Iceland was cold and dark; perfect place to paint if you are a nocturnist.
I went to paint the purity of the night sky back in the Winter of 2001 with Robert Eringer, (my patron), and buddies Floater and Erik the Red. We went for the Feast of Thorrablot, in celebration of the darkest time of the year.
The most incredible thing I witnessed is that the moon never set! It was full, and in the sky 24 hours a day!
After painting the Aurora Borialis, (northern lights), outside in 10 degree weather there was a general consensus I must be mad. The conversation turned to other artists in history known for painting night paintings, and of course Van Gogh came up. We talked about his madness which landed him in a mental hospital, and the question was posed to our driver, "Are there any mental institutions in Iceland?". Kristjan, our driver, took us on a trip to the "Kleppskaft", or "House by the Blue Bay". Kristjan was kinda shocked to be taking us to the Klep, but even more shocked when I asked him to take me their to paint!
He dropped me off outside the Mental institution where I painted my first mad house, on the frozen lawn. The painting took about thirty minutes to paint. I'd added extra linseed oil to my paints so they wouldn't freeze.
So many creative people in history have been put away in Mental Hospitals, and there is much to respect about the edge defining creativity and madness. I began a search into creativity and madness with Eringer, and our Odyssey took us to various locations in Europe and America over seven years time. His travelogue about our Odyssey was titled, "Surreal Bounce". 32 of my paintings, our of 114 which I painted on these travels, illustrate the book.
There is a Utube video showing us celebrating the Launching of the book in March 2009, in Montecito, California. Along with this painting of the Klep, there are 82 paintings from the journey visible.
I had Patagonia accouterments to keep me warm and toasty on this subfreezing night. However I didn't have proper footwear and froze my toes.
Photo Credit: Eric Russel