Artist Dreams | Iceland

My first break-through in painting happened after I visited Jasper, Alberta (Canada). The Rocky Mountains blew my mind, and I came home with a clear vision and drive to paint. My 2015 show was small, and almost a complete sell out (I still have the largest one hanging in my living room!).

Over the last 3 years, my art has grown and evolved, and I have been hosting bi-annual shows that have brought me confidence and gratitude. After years of painting Canadian Landscapes, and my most recent project “HOME” (a collection of Ontario Landscapes) I find myself dreaming of new adventures…


Last year a friend of mine suggested I watch “Under An Arctic Sky” and I fell in love with it. More recently I found myself re-watching the movie a bit obsessively, to the point where I was trying to read the maps in a few of the documentary’s scenes. When this proved too difficult, I finally just went and bought myself a book and map of Iceland. Although it was a delayed response, I finally realized this is a place I want to visit. A place I want to paint.

The more research I do, the smaller the dream becomes when faced against reality, but I’m not one to give up on a dream too easily. I don’t mind compromising patiently, or changing plans as needed, as long as I’m still able to make my small steps in the right direction.


The original dream was to immerse myself fully in the Iceland Landscape for a year: to watch the seasons and light change (all sun for half the year, and all night for the other half). What a project: to be able to paint the ocean, land and skies in so much variety of unique sun rises and sets, and vast lands in all the seasons.

Unfortunately Iceland is pretty strict on it’s visitors, and combined with other life scenarios (kid, money, business); the idea of staying a whole year quickly faded.

As I learned more about the cost (very expensive place to visit), the country (limits time for visitors, cannot legally work there, other politics) and the land (much of the northern roads close for the winter); my vision changed accordingly.

The more realistic option is to visit for a month (or 3 at the most). I have contacted one of the art residencies, however many of them close for the winter season (which is when I want to go, to see the Northern Lights). In the  meantime I will keep collecting info, and working on a portfolio of Icelandic paintings to help promote my work and vision as an artist.


I’ve already started 3 canvases of Iceland Landscapes, inspired by other photographers (go check out Chris Burkard and Simona Buratti).

When I really reflect on “why Iceland?” as the next big project, it brought the purpose of what I want to  paint into a bigger perspective. The things I want to discover in Iceland (ocean, mountains, northern lights), are all things I can experience in Northern Canada. Heck, I saw brilliant Northern Lights in Port Hope Ontario (southern Cananda) in 2005:

northern lights

So depending on how time and budget flow over the next 2 years, I will have time to decide if Iceland is where I will end up for the next big project; or if instead I explore the most northern regions of my own country. I am very passionate about my Canadian Landscapes, and I do want to go north “someday.” Who knows what will happen first!


I started a Facebook Page specifically for my Iceland inspirations: Jennifer Anne Burke, The Iceland Project.

But you can also follow me on my regular art page: Jennifer Anne Burke.

Or find me on Instagram @BurkeUntitled.


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