Prussian blue waters, ice pillows, frozen earth, and an omnipresent moon.
One of my great passions is exploring the ‘line’ between abstraction and representation in visual art. I turn representational subject matter (notably water) into abstract, formal paintings. With the Arctic Ocean, I am painting the most abstract waterscape I have ever seen. Normally, I deconstruct the physical forms found in water to create stacks of abstracted rhythms. In this case, the Arctic Ocean already looks abstract before I’ve had a chance to deconstruct it.
The color of the Arctic is a steel-Prussian blue in autumn, and every few hours I saw a different type of ice in the water. One hour a fjord could be filled with polygonal pillows of ice dusted with white snow. The next hour thousands of miniature pale blue icebergs would float by, snapping and crackling as the gases inside them burst. At one point in the Arctic I was surrounded by so much ice that I felt like I was floating in a mint julep. At the end of every fjord is a glacier, a miles long wall of turquoise-cerulean ice calving into the sea, carrying with it bits of rock and sand, carving out the mountains in real-time.
Arctic Landscape II [left] In this photograph I am capturing the natural abstractness of the Arctic. Nature has created rectangles, flat areas of color and lines, only broken slightly by a mountain in the background. Arctic Landscape II, photograph, 2015
The entire Arctic world is an exercise in abstraction. It is as if Mother Nature is playing a trick on we ‘middle Earthers’ by showing us what she can do at the poles. The sun doesn’t rise above the horizon starting the 3rd week of October. This means that there is daylight, but not daylight as we know it. Instead it’s a kind of bluish-grey light, with the tips of the mountains alight with the last pink rays of sun coloring their peaks. From November 14th– January 29th there is no light at all.
Not only does the sun behave strangely, but so does the moon. In autumn the moon makes an oval around the North Pole so it is nearly always visible. The night sky is increasingly important as the days get shorter by about 20 minutes per day. I sailed to the Arctic on a 3-masted tall ship with The Arctic Circle, an expeditionary program that puts scientists and artists together to explore the High Arctic. After several days of sailing we had a clear night and I was anxious to see the Northern Lights, the aurora borealis. Ironically, the captain of the boat informed us that we were too far northto see them. They form a ring around the pole and we were well inside the ring. We did finally see them some time later when we worked our way south. We had to look southin order to see them.
My paintings of The Arctic Ocean are all about the sense of wonder and surprise regarding a land peculiar that is both abstract and a landscape at the same time.
[except from “Expedition to the High Arctic” Art Quench Magazine]
Arctic VIII [right] is about the formal qualities of water: the lines, shapes, colors and textures that make us feel. Arctic VIII, Oil on board, 6x6 inches, 2017
The wave in Arctic X represents the crushing obstacles I am driving through. I’ve painted organic ellipses coming off the wave, floating upward in order to express a way through, to the air at the top.
The whites and blues represent the High Arctic, the cold memory of sailing some of the most dangerous waters in the world, while the gold is the passion I have to complete my goal.
Be a part of the solution! I have started a Kickstarter campaign to help offset the cost of the expedition. Don't miss out on this rare opportunity to be part of this epic quest.
In Arctic I I am aiming for a deeper emotive evocation, marrying natural forms of water with motifs reminiscent of those found in the Pacific Northwest. It’s about creating a deeper connection between human culture and our natural surroundings.
Arctic Antigua I
The photograph, Arctic Antigua I is a reminder of humankind’s effect on the environment. In places rarely visited by people, the animal life sometimes doesn’t express fear In the same way as in areas where humans are a threat, as evidenced by this walrus.
Arctic IV is about the excitement I feel when I think about the Arctic Ocean.
Arctic Floating Ice
These ice pillows surrounded me as I sailed on a 3-masted boat in the Arctic. Mutating from pillows to pancakes, shavings, fuzz, or turquoise snow cones, I painted the fleeting qualities of water just below the permanent ice that covers the Pole.
In Arctic V the natural forms created by water have been abstracted, fabricating downward “spikes” to evoke the cold sensation of arctic ice and water.
Arctic Waters V
Arctic Waters V is a formal exploration of blues and mauves. At the same time it is about layers of water. Like an apple, there is a superficial layer on top and a meaty middle.
Arctic Waters III
Arctic Waters III is about the surface tension of water and how it interacts with itself.
Ny Alesund II
I am making a statement about the unifying preciousness of water by documenting it all over the world through my paintings. I am painting all of the major bodies of water on Earth. The eponymous Ny Alesund II, is the northernmost settlement on the planet. Through formal, abstract forms, I am communicating the feel of these Arctic waters.
Credits, clockwise from top: Arctic XI, oil on linen painting by Danielle Eubank. Arctic XI bestrides the line between abstraction and representation. It evokes ardent emotions of our Earth and at the same time is a document of the formal and sensual qualities of water.; All photos of paintings by Danielle Eubank. Map © ontheworldmap.com