Artist David Castle, freezing cold in the arctic circle.
2018 Arctic Circle Residency Expedition

In October, 2018, I was thrilled to have been selected out of hundreds of international artist applicants to attend the Arctic Circle Arts and Science Residency.

Traveling through Oslo, Norway to the island of Svalbard deep in the arctic circle, I spent just over two weeks aboard the barkentine tall ship Antigua, soaking up the frozen landscape and painting arctic-inspired abstracts. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience! 

Below I share some of my best snapshots from this epic adventure.

Would you like your own arctic-inspired abstract original painting? Email me for details and pricing!

Tallship Antigua in the arctic circle
The barkentine tall ship Antigua

Home to 28 artists-in-residence, 4 guides and 7 crew for just over 2 weeks of sailing the arctic circle.

Arctic circle glacier at Esmarkbreen
The glacier at Esmarkbreen

Members of our group bask in the glory of our first glacier visit on the trip.

Hamnodden reflections
Glass-like seas at Hamnodden

You can just make out the surface ice starting to form on the glass-like seas we encountered at Hamnodden. This image is one of my favorites from the trip!

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Listening to the glacier calving

In front of the glacier face near Borebukta. Moments after this snapshot, a large chunk of ice calved off the face, followed by ripples from the crash through the calm waters.

Iceberg formations in the arctic circle
Iceberg formations with the setting arctic sun

Some cool iceberg formations in a little bay near Hamnodden with the "fire" of the circling/setting arctic sun.

Zodiac tour in the arctic circle
Daily zodiac excursions to the shore or through fields of icebergs

Each day we'd typically have two "zodiac" outings to shore or to photograph ice and glaciers. This particularly snowy and serene day we floated silently amongst pancake ice near Fuglefjorden.

Deck of the tallship Antigua
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Glowing iceberg

We floated silently by this glowing iceberg near Recherchebreen - many of the clear icebergs looked like they were lit from within. These are many of the colors that inspire my new series of Arctic Abstracts.

Icy decks not very suitable for painting abstracts

My initial plan was to paint my abstracts on a table on the open deck of the Antigua, but the elements - snow, freezing temps and wind - made it nearly impossible after two failed painting attempts.

Artist David Castle paints on the tallship Antigua
My makeshift studio aboard the Antigua

After failing to paint on the deck of the ship, I set up a mini, makeshift studio on my bunkbed in the shared cabin I had onboard.

Arctic circle glacier
Ymerbukta/Esmarkbreen glacier

Stunning glacier views near Ymerbukta from a mid-day hike up to the glacier edge. This was the first glacier I've ever touched!

Artist David Castle in the arctic circle
Bone-chilling cold!

Can this normally hot-blooded artist actually get cold in the arctic? Yes! I'm glad I prepared lots of clothing and gear in layers, but still felt cold throughout the Expedition. This selfie was taken near Lilliehookbreen.

Arctic circle iceberg formation
Iceberg formations near Recherchebreen

I was awestruck by all of the ice formations we found in calm bays - this spaceship-looking one near the glacier face.

Artist David Castle abstracts
Meanwhile in my mini "studio"...

I painted over 50 mini abstracts in my "studio" setup in my shared cabin on the ship.

Artist David Castle's art studio and drying arctic abstracts
Back in my Portland studio...

Arctic Abstracts for my Kickstarter Backers drying on my studio wall.

Artist David Castle paints arctic abstracts
Painting larger Arctic Abstracts in my Portland studio

Arctic abstracts in progress on my studio table. I painted more than 20 larger Arctic Abstracts, all inspired by my Expedition, once back in my Portland studio for my Kickstarter Backers.

Artist David Castle landing near Blomstrandbreen
Arctic zodiac landing on my birthday - 10.10.2018

Arctic landing near Blomstrandbreen on my birthday... the captain lead a round of singing "Happy Birthday" to me as I departed on a zodiac and the crew surprised me with a birthday cake that evening.

Tall ship Antigua in the arctic circle
Artist David Castle in Longyearbyen
Arctic sunset near Ny-London

A truly serene view of the tall ship Antigua at sunset near Ny-London.

Back in Longyearbyen

The Antigua docks back in Longyearbyen after an epic Expedition that I'll never forget!