“This is a scene from a month’s cruise in Antarctica,” says artist Nancy Zydler. “When this sailing boat appeared, we realized how tiny our boat was, too, in this vast seascape of mountains and ice. The yacht was sailing fast around icebergs, bergy bits and growlers — an exciting task even in a calm, but quite challenging when the wind pipes up and some serious-size ice may be mistaken for a breaking wave.”
Zydler and her photographer husband, Tom, are world cruisers who have traversed the high latitudes of both hemispheres. This image came from a voyage aboard Whale Song, a 94-foot Trinity/Halter expedition yacht making a circumnavigation. “We now sail our Mason 44, Frances B, following iceberg-rich locations,” Zydler says. “Three voyages to Greenland and six to Labrador.”
And that’s where her art originates. Zydler has completed 63 iceberg paintings and finds inspiration in the region’s wildlife — “northern birds on the wing,” as she puts it. “I set my easel on the saloon table, and this is my studio — 66 degrees, 33 minutes north, the Arctic Circle. I have also tied the easel on the bow to paint as we drifted in ice as far north as 71 degrees, 30 minutes north.”
Antarctica, Neumayer Channel is painted in oils, with Zydler using a standard palette of cool and warm tones of each of the primary colors, along with titanium white. “I also keep a transparent red oxide to mix with ultramarine blue to make black,” she says. “This allows me to go cooler or warmer in the dark areas.”
Art and sailing work together in beneficial ways, the artist says. “I want the viewer to want to experience the beauty and presence of ice, such a vital, yet to most people somewhat remote, world within our world.”
In January, Zydler plans to be ashore to display 40 of her works at the Jekyll Island Arts Association on Jekyll Island, Georgia. More of her work can be seen at zydler.com.
This article originally appeared in the September 2017 issue.