Impressions of Iceland Revisited

This week it’s been two years since I was Iceland, together with travel companion A; I wrote this blog post about it back then. It was great to see our beloved Reykjavik again but frankly speaking: the weather could have been better. Especially on the first days of the trip, our equipment and mood were severely tested by lashing winds and prolonged rainfall at temperatures just above freezing.

Digital painting of a street in downtown Reykjavik, with colorful houses, shops and bars and in the background the famous Hallgrímskirkja
Skólavörðustígur with Hallgrímskirkja


In other words, the conditions were not ideal for photography. But Iceland, in only slightly better circumstances, is so photogenic: colorful towns, picturesque harbors, rugged landscapes. Volcanoes, geysers, glaciers. Fjords, mountains, lava fields. Spectacular waterfalls, wild brooks, boiling puddles of mud. Lighthouses, churches, turf huts.

Impressionist digital painting of the Icelandic ringroad between Reykjavik and Borgarnes
The ringroad between Reykjavik and Borgarnes


The weather also did not really facilitate the setting up of a stool and an easel to paint all that beauty. Fortunately, these days you can also do that afterwards. I already made a series of impressionistic “paintifications” in Photoshop based on photos taken during previous trips to Iceland. The dark months of the second lockdown in the Netherlands were a good reason to also give that treatment to the photo material of 2019.

Digital painting of Harpa, the congress and concert hall in downtown Reykjavik, Iceland
Harpa concert hall

Filters, textures, relief

Photoshop is packed with filters that can turn a photo into a watercolor or charcoal sketch in a matter of seconds. In most cases, those results are just a bit too simple to please the eye on a permanent basis. But by overlaying a number of those filters, combining them with paper, canvas and / or grunge textures, and applying a suggestion of relief or emboss, you can certainly create beautiful images. Impressions with many shades of color and a certain playfulness, roughness and coincidence.

View from Perlan observation platfom on Öskjuhlíð hill over Reykjavik, the ocean and the snow-covered mountains
View from the Perlan observation platform


Once I was in a creative mood, I also took a critical look at the previously made paintifications. Most of them were about seven years old and could use an extra lick of digital paint. After all this time I obviously have learned a thing or two about Photoshop’s special effects.

Picturesque impression of a football/soccer match on a misty day in Djupivogur, Iceland
A football match in Djupivogur


Of course I hope to be able to revisit Iceland in the near future without worrying about contamination, masks or quarantine. Even after four trips, I haven’t seen everything there, and I certainly haven’t seen every highlight in good weather. But as long as covid-19 still stands in the way of physical return, digital painting comes closest to the real travel experience.

Digital impression of one of the volcanoes of Laki in Iceland
One of the little vocanoes at Laki

Iceland – the Movie

I have bundled all Icelandic paintings together in one movie. All of them? Well, to be honest I had to leave a few out; there are now 59 of them and they did not all fit in 2:47 minutes. So I had to make some tough decisions. Kill your darlings, as they say.


In my online gallery, powered by Werk aan de Muur/OhMyPrints, I don’t have that stress. You can admire all my Icelandic impressions there and even order them printed on canvas, acrylic glass, aluminum or a variety of other materials.

Es gibt auch eine deutsche Version, il y a aussi une version française. Delivery is included in the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, France and some adjacent countries. If you live further away, there’s my gallery at, which ships worldwide.

Frans Blok

My work explores the border regions of photography, painting and computer visuals. With my company 3Develop I do work in commission but I use the same techniques, skills and software to make free work. I am originally an architect and I live in Rotterdam; for that reason the architecture of that city is a major (but not the only) source of inspiration. But also travel to countries like Iceland and Britain, or walks in the Netherlands, provide much material. Seeing and showing quality and beauty, that is what my work is about.

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2 Responses

  1. 27. February 2021

    […] Update, February 27, 2021: Impressions of Iceland Revisited […]

  2. 6. June 2021

    […] of colorful works of art that sprouted from my laptop during those months. I already wrote about the Icelandic impressions; also the European flag project and the Rotterdam paintifications were given a nudge in the right […]

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