A commission for Etne Omsorgssenter.



Over the last months I have been working on my largest canvas ever. It sure has been an extraordinary process, scaling up to 280 x 180 cm.


Mot Flokatveitnuten 280x180“Mot Flokatveitnuten” Acrylic on canvas. 280×180 cm.


Although this format is to be regarded as rather insignificant compared to many great works of art up through the ages, it proved a bit of a stretch (pun not intended) for my modus operandi. How could I ever reach the centre section, considered the canvas always has to be flat on the floor during some of my operations?

I soon managed to adopt some clever tricks in order to reach the “hard to get to” areas. I attached an extension to some of my tools and brushes.

Then came the issues with the weather. What if it would start to rain whilst the canvas was on the ground outside my studio? In order to keep within a minimum of the recommended health and safety practices I do make en effort to conduct all applications of hazardous art materials such as turpentine and most varnishes outdoors. However, some of these are applied in generous amounts floating on the surface. If a rain shower would appear, I would be rushed to bring the canvas inside, and considered my studio door does not accommodate a 280×180 cm format unless it’s raised up standing, you may imagine the disastrous impact.

However, the weather gods were on my side for a change, and the forecasts proved to be correct. I will probably arrange for some sort of roofing over my out door work area next time, but all in all I would have to say this was a process that proved less problematic than anticipated. Next time I might even try to stretch it a little further.


Velcome to Balestrand.


From May 4th to June 26th my works will be on display at the Galleri Holmen in Balestrand, kicking off the Jazz Festival “Balejazz” on the first weekend of the exhibition period.

I will present some new work selected for this show in particular. The modestly sized 120 x 80 painting titled “Over Vikafjellet” has a rather strange “out of the car window” feel to it, and I was very ambivalent as to how well this photo (taken by the eager photographer Siv Helen during our journey across the country last summer) would work as painting. The horizon line is rally out of level, and this kept bothering me during the process. In the end it turned out rather interesting, and with a slightly different palette it makes  a nice expansion of the range.

In order to connect with the local audience, I found a nice subject for a small 23 x 23 mezzotint and made an edition for this show. The dramatic contrasts in this print is playing very well with the black and white. I hope my attempt to portray the “Keipen” will be well received with the locals.

I also had time for a tiny 17 x 9 mezzotint. This little “baby print” has a dusk or perhaps  dawn-feel, taken from our drive mentioned above. The area of Vikafjellet is located at the border between Hordaland and Sogn og Fjordane, and forms the perimeter of the specific type of terrain I pursue to capture in my work.  In our region you find the rounded mountaintops, worn down by the Ice Age. On the other side, the dramatic peaks rising from the fjords.


Haukeli in two different sizes.


As a professional artist, I do need to sell the odd piece for bread and butter. In order to reach a broader audience I try to vary the formats a lot, as some art buyers have limited space available for display, or simply their budget is a little tight.

My most recent session included two very different versions of Haukeli. A full version at 170×125 cm, and a tiny baby at a mere 58×38 cm. The smaller piece being at section from the center features of the large version.

It’s interesting to experience how different the landscape appears after selecting just a small portion rather than scaling it down to size.

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“Haukeli” 170×125 cm. Acrylic on canvas.

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“Haukeli” 58×38 cm. Acrylic on board.



Refining and exploring.


For the next two exhibitions I have been on an unusually tight schedule, thus having to make the production process as efficient as possible. Alas, no time for a range of new motifs and prototypes. There will hopefully be time for that later on this year.

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Outside my studio.



Nevertheless, experiments can also be focused on ground already covered. By taking up some of my most valued references, I was able to work towards an array of my best compositions so far, and bring them a notch furter.

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Thea giving the canvas a decent scrubbing. It’s hard work!

So, did this loop approach make any difference as to saving valuable time? I would say it probably did, although I find myself in a notorious habit of getting involved in some strange detail, effect or other aspect, only to see it it swiftly gone in a whim of sandpaper madness.

Like the nature I try to convey, it’s never predictable.

Haukeliseter 170x125

I simply love the way this one turned out. A slightly rougher approach. Perhaps this will be my  M.O. for the next series.


Stort landskap i lite format.



Det var på høg tid å fylla opp grafikkskuffene igjen. Eit par koparplater låg og skreik etter å bli valsa over med mezzotintvogga. Det tar lang tid å preparera platene, sjølv dei små, men når ein kjem så langt som til at ein kan byrja å polera inn motivet, er alt strev gløymt.

Denne gongen ville eg laga eit panoramaformat der eg har muligheten til å trykka i ulike lengder. Eg har også variert med ein og to plater der ein får motivet både med og utan skodde og ekstra skyer. Eg har mange minner frå å sitja i vindauga på hytta vår og sjå Håheimskaret “koka opp” skodde som velta oppover mot Jupaheiane.


“Flokatveitnuten og Solheimsgrønnut” Mezzotint. Ca. 50(Varierer)x24 cm. Variert trykk.


Frå tid til annan får eg bestillingar der ein kunde vil ha eit heilt, eller deler av eit opplag som skal gis i gåver til ansatte. Eg vart utfordra på tittelen “Svalhugne Augeblink”, og tenkte på motivet av Sørnuten, som eg har gjort utallige maleri- og kullversjonar av. Formatet var svært lite for å følgja eit budsjett som var gitt av kunden, men resultatet vart ganske artig.

Mezzotint Mot Sørnuten lite

“Svalhugne Augeblink” Mezzotint ca. 17×8,5 cm.


Days of Charcoal


If you see me covered in black stains all over my clothes, face and palms these days, it does not mean I have started my own coal mining operation, although my studio may look like the sort.

My days of drawing are back, and after acquiring some very cool new tools, I brought out the old large soft brushes, the charcoal powder, and some oversize printmaking paper.

Sørnuten II Kull StorMot Sørnuten II. Charcoal on soft paper. 120 x 105 cm.

I use very soft paper for my works on paper. The Hahnemühle 350 grams (made for etchings) on a large roll, gives me a very soft touch and a tonal range that fits the purpose very well. Being only 1/4 glued, it breaks very easily, so a gentle touch is required.

I make versions in charcoal after concluding the first prototype painting. I start off by brushing a fair amount of charcoal powder over the entire surface, giving it a dark monotone. I then start brushing and rubbing of very gently using a large range of cut out stensils.

Frå studio kull“Frå Haukeli” Charcoal on soft paper 120 x 68 cm. The propane is not being implemented into the process. In the background: “Frå Haukeli” 180 x 130 cm. Acrylic and oil on canvas. 

Apart from the obvious issues of making my studio a dusty mayhem, I find the logistics very challenging with these works. They are indeed very frail up until they are given a suitable frame. Thus the transport unframed in bulk is almost impossible without sustaining damage on some level. Once framed, they turn into extremely heavy pieces, and I have to suffer the constant fear of either breaking the expensive artglas (non-reflective), or chipping the actual frame. Either way, unframed or mounted, they are a nightmare to transport.

Just a note on the “artglas”. For artworks with darker areas, the conventional type gives an undesirable reflection from some angles. This is reduced to an almost non-existent issue using “artglas”. Henceforth I will be using this for all my charcoals. It’s simply worth it. I’m lucky to have a very good deal with Dahl’s Rammeverksted in Haugesund. They provide excellent frames at a decent price and will offer professional input whenever I need advice.

Still, the large drawings are a whole lot of fun to create, and things happen very instantly compared to the slow progress of the paintings.                                                                                            Some days I’m just so in the mood for feeling like a miner …

It’s personal …

Some of my followers have approached me suggesting I write a little about myself. So, here we go!

I work and live in a small village on the South coast of Norway called Etne. As you might have guessed, this area provides immense amounts of inspiration and reference for my landscapes. It also happens to be the place where I grew up. I studied a few years in Bergen and UK, but moved back in 1999. I got involved in an art café project with some friends. It’s called Fugl Fønix and later turned in to a hotel project. (Check it out here: http://fuglfonix.no)

I approach my job as an artist in a way I believe is not too different from any other kind of work. Of course, I’m self employed with all the worries and challenges that would imply. However, it all comes down to putting in the hours and work as efficiently as possible.

Frequently I get “funny” remarks from fellow villagers like “good day, or to you it’s more like good morning?” or “So, I see you got lunch, or I guess it’s breakfast?”. This plays on the classic stereotype of the artist, sleeping all morning, spending a couple of hours in the studio on some crazy installation piece, and then sharing a glass of ruby red with artist colleagues in the evening, finished by a long night of contemplation over some deep existential conundrums. All the time spending tax payers money (he must be on some sort of funding, right?) and inhaling unhealthy amount of turps. Well, this is not really the case. I get up around 07:00 am and do a quick morning session, in order to allow some layers of paint to dry whilst getting over to the local café for a coffee and some office work. Even artists have to pay their bills, order materials, deal with gallerists, deal with customers, follow up on all kinds of strange requests (you can’t imagine all the weird stuff people ask me to do) and, I admit, a little check in on Facebook.

I’m an avid collector of ancient coins and antiques (this is where the hard earned money goes), so a scroll through the current auction listings has become a part of my daily routine. Then back to the studio. In busy periods, like right before a show, I also do evening sessions to stay ahead.

IMG_6488 The artist in deep concentration. Never mind the clutter.                                                       Photo by Helge Haaland Hjelmtveit.

Having become somewhat a mentor, I currently have a few adult students frequently coming to work in my studio. They get some input from me, and I can then ask for a little help from time to time. This works entirely based on a quid pro quo arrangement, and is also a nice break from the solo monotony of working alone. I enjoy the company.

As self-employed, I have the privilege to take the odd day off in a whim. I don’t have children, and this means there is more time for work, but also some recreational activities. I’m a very keen metal detectorist, so if I’m not on a tight schedule and weather allows, it’s very tempting to go for a dig.

By now, you’ve probably figured out I’m a big nerd.

Never mind, I also play music (guitars and sax) with friends and do on occasions get involved on projects like a horn section that performs with a local choir. My band “Owls to Athens” is planning a studio session in the local ABC Studio (Check it out! (the studio) http://www.abcstudio.no/ABC_STUDIO/ABC_Velkommen.html).

My landscape project is currently the main focus. However, in periods I have been working on the “Fiigenschou series”. This is a kind of meta baroque project that involves fictional cat characters in a conspiratorial concept. Have a look at this old website from the time when flash was hot (does not work very well on iPads): statsgalleriet.no           You will also find more updated works on this FB-page: https://www.facebook.com/Statsgalleriet-for-Rikskunst-817747181680847/

The cool cats from the Feline Era. Various sizes. All oil on canvas or board. 

The project also includes sketchbooks, objects and artifacts. And yes, I spend an immense amount of money on antique frames!

Well, there might be more, but now I need to get back to work. Busy all day …

Bryne Kunstforening

Det var knapt med tid, men Leif Andenes og eg blei enige på telefon ein halvsein fredagskveld hausten 2016, at det måtte gå an å få til ei utstilling i Bryne Kunstforening i februar 2017. Denne aktive kunstforeninga har tilhold i flotte lokaler i Bryne Mølle, sentralt i den vesle byen på Jæren. Korleis ville jærbuen sin respons bli, på Sunnhordland sine fjell som breier seg utover store lerret?

Om eg rekna tørketid og satte i gang umiddelbar, burde eg ha klar seks-sju større format samt ein del mindrearbieder som kunne produseras parallelt. Eg likar best å ha minst 80% nytt materiale når eg stiller ut, så nokre tidelgare verk kunne også reknas inn. Kabalen måtte gå opp!

Dei store lerreta blei fernissert tre dagar før opninga, og ein kunne enno kjenna ein svak eim av lakk under monteringa. Ikkje noko ein ikkje kan tåla.

Det er noko spesielt med det å arbeida under press. Ein får eit forkus som gir litt andre løysingar på problemstillingane ein vanlegvis møter i prosessen. Meir impulsivt, og ikkje minst, ein må benytta den erfaringa ein har og stola på at har kontroll på utfallet. I etterkant har eg dradd nytte av momentet eg tok med meg, og faktisk jobba svært effektivt utan noko som helst tidspress. Gode vanar …

Vernissagen var godt besøkt, og eit hødgepunkt for mange var nok det musikalske innslaget av Bluebird’s Ghost med sine triste, men samstundes utruleg vakre viser.

Karin Sunderø hadde ein flott opningstale, som eg har fått tillatelse til å gjengi under.

Takk til alle i Bryne Kunstforening for eit hyggelig samarbeid.

-Velkommen til Jan Terje Rafdal og til utstillingen “Landskap i sakte endring. En verden i rask endring”.

Dette er hans andre utstilling i Bryne kunstforening, og han viser nå både malerier, tegninger og trykk. Sist var han her i mai 2008, med utstillingen Jurakysten – The Jurrassic Coast Project. Et samarbeidsprosjekt han hadde med den engelske kunstneren Jeremy Gardiner.

Denne gangen er arbeidene laget av Rafdal alene. De som husker Jura-utstillingen, vil likevel se at arbeidene han viser nå, kan ses som en fortsettelse av utforskingen av landskapet som motiv.

Etter mange år med fokus på motiv fra sørkysten av England, fikk altså Rafdal behov for å vende hjem og arbeide med noe han følte en nærmere tilknytning til. Han ville finne ut hvordan kunsten hans ble påvirket av et landskap han har et personlig forhold til. Det var på tide å utforske sine hjemlige fjell.

Rafdal har lenge vært fascinert av mønstrene og formasjonene som oppstår i kontrasten mellom snø og fjell under smeltingen om våren. Det var landskapet i denne korte perioden om våren han ønsket å ha som grunnlag for sitt nye kunstneriske prosjekt.

Kunsthistorien har en lang tradisjon for å framstille landskap på en realistisk eller stilisert måte, og også for at motivet blir tillagt en betydning utover avbildingen av selve naturen.

Landskapmalerier kan formidle sinnsstemninger, ha et mytologisk innhold, formidle historiske hendelser eller politiske holdninger. Og ikke minst kan landskap i kunsten fungere som et element som leder oss til å tolke hovedmotivet i en viss retning. Poenget er at et landskap aldri er bare et landskap – og et fjell aldri bare et fjell i en kunstnerisk kontekst.

Om våren endrer vær, vind og lys landskapet raskt. Den ene dagen ligger fjellet der snødekket og badet i lys, neste dag har regn og vind omskapt landskapet til et flekket spill i grått og svart. Fargepaletten er sparsom på denne tiden av året, og til tider ser høgfjellet nærmest ut som et delvis abstrakt, grafisk mønster.

Med kunnskapen han har om dette fjell-landskapet var kunstneren forberedt på at prosjektet hans kunne resultere i et abstrakt uttrykk, hvor lyse og mørkere flater ble satt mot hverandre uten at kunstverket nødvendigvis ville gi betrakteren en opplevelse av  å se et landskap.

Men arbeidet tok en litt uventet, figurativ retning. Kanskje var det den sterke tilknyttingen kunstneren har til Etnefjellene, som påvirket ham? Og kanskje var det også en fortsettelse av tenkingen rundt Jura-prosjektet, hvor kunstnerne omtalte landskapene som portrett? I betegnelsen lå en vilje og ambisjon om å avsløre egenskaper ved det landskapet som ble avbildet. Noe mer enn utseende og overflate.

De langsomme endringene som skjer i naturen er formet av enorme krefter og viser igjen som spor, skrevet inn i landskapet. Årstidene følgjer sin egen syklus og former også landskapet på sin måte. Det fjellet Rafdal så i vårmånedene vil ikke se slik ut om sommeren, høsten eller vinteren, men motivet vil likevel gjentas med små variasjoner på samme årstid – år etter år.

Kunstneren har jaktet på endringene vær og vind fører med seg i landskapet, skiftninger i lys og skygge over snø og bart fjell. Bildene er utvilsomt fra Etneområdet, det er lett å kjenne fjellpartiene igjen.

Men selv om Rafdal med disse bildene står i en figurativ tradisjon, er det ikke bare ”anatomien” til landskapet han utforsker, men også psyke og egenskaper. Bildene er en fortelling om naturen som sted, men også som fenomen, tid og historie, representert ved akkurat dette fjellpartiet. For på samme måte som et portrett av et menneske er en fortelling om utseendet til akkurat denne personen, skal det også fortelle noe om identiteten.

Rafdal er opptatt av hvordan det han selv ser, forholder seg til landskapets utvikling og historie.

Men hva er det – å se? Ikke en gang, men mange. Ikke bare overflate, men bakenfor? Igjen og igjen. Ikke bare se det som skjer her og nå, men det som har skjedd, kanskje for millioner av år siden?

Å betrakte et fjellandskap er en slags tidsreise, sier kunstneren, der en ser en del av verden som er så godt som helt upåvirket av oss mennesker. Fjellene på bildene til Rafdal er jo de samme som møtte de menneskene som levde her etter den siste istida og framover.



Dette står i kontrast til vårt menneskelige behov for stadig å endre landskapet rundt oss, underlegge oss land, bygge byer og infrastrukturer. Noe av det vi endrer vil etter kort tid bli utvisket av naturen. Andre spor vi etterlater oss har potensial for å bli stående i nesten uendelig tid.

Landskap i sakte endring. En verden i rask endring. Dette er det underliggende temaet i alle arbeidene i denne utstillingen. Det er som om kunstneren vil spørre om våre flyktige liv påvirker oppfatningen vår av det som er varig, og om det varige kan ha innflytelse på våre flyktige liv. Sett slik kan utstillingen også ses som et memento mori – husk din dødelighet: Sett i forhold til de millioner av år fjellene har stått der, er våre liv kun som et pust å regne.

Å se og reflektere over det vi ser, var allerede i antikken vurdert som vår viktigste kilde til erfaring. Ikke bare av naturen og det rundt oss, men også de store spørsmålene. De som handler om oss selv, som mennesker.

Det er en god tradisjon dette, å se.

Å søke erfaring er en kunst.

Det er kunst.

Karin Sunderø


Two Mezzotint Prints

After introducing mezzotints and discontinuing the run of mono prints, the display of works in exhibitions have become less of a struggle. Combining such a great variety of different techniques was getting complicated, and although the mono prints, with their abstract touch and wide color range worked very well on their own as individual pieces, they failed to merge with the flow of the sensation I was trying to accomplish with the exhibitions.

Mezzotints are usually printed as a monochrome singe plate deal. The range of tones very much makes up for the lack of multi layer effects. As the observant reader might have picked up on, I like my works to have a certain amount of distortion and imperfections. I had to find a way to add some fuss and atmospherical mood, and an additional plate using white ink proved to be a very good way to get the final touch. This second plate is very much a random event, giving the prints a great variation in mood and tone; some rather clean, others very rough. Alas it’s rather complicated to set up an on-line shop for the editions, given the fact that the prints are not identical and each individual print must be liste individually.


“Bjergane” Mezzotint 22×23 cm. Printed on Hänemule 300 g.


“Frå Kvamsstølen” Mezzotint 30×24 cm. Printed on Hänemule 300 g.

New pieces for Bryne!


A solo exhibition will open at Bryne Kunstforening on February 18th. Life has been very hectic in the studio, working on several large canvases of which two were prototypes.

I went for a carefully selected range of motifs, some mainly focused on the snow and shadows, others more intricate with many layers. I would like to present a few of the new pieces here. Please read on!

The piece titled “Olalia” stands out as the most complex, and must admit it almost drove me of the cliff at some point. The vild moorland with specks of snow is indeed very hard to simplify and brake down into small color patches. It means small patches, and a lot of them! I also continued my little experiment from recent works, featuring some small birches in the foreground.


“Olalia” 170×125 cm. Acrylic on canvas.

A large version of “Vaulo” was way overdue, and I was curious to see how the massive rocks would turn out. After a few rounds adding shapes using masking tape and some grey, dark and green shapes, the texture was still too smooth seemingly without any language. saying “Look at me, I’m made of rock”.  I had to go more organic, and applied some paint using a palett knife and a beaten up old paintbrush (the kind that is way overdue for the waste bin). This kicked the painting back on track, having created a texture that allowed me to stain and sand down, bringing out a structure that emulates the rocks of this place really well. The big green patch in the front was also in need of different tones in order to function.


“Vaulo” 180×130 cm. Acrylic on canvas.

Bjergane is a part of Midtre Etnefjell with a quintessential Norwegian west coast rock formation. I just love the way the edge curves and slopes, casting it’s shadows towards Mjåvatnet (a lake) gently nested just below the foreground (hence not featured in this painting). This is not your typical landscape painting, with dramatic peaks and graceful trees in the foreground. I wish to promote the beauty of a more subtle dynamic in nature. A landscape shaped by the enormous forces of the glaciers that would slowly grind down the rocks through eons of time …


“Bjergane” 170×125 cm. Acrylic on canvas.