Icelandic Realism: The Naked Truth

Þorgrímur Einarsson is an Icelandic, self-taught painter who was introduced to painting almost by accident while studying music in the Netherlands. After graduation as a composer from the Royal Conservatory in the Hague, he has been working as a full time painter in Iceland and sells his work in Reykjavík as well as in a gallery in Denver in the US. Þorgrímur tends to work in the Alla Prima method where he tries to finish a painting in one session.

Sometimes a piece of music is like a painting on a canvas. And sometimes a painting on a canvas is like a piece of music. That can be said about the paintings of the musician Þorgrímur Einarsson.

“I was studying music at the Royal Conservatory in the Hague in the Netherlands from 2006 til 2010. During my last year I was introduced to painting almost by accident. I was staying with an artist friend of mine and he gave me a canvas and some paints and told me to try it out. Reluctantly I decided to give it a try. Having never painted before, I painted an Icelandic mountain landscape. Although the outcome was anything but great, the experience was so rewarding that I was instantly hooked.“


After a few months of trying out different things and a few paintings, Þorgrímur realized he was getting better, which he felt was really exhilarating. “I soon started scouring books and the internet for information on painting and found some pretty useful lessons on basic technique and art theory as well as being exposed to artists that really inspired me. The nice thing about the internet is that you can find high resolution images of great paintings. Being able to study these works of great artists in high resolution was probably the most beneficial for me as I was able to study their work in detail.“

The Alla Prima method

Very early on Þorgrímur was drawn to works of art that combined realism with a certain degree of abstraction. Now it’s only realism? “I’m interested in capturing my subject as I see it with regards to drawing and color temperature while imposing the impact that subject or scene has on me. This makes for a very interesting work process and often results in a very painterly and energetic looking work. I tend to work in the Alla Prima method where I try to finish a painting in one session. If the painting is large it might take several days to finish but I try to leave the paint alone when it has dried. I´m not always successful in doing that though.“

Everything in between

Þorgrímur likes having the freedom to paint whatever inspires him. “Of course I do have periods where I’m working on a specific theme or subject for a few days or weeks at a time, but I like being able to mix it up. The landscape is what initially drew me to painting and I continually find myself being drawn to it, although I also love painting figures, animals and even flowers and everything in between. It’s not always the subject itself that inspires me, but rather the way that subject presents itself to me.“

Þorgrímur’s work can be found in his studio and two galleries at the moment although he’s open to working with other galleries and venues. “Since 2014 I have been selling my work and doing solo shows in Gallerí Fold which is in the center of Reykjavík. You can also find my work in Abend Gallery in Denver.“

Þorgrímur says that with each year that passes he’s becoming more and more dedicated to his art.My goal is always to improve and grow as an artist. I would like to consider my art as a positive force and ultimately I want to inspire other art lovers and artists alike.“

Yes, sometimes a piece of music is like a painting on a canvas. And sometimes a painting on a canvas is like a piece of music.

You just have to experience a little. Imagine a little.

Just look at Þorgrímur’s paintings and… Imagine the music.

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Photos courtesy of Þorgrímur Einarsson

For more information about Þorgrímur’s work visit