Saturday, September 23, 2017

Iceland II

Baer Art Center, Northern Iceland

Group photo courtesy of Oxanna Adams

In July of 2016, I did a 4-week residency at the Baer Art Center in Northern Iceland. This year, I'm back for another 3 weeks. I taught a cold wax and oil, abstract painting workshop and I'm staying on for a 2 week residency. The workshop was made up of 4 Icelandic artists, one from Switzerland, one from the US and 3 Canadians. What an international group!  The enthusiasm was high, the laughter contagious and the food superb.What a week! 

I learned only the week before the workshop was to start, that the  Gamblin cold wax medium I normally use, couldn't be shipped by air from London, UK because it's designated as a flammable solid! I had checked this out in March and was told there was no problem, that the wax could be ordered and shipped to Iceland in 4 or 5 days! 

Big panic! I looked up several recipes online and found one that used solvent-free gel as well as beeswax and Odourless Mineral Spirits.  Steinunn Jónsdóttir, owner of the Art Center was to buy the odourless mineral spirits (which also couldn't be shipped by air). The only problem was that in Iceland, OMS is $70 US/litre. We needed 12 L!!

Quite a lesson in resourcefulness. Steinunn found an alternative: Odourless White Spirits

We made the wax, using a recipe I found online
Cold wax medium

1/4 cup bleached beeswax, 1/2 cup odourless mineral spirits or equivalent, 1 tablespoon alkyd medium. 
We used Gamblin solvent-free gel.

 It wasn't quite the same as the Gamblin wax. It was quite a bit softer. Perhaps it was the Odourless White Spirits that made the difference. In any case, we were undaunted. We made it and worked with it. And some terrific work came out of the workshop.

We laughed, we walked the land, we did a little touring, and we shared poems.

Here's the most enthusiastic one, which became a mantra for the rest of the workshop. It was chosen and read by Dassa Hauksdóttir:

“Being Positive” by Kristín Svava Tómasdóttir

"Go Mountains!
Go Clouds!
Go Moss!"