Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Geysers and Glaciers and Bears, oh my...

So, first things first, if you're still coming to visit my blog then thanks very much as it has been a while since my last post.

Close up of paint texture and colour

We've just come back from 6 days in Iceland for our anniversary (10 years together, 5 years married!). It was absolutely the best anniversary trip we've ever had (apart from the year we went to New York as that was our wedding day as well as our anniversary so nothing will ever top that!)

As usual Brodie sees the camera and thinks it's for her, she's such a wee poser!

The bear reference in the title refers to my polar bear painting. I finished him just before we went and it seemed appropriate as he is of course an inhabitant (albeit endangered) of the arctic north. We didn't see any actual bears during our trip unless you count this guy:

polar bear+iceland+NicseARTh

You might recall I've entered paintings into the David Shepherd Wildlife Artist of the Year competition for the last two years without success of being shortlisted but hope springs eternal so I plan to enter my polar bear into the competition for 2016.

Close up of polar bear

The good news is that the overriding comments from the judges following this year's competition were (and I quote) "a desire to see artists move away from the purely photographic, to compositions showing originality and genuine creativity". So it's good news for me and artists like me who put their own spin on the subject rather than create photorealism. 

Polar Bear+Wildlife art+Northern Lights+NicseARTh

Fingers crossed that might work in my favour this year but I guess I'll have to wait and see. I won't hold my breath but it would be nice to at least get shortlisted. My only concern is that you can only submit one photo of your painting and this is ridiculously hard to photograph so that it shows the texture and colour in the bear. Hey ho, I can but try. 

Close up of texture of paint

As for the geysers and glaciers, we managed to pack a lot into our time in Iceland, seeing and doing all the things that we had hoped to be able to see and do. We arrived on Tuesday evening with time for a drive around the town to get our bearings.

Wednesday was our first full day and we spent the morning wandering around Reykjavik old town, which was lovely. I like snow globes and always try to bring one back from our anniversary trips when possible and so I thought one with polar bears on it was pretty appropriate this year!

polar bear+snow globe

Icelandic food isn't particularly vegan-friendly so lunch on the first three days was giant bowls of chips (not the healthiest of fare but literally everything else on the menu was made of animal!) On day four we discovered a supermarket that sold vegan cheese and smoked mock meat slices so we were able to make our own lunches which was perfect as we were out and about on road trips those days and didn't need to stop for yet more chips!

They weren't all for me, honest!

In the afternoon we went whale watching off the coast of Grindavik, about an hour away from Reykjavik. We were advised to put on the red 'floatation suits' the tour provided and I'm so glad we did - standing around on the deck of a boat for three hours in the north Atlantic is, as you'd imagine, bitterly cold!!

We did see a lone humpback whale who toyed with us for the whole three hours - they can dive for up to 55 minutes at a time and this one certainly seemed to stay down as long as he possibly could! He surfaced a few times and showed us his fin and fluke as he immediately dived back down! Still, he's a wild animal diving for food so it's just your luck if they're feeling acrobatic or not and this one wasn't on this particular day!

Reykjavik old town+Iceland+NicseARTh

On the Wednesday evening we got back from whale watching, went for a Chinese meal (always handy for vegan food!)and then headed out of Reykjavik a little way to get away from the light pollution as we'd been told it was likely that the northern lights would put in an appearance. Did they ever! 

This is my new favourite photo ever!

We've been lucky enough to see them a few times since we moved to the far north of Scotland but this was something else. We stood and watched them dance all over the sky for over two hours! They were incredibly bright and really dazzling. It got to the point where I was so cold and tired that I actually wanted them to stop just so I could go to bed because there was no way we could leave as long as they were putting on such an amazing show!

On Thursday we went to the Blue Lagoon.  It was starting to snow a little which added to the bizarre idea of swanning around in a bathing suit outside in the bitter cold in a deliciously warm pool. It was really quite otherworldly as the steam rose and people disappeared and reappeared all around us. I'm not quite convinced of the therapeutic or beautifying qualities of the thermal water and silica mud as I ended up quite red and blotchy afterwards and it's not a friend to your hair! Still, it was a wonderfully weird experience that you have to do if you're ever in Iceland.

We drove around Grindavik and the area near the Blue Lagoon in the afternoon and met some of the local wild horses. They're so furry and pretty friendly although apparently it's a sign of aggression when they show their teeth like this so maybe he was fed up with S taking his photo!

On Friday we drove part of the Golden Circle. Not all the roads are paved, some are very loose gravel that play havoc with your windscreens so we stayed on the paved road which still meant we could take in the most famous landmarks which were the Thingvellir National Park, the Strokkur Geyser and Gullfoss Waterfall.  It was a cold, snowy grey day this time which I think added to the atmosphere and wonder of these stunning natural phenomena. It got colder as the day went on which is why my face disappeared more and more behind my scarf and hood!

Thingvelliir National Park+Iceland+NicseARTh
Thingvellir National Park

Strokkur Geyser+Iceland+NicseARTh
Strokkur Geyser
Gullfoss Waterfall+Iceland+NicseARTh
Gullfoss Waterfall

Saturday, was our last full day and we really, really wanted to see the Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon at the south of the island. It was a good six hour drive from Reykjavik but we decided to seize the day and go for it.  I'm so glad we did as the whole (very long) day was amazing. 

En route to the Glacier Lagoon

We set off in the dark at 8am and didn't get home until 10pm but the whole route was absolutely breathtaking. We stopped at Skogafoss Waterfall and at plenty of other places en route every time we saw something stunning (which was all the time!) 

Skogafoss Waterfall

We passed lava fields with bizarre rock formations some of them completely carpeted in the softest, thickest moss. 

We drove past mountains with the remains of the glaciers creeping down between the peaks and finally, just as the sun was setting we arrived at Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon. We couldn't have timed it better because the ice looked breathtaking as it shimmered and sparkled in the glow of the setting sun.

Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon

It was absolutely breathtaking
On the Sunday we didn't fly home til 9pm so we had the whole day to wander round Reykjavik. The shops didn't open until 1pm which I think S was secretly relieved about so we went to Glo a vegetarian restaurant we'd found and had the most delicious vegan raspberry and mocha slice and a soya latte while we waited for the shops to open.

S bought me a lovely silver necklace with the Icelandic Rune symbol for love, like this one:

We even managed to squeeze in a visit to the Whale Museum on Sunday evening. 

Life size models!

We flew home on Sunday night tired and feeling very grateful for such an amazing trip and with a head full of memories (and a memory card full of photographs) to provide artistic inspiration for a while to come!

Mixing with some local Trolls!

And the icing on the cake was the beautiful rainbow sapphire ring that S got me (I may have sent him the link to the Etsy shop in a not so subtle hint several months ago but fair play to him for paying attention!)

Sorry, it's been a bit of an epic post but if you've made it to the end, thank you, and I'll be linking up with Paint Party Friday this week for a long overdue catch up on what's been happening in the online art community!


  1. Sounds like a great trip, my daughter has been to Iceland and she had a wonderful time.
    I hope you do well with your painting I think it's a winner.

  2. Good to see you posting again - what a dream holiday, congrats on your anniversary. Your painting is wonderful. good luck with the submission. The photos are really out of this world, I will come back again to look at them when I have more time. Thanks for sharing. Hugs, Valerie

  3. Oh what a delightful post and trip! I love those trolls:-) And your polar bear - so striking!

  4. What a wonderful holiday must that have been ! Congrats on your anniversary. The painting is unique! Absolutely gorgeous and I love love love all this amazing photos ! Thank you for sharing!
    Happy weekend!

  5. Your painting is super - what a gorgeous texture. Your great photos judge that your holiday was really wonderful. Thanks for sharing ♥
    Happy weekend‼

  6. Looks like you had a fabulous time in Iceland. :) Wish I could go, too. That bear painting is magnificent! :)

  7. Well, first of all... I LOVE THAT POLAR BEAR!!!! This one and the chocolate Labrador are my absolute favourite animal paintings of yours - I just LOVE them! I'd love to know more about your process and how you go about creating something like this... do you use inks or sprays? I would be gobsmacked if this one isn't at the very least shortlisted - but I have a good feeling about this one... I reckon it'll win! My fingers are all so tightly crossed that I can't feel them!
    So - Iceland... Well, I am one of those people that loves the sun, sea and sand, but I must say, this place looks absolutely spectacular! That photo of you holding the northern lights is amazing! I have never seen them myself but I would so love to one day... It looks like to both had a magical time and I imagine that this might be the first time that Scotland has felt quite warm in comparison! The photo's are all fabulous and I am so glad you had such an amazing time. Thanks so much for sharing! :0)

  8. Happy anniversary!! Your polar bear is stunning and I know he's going to make it for you this year. Thank you for sharing all your incredible experiences in this gorgeous looking country. What a super way to celebrate!!

  9. The painting is absolutely gorgeous, love it

  10. Good luck and Blessings on winning the art contest (always better to be positive) when will you know? Iceland is on my bucket list along with Norway. However, Scotland is the MUST as it is my ancestors homeland on both sides of the blanket. Thanks so much for all the fantastic photographs. Blessings, Janet

  11. What an amazing post! Thank you for sharing this wonderful adventure through your eyes!! Loved it and you two are the cutest couple!!! Love the wonderful photos!! And your Polar Bear is AMAZING.... I LOVE IT so much! That adorable bum...reminds me when my dogs would swerve like that with their bums....I loved it so much and when they lay on the ground with their hind paws stretched behind them.... Anyway terrific time of your life!! Love the necklace and the ring and your adorable boots... If that Bear doesn't get some kind of recognition I will be stupefied!! Also I see you recreating that horse with the open that is a photo for the records...also amazing!! I can feel the passion and happy in this post!! Thanks again for sharing!

    Hugs Giggles

  12. Happy Wedding Anniversary to both of you! The photographs you took during your trip to Iceland are spectacular, and show how much fun you were having. I love your imaginative polar bear, and wish you the best in the contest. Blessings!

  13. First congratulations on you wedding anniversary. Second thank you for sharing your trip with us. What a wonderful place to visit. Makes me want to book a flight. LOL Third...... This painting of the polar bear is your best. Anyway of the your art I have seen. It is a stunning representation. I will cross my fingers, light a candle, and say a little something to the gods that your painting is chosen. You certainly deserve it.
    Have a very nice weekend

  14. Wow, you had a marvellous anniversary! Congrats! The photos are stunning! Your polar bear painting is amazing with all of the layers, texture and colours., Best wishes to you!

    Thanks for sharing.

  15. Wow - I think I am too green to write. Lucky wonderful you. I LOVE the light show. I haven't been on PPF for months and I chose this week to look around. What a stunning gorgeous time you have had. And keep going with the animal show. You will get noticed, if not with your excellent polar bear with something else. Much love oh talented one...Rosie

  16. Only you can paint a polar bear with a million different colors and still make it look white AND fabulous. I love this painting Nic.

    I adored seeing your pictures of Iceland and your review of your trip. It reminded me of our trip a few years ago. We saw most of what you saw but since we went at the end of May there were no Northern Lights. I hope to see them someday, but in the meantime I have yours and S's pictures to show me how beautiful they are.

    Happy Anniversary.

  17. Only you can paint a polar bear with a million different colors and still make it look white AND fabulous. I love this painting Nic.

    I adored seeing your pictures of Iceland and your review of your trip. It reminded me of our trip a few years ago. We saw most of what you saw but since we went at the end of May there were no Northern Lights. I hope to see them someday, but in the meantime I have yours and S's pictures to show me how beautiful they are.

    Happy Anniversary.

  18. Your polar book looks gorgeous! I love the angle you chose and the cool, yet colourful colours. Sounds like you had an amazing trip. As a "northern light" in my heart, I love everything north and cold and snow, of course, and Iceland is definitely on my list of places to visit one day. Good luck with the art competition!

  19. thank you for taking me to Iceland!! I will probably never get to go there in real a photo trip will have to do!

    LOVE LOVE LOVE your polar bear painting!! It's a winner to me!

  20. I'm not quite sure where to start Nic,
    I think your polar bear is definitely a winner whether or not the judges agree. The colours and textures are perfect. Good Luck!
    As to the trip to Iceland... wow the photo's are spectacular showing the full beauty of the place. I love your beautiful cozy coat with that amazing hood! Just perfect to keep you cozy, especially when you're out watching those incredible northern lights!
    I've only seen them once and then they never appeared for long.
    Happy Belated Anniversary... you look extremely happy xx

  21. I LOVE youe polar bear!!! And the sky!!!

    What a gorgeous and awesome trip - really makes me want to go to Iceland!

    Happy Anniversary (belated) and hope you have a fabulous Christmas season!


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