Studying Art in Sweden





Art Studies




The Program

I completed a one-year beginning art program at Sigtuna Folkhögskola for the 2002-03 school year. I decided to study art in Sweden because I had previously studied there, so I was already fluent in Swedish, and I wished to immerse myself again in the language and culture. Financing a year's study abroad was simplified by the fact that Swedish schools do not charge any tuition.

The fall term covered most of the modern periods of art, beginning with Impressionism and ending with Surrealism and Pop Art. We devoted most of our time to painting in acrylic, with live modeling sessions once a week for drawing, and lectures in art history. Our studio assignments followed the different movements in art we were studying, so in addition to working to improve our painting techniques, we also attempted to emulate the artists and style of work we were studying.

During the spring term we worked independently. We could continue to work with acrylic paints or we had the opportunity to experiment with other media. We each wrote a statement defining what we would focus on and how we would work during the term. My goal was to try to discover what my own painting style is, plus I spent time working with images inspired by the Viking picture/rune stones. For most of the term I continued to work in acrylic, but I also produced my first oil painting (using water-based oil paints, which are much easier to work with and clean up). I also made my first linoleum block prints, which I thoroughly enjoyed

During the last two weeks of the term our class took a 2-week trip to Mallorca. We stayed in a smaller resort area, Cala Mesquida, which is adjacent to a large nature preserve on the northeast corner of the island. We worked mostly with water color paints, as well as some drawing and sketching. The main city, Palma de Mallorca, lies on the southwest side of the island, but I never made it to Palma, choosing instead to concentrate on the smaller towns surrounding Cala Mesquida. I rented a bike for one week, which allowed me to take my water colors and paint from a variety of locales. I had never been to Spain or the Mediterranean before, and I loved the trip and enjoyed getting to work with water colors for the first time.


The first is a still life, which was completed on 12 February 2003:

Link: Tea still life (acrylic on cloth)
I feel very good about how my techinique is developing, although there are of course things that I don't like about this painting. But for the most part I'm quite pleased with this. This is my first painting on cloth, which I found to be very different from painting on gesso-treated paper. The cloth is much more forgiving and allows much more reworking of the paints, even with the fast drying time of acrylic.

Next is my first oil painting, using water-based oil paints.

Link: Nordic deer (oil on cloth)
I'm continuing to work with images drawn from the Viking rune stones, and then transforming them with the use of color. Before I did this painting (which is rather small), I did a very large acrylic painting on paper, using a different animal image taken from a rune stone. I've always been drawn to the iconic when it comes to art, and I've enjoyed being inspired by the Viking rune stones.

And here are some paintings that I did during the fall term:

Link: Still Life - Apples (acrylic on gesso-treated paper)
After we studied impressionism, we were given an assignment to paint a still life in the pointillistic style.

Link: Cubist Still Life (acrylic on gesso-treated paper)
During the section on cubism, I had a very difficult time figuring out how to paint a still life in a cubist manner. So I used Ben Nicholson's Still Life from 1931-6 to base my first painting on. I liked the fact that I was working from a black and white photo of Nicholson's piece, so I could decide myself what color palette I was going to use.

Link: Wedding Quilt Square (acrylic on cloth, finished in Sept. 2002)
As part of the wedding celebration for a friend, the couple sent out squares of cloth to all those invited to be made into a quilt. We were free to decorate the cloth in whatever way we wanted, to represent what love means to us. Since I naturally wasn't able to attend the wedding (held in the US), I was very glad to have this way of participating, and I was rather pleased with the design that I created.

Linoleum Block Prints

These designs are based on rune stones found here in Sweden.

Link: Clover design - red
This is my favorite print.

Link: Circle design

Link: Weave design 1
I created three separate stamps in order to make a weave design. The following images show them altogether. Technically they're not perfect (and I printed them the wrong way - I found out later that you're supposed to lay the stamp face up and place the paper on top it and rub the stamp area with the back of a spoon), but I'm pleased nonetheless with how they turned out.

Link: Weave design 2

Link: Weave design 3

Link: Weave design 4


In addition to the paintings and drawings that I'm doing at school, I'm still doing the occasional craft project. I made my Christmas cards this year, as per usual.

Speaking of Christmas, I learned to knit while I was spending the Christmas holidays with my friend Carola. Here's the first piece I made:

Link: Potholder
I added a little loop at one corner to hang it with (okay, a rather chunky loop, but at least it's functional and I'm rather pleased that I figured out how to do it on my own).

Since then I've completed a matching hat and mitten set with blue and green yarn for the mittens, and purple, blue and green for the hat. I'm currently working on a pair of socks, using up the leftover bits of purple, green, and blue, plus a ball of white yarn which I had purchased previously.

All images and text copyright 2002 - 2004 by Red Fish.