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 8 How to Paint the Lupines

'To Be Among the Lupine'            8x10          pastel         ©Karen Margulis
painting available for purchase $150
I saw them as soon as the plane landed in Keflavik. My heart began to soar. It was overcast but the purples, blues and pinks of the Lupines shimmered in the distance. I was worried that I would only see them at the airport. But they were everywhere. Fields of Lupines covered the countryside. In some places they went on as far as the eye could see. I would have the opportunity to paint them and to take lots of photos. 

Lupines all the way from the mountains to the sea

These fields of purple flowers known as Alaskan Lupine or Lupinus Nootkatenis is not native to Iceland. As beautiful as these flowers are their presence is controversial. They were brought to Iceland in 1885 to combat erosion which is an ongoing serious problem. The lupine have thrived. So much so that they are now invasive and competing with the native vegetation especially the mosses and the bilberries. Many favorite Bilberry picking spots have been taken over by the lupine. 

However controversial they seem to be a perfect accent to the Icelandic landscape. On one of our painting days we spent about two hours in the middles of a filed of lupine. I painted several quick studies including a short demo for the group which was great fun.  These studies helped me get to know a flower that I wasn't very familiar with. Having the opportunity to paint them en plein air will surely help my studio paintings. 

Today I painted from one of my photos and plein air studies. I began with a watercolor underpainting on white Wallis paper. I used local color for the underpainting working on getting the values correct. When the watercolor was dry I started with soft pastel and put in the darkest areas in the foreground...establishing the 'dirt'. Next I worked on the distant mountain. I then chose to paint the sky using a selection of pale pinks, yellows and lavenders. At this point I worked from background to foreground establishing the green areas and flat horizontal areas of purples to represent the distant flower masses. The last step involved working on the Lupine in the foreground. I used a few different blues, pink and purple pastels and put down some vertical strokes. I chose a few to give more detail and clarity. The rest I left as suggested flowers.

My palette for the lupine field
Here are a few photos of some of the lupine fields we encountered on our travels. As you can see they are truly spectacular. I look forward to many more paintings of the "wolf" of Iceland.

You can find all of the chapters in my Iceland Travelog here

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