At approximately the same time that I was building Winterstudio, I organized a course in outdoor painting entitled Winterjourney. During the semester I took students from the Academy out to paint Kolsås, the mountain Claude Monet (1840-1926) repeatedly painted during his stay in Norway the winter of 1895. In a letter to his wife, Monet wrote that the mountain reminded him of Mount Fuji. At the close of the nineteenth century, coming to Norway must have felt quite exotic, but it was probably his fascination for Katsushika Hokusai (1760–1849) and Japanese printmaking that triggered the association. I imagine that relating Kolsås to Mount Fuji offered a way to make the remote feel familiar, as if the place Monet wanted to paint existed as an idea, a projection and picture before his coming.
For me it was different. I had practically grown up next to the mountain, but had never paid it much attention while living there. I was therefore eager to know what influence it would have today. Together with the students, I set off on day and night excursions to paint the mountain. The course took place at the same time of the year and had approximately the same duration as Monet’s stay in Norway. In an attempt to keep the parameters constant, like the use of two canvases in Fontainebleau, I decided to work on boards cut to the same size as the formats Monet used.
These are three of eight panels of Kolsås painted from the same location on different days under varying weather conditions. In all the paintings I used more or less the same framing, letting the mountain ridge follow the top of the canvas. The colors were limited to a palette of mostly black ochre and Prussian blue. Due to limited time, the paintings were executed quite fast which gave them a rough unfinished look. In many cases much of the panel is left untouched, making the color of the wood a primary ground color in the painting. The paintings were made using different types of opacities and thickness of paint, visible in the different types of brushstrokes used to indicate transitions between trees, snow, fog and ice in cold weather under a blue sky to grey days with snow and rain.