1. Polar Project IV

Polar Project IV was painted using oil and wax on a 24 x 36 inch cradled birch panel.

About Polar Project IV:

This painting is part of a series of works that explore the grandeur of the Alaskan coastline. I have found this project to be quite challenging for me as an artist. My overall goal for this series of work is to convey various aspects of my Alaskan experiences and make every painting distinct from the others in the series. This has required considerable contemplation and planning for each piece. I try to instill a sense of “place” in each painting to convey what it was like to have been there. I want these paintings to be evaluated from this context.

It’s quite overwhelming to experience Alaska for the first time. There is so much to take in…the sheer vastness of the landscape, the amount of water, the roughness of seas, the sense of space and the grandness of mountains, glaciers, weather conditions, dramatic lighting and skies, the amount of ice, the cold…constant change, new experiences.

This painting has a presence on the wall that is disproportionate to its physical dimensions; it feels big!

The “experience” of Polar Project IV:

The scale of this painting is not easily discernible though there are distant mountains. I find this introduces a sense of uneasiness that encourages more exploration of this work. This is the result of having no foreground to gauge distance and the vantage point of this painting being both “in”, and at a considerable elevation from, the water.

There is a sense of peace and calmness…the colour of the water, the partially overcast sky on a relatively calm day illuminating the scene with even, soft light and the presence of snow and ice.

The “bones” of Polar Project IV:

Geometric elements are leveraged to draw the viewer into the painting’s centre where the distant mountains can then be explored. The unnaturally straight base (with no wave action) of the point of land on the left and the movement of the foreground water serve to draw the viewer’s attention to the receding ice sheet that enters the painting from the right and then draws attention back to the center where they will find the distant shoreline:

2. Polar Project IV

The path of the viewer’s gaze upon first seeing this painting:

3. Polar Project IV

What I like about Polar Project IV:

1. For me, this painting captures the expansiveness of an Alaskan coastline: the ruggedness of the landscape and the beauty that can be found there.

2. The scene is rendered in a pleasant, calm and non-threatening way. Both the water and the sky have similar colours, and both share a sense of movement.

3. There is a feeling of inner light to this painting created by its palette and the many details throughout. The intricate textures and heavy layering of paint create a sense of depth and distance. The mountainous shoreline is particularly highly detailed and textured and satisfies a desire to be able to explore something far away “from up close”. Typically, more distant parts of a landscape are rendered with less detail, and in cool colours, to mimic a natural perception of depth.

Here are some close-up views taken while it was being painted:

details - 3

It was an exciting painting to work on, and I am quite pleased with how it turned out.

Michael C

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