Braving Iceland with Richard Rowan

“We hear so much in the news about the effect human impact can have on our environment,” says Richard Rowan. “Life seems man-made these days, and to distance myself I’m looking at Mother Nature, the original natural light.”

From braving sub-zero temperatures in the snowy terrains of Iceland to exploring Finland, Greenland and Norway, Richard is no stranger to travel. Inspired by J.M.W. Turner – known as ‘the painter of light’ – his striking paint-on-glass creations depict natural phenomena such as the Aurora Borealis (northern lights) and lightning.

He explains: “Through my art, I study the wonders of the world that we all take for granted. Created by our planet, they inspire us, challenge our perspective and give us a feeling of deeper connection to early humanity.”

Aurora Borealis

Mesmerising, elusive and arguably one of nature’s most impressive displays, the northern lights proved a worthy subject for Richard.

In the pursuit of perfection, he travelled to Iceland for the first time to witness it himself. Accompanied by a local photographer and filmmaker, he was able to explore locations far from the usual tourist trail, which included driving out into the wild and waiting in the cold for the magic of the aurora to begin.

He was rewarded by impossibly wide skies full of vivid colours, shooting rays, a magical glow, and a hypnotic dancing of light – all captured in his paintings.

Shop the collection here


For his new works, Richard was inspired to transform his son’s fear of lightning into an admiration of this magical natural phenomenon.

He explains: “My fatherly instinct took over, and I sat with him to gaze out of the window and show him its beauty. Unlike the peace and quiet of the northern lights, I now look to the power of our planet, the five billion Joules of energy in a light show that impresses, scares and amazes us.”

References for the collection included films by storm chasers and his own experiences. To create the works, he first finishes the pieces without the lightning, using his reverse technique of painting on glass. They are then baked in a makeshift box and dried for two weeks, before the bolt is scratched out. White is painted on, with some areas of the bolt faded to intensify the section of the main strike.

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