Many of you know that when I first started painting almost 13 years ago, I was earning my keep by cooking in a guesthouse in Tuscany, Italy. Well, an opportunity has come up here in San Luis Obispo for me to dust off those old cooking chops and teach classes in the ways of Mediterranean cooking at Sustenance Studio. We've had a few classes so far and the response has been encouraging. Find out more on the Sustenance Studio webpage.
A new series of Central Coast paintings is on the way, but in the meantime, so is some good old world cooking!
The cool part about Sweden in the summer is that you can paint all day and still have endless hours of daylight in the evening. So the routine lately has been - paint all day, dinner, then an evening swim in the lake. It's been in the 80's since we've been here.
The paintings in progress are some scenes from San Francisco (around Russian Hill) that have been floating around in my head for several years. And I'm reworking that Central Coast Oaks painting on the left.
That's my little girl, Molly. We're spending the summer in Sweden. My wife, Caroline, is from here and Molly was born here 15 months ago. Thought I'd post something I wrote about Sweden a while back. In it I wrote that Sweden and I "haven't exactly clicked" but I have to say, I'm really getting into this Swedish summer thing!
You can order any or all of my 3 books in my Blurb Bookstore. The following is an excerpt from my first book, B E R K E L A N D: Original Oil Paintings 1997-2008:
I married into Sweden. There's a little bit of Norwegian blood coursing through my veins, but even so, there's no telling if I would have otherwise made it to Scandinavia had I not met Caroline. There are places where you really feel like you are in the thick of things. New York and Rome come to mind. Then there are places where you know you are on the fringe. Sweden sometimes feels like it is halfway to the moon.
It's a weird place. Not what you'd expect, if you do, in fact, expect something. First off, there is no Matterhorn there. That's Switzerland. Whole other country. No, I haven't seen any bikini teams, and, for that matter, haven't seen much of anyone at all. There are almost no people in Sweden and that sparseness is tangible. There are candles and wooden horses and little gnome things everywhere. These people eat more candy and drink more coffee than anyone else in the world. They're a bunch of hot rod driving, RV enthusiasts who listen to home brewed polka-rock based on American standards and then dance around a pole like frogs on the longest day of the year. Their hospitals birth their babies for free (relatively speaking) and when you set off for such disease-riddled destinations as, say, the United States, they'll ask if you've protected yourself with all the right shots.
I'll be honest. Sweden and I haven't exactly clicked, yet. It's funny. The people who look most like me on earth and the meat and potato diet that most resembles that of my childhood still leaves me feeling like something of an interloper best regarded with skepticism. But there are two factors that do redeem Sweden for me. Actually the first one alone would have been enough. Family. Sweden could have been on the moon and the fact that my wife's family lives there would have been all the reason I'd need to spend significant amounts of time there.
But Sweden is not on the moon, which leads to the second factor - that Sweden is actually very beautiful. The harshness of the dark, cold winter is balanced by the chilly brilliance of the afternoon sun perforating the leafless birch woods as it sets into any one of a thousand Swedish lakes. In the summer, the sun never really sets at all. It just glides behind the trees and along the horizon for hours before settling in for a dusklike power nap.
I have no choice. Sweden is part of my life now and I will be going back often. I will learn the language and I will eat fermented herring respectfully. I will dance like a frog and I will watch Pippi Longstocking DVD's with my daughter. And I will earn it all by digesting my Swedish experiences onto canvas, as I've done wherever I've ended up over the years.
Caroline and I were married in Jamaica on October 26, 2006. With all of her family being in Sweden, mine being spread out around the states, and most of our common friends being where we met in Italy, it became clear that it would have been logistically and economically impossible to gather together a meaningful group of family and friends for a traditional wedding. So we looked on a globe for a place between Sweden and California where we could meet and get married. Someplace where neither of us had been before. Someplace romantic. Preferably with a beach. And good food. Jamaica!
We’re not really resort types, but we figured that since we had spent years catering to the needs of travelers at the guesthouse in Italy, then spending a week having our own needs catered to was more than fair. The resort was impressive and the service first class. We only got offered drugs twice by the staff, but even those were friendly and surprisingly professional solicitations. The food was of the highest quality and the beach was immaculate every morning after an army of maintenance workers cleared every scrap of garbage or tree part from the entire stretch of sand lining the resort. And thanks to Pastor Lloyd, Cecil the photographer, and Tameka, the wedding coordinator who stood by to towel off my sweaty head between photos, our private wedding ceremony was as special as we had hoped.
What you don’t see on Travelocity, however, is the amount of effort that goes into separating the resort from the rest of Jamaica.
It's been a year since Caroline and I started our greatest work-in-progress. Everyday I recognize how lucky I am to be able to work just one room away from where my little girl is playing ... even if it means tiny, greasy finger prints all over my latest work. Maybe it'll add to the value! I'll put more birthday pics on Facebook soon.
You can order any or all of my 3 books in my Blurb Bookstore. The following is an excerpt from my third book, B E R K E L A N D: Original Oil Paintings 1997-2008:
before arriving in Istanbul in late summer of 2004, a series of bombs
credited to Al Qaeda tore through Sultanahmet - the popular tourist
district where we had our hotel reservations. As Lance and I drank
beers in the Athens airport while waiting for our late night flight
over the Aegean Sea, we killed time with crude male banter rather
than talk of bombs and terror and the unknown. What was there to
talk about, really? Tickets were bought. Hotels were booked. We
were going to Turkey. After a short flight of not much more than an
hour and a hard landing at Ataturk International, we raced a taxi
into town, checked into our hotel, and then stepped guardedly out
onto the recently terrorized streets of Istanbul.
We're off to Sweden this week to spend the holidays with my wife's half of the family. We'll be over there for a month so I'll be putting the brushes down for a bit and will be working on putting together some ideas for a couple of new commissions and some new work for next year.
Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
We're back on the Central Coast! After years of wrangling with the immigration process and taking advantage of the Swedish healthcare system to bring our daughter, Molly, into the world, I've finally managed to bring my wife and daughter back to the states - everybody legal - to settle back into the SLO life.
And I've wasted no time in getting my newest stuff unrolled, stretched, framed, and into galleries. My biggest originals and some prints are on display now at The Vault Gallery in Cambria, CA and many more prints are on display now at Fiona Bleu Gallery in Morro Bay.
Please drop us a line if you're on the Central Coast!
We spent a great eight days in Italy at Casa Cares, the center where I used to work, where I met my wife, Caroline, and where I started to paint. You can see a few pictures from our trip here.
For anyone interested, I post family pictures on my Facebook page here. You'll need to sign up and add me as a friend if you haven't already. It's free and painless and you might even find some old friends you haven't heard from in a while.
See the rest on Facebook.
Didn't get much painting done this week! Molly Elisabeth Berkeland was born 12:30AM on March 12 in Mora, Sweden. 52 cm, 3900 grams. Mama Caroline was a champion and is doing fine. We're happy to be home. I better cut this short. Molly is screaming in the other room!
PS - I'll post more pictures on my Facebook soon.
The best way to contact me here is by email (email@example.com) or through Skype (visit www.skype.com if you aren't familiar with the technology). My Skype name is simply 'Dan Berkeland'. I have a webcam so I can show you what I'm working on. just remember the time difference from the states. I'm now 9 hours ahead of California!
Long story short - My wife, Caroline, and I are expecting our first child in March. Caroline is a Swedish citizen and we've been working on getting her immigration papers since last March. Ten months later, we still don't have a clear idea of when the process will be completed. As it stands right now, Caroline can only be in the USA for three months at a time. So we made up our mind to just eliminate all anxiety over the immigration process by having our baby in Sweden. That means I'm packing up the studio in Morro Bay and moving it to Rattvik, Sweden!
So I will be out of the Morro Bay studio by the end of the year. That gives you the month of December to stop by the shop one more time to have a look at what I'm working on, talk about art and immigration, and maybe even spend a little money! After that, I will be showing my work in The Vault Gallery in Cambria and I will be sending them my new work from Sweden as well.
We plan on being back on the Central Coast in the summer. That's too far away for me to predict where I will set up my new studio. But the webpage will live on. I'll keep you posted!
I'm back in the studio after an excellent three week trip to Sweden. I've posted a few photos from my trip here.
If you are on the Central Coast, please stop by the studio any time at 736 Main St. in Morro Bay to see what I'm working on!