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 the Eye's of an Artist part 10 The Light

'Beauty Underfoot'            7x11            pastel            ©Karen Margulis
painting available for $150 on Etsy
The Magic Hour is a special time of day for artists. Painters and photographers long for this time of day when everything is transformed. The sun casts a colorful glow and the shadows are long and more interesting during the hour or so around sunrise and sunset.  The light of the Magic Hour is usually very fleeting. It comes and departs quickly. I am aways slightly on edge at the magic hour. Will I be ready? Will I be at the right place at the right time? Will I have enough time to paint or get enough photos?

The town of Stykkisholmur glows in the early evening light

Not to worry in Iceland during the summer. The days are very long. We had 21 hours of daylight at the time of my visit in late June. The Magic Hour lasts well into the evening and if you wished you could paint the sunset and then a couple of hours later paint the sunrise. There is no need rush to find a spot for the sunset.  The sunset goes on and on. Dare I say I was actually impatient waiting for the sun to finally sink behind the distant islands of the Breidafjordur Bay. One evening we were determined to see the sunset but we had to stay up until 2 am. We had an amazing display of light and color in the clouds from our seat in the hot tub. No complaints from me!

Amazing color at 2:00 am
The light in Iceland was magical in other ways. Because of the ever-changing clouds we were constantly treated to moments of dramatic light over the rolling hillsides and mountains. It was always a breathtaking sight when a shaft of light would break through the clouds and illuminate the dark rich landscape. I had three fully charged camera batteries so I was ready to capture these fleeting moments of pure magic.

The ever changing sky and wondrous light

I even enjoyed the light on the few gray and dreary days we experienced . The colors were even richer and more intense against the dull grays of the moody days. The many shades of blue and purple lupines glowed on the gray days. The colorful ground hugging wildflowers sang out. The brightly colored houses that dotted the landscape added a cheerful note to the grayness.  Artists know that a balance of neutral colors are needed to help bright colors . Icelanders made good use of color theory when they painted their brightly colored buildings!

The landscape reminds us that a small amount of pure color is
even more intense when set against grayed or neutral colors.

It occurred to me that Iceland is the Color Wheel come to life! We can learn a lot about color and how to make color work by studying the landscape of Iceland. I bought myself an interesting little book. It is called 'Iceland Colours and Patterns' and consists of color chips matched to a variety of photos taken around Iceland. This little book will serve as a visual reminder of the light and color that is Iceland.

I love this little book!
Today's painting is inspired by a photo I took in a thermal area near Keflavik. These low growing flowers were a welcome spot of color in the grayness of the day and surrounding volcanic rocks.

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