Forest Cloudberry Red and Indian Yellow

28.05.2019

Reidar Särestöniemi (1925-1981) was a master of hues and the colour scale in his art originated from the surrounding arctic nature. He used poetic names for his own tones, for example willowherb pink, bilberry autumn foliage red and blueberry juice blue. During his artistic career Reidar Särestöniemi made multiple experiments with different pigment techniques and went through several colour periods.

At the age of seven Reidar received his first watercolour set from his primary school teacher. The colour set proved to be a true treasure he later reminisced bringing him “more joy than an around-the-world-trip, or as much happiness as finding a good friend and madly falling in love”.
Reidar Särestöniemi was a keen observer of natural colours. He examined lichen and moss growing on stones, summer flowers and the frost on white birch tree trunks. All this he brought on canvas by experimenting with different techniques. As an artist Reidar Särestöniemi was interested in the inner colours not visible to the human eye.
Colour experiments made by the aspiring artist were supported by formal studies Reidar Särestöniemi followed first in the Academy of Fine Arts in Helsinki (1947-1952) and later in Ilya Repin Institute in Leningrad (1956-1959). After returning to Lapland and the Särestöniemi farm the aspiring artist worked in his studio painting visions of the arctic landscapes and natural phenomena. Reidar’s working process was still based in nature observation he performed during daily hikes near and far. Reidar found new tones also from his travels around the world; such as Icelandic sheep brown.

Reidar mostly used oil colours often mixed with tempera. The paintings would even bathe in colour on the floor before he lifted them upwards causing a running effect on the canvas. Reidar’s lavish use of colour tubes and pigment was an expensive way of working. As important as brushes were a palette knife and some blotting paper to complete the signature style the artist developed during the 1960’s.