Saturday, August 19, 2017

Haiga selection

 Cape Dorset - Inuit Art Central

Haiga is a style of illustration that reflects the pure, minimalist aesthetics of haiku poetry.  In my haiku project, the haiga on which I place the haiku are computer-simplified versions of some of my Canadian landscape paintings.

Last week I explained that lines of haiku are selected randomly from lists of ‘found’ phrases, in order to create potentially-brilliant juxtapositions of unrelated concepts. 

I used the same procedure to find unrelated haiga backgrounds for the poems…  within reason, of course. If you know where Cape Dorset is, you will know that the selection of a line beginning with ‘remote’ was not entirely random.  Or even slightly random.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Random definitions of 'random'

Haiku on Mont Royal

My haiku-generating project makes random selections of phrases I have found in newspaper and magazine articles about clean energy research. These 5 and 7-syllable phrases are grouped together, again randomly, into haiku poems 3 lines of unrelated, enigmatic and potentially-brilliant combinations of concepts related to environmental and economic aspects of the development of clean energy technology.

Just to be clear by ‘random’ selection I mean something about halfway between the pure randomness that statisticians have devoted their lives to generating, and the early-21st century buzzword which I think just meant crazy unpredictable. So, the lines of haiku are selected and grouped ‘by chance without a plan or system.’ Next week I’ll talk about the selection of the haiga illustrations for the background of each haiku.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Canada C3 (Coast to Coast to Coast)

Pond Inlet
Watercolour and crayon
Charlene Brown
(based on image from

Participants in Canada C3, the 150-day expedition from Toronto to Victoria via the Northwest Passage, will be in Pond Inlet from August 12 to August 14.

This is one of the most picturesque communities in Canada’s Arctic.  It is surrounded by parts of Sirmilik National Park, with mountain ranges and several dozen glaciers viewable in all directions. This is, of course, why I picked this location to paint, but here are some additional interesting facts about the place...

Climate change has caused this part of the Baffin Island coastline to be ice-free for longer periods and in recent years it has been navigable for as long as three and a half months. In addition to the short sea cargo shipping season, food and other supplies are flown in from Montreal, 2500 km away, year-round, and are very expensive. There are three schools, Ulaajuk (elementary), Nasivvik (junior and senior high) and the Nunavut Arctic College. The record high temperature for August is 19 degrees C; the average high temperature in August is not quite 9 degrees C.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

The grass is greener on the other side

Mt. Olympus from Hurricane Ridge
Watercolour and crayon
©2017 Charlene Brown

It’s true the grass is greener on the American side of the Strait of Juan de Fuca. This is because they get much more rain than we do. In fact Victoria is said to be in the ‘rain shadow’ of the Olympic Mountains. Moist Pacific air dumps everything it’s got on the area I’ve painted (represented by the biggest red cloud on the weather map on the right) before it gets to Victoria.

They don’t have actual hurricanes as the name of the ridge and its appearance on the weather map would imply – but they get a lot of rain.  And anywhere from 30 to 60 feet of snow every year!

A bunch of us from the Esquimalt racing group went over for an afternoon of hiking along Hurricane Ridge last weekend and we had a great day, with high cloud, almost no rain at all, and just enough of a breeze to cool the July day down to perfect!

The spruce trees are bluer on the other side too…

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Canada C3 (Coast to Coast to Coast)

Sam Ford Fjord
Watercolour and crayon
©2017 Charlene Brown

Canada C3, one of the Signature Projects for Canada's 150th Anniversary, is an epic 150-day sailing journey from Toronto to Victoria via the Northwest Passage. Through this unprecedented journey, Canada C3 is celebrating our environment, sharing the stories of coastal communities and connecting Canadians from coast to coast to coast.

I was looking for locations to paint on the expedition's scheduled route, and selected Sam Ford Fjord initially because of its memorable name, and then because I discovered it is quite spectacular. Canada C3 will reach the Sam Ford Fjord on August 10

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Not in Alberta or British Columbia

Watercolour and marker
©2017 Charlene Brown

I painted this mainly to round out the collection of paintings of all parts of Canada for my Haiku project which was definitely short of locations in the Maritime Provinces. I selected Lunenburg because it was so peaceful and seemed to be about the prettiest place in Nova Scotia.  And I was a little surprised when research revealed that is has a long (for Canada) and often-violent history.

Lunenburg was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995, to protect its ‘unique architecture and civic design’ and because it was considered to be the best example of planned British colonial settlement in Canada. The aim of this British colonial settlement was to drive out the Mi’kmac and Acadian Catholics, which they apparently did very well.

Sunday, July 16, 2017


Pingos in the Northwest Territories
Watercolour and crayon
©2017 Charlene Brown

One quarter of the world’s Arctic ice dome hills, called pingos, are located in a region near Tuktoyaktut just east of the delta of the Mackenzie River. In various stages of growth and collapse, their striking profiles dominate the skyline in this very flat area even though they are only 5 to 36 meters in height.

I plan to use this painting in my Haiku project.  I wonder if there is any significance in the fact that their other name, hydrolaccolith, has five syllables ?

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Virtual Paintout in Malta

Hagar Qim Temple
Watercolour and crayon
Charlene Brown

The Virtual Paintout is in Malta this month. When I learned that, I headed immediately to Hagar Qim, one of the megalithic temples of Malta, as I’d been there in 1999, and wanted to see if I could find the location I’d painted at that time. I found it, even including the island of Filfla in the distance. 

The whole area is now nicely shaded by the canopy I’ve included in this painting. (We found a similar arrangement at Persepolis in Iran when we were there a couple of months ago.)

Here's a link to the Streetview of Hagar Qim above.

On the right is the painting I did eighteen years ago. I used to paint more carefully then.