Updated: Apr 30, 2020
I was always fascinated by the beauty of winter landscapes. There is something mysterious and at the same time inviting about the long veil of snow that is not walked on yet. While you walk in nature during winter, you might be cautious at times, wondering how deep the snow ahead is, what rock formations or vegetation is hidden underneath it, or whether it is safe to walk on. And there is this deep, both ominous and extremely calming, silence that comes with walking in a vast winter landscape.
This is why one of my top travel destinations for this year was Iceland. I always wondered how life and nature looks like in such a remote location during winter. As soon as the plane descended lower under the clouds, I was able to take in the beautiful aerial view of vast amounts of land covered in ice. I was so excited for the adventures awaiting us in the Land of Ice and Fire...
Land of Fire
The Icelandic territory has a sweet, seductive side as well as a dangerous side. Sitting upon the large smooth rocks on Reykjavik’s beachside, while admiring the fiery sunset, full of bloody and fierce colors, was a sweet, serene, and inviting aspect of the island. In the “Land of Fire” painting I tried capturing this calming and welcoming side of Iceland.
While staring at the sunset, I could hear the calm ocean singing a sweet lullaby for the travelers. In ancient mythology, mermaids would seduce travelers with hard-to-resist sweet songs and lullabies. Hence, why I decided to place my mermaid on top of these rocks, inviting the viewers within a beautiful landscape to hear her song...
Beauty & Danger
Nevertheless, the dangerous side of the island was prevalent everywhere you visited. The snow was sleek and slippery at unexpected edges and was deep in areas you would not expect. The views of the arctic-like landscape, however, were more beautiful than words could ever describe. I felt like an explorer of a new land that had never fathomed it's magnificence before.
There is also the bitter cold that comes with such harsh territory. Walking at the Solheimasandur Black Sand beach, I could not sense my hands for a while. I had to wear two layers of thick gloves just to be able to walk along the beach without being paranoid that I would get frostbite on my hands!
The dangerous side of Iceland could also be encountered in places like Skogafoss. The twirling clouds in the “Land of Ice” artwork were inspired by the unique cloud formations over Skogafoss during the evening time.
While, climbing up the mountain to see the top of this tall waterfall I almost fell twice. The path was slippery and steep. The climbing was dangerous and even the hand rails were not strong enough to help me propel myself forward. My husband had to grab me twice by my coat because I almost fell down the mountain. The air was blasting through my ears and the cold water of the waterfall was splashing all over my face. However, the view at the top was one of a kind. Needless to say, I also felt a sense of pride and fearlessness for completing such a difficult climb!
Land of Ice
In Reykjavik, the capital, the weather was manageable, but as soon as we drove not even ten minutes outside of the capital, the weather would change rapidly. Some areas in the island are not surrounded by hills or mountains so the wuthering days in the island would make our drives really hazardous and adrenaline-pumping! While driving to Thingvellir National Park, it was hard to navigate through the snow surrounding us. It was as though we just immersed into a grey-white fluffy cloud! The majestic territory in this park is what inspired the endless mountain ranges and winter landscape in the "Land of Ice" painting.
Iceland is full of fascinating folklore as well. One of these tales is what inspired my latest artwork, "Land of Ice." The Huldra (etymology from Hulderfolk, which means "Hidden People" in Icelandic folklore) is a beautiful forest creature that seduces travelers into the woods by singing irresistible tunes. However, she carefully covers her backside because she has a fox tail and she does not want humans to know that she is an otherworldly creature. Men usually get seduced by her beauty and when they follow her they are never seen again...However, when travelers respect the Huldra and her natural surroundings, she usually leaves them unharmed.
The Huldra signifies the dual nature of Iceland – its natural breathtaking beauty that is coupled with its harsh weather and treacherous territory. The feminine figure in the “Land of Ice” painting is inspired by this tale and by the awe coupled with fear and hesitation at the same time that I felt during my exploration of this island.
I believe that by exploring nature in all its majesty and vastness we are also discovering the strength and courage within ourselves too. During this trip, I pushed my limits and fears and in the end I was immensely charmed by the Land of Ice and Fire...