Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Heading for the Arctic

I'm back home again now, but I hardly know where to start as so much happened in the past three weeks. I traveled with Quark Expeditions from Murmansk to Franz Josef Land, to Svalbard, to Greenland, then to Iceland, where I caught a flight home. I was going to fill the official role of "artist-in-residence," as it is called on this cruise into the Arctic. It was an interesting trip full of wildlife sightings and scenery, but I will get to that in time. For now, I'll start at the beginning...

A few days early, I flew to Helsinki, Finland, the jumping off point for this trip, to have a chance to see the city and paint a bit, test out my new plein air set up, and get my arctic supplies in order. A favorite spot of mine, which I remembered from a similar trip two years ago, was the old harbor on the eastern side of town where all the wooden boats are. It was pleasant to sit there with people quietly strolling past. Everything was the same. Even the same boats were docked in the same spots as two years before. I couldn't tell at first but once I started painting, I recognized everything about them... the shape of the stern, the painted lines, the rigging... my hand remembered better than I did- it was striking. Somehow I "see " more when I'm painting.

Then came July 22 when I walked up to the Radisson Hotel, to meet met with the 93 passengers. We boarded the charter bus to the airport for the flight to Murmansk, Russia. In Murmansk we would board the conventional Russian icebreaker, "Kapitan Khlebnikov". There was that buzz of excitement in the hotel lobby, always in group just before the first day of a cruise.

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