Tag Archives: Gigjokull

Scribbling On A Glacier

2 Dec

geysir small

ICELANDIC JOKE (courtesy of Olafur The Guide)

Q. “What do you do if you’re lost in an Icelandic forest?”

A. “Stand up.”

I guess you had to be there.

There are lots of  forests in Iceland made up of the Arctic Birch, Betula pubescens tortuosa, but because of the climate the trees are generally very short, slight and contorted. Hence the joke :). The reddish brown colour of the bare trees combined with the orangy yellow of the grasses splashed colour across the monochrome winter landscape. I scribbled the sketch in a couple of minutes (it was soooo cold) using compressed charcoal, white conte crayon and soft oil pastel onto a small piece of pink mountboard randomly prepared with a grey wash of dilute Indian ink.

Glacial pool

We travelled off-road in giant jeeps to the Gigjokull glacier where I took these photos. Despite the altitude and freezing conditions there were plenty of Arctic Birch around.

Glacial trees 2

The day was dry and clear but brutally cold and the snow very thick. Our guides showed us how to walk on deep snow without sinking (you stamp on it) but once I didn’t stamp hard enough and sank up to my thigh! We were many miles into the wilderness but saw a lonely hunter searching for ptarmigan, which is a Xmas delicacy in Iceland. It can only be hunted for personal consumption, not for sale. We didn’t get to taste any ptarmigan, but we ate smoked puffin and wild greylag goose. Very tasty.

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