In the summer of 2014 I traveled to Iceland with a group of artists. I share my travelog, paintings and photos here. I returned to Iceland in the summer of 2016 and my stories continue.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Iceland: Through an Artist's Eyes part 2 Beyond Reykjavik

'Summer Evening'             11x14              pastel    Stykkisholmur, Iceland June 2014            ©Karen Margulis
As capital cities go Reykjavik made me feel very welcome. I spent five days in the city and great memories were made. But to really experience Iceland, one must go beyond Reykjavik. Take a few bus tours or rent a car and drive around the Island on the Ring Road.  The beauty of Iceland is all around and it is even more magical as you move away from the city.

'Evening Peace'             5x7        pastel
purchase painting $50       
I experienced the both the South Coast and West Iceland on this trip. Both were filled with wonders and were made for artists and adventurers of all sorts.  I came to Iceland to join an art workshop expedition led by internationally known pastel artist Stan Sperlak. Stan and his assistant Cory Brandt had come to Iceland the previous November to scout out our base and painting locations. They chose well.

Stan Sperlak doing a pastel demo on the deck of our home

Stan brought Painter's Passport signs for the vans which made us look very important and official!

A group of eleven came together from all over the world to experience Iceland together. We were painters, photographers and adventurers at heart. We didn’t know one another but quickly bonded and left as good friends with memories to last a lifetime. We were based in two wonderful rental homes in the magical town of Stykkisholmur. This small town with a population of 1,100 sits on the Northern Snæfellsnes peninsula and serves as a hub for fishing and tourism. If you’ve seen the movie ‘The Secret Life of Walter Mitty’ , Stykkishholmur was Greenland. You can see our street and house in the movie! It was the perfect place for an artist. 

A side view of the red house with the harbor down the street

Stykkisholmur has a special kind of magic that I can’t quite describe. It has to be experienced. It is small and walkable and filled with colorful homes and gardens. The harbor was filled with equally colorful boats and sea birds. It has a hill covered in wildflowers which overlooks the harbor and town and onto the distant snow covered mountains. I couldn’t imagine a more beautiful spot to stay for awhile. We had a week.

Quiet time, Stykkisholmur's harbor around 11 pm

Beautiful reflections

And they have snow covered mountains too? I could get used to this place!

Our town (it quickly became our town as soon as we hung the Icelandic flag) was both quaint and beautiful but what made it extra special was the warmth of the people- locals and visitors alike. One sunny afternoon after our painting session we were relaxing on the deck of the red house (we had a red house and a gray house) The caretaker happened to walk by and Stan invited her over for a glass of wine. After making sure it wasn’t rude, she joined us. We enjoyed a lovely afternoon with her and her son and grandson. Priceless memories and friends were made that day. 

Stan and Cory hanging the Icelandic flag. 

What a wonderful day in Iceland

One evening we were enjoying homemade truffles (we had some great chefs in our group) when a group of young men walked by. They were invited in to join us and the living room quickly filled with laughter as the young men on holiday from Keflavik came in to have a few truffles.  More magical moments in Iceland.

Come on in for truffles!

We probably could have stayed in town the entire week and not run out of painting subjects. We did stay put for the first day to paint. After Stan's demo I set up on the deck and never moved all day.  The view was postcard perfect. There was a rocky cliff with a few tiny houses on top. A meadow filled with yellow wildflowers leading down to the island-filled bay. There was an ever-changing sky filled with beautiful clouds and light. Could an artist ask for anything more? It couldn’t possibly get any better....or could it?

The view from the red house...endless painting ideas

The light of the magic hour lasted for hours

Iceland...a breath of Fresh air!
Stay tuned to part three of my trip report. You can read part one here.

If you would like more information about Stan Sperlak, his workshops and the Painter's Passport program visit his website here. Next summer he is planning to go to France...Paris and the beaches the impressionists painted! Another great painting adventure!

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