Posted by: jeanne | July 26, 2017

last days of the july residency

it’s not my last days, but my current batch of artists is getting ready to pack up and go home.  we’ve already said goodbye to jason this morning (and i almost had him miss his bus because i didn’t realize he was waiting for the bus to akureyri instead of the bus to reykjavik).

in the meantime, i’m doubling down on work on the walls.  on thursday morning connor and i went around to six different walls to measure and make sure everything was ready to go.  that’d be the two murals at the farm at hlith, the back of the house at ala’s, the second floor of asgeir’s house up on the hill, the tall wall at menntaskolinn (the junior college), the bank, the family house in dalvik.  this leaves a few walls that are still maybes – the factory wall, tommi’s roof, the sports center, bjarney’s side wall, skuli and guffa’s stairway, and the small wall at kristin the scrollworker’s shop.  and five weeks.

once i took connor off to soccer, i met sherry at the cafe.  sherry’s been helping ida on a work share program, and she had some time free, so i asked her to research the plants that are native or at least prevalent in the north part of iceland.  ida had a book, and they went thru it and marked the right pictures, and we came up with half a dozen plants.  i took pictures of the pictures with my phone, and several locals chimed in with varieties that actually grow here, and their icelandic names.  most of which escape me at the moment.  then we went to kristin the scrollworker’s shop to talk to her – it was her idea and she also has a book – but she wasn’t there, so we tsk tsked at the condition of the wall she wants me to paint, and went back to our separate jobs.

the guys doing the addition at the school provided me with scaffolding in the morning, so after meeting sherry, i went up on the wall and started gridding.  i had chosen yellow chalk, and i don’t know why, because it fades immediately to white, and the wall was white.  so i got out the light gray paint and put a dab at every intersection.  the scaffolding was wobbly, and only covered part of the wall, so i could only measure part of the entire surface, and that proved problematic when i realized my scale was wrong.

i’d spent some time in the gimp (photoshop for linux) cutting apart jim’s drawing, separating out the troll woman from her mythical beast.  she was fine at 12′ tall, but the beast was way too small.  this is important because you can see the wall all the way from mulatindur (auto repair shop) halfway up the hill to the tunnel to dalvik.  so i had to enlarge it to double its size, and put it on the ground surface.  it’s not exactly ground, either.  the scaffolding had to be erected on top of a plywood sheet resting on the trash container, which is a concrete and wood structure about my height.  and it was erected to be in one spot, with supports to compensate for the fact that the board, and the scaffolding, were wider than the container.  and once i moved it to grid the rest of the wall, it lost its support, and boy did it wobble.  if i’d realized that there was a danger of the board cracking and the scaffolding coming down into the parking lot, i wouldn’t have moved it, but i didn’t, and wondered why it was so wobbly.  i learned, and moved it back, and haven’t moved it again…

then anna kristin came over and we made dinnner. that is, she made diner with ingredients collected from her house and the cafe and combined with stuff i had here.  chicken curry.   then we went thru the bag of sheepskin trimmings and she took the largest pieces to make a rug for herself.

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on friday i worked all day on the school wall.  in the pictures you can see the blue lines of the beast drawn in, but i realized quickly i wasn’t going to be able to continue at that scale, and just concentrated on the troll woman.  connor played with his tablet until it was time for lunch, and once he was off to soccer i went back to the wall.

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saturday morning, we went to dalvik for connor’s soccer tournament.  he surprised everybody with his skills; he and a little girl named greta ran after every ball and took all sorts of initiative trying to get the ball away from the other teams, who were much more alert and won all the matches.  but nobody cared.

here, for the connoisseurs among us, are a thousand photos of connor.  actually, i took about 350 on saturday.  he’s such a star.

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here’s connor’s coach congratulating him for scoring a GOAL!!!!

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the little girl in the red hair is greta, the other ball buster on the team

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between matches that only lasted 11 minutes, the kids swarmed their coach

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betwwen matches, the kids played near their parents, and greta proved dominant here also

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connor finally learned how to do the congratulate members of the other team thing

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the proud team members after it was all over

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and their congratulatory hotdog, which are made of mostly lamb here in iceland

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you can’t walk three feet without coming across trolls in this landscape

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approaching dalvik, a really nice part of the troll peninsula

connor was asleep only moments after we finished our ice cream that night.  but we still went swimming after we got back.

on sunday anna kristin came over and made us icelandic pancakes, or crepes, with powdered sugar and in my case, strawberry preserves.  i forget what else we did, but i don’t work on walls on the weekend at this point, just to have a break.  oh yeah.  i made bread, finished dyeing a scarf that hopefully won’t fade like the first two did, and we went walking up the avalanche ramp in the late evening, it being so sunny and warm.  these days it starts out at 60F and goes up from there.  it hit 25C in the north, with clear blue skies and really intense sun.  it was too hot.  roasting.  nobody was in the hot hotpot at the pool, and the kids were jumping into the cold pot and splashing everybody, with nary a complaint.

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for mommy

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the view from the top of the ramp

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we walked along the slope of the mountain until we came to the highest houses

on monday, connor and i went to the school and i worked on the wall until it was time to go to lunch and get ready for soccer.  connor mostly played on the playground nearby, and ended up playing soccer with some teenagers who were hanging out in the sunshine.  i was working in my t-shirt and jeans, with no leggings, no sweater or vest, and no shoes or socks.  the glare off the wall was devastating.

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after he went to soccer, i had a bowl of gazpacho at kaffi klara (thanks ida) and took sherry up to hlid to start work.  except that they hadn’t yet painted and repaired the walls we were going to do.  so i showed them jim’s drawing of the troll getting rammed by the sheep.  i had spotted the problem awhile back, because i had given jim a photo of a sheep butting heads, but it was a longhorn ram, and needed replacing with an icelandic sheep.  but i had replaced it with a male sheep, so they straightened me out, and pulled up a photo of one of their own mama sheep, and i took a photo to use.  the difference is the length and curvature of the horns, and a more rounded nose on the female.  who would know but a sheep farmer?  can’t get that wrong…

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then sherry and i went to ala’s house to begin drawing in the many figures that go on her wall.  ala’s wall is different from anybody else’s because not only can you not see the mural from the main road thru town, but it’s on the back wall, where nobody can see it from the street at all.  but that’s okay.  it’s the hidden troll mural.

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while we were there, kara, her daughter, made us some lovely waffles, and we sat down with coffee and talked for awhile.  sherry gridded up two of the walls, and also chalked in the designs on them.  it’s her first time doing a wall mural, so i’m making sure she gets to do everything so she can go back home to vancouver island and start working there.  maybe not with trolls….

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the mural on ala’s house features not only her whole family, but also their pets.  so i got a nice picture of their dog, a rescue that bites everybody, but loves me and connor.  it’s because she looks so much like connor’s dog lilly that we both fell in love with her.

on tuesday we got up extra early to go swimming, because we knew it was going to be too busy later.  and after that we headed to ala’s, where connor had a wonderful time jumping on the trampoline with kara and playing with ala’s grandkid’s legos, and trying to get her oldest son to put minecraft on their tv so they could both play it.  lunchtime came too soon.  but it was also incredibly hot on her back patio, and a bunch of her friends came over and sat around with their tops off drinking coffee and talking.  i worked as fast as i could, but still 3 hours passed in just a few minutes.

after lunch, sherry and i went back up to hlid, where she gridded the wall of the main house, drew in the birch tree, and started painting it in.

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while i did the same thing on the wall of the sheep barn, and managed to get the colors on the little grandson and the dog.  not all the colors, and not the right ones on the dog at least, but it was a good start.

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again, the wall was blistering in the sun, and i was quite burned and blind when i was finished.  and i was only finished when my alarm went off and we quit to go get connor.

that evening, we had the final exhibition and dinner party for july’s residents.  we gathered at 4, put our artwork on the wall, opened the door, and actually had a few local people come by to see our work.

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it was very gratifying to show people around, explain how we did things, and discuss what we’d been doing all month with each other.

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jason’s knotted nets and ropes were a big hit, and ida decided she wanted them for display items for an upcoming marine festival.

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we all loved the big rope work, and called in lara to see if she wanted to hang it in her school, and she told us with wry irony that in this town, discarded bits of rope are truly trash, and nobody here would appreciate art made with that kind of trash.  so as nice as it is, it’ll probably end up in the dump, where perhaps one of the august artists will decide to do something with it.

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dinner was fun, with everybody bringing something that they made.  i made bread, of course, and also used some of the cod in my freezer to make a casserole.  people have been giving me cod fillets.

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and after dinner was over, no sooner were connor and i out of the residency house than a bunch of his friends greeted him, crossed the street to us, and gave connor an enormous water canon, which he duly used on them.  they came over to our house with it, and they all played in the little parklet across the street until 10pm.

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this morning, i was up bright and early to get jason to his bus.  we sat at the pool waiting for it to arrive, and it was 15 minutes late, so we had lots of time to talk about how much we both love it here, and what he could do if he came back.

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and then i found out that he was going to akureyri, not reykjavik, and should be waiting for the straeto bus out on the street, not the sba bus at the pool.  so i shouted for connor, who was off playing on the soccer field, but he went running off to the sports house to return a ball, and at the same time i saw the straeto bus go by, and i had to make a decision.  so i left connor there and ran after the bus, which stopped in the middle of town to pick up an old lady.  so i pulled in front of it and let jason off, and thank got he made it because i would have had to run him to akureyri.   connor was a little put out when i came back to pick him up, because he wondered if i was going to leave him there or what, but it was safe to leave him there, and he understood after i explained it.

then we went back to ala’s house, and while i worked in the sweltering sun, he played with kara on the trampoline, and ala talked with neighbors over the back fence, starting with anna kristin who was walking her dog, and ending up with i don’t know how many others, all speaking icelandic while the dog barked at the kids laughing and giggling on the trampoline.

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i really love working when all that fun is going on around me.  it’s so much better than having headphones on and listening to music.  which i would never do, anyway.

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when it was time to go, connor didn’t have his accustomed fit, but he wasn’t happy about leaving.  i still have the details to do, so we’ll be back.  i love hanging out with ala, she’s just like me and we have a great time sharing and talking.  that’s what i love about doing all these walls.  it’s a very personal thing, both for me and the people whose walls i’m painting.

after dropping him off at soccer, where they all got on the bus to siglufjordur for the afternoon, i went back to the school.  but the wind kicked up as soon as i got there, and when the wind is up here, it’s a gale.

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i didn’t mind getting on the scaffolding to put a second coat on the troll woman’s dress, and to paint in the red on the tiger, but the ladder kept shifting in the wind, and whistling thru the pipes, and at one point tore the paint can lid off the board and sent it flying across the parking lot and across the street, so i took it as a warning.

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and when bjarney came to tell me that gulli had finally delivered the rocks he had promised us for the troll statue (which i guess i forgot to talk about so far), i quit work on the wall and went out to the lakeshore, where we took half an hour or so to shift the pile of rocks, sorting it into sizes (can’t budge, can barely heft, can throw, small rocks) and figuring out how we’re going to do this.  we only have a few days until she has to go away for awhile, so the troll statue is going to get made now.  she bought cement (i need to see if it’s portland cement, or do we have to add lime to make it into mortar), and she’s going to get a friend to come help us shift the large rocks into position around the huge flat rock that gulli brought us for a base.  it’ll be interesting.

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these yellow flowers lining the stream weren’t there earlier in the week

when we were done with that, i went to hlid to work on the troll man.  it was so windy that the birds weren’t flying, but that particular wall is on the leeward side of the farm, so i was again baked by the sun.  but at least the paper wasn’t torn out of my hand…  the troll man ended up being too short and stumpy when i drew him in using the scale that would fit the wall horizontally, so i had to enlarge the scale vertically, and then he fit just fine.  i haven’t outlined him in black yet, because i thought i would start with the color and go from there.  maybe saving myself a step by not having to restate the outlines.

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and then it was time to go get connor.  and we went to the pool in a gale.  and all the birds were hanging out on the hill; nobody was flying.  and it was too cool in the pool, for me at least, even tho connor wanted to continue doing dives and swimming the breadth of the pool underwater.  but i wanted to get into the hot pot.  so i let him go in the kid pool and mess with some tourists, and then let him get floaties and go down the big slide a few times.  one of the obvious things about three or four days of sweltering sunshine is that both of us lost our sniffles, sore throats and coughs during it.  now that it’s windy, i can feel my throat scratching again.  and i thought it was the vitamin c and echinacea.

tonight’s dinner was leftover sausages and noodles and soup and baked beans, and he went outside again.  we were actually waiting to be called back to the troll statue site for some heavy lifting, but that’s been put off until tomorrow, so i can finish this and call jim.

it’s back to being 9C outside, and it’s still blowing.  there are some low clouds / fog on the mountains and out to sea, and it’s forecast to get back to cool and rainy this weekend.  so we’ll see.  more of the residents leave this weekend, and on monday i have to make sure all three buildings are spotless and ready for the next artists, one of whom has a deadly peanut allergy, so i’m going to be very busy cleaning the kitchen and pantry, because everybody in that house loves nuts.

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