with a sponge and drew over this with compressed charcoal, chalky oil pastel and white conte crayon.

power station

We saw a lot of power stations, hydro-electric and geothermal, making good use of natural resources. They were generally quite pretty, lit up with coloured lights, contrasting with the black, barren landscape. The geothermal ones were on the volcanic bits of the island, which smelled faintly sulphurous.

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