With the days getting shorter and the end of the year fast approaching, my preparations for my trip to Iceland in the new year are well underway.
As well as the obvious shopping for thermals, and worrying that I wont even make it to Skagaströnd because I'll be apprehended at the airport for smuggling in 5 kg of Galaxy, I've been thinking about the techniques I'll most likely be using whilst I'm away.
I think I'm going to aim to work on my landscapes and star portraits (it would seem a waste of some stunning scenery not to) and work on developing a style of painting that, on some level, looks quintessentially Icelandic.
Whilst of course I'm hoping to develop a recognizable style of my own, I also want to document my trip as much as possible.
I'm three-quarters of the way through Names For The Sea by Sarah Moss, a delightful book which documents her year-long migration to Iceland.
Can't lie, about halfway through I wished I'd never started the book in the first place - Moss' descriptions of volcanic eruptions, reckless driving courtesy of the locals and accidentally-purchased whale meat were enough to fry my poor ill-traveled brain.
But, in the spirit of perseverance and pushing all my anxieties deep down into my gut where they will inevitably resurface at a later date, I kept reading, and on reflection, Names For The Sea had given me a really good idea of what Icelandic culture is all about.
Of the many delightful observations of the book, one which really gave me the warm & fuzzies was finding out that Icelanders have certain mottos of phrases which represent the country or its people - many of which don't have exact English translations.
Reminiscent of 'hygge' (the Danish phenomenon that made the whole nation stockpile fairy lights and scented candles), one of these Icelandic phrases is 'þetta reddast', which can be translated to, 'everything will work itself out'.
Already this level of optimism and relaxation makes Iceland seem like the perfect location to counteract my innate British pessimism and neuroses.
Another token Icelandic word is 'gluggaveður' - roughly translated as 'window-weather', a way to describe snowy and windy conditions which make for magical scenic views, but don't have quite the same charm when you venture out and get a severe slap in the face from the icy wind.
This particular word gave me an idea for a new project - an exploration of landscapes captured in little snapshots, using smooth, calming colour palettes which mask the bleakness of a snowy landscape in real life.
So far I've painted scenes which I consider to be particularly Icelandic, a horse stood in a snowy field, the stars above a remote hut and buildings with wobbly corrugated roofs. I've been using a combination of acrylic and gouache paints, which have given the chalky matte finish I hoped for.
I've done three A4-ish paintings so far, and I'm planning many more wintry scenes.