Kirkenes – Arctic light becomes artist’s delight

by | Norway

Kirkenes is located in the farthest (and iciest and darkest) reaches of northeastern Norway, a stone’s throw from the Russian border. It is approximately 250 miles north of the Arctic Circle off the Barents Sea. The small town serves as the northernmost port for the Hurtigruten coastal ferry and the northern terminus of the E6, the main road that runs north-south between Kirkenes and Oslo. Because of the town’s close proximity to the Russian border, there are very strong cultural influences from Russia and one quickly notices that road signs in the town are written in both Norwegian and Russian.

The inspiration: The sun in November barely rose above the horizon and then only for a few hours. Thus, the subdued daylight hours cast a pink, rich, glow over Kirkenes as we wandered around on the snow-covered streets, parks and frozen inlets and then back along the ocean’s edge to the ship. The ocean too reflected that wonderful pinkish hue, with the entire phase of “day” feeling like twilight. At times, it appeared as if the M.S. Midnatsol itself was floating in a magical arctic glow.


Artist’s tools: I used the program Procreate on my iPad combined with a Bamboo advanced stylus for this ink and watercolor. I first outlined the ship, floating ice, and distant ice fields with a quick sketch, using an ink pen. I then selected a watercolor brush with round bristles using a layered light wash and some smudging to achieve the desired wash of colors in the sky and the soft colorful reflections in the water.

A print of this digital painting on your wall is the next best thing to being there yourself…as well as a great gift for anyone in your life who wishes a memory of a Hurtigruten cruise, Kirkenes and Norway. Click here to see this artwork in my online gallery.


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Michael Hodgson

Co-Conspirator at HI Travel Tales
Winner of a 2018 Silver Medal from the North American Travel Journalists Association for travel writing excellence, Michael has authored more than 16 books and penned many hundreds of feature articles over the years. His bylines have appeared in Backpacker, Men's Journal, Men's Health, Outside, The San Jose Mercury News, Portland Oregonian and more. His travels have taken him to all seven continents. He is a member in good standing of the North American Travel Journalists Association and the Professional Travel Bloggers Association.
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