In the pursuit of the perfect painting, I have travelled to Iceland for the first time to witness more of natures marvels for myself. Accompanied by a local photographer and filmmaker, We were able to explore locations far from the usual tourist trail, which entailed driving out into the wilds, walking in the darkness and waiting in the cold, sometimes until three in the morning, for the magic of the aurora to begin. We were rewarded by impossibly wide skies full of vivid colours, shooting rays, a magical glow, and a hypnotic dancing of light which almost appeared to be breathing. Yet, through it all, I was most moved that all of this seemingly frenetic activity in the sky took place in complete silence.
Family being central to my work, I took my wife and two children with me to Iceland so that they could experience the aurora for themselves, and better understand my quest to capture this natural phenomenon in the paintings. The theme of family in this collection of work is represented through the inclusion of trees in the pieces. Trees often feature in my work, symbolising both my last name ‘the Rowan tree’ and the branches of my growing family. Whilst pine trees are common in the Icelandic landscape, I was able to locate some rare uncommon Rowan trees that feature in ‘Jewel’ and ‘Light Dancing’.
The aurora is a notoriously difficult subject matter for photographers or artists to capture because of its sheer magnitude and the subtle variations of colour, but my artistic practice demands that I challenge myself by undertaking difficult work and forging new techniques. The precise and painstaking ‘back to front’ method of applying oils on glass, working from the foreground backwards, lends itself beautifully to the subject matter. With each layer (4 in total) needing up to two weeks to dry each, before the aurora was added as the final element,.......................... timing truly is everything.