Tag Archives: trolls

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?

Freezing Mitts And Yellow Grass

30 Nov

yellow grass

As we travelled around Iceland, Husb and I noticed that the grass that thinly covers the black lava landscape is an unusual yellowy-orange colour. I think it might be Leymus Arenarius (Lyme grass) but I’m not sure. Before I went, I prepared different drawing media, including a 20cm square sketchbook of handmade Khadi paper. I randomly coated the pages with either a thin grey wash made from Indian ink or one from sepia. This is scribbled onto one of the grey washes using compressed charcoal, chalky pastels and white oil bar. I sketched this quickly from the moving bus – it was about 9.30 am and the sun was only just coming up over the lava mountains, turning the grass quite a vivid rusty orange.

Here’s a photo Husb took of the grass on the black beach at Vik.

yellow grass

And one of me, freezing my mitts off, drawing the trolls in between snow showers.

freezing mitts

Frozen Trolls And Black Sand

28 Nov


Now that I’ve had a bit of sleep, I’ve been looking through the drawings I did in Iceland. I prefer to draw when I’m travelling because the memories are more vivid than when I’ve just taken photos. Olaf  The Guide and Otto The Driver (on a sabbatical from Springfield, obviously) took us to a lovely little town, Vik on the South coast.  As Iceland is basically a great big load of volcanoes, the sand is pounded lava and it’s black. It’s beautiful. So dramatic. Off the coast is a stack formation known as the Trolls. Legend has it that two trolls were trying to tug a ship back to their cave when the sun rose. As everyone knows, sunlight turns trolls to stone. So there they stand, frozen forever.

I prepared a selection of drawing materials before I went because I didn’t know what the climate was going to be like. Here’s a piece of A4 hand-made paper that I bought from the Tate gallery. I coated it with two layers of acrylic gesso and taped a piece of acid-free tissue over it, so that it wouldn’t smudge during the journey. I did the drawing (very quickly – it was freezing) in black and white oil bars but I wasn’t particularly happy with it so I smoothed the tissue over and left it in my bag. When I looked at it later, the tissue had stuck and it looked much better. So I left it on and redrew the outlines with compressed charcoal.The sea is actually paler than the velvety black sand.

Here’s a photo of the black beach and the Trolls taken by Husb.


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