Sigríður Huld Ingvarsdóttir(1987) is an Icelandic visual artist currently based in Berlin. She grew up on a sheep farm in the north of Iceland and her art is highly influenced by her upbringing in such a remote area. She has since childhood dreamed of working in the arts and in 2011 she graduated from Akureyri School of Visual Arts with a degree in Fine Art. With a desire to learn how to draw and paint realistic she moved to Stockholm, Sweden to study at The Swedish Academy of Realist Art and in 2015 got a degree in Classical painting and drawing. Since then she has been part of many group exhibitions as well as solo-exhibitions, in Iceland, Sweden and Germany and won prizes for outstanding watercolours and animal portraits. Most recently her work was selected for the Birds in Art 2022 juried exhibition held by The Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum in the USA. Her work can be found in the art collection of the Swedish Medical Products Agency in Uppsala (Läkekonst - Läkemedelsverkets) and she's worked on the committee of Uppsala Konstnärsklubb.
My upbringing on a farm has inspired me to examine our relationship with animals, to celebrate their personalities and beauty. I always seek out the wildlife of each place I visit and birds are often the first creatures I notice, especially in urban areas. I find watercolours, with their whimsy and unforgivingness are very fitting when capturing those fleeting moments when the birds stop for just a second and allow me to observe them. Being a trained oil painter and picking up watercolours later I often use them more like an oil painter would, with layering and often dry brushing, using more pigment then water. I capture the depth of black feathers of ravens and crows by never using the colour black straight from the tube but instead mixing my own with many different colours. The hooded crow has been my muse for the past two years and in the neighbourhood of Friedrichshain in Berlin, where I live, it almost feels like an old friend. It can frequently be seen rooting around in the trash cans of the city, scavenging for something to eat. Going around Berlin you can't miss noticing the city trash cans. Bright orange and often covered in graffiti and stickers with trash spilling out of them. Slogans, ad stickers, profanity, signs and symbols that cover the bins all mix together to create an ever changing installations in the urban landscape and have inspired me to explore different types of landscapes within my art.
What initially drew you to your medium/media of choice?
Since I was a child, I've always wanted to paint with oils like the old masters, learn how to create this amazing depth and light which can be achieved with oils and that is something I'm still working on achieving. Painting with oil in that way is very time consuming and each painting takes such a long time to create, so a few years ago I decided I needed something that's a bit faster and easier to just pick up and start painting...to bring with me when I'm travelling. I had always been a fan of watercolor paintings, so I slowly started to experiment with them. I find watercolors really tricky and even a bit stressful to use but at the same time I can achieve the results I want so much faster than with oils. Being a trained oil painter, I actually often use watercolors more like an oil painter would, with layering and dry brushing, using way more pigment than water. I also find that watercolors, with their whimsy and unforgivingness, are very fitting when capturing birds. Those fleeting moments when the bird stops for just a second and allows me to observe it. So, after many failures and hours of practicing, watercolors and oils have become my medium of choice.
What aspect of your art do you hope really comes across to your audience?
That's an easy one! My love for animals, their portrayal as individuals, and how they are a part of our society. I also often include some symbolisms in my work related to life, death, and survival and I love when people spot it. Often it has to do with my color choices or the pose of the subject. So, it can be pretty subtle, which means it's even more special when the viewer spots it.
Who inspires you in your life, whether it be artistically or otherwise?
Now, that one is trickier. I have so many inspiring people in my life that it feels almost impossible for me to pick just one. Also, I guess whoever inspires me varies a lot from time to time and depending what I'm focusing on. Growing up my great aunt, Ragna Hermannsdóttir, had a huge impact on me and my decision to become an artist. An artist and photographer herself, she spent many hours painting and drawing with me during summers when she visited and watching her, I could see how it was possible to make a living as an artist. Back then I was both inspired by the old masters such as Rembrandt and Da Vinci, as well as Manga (Japanese comics). But now I find inspiration much closer to home, in the people closest to me, my family, friends and my art colleagues. One in particular is Theodora Daniela Capăt (who was also my teacher at SARA, the Swedish Academy of Realist Art). Her attitude and amazing drawing and painting skills never stop inspiring me as well as her approach to surrealism and incorporating animals and symbolism in her work.
What keeps you going as an artist? Where do you find that creative drive?
I have this deep emotion, this crazy need to create, to somehow get the images in my mind down on paper/canvas. If I go for too long without painting, I start to feel restless and my head feels too full...if that makes any sense. Also, the thrill and satisfaction I feel when an exhibition comes together and the emotions I see in people when they look at my art make me want to continue - I need to. Exploring the emotional bond we have with animals has become increasingly more interesting and seeing people get emotional, even starting to cry because of something that I created. It's sometimes hard to believe that my art, my visions and interpretation of animals can bring such strong emotions from people. Knowing that I can create something that has those effects gives me the drive to continue even when I'm at my lowest points and self-doubt has crept in.
Tell us about your primary goal for the future. Has this goal changed over time?
My primary goal is to be able to continue to work full time as an artist with my own art and to choose if I do commissions or not. This has been my goal since graduation and I think it will continue to be so. Also, to create paintings that are timeless but at the same time are relevant to our modern society and show how our life and the life of animals intertwine.