This rural spot is actually on the grounds of Rafnes gaard, a well-groomed manor house and estate. Though modern cottages often have a rustic look, this one is authentically old, perhaps centuries. I painted it from the Seagull Skerry during two evenings. The fjord-facing side of the skerry is popular with local fishermen. In a sense I fish there too, catching light.
Centuries ago Dutch seamen needed a landmark along the South Coast of Norway. At that time the town of Risør was an important timber port, so a cliff above it was turned into a landmark with the help of lime white-wash. This is called the Risør Fleck, maintained up until today. The viewpoint from this high ground affords great views of the coast and the town, most of whose houses are white by tradition. The sun was bright and the wind strong, my easel needing ballast to keep it from blowing away.
Toward evening the long rays of the Scandinavian summer sun turn vistas into haunting perspectives. This is related to the beguiling mirages and tricks the desert can play on the eye--but a corollary or reversal. While the high desert turns distant knobs into lunar landmarks one foolishly thinks are near, in the fjords and woods of Norway landmarks can seem overly large, heaping a greater distance to a view that really is not so far away. The stillness and lapping waves add to the uncanniness.
When one paints for a few hours on site, with great concentration, not all is quiet. Fairly spirited dialogues ensue for me--acquaintances who comment and kibitz over the canvas. One who came along during this painting was the rotund Giorgio De Chirico, one of my favourite painters, most seminal a century ago. Perhaps the ship peaking over the low-lying skerry recalls a melancholic locomotive puffing away, strangely placed over a piazza. Too, I let myself go with viridian in the distant hills. (He was so partial to that color.)