Posted by: jeanne | July 6, 2017

five days

where to start?  where to leave off?  the days run into each other the way the clouds come over the mountains and spill down into the valley.

preparing my drawing for the sports center, it was necessary to go out and photograph the valley view i wanted to use for the background.  i had posted my two ideas, with jim’s figures in various positions – one with the tarn  lake as the place where the giant troll was swimming, and the ball players in the background, and one with the large lake in the background with the valley, and the ball players in the foreground.  i asked my friends for their preferences, and every single one chose the one with the large lake and the valley.  it was a better composition all around.  i could see it, too.  so i stayed up late and made a composite sketch of everything i wanted just the way i wanted it.  and in the middle of the night i left connor sleeping soundly and walked down to the lake and got photos from several different angles.  it turns out that the angle i can look at while waiting for connor to get back from soccer in siglufjordur is the very best angle, so the next morning, connor and i went there and i shot the valley again with the long lens.  and connor had lots of fun throwing large stones into the lake.


here’s the sketch i submitted.  i finally found out the name of the mayor’s assistant – haukur – and his phone number, and called him to see when he was going to be in his office.  and met him there half an hour later with my sketch.  he was the one who suggested the project to me, and suggested i put in all the various sports people play at the sports center, but when i showed him the sketch, he seemed pretty dubious, and told me he would have to run it by the mayor.  but we both agreed that the swimming troll and the lake and mountains would make it into the final design.  the rest of the trolls (and all of jim’s work) would just be never minded.


but whatever.  as long as i get to put something up on this 30′ high wall.

my main task these last days has been to get the mural up on kaffi klara.  so i’ve been spending my mornings down there, with connor in tow.  he usually takes his tablet so he’ll be less trouble, because i leave him inside while i go out to paint, not wanting him too near the road when i’m not watching him.

but he’s found a friend.  she’s the daughter of one of the women who works there, and she’s six, and she has an incredible command of english, so the two of them sit and play on his tablet, and the go outside and climb on the railings, and play with her bike in the side yard, (the bike is way too big for him) and draw chalk figures in front of the cafe.


while i struggle with the chalk figures on the wall.  for some reason i couldn’t manage to make the expression on the troll woman’s face anything like how jim drew it, and ida and i agreed that she was too mean looking, so i redrew it three or four times until it wasn’t horrible anymore.


then at noon, it’s always off back home to have lunch and get connor ready for soccer, and usually we get there just in time.  this day the view from the soccer building was excellent, so i photographed it yet again.


as well as the view from the kitchen window, which i stare at as i’m washing dishes.


and sometimes the view is striking even reflected in windows.  alice has made a series of photos of reflections in the windows here, and she’s won prizes with them.


connor is in soccer and playgroup from 1 to 4 every weekday, so i go back to the cafe and work until it’s time to get him.  this day they were on the bus to siglufjordur, and when he got back he ignored me entirely while he walked to the pool with his friend from soccer.


lately we’ve been going to the pool after i pick him up from soccer, so i can get the maximum time painting.  we spend about an hour there.  first he goes into the wading pool with his floaties while i get a couple of laps in.  then he meets me at the deep end, practices diving until he does something other than a belly flop, and then we swim the entire length of the pool together, me paddling backwards while he tries to catch up.  he’s getting better at it all the time.  then we pull the floaties off, and i stand a little farther each time while he swims to me and back to the edge of the pool again.  we do this until we are cold, and he’s practiced treading water.  he’s not good at treading water yet, but he’s increasingly comfortable swimming, and has even been inventing his own strokes.  as soon as i’m confident of his abilities i’ll teach him the actual strokes and styles, and after that he’ll be good to go.  he’s a very quick study, and very brave within his comfort level.

then home to dinner, some time spent playing, desert, and then hygiene practice (brushing and flossing – we’ve found a cavity!), and then a bedtime story and to bed.  on rare occasions he gets up in the middle of the night and i let him crawl in with me.  he still thrashes and squiggles, but eventually he’ll settle down and sleep quietly.  or else i’d never let him in bed next to me, because that’s just asking for an elbow in my eye.


two days ago i got this far with the painting.  i had mixed up a flesh tone that looked good on the sample paper, but was pasty white on the wall – even paler than the icelandic skin tone.  so i went over it with a tan brown, laid on lightly, and that seemed to work.  the problem is that i’m going to have to go over everything with the black outlines once i’m done laying in the proper colors.  but that’s just part of it, correction and recorrection.


a day later i started in with the body color on the clothing, making all sorts of decisions along the way, knowing they were temporary fixes and that i was probably going to have to change all sorts of things later on.


when we go to soccer, because we can’t read the schedule and google translate gives me things like “the crash is on the pool”, we tend to get to the soccer building as the bus is waiting for its last passengers (connor) before going to siglufjordur.  so i keep setting the alarm earlier and earlier so we will avoid having to drive to siglufjordur ourselves.


yesterday i had to set the clock five times – lunchtime, time to be at soccer, time to pick up the last arriving artist, time to pick connor up and go swimming, and time to go to the artist’s introduction meeting.  while i was walking back to the cafe after dropping connor off at soccer, i heard the sound of an airplane.  when i was here three years ago, there was one single flight overhead daily, and the people of olafsfjordur contacted the offending airline and got it to move a little further out to sea so the peace wouldn’t be disturbed.  but now, there is flight after flight coming over every day.  when i got to the cafe, lara was sitting on the steps looking up the radar tracking of all these flights, and so we had a lively discussion about them – most of them come from doha.


i got some further, and started making errors in judgment, putting too many colors in and having them not make any sense – like the blue collars on the girls’ shirts.


the troll woman is coming along, too, but i can tell it’s not going to work even at this stage.


at 7 connor and i took our oatmeal cookies and popcorn over to the gallery, and met with all the artists.  we have 7 this month; two from germany (one living in california), one from belgium, one from budapest now living in france, and three americans.  they all brought something to eat, and so we had a wonderful stand up dinner while everybody introduced each other and got talking.


then we sat down and got out the projector, and everybody told about themselves and their work.  i got to mention things about the town, rules about the garbage, opportunities to travel around, projects people were welcomed to try, and all the organizational stuff i could think of.  connor sat with his tablet and was quiet, but the meeting dragged on, and at the end, he broke out into cheers and set them all laughing.


it was ten before we were done, and i left all the artists talking to each other in the living room of the residence, while connor and i went home and went to bed.


oh yeah.  i talked to a woman who runs a gallery in monterey, california.  lara, ida, alice and others went to visit her this winter, and now she’s interested in coming to stay at the residency at some point, so i met with her and lara at the cafe and we had a good time talking about this and that.  she mentioned that she’d been horseback riding close to hofsos, and told me about the icelandic dog puppies she’d seen.  my ears pricked up, because since i was here last time, i’ve always wanted to get an icelandic dog.  they’re so smart, they’ve got great temperaments, and i just fell in love.  so i’ve been hoping that someone would just up and give me a dog, since i knew i could never afford one.  like that would ever happen.

so when she told me she’d seen a bunch of puppies, i just had to look up the place and see for myself, completely forgetting that i’m an artist and have no money.  i went as far as writing to the breeder and asking about the puppies.  but when she answered with the price, my heart fell thru the floor.  the standard price for these cuties is $2000.  i could have a discount if i bought two, at $1900 apiece.  waaaaaaah.  i felt like a fool.  if i’d done my research, i would never have asked about them.

Ronja, gulur rakki, mikið hvítur

but i still want one.  oh well.  as my dad used to say, people in hell want ice water.  (and our rejoinder was always to point to our fridge and say, well we have ice water, your point is?)

this morning i awoke to an awesome day.  sunny and bright.  but it was 3am, so i went back to sleep.


by the time we actually got out of bed around 10 (kind of late), the sky had completely changed.  it was quite warm, which sometimes mean rain is coming, because a south wind comes from the states and those storms that roll up the coast sometimes come to iceland instead of ireland.

knowing i only had a few hours, because of how black the sky was, and how warm the temperature, i did as much painting as i could, while connor played with his friend, and threw a fit because i made him go to soccer.  i’m at the end of the painting, and there are a million little details to be done now, so progress is sort of slow.  i’m in fact still filling in color.  and when i do that, it makes it obvious that other areas have to be adjusted.  etc.


ida announced to me that she was going to plan a community event to celebrate the finish of the troll murals on her building.  she’s planning a street party, with bouncy houses and floaty balls (that you get inside and roll around on the lake), music and ice cream and cotton candy and facepainting and lots of food.  it’s going to be a blast, and i’ve asked all the artists to volunteer and give something back to the community.


and in the meantime, ida got in a batch of wonderfully made aprons a friend made her, so i whited out areas on all the girls’ dresses, and am in the middle of painting the aprons in, possibly the last real large adjustment i’m going to have to make.  i can see in this picture, tho, that i’m going to want to extend the dresses and the troll father’s stockingd to the ground, instead of leaving them blank.  and finish his beard.  and finish the girls’ hair.  and put in the black lines that dilineate their arms and the folds of their clothing.  etc etc.


and i noticed that connor is getting to be nut-brown in the sunshine and with all the time he spends out of doors.  so i took a picture over dinner.  his hair is shiny gold, too.


i have to finish the troll painting this weekend.  i’m going to start on either the troll, crutch and raven over the door, or the troll car eating the mechanic next week, depending on who is ready for me.  i’ve asked the troll and raven folks to borrow some scaffolding so i don’t have to work on a ladder, which almost frightens me.

today i ran across the family who came to the kid’s workshop, and who asked me to put a troll on their wall in dalvik, where they have just moved.  she reminded me of this, and so now i’m going to get a photo of all of them and send it to jim to draw up for me, and will slap it up in a single day (hahahaha) later in the month or in august.

i also talked to the bank manager, who was driving to reykjavik at the time, and so i’m not entirely sure what he said, but it sounded like he’s got an artist under contract to decorate his branches, and either we are supposed to work together or i’m supposed to use her drawing, or something.  he’s going on vacation, so it will be later.

asgeir the factory owner hasn’t yet repaired the factory wall, so i’m not sure if i’ll have time to do that wall; lara has just submitted the design for her school’s wall, so we’ll have to wait on that.  i haven’t heard anything back from the mayor’s office about the sports center, but it appears that i’ve been approved to build a small troll statue across the bridge, where i saw the elf/troll running the last time i was here.  i’m not sure i’ll get to that either.  jim has finished his drawing of the family i’m supposed to paint onto the back of their house – an enormous menagerie that will have to be quite small in order to fit them all, but that’s okay.  and i’ve offered to paint a troll leading an icelandic horse and dog on the barn of the horse and dog breeders i embarrassed myself with yesterday.  we will see, we will see.  the weather has to hold, and i have to fight off this cold connor and i are picking up.  and the elves and trolls have to be nice to me and not cause me any further problems (there’s a slow leak in one of the wheels on the car, and my new used microwave isn’t heating as well as it was when we got it, so i think they’re still messing with me).  we will see.


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