Summer snow in the Norwegian mountains

Whilst everyone else is suffering extremely high temperatures in Europe, we are experiencing +4 high in the mountains of southern Norway! I believe it is warmer at the North Cape.

However, as there is now no longer a direct ferry from the UK to Norway, we drive here over several days, with our cargo of painting equipment. A necessity for the job I am going to do whilst here.

On the way we stopped off in Amsterdam to visit my son and partner and had a cycle ride to the coast in 37 degrees. It was almost a relief to eventually get to a cooler climate, although the day we arrived it was in the high twenties lower down in the valley.

Today’s view from our rented cottage.

Since then, the temperature has gradually sunk even lower. Today we are awaiting my daughter who lives on the Norwegian coast, advising her to bring  winter woollies. I didn’t dare tell her that it has been snowing today – although it hasn’t settled.

So why am I subjecting my sun loving and warmth seeking husband to todays chill in the Norwegian mountains? It’s the plants of course. I am now back to getting all the plant information to paint my pictures for my next RHS exhibit. I know I have spoken about this for a couple of years or so, but my involvement in the Worldwide Botanical art exhibition last year and continuance with setting up the Association of British Botanical Artists (ABBA), rather delayed things.

Because of the delay, I also lost my right to exhibit at the RHS – this year being five years since I last exhibited. I therefore had to apply again. Luckily, my work in general was again accepted as potentially worthy of a medal place, so now I am going to work through my subjects properly and, rather than rushing it, plan to exhibit in 2021.

Små Tranebær is Small Cranberry in Norwegian. The practice piece is twice natural size (the actual flower top right) is on vellum – as the final work will be.

This year I am focusing on three of the plants I have chosen and plan to get information I feel is lacking to complete a picture. My first is Vaccinium microcarpum – or Small cranberry. Last year I was able to find ripe fruit and was able to get all the information from that. Previously I had only drawn one flower, so I am concentrating on these now.

I thought you might be interested in my already messy workplace setup at 910 metres over sea level!

If Denise Walser-Kolar sees this blog, I hope she will notice I have taken on board her teaching. As long as I practice what she taught in Vienna, painting on vellum is going much better – even with the tiny leaves! Thank you Denise.

The other two plants I hope to get some more information on is the Vaccinium uliginosum (Bog Blueberry) and a little from the Rubus chamaemorus (Cloudberry). In both instances, it is only small details I need. I have already noticed that the leaf colour of the Bog blueberry seems to change in the sun. New leaves have a red tinge to the edge of the leaves, older leaves don’t, but in the sun they become red to almost a Perylene Violet (for watercolour artists) colour. I didn’t realise that before.

The Cloudberry fruit is only to be found on female plants. Each plant can be quite huge and spread many metres. Around the cottage I have only seen the male flowers of the Cloudberry – no female ones at all. it might be because it hasn’t warmed up very much yet where we are. The temperatures are set to improve, but I doubt we will be here long enough to benefit from it.

Please don’t get the wrong impression of Norway. The summers can be hot and the winters cold. It is a fantastically beautiful country and every area has its own attraction. I like it in the area we are staying as I lived in the valley for several years. Lastly, a picture of the sun rise a couple of days ago. It doesn’t get totally black at night at this time of year, but this was taken at 03:30.

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2 thoughts on “Summer snow in the Norwegian mountains

  1. Dear Gaynor,

    I was interested to read this post and am wondering where abouts you are as I have literally just returned from a week’s holiday in the Dovrefjell Mountains, staying in Oppdal and then Kongvold Fjeldstue. It was extremely cold until yesterday (Tuesday) but fantastic scenery and alpine flora. Our leader was Arne Jakobsen who has written a beautifully illustrated book of the alpine flora which you may be interested in. I think it is called Fjellplanter; Dovrefjell og Trollheimen.

    I look forward to hearing more about the progress of your paintings.

    Best wishes,

    Sue Cooper

    1. Hei Sue, thank you for the heads-up about the book. I will make sure I get it before I leave Norway. Dovre is a beautiful area although I have only gone through it without stopping a few times, on my way in between Trondheim and Oslo. As far as I remember the mountains are newer in that area, with jagged peaks, whereas where I am now (last day), the tops are rounded. I am at the top of one of the valleys (Sigdal) that runs north/south in southern Norway. Its about halfway from Dovre fjellet to Sandefjord on the coast.
      I have been working for a while getting info about the series of plants I am doing. They are relatively usual in Norway, but I’m already discovering that even though Norwegians may know most of them if they see them, they know little about them. Some of them are quite rare in the UK. Not very many know about the Cranberry as it is so tiny.
      It would be lovely to hear about your trip. Do get in touch.
      Gaynor

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