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.

“Vikafjellet” revisited!



Having worked as a professional full-time artist for some 18 years, I feel fairly confident about my M.O. during the work on my main series of paintings. However, sometimes things go sideways, backwards and occasionally nowhere. For those reading my previous post about Vikafjellet, you might remember the 160×130 format I presented as a finished work. Well, the piece has been bugging me for some time, sitting in the studio corner. There was something unresolved about the composition, after all the usual layers and features were applied. 

I decided to make this piece into an experiment. Adding dark patina, some additional sanding (thus exposing the acrylics making it difficult to apply terps and oil colors) and some more clouds and mist. The lower section really bugged me, as the shape of the snow in the foreground seemed odd and not playing very well along with the rest of the composition.

The darker tone makes for more of a dramatic feel to the piece as it now sits. I’m very content and will certainly not be afraid to revisit works in the future.

Anything can happen …


The first “Finished state”


The current version.

Look a little closer …

A painting might offer a completely different experience depending on the distance from the actual surface. A constant challenge for me has been to make my works interesting to explore for those who dare to take a few steps closer. I work with a number of techniques in order to get structure and the desired cracked varnish, reminiscent of old masters work.  To be honest, I treat my works in a very rough manner throughout the process. The are constantly subject to distressing, catching, sanding and general damage sustained from being tossed around the studio.

I even put some bits of tape (although the  acid free type) in between the last couple of layers. I often get questions about this, and will not offer any deep intellectual answer; it just looks correct to me.

However, the most frequent question I get is of a more technical kind and concerns the craquelure. How do I do this? Well, there are probably many ways to achieve this certain effect. I use a special two step varnish by LeFranc & Bourgeois. In fact, I constantly drain my supplier i Oslo of the entire stock. It takes a bit of training to get around it, as it has kind of a life of it’s own, but even when things go terribly wrong, there might be som great effects worth keeping. Although the painting itself is made in acrylic, the last touch of white clouds and mist is obtained by applying diluted white oil color (mixed with terps and a generous helping of liquin, a special drying medium) adding this on top of the cracking varnish.



Most details are cut in masking tape and applied in a thick layer of acrylic.


Impossible to control, yet very attractive when everything goes as planned.


“Frå Haukeli”Acryllic and oil on canvas 170×125 cm.

Vikafjellet i to ulike format.

Det vart endeleg tid til å ta for seg eit nytt motiv frå bildene eg tok av Vikafjellet i sommar. Eit motiv sto fram som ein kandidat med stort potensial var dette, tatt ut gjennom bilvindauga. Av ein eller annan årsak ser det ut til at det dukkar opp hytter i mange av dei motiva eg har plukka ut no den siste tida. Dette er ikkje bevisst, men det gir ein ekstra dimensjon til arbeida, synes eg. Her ser ein små spor av menneske i ellers urørt natur. Eg la også inn detaljer, om enn ganske forenkla, av eit autovern og ei skjæring der vegen går. Ein veg som om vinteren byr på store utfordringar når ein trossar naturkreftene og tar seg over med bil. Sjølv på sommaren må ein vera merksam på storfe som har eit ganske avslappa forhold til det å vera mjuk trafikant på høgfjellet.

Eg valgte å utføra to versjonar av dette motivet, og ein ser av resultatet at små endringar gir store utslag. Det bakerste partiet er gjort i to heilt ulike fargenyansar, og eg er usikker på om eg synes det eine er bedre enn det andre. På ein måte er den forenkla paletten på det miste formatet veldig kompakt og gir grafisk slagkraft, men samstundes er det interessant å ha ein meir kompleks oppbygd palett når ein jobbar med eit større format. Forgrunnen var vanskeleg å løysa på den største versjonen. Som ein ser, er det lagt til litt ekstra snø, noko som var nødvendig for å få komposisjonen til å fungera. Ein må til tider ta seg visse friheter …


“Vikafjellet” 150×75 cm. Akryl og olje på plate.


“Vikafjellet” 160×130 cm. Akryl og olje på lerret.

Size matters -Woodcut is the new black!

Having finished a few very decent mezzotint plates, the next task was getting some good size prints available to my audience. Mezzotints have a lot to offer in terms of tone and detail, but they are impossible to do in any size close to my aspirations of matching the charcoal drawings. I had to address this issue thusly, and came up with the idea of making large woodcuts, although they would not be made from wooden plates per se. I find MDF to be a very consistent and reliable material for relief printing. Obviously lacking the grain and natural texture you would expect from a solid piece of, say pinewood. Still, the smooth but dense quality and the modest cost makes up for this. There are other ways to get texture, and this will soon be evident in the final result.

I post some images from the process, and hope to be back with the finished pieces, in an edition of 50, very soon.

A new line of prints.


After discovering the fabulous possibilities of mezzotint printmaking, I decided to implement this in to my series of Norwegian landscapes in order to tie the prints closer to the style of the charcoal drawings, hence getting better continuity to my works. This has  especially been getting more and more evident during my exhibitions, as when shown together, the mono prints  always seem to come across as a series within the series, with their more abstract and colorful approach. I was looking for a better flow in the way my exhibitions are presented.

Introducing mezzotint plates as a basis, and then a roughly etched (plus sometimes other various mixed techniques) on second plate to give the print a weathered and atmospheric touch, gave me the perfect approach to get the line of prints desired.

Mezzotint is a painfully slow and hard, however rewarding process, as longs as you manage to stay on top of the challenge. I am now back to printing editions of 40, the absolute maximum the main plate (the mezzotint plate) would allow before it’s simply too worn to give the desired result.



Vikafjellet 160x130

“Vikafjellet” 160×130 cm. Akryl og olje på lerret.

Eit arbeid som starta veldig klønete og usikkert, men utvikla seg til eit positivt første verk med motiv frå Vikafjellet.

Meininga var å bruka eit heilt anna motiv, der det var mykje vegetasjon og dermed mange grøntonar i forgrunnen, samt ein foss som stakk seg gjennom nedre halvdel av formatet. Eg bestemte meg difor å leggja ned ein del grøn og kvit struktur under grunninga, som eg kunne pussa meg ned til på eit seinare tidspunkt. Etter kort tid gjorde eg eit valg som er svært uvanleg for meg. Eg fann ut at motivet hadde for lite snø, og bytta til eit nytt foto. Normalt sett vil ikkje dette ha så mykje å seie, men dei tidlege underlaga, som no ikkje korresponderte med det nye motivet, “hjemsøkte”meg gjennom nestan heile prosessen.

Dette førte til mange ekstra lag for å dempa understrukturen, særleg den grøne. Eg lot litt stå igjen, ettersom det på enkelte parti fungerer svært bra, men mykje av dette måtte dekkjast til, då det stadig dukka opp når eg gjekk over med sandpapir for å jobba meg nedover i laga.

Altså er det lurt å planleggja godt, og gjera gode valg frå starten av.

Den vesle hytta var også svært plagsom, med sitt stadig påtrengande nærvær, som ein liten raud knapp inne i eit hav av nedtona jordfargar og kvit snø. Eg tok sjansen på å la problemet få stå til eg kom til siste laget med uttynna kvit oljefarge. Den skoddeaktige effekten blei siste mulighet til å leggja ei slør over dette elementet. Ja, eg kunne heilt ha utelatt hytta, men eg synes det er fint å ta med små menneskeskapte element i bilda der det finnes.

Det er rart kva litt “tåkelegging” kan gjera!



Ved Djupavatnet


Ved Djupavatnet

Ved Djupavatnet 180 x 130 cm. Acrylic and oil on canvas. (Based upon a picture taken by Albert Inge Rafdal)


The 180 x 130 cm version of Djupavatnet is now almost completed. One final layer of varnish and the piece will be ready for display. Currently, I find myself focusing on the larger formats, as the demand is surprisingly high (I believe modern type houses are able to accommodate bigger paintings) and my ever growing interest for expanding into these lovely vast canvases are about to determine my path ahead.


Today a gentleman, whom used to live here in Etne and has his family here, came by to show me some pictures from the area around his mountain cabin. The images struck me almost “Quintessential Rafdal”, and besides taking the order of a large piece for his house in Stavanger, I humbly asked him if he would grant me access to using the excess material for future reference. So, it seems I have a lot of new motifs coming up and many hours of work ahead.

Då var det på tide med nokre større format!


I sommar tok eg turen nordover til Vesterålen, Lofoten og Helgelandskysten, noko som viste seg å vera eit taktisk bra valg med tanke på alt regnet som har skylt ned her på Vestlandet. Som landskapsmalar, er jo dette ei reiserute spekka av inntrykk som gir inspirasjon til vidare arbeid. Men, som mange sikkert har forstått, så er det eit viktig element som må vera med i mine arbeid: Snø.

Me måtte altså så langt som Vikafjellet på heimreisa før sambuaren min fekk beskjed om å fyra laus med mobilkameraet. No er ferien over, og eg er så godt som tom for maleri i større format. Det er altså på tide å koma seg inn i kunstfabrikken!

Tre lerret på 160, 170 og 180 x 130 cm. er no inne i prosessen, og eit av motiva er frå Vikafjellet. Eg er også så vidt igang med eit motiv frå Djupavatnet. Dette er basert på eit foto som er tatt av min flugefiskeglade bror, Albert. Han har truffe godt med komposisjonen, og forholdet mellom snø og det bare landskapet er perfekt. Ein liten versjon blei produsert i fjor, men no var det på tide å ta det opp i full storleik. Det siste er ein ny versjon av “Mot Sørnuten”. Dette blir det fjerde store formatet eg lagar med utgangspunkt i eit foto eg tok på ein tur i påska for to år sidan. Dette bildet er veldig spanande å arbeida med, ettersom det har mange plan som gir rom for å jobba med element som skodde og ulike lasurar.

Eg har prøvd ut gråtonar i himmelen denne gongen. Hospitanten min, Bitta, foreslo at eg kunne variera stemninga litt i forhold til dei tidlegare versjonane, noko som jo er eit irriterande godt poeng. Ein blir lett fanga av det faktum at ein M.O. fungerer bra, og gløymer å strekkja seg lengre for å utforska om motivet kan by på andre moglegheiter. Men sjølvsagt, om dette ikkje blir bra, har eg nokon å skulda på!