Over a year ago, we were invited to Ricklundgarden, in Saxnas, Sweden, an artist residency in Southern Lapland, to teach a painting workshop and to stay on for another three weeks to do our own creative work. While we were aware that Southern Lapland could well have snow in early May when we arrived, we weren't prepared for the extent of it; the snowbanks were 3 feet deep around our cottages. Snow has been a big part of our experience here and we have watched it recede each day to reveal the rocks and plants of the ground cover.
In the solitude and silence of this place, we have been able to go deeply into our own creative processes. We both work very intuitively--and are still so inside of this experience--that it's too soon to summarize, or predict what being here means for our work. But as we come to the end of our time here, we thought we'd talk about what parts of this experience each of us found important.
Janice: There is a quality to the light that is difficult to capture in words or painting. One day I painted a sheet of samples of the colours that I saw in the landscape at that moment on that day. By the time I had finished, the colours had shifted, the sun had come out, the expansive lake had changed from silver to a dark grey-blue, the mosses were a brighter yellow- green, the birch bark had more pink in it. The light changes so quickly. I hope to collect some of this ephemeral light and some of these colours and take them home with me to continue my Gathering Light series.
Rebecca: I've loved our walks too, and riding the bikes that are available for our use. Exploring the woods and lake shore in a rambling, open ended way brings that same childlike feeling to me. I too have gotten plenty of work done but appreciate the unstructured aspect to the days.
We've both tuned in to the changes in nature as spring makes its slow appearance. Texture, always important in my work, seemed a bit lacking when everything was soft with snow a month ago. Now I love seeing the rich textures of the lichen-encrusted boulders and the mossy ground cover.
Janice: Our response though hasn't been all about the surface of the place, beautiful as it is. Though we thoroughly enjoy one another's company, we have also given ourselves the space for reflection and solitude working alone each day and sharing dinner together.
I feel that the land, the light, the solitude and silence are also my companions here; we are part of one another. They are living presences. Because I am in a land so different than rural Ontario, I find I look more closely, with more awareness. I also turn inward here to reflect on my life and work. The explorations in my painting seem to be trying to reconcile those inner and outer responses: the breathtaking beauty of the landscape, my deep response to it and the life reflections it has brought up in me.
Below is one of these paintings (5"x7", mixed media on paper.)