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Antarctica Indigo

Travel sketchbook, by Kees de Groot van Embden, Februari 2023

In Februari 2023 my long standing wish to see the polar ice of Antarctica with my own eyes came true. The circumstances were such that I could to take my sketchbook and join an expedition cruise to Antarctica. 

Here is my sketchbook report of my trip. The main reason for me wanting to go there are my concerns about climate change. The pain it does to see the perennial ice, with which I grew up in Europe, slowly disappear from the landscape. The glaciers of the Mont Blanc in France, for example, or the ice in Holland where we can hardly skate on natural ice in the winter any more.

Having been a documentary maker for many years, I build up my sketchbook a littlebit like a documentary film. You can perceive it as in scenes, registered on cotton paper, in hand made gouache paint.

In my painting pigments play a special role. I am a so called ‘slow painter’, meaning I pay a lot of  attention to the materials and mix the paint myself.

The name Antarctica Indigo, refers to the pigment indigo. I love indigo.

During the trip, it became clear to me that the deep blue-green color of the Antarctic sea was indigo.

It is not only a beautiful color, it is also a mysterious pigment. From almost black it’s spectrum goes all the way to a hopeful light blue. It is also the color of the night and of the unconscious for me, as mysterious as the depth of the sea.

It reflects my mood during the trip. I was excited and a little melancholic at the same time.

Apart from experiencing the many aspects we can learn from the ice continent, painting the ice was an experiment in itself. So my Antarctica Indigo sketchbook is also a study in painting ice. 

Let’s start on our trip.