My journey to look for fascinating places to paint , brought me to the Antarctic Peninsula , this March 2016.
It was a journey undertaken with the help of Antarctic Expeditions, aboard the Ushuaia, along with 87 other travelers from all across the Globe. My trip involved flying from Florence, Italy to Ushuaia, Argentina, upon which we started our cruise from the Port of Ushuaia on March 14th!
The first night of the cruise, after crossing the Beagle channel, brought us into the infamous Drake passage. To put it lightly, it is one of the most violent waters on Planet Earth, where the warm waters from the north meet the cold waters from the South.
We spent our next 48 hours in this nature’s turntable.I painted my first painting on the trip from the bridge of the boat.
Our first sightings of Tabular icebergs as we entered the Antarctic sound, made all of the Drake passage seem worth it. The passengers from the cruise ( including me) found ourselves out on the deck, just in time for a sunset framed by these enormous icebergs. Tabular icebergs are known to have formed from the icepack around theAntarctic, each piece extending for miles, and they circle the Antarctic waters until they melt
We were now officially in the Antarctic waters, awaiting our first few continental landings. My easel was ready to go! Unfortunately, the first day of landings was cancelled due to really strong winds (40-60 knots) and a lot of brash ice was trapping our entry on Devil’s Island. I painted the scene underneath, as our boat looked for alternate landing possibilities.
The first of our landings happened on March 18th at Portal Point, in Charlotte Bay. Me and my trustee easel, recorded our first painting trip on antarctic land. It was a sunny day, however painting snow while standing on age-old ice, is definitely a cold experience! I was packed with 4 layers of clothing, which included thermals, sweaters and a water and wind proof jacket. I had ski gloves on one hand, while a woolen mitten on my painting hand. This allowed more control/grip for the dexterity of my brushes.
The Antarctic treaty says that visitors should leave as less of a trace behind as possible, hence notice a blanket provided by the crew underneath my easel. The palette though essentially white, included a lot of ultramarine and cobalt blues. The hardest part of these compositions to me were, finding darker masses to anchor my compositions to.
While on land we were also greeted by a few Antarctic fur seals. Although peaceful to the normal eye, we were instructed to stay afar from these creatures, and never block the route between the fur seals and the ocean.
An afternoon sunset painting was in order as we set sail again.
We were very fortunate with the weather as another sunny day greeted us at Foyn Harbour. While the other passenger decide to land, I took advantage of a phenomenal view from the deck of our boat. (Saved me the amount of time it would take to embark on the Zodiacs and the limited amount of time I had on land.)
The other highlights of the trip included huge penguin colonies ( gentoo, chinstrap varieties), a lot of Whale sightings, a zodiac cruise to a ruin of a Whaling cruise that caught on fire in 1871.
The last two paintings were painted on Deception Island ( where our ship entered a Volcanic crater) and Danco Island.
Also had the pleasure of visiting ‘Vernadsky’, the Ukrainian Science Research Centre in the Antarctic. Here, about 12 scientists spend a year researching the Ozone layer hole and climate change on Planet Earth.
All in all the Antarctic has been a life-changing experience, the age-old ice landscape, the unique animal and sea-life, add to the fantastic experience of the Antarctic and it has been an absolute privelege to be able to capture it through Painting.