Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Mid-Year Review

Drifting… an hour later
Watercolour and crayon
©2016 Charlene Brown

A new project, an offshoot of the fine Art of Physics book I completed in April of 2015, is a compilation of things I have written about visualizing information.  In February, I illustrated some computer-generated ‘Clean Energy Haiku’ with haiga-like computer-posterized versions of watercolour sketches of Japan, beginning with Shirakawa, and in May I began a series of blog posts on ‘found’ haiku, using posterized Canadian landscapes.  

In May I completed a five-day NYU/Scientific American on-line course, The Psychology of Creativity, including six blog posts on Enhancing Creativity, and recently I have embarked on another of these on-line courses, Mysteries of the Universe. 

So far this year, all my travel journaling has been virtual, as I’ve participated in each of the six Virtual Paintouts: Inverness and Edinburgh in Scotland, Majorca, Sydney and Blue Mountains National Park in New South Wales, Sri Lanka, Acadia National Park in Mayne and Napa Valley in California.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Drifting down the east coast

... as the sun was rising
Watercolour and crayon
2016 Charlene Brown

Along the east coast of Newfoundland, it’s not unusual to wake up in the morning to find that an iceberg has meandered into the neighbourhood. This painting is based on a Maclean’s Magazine photo by Darren Calabrese, showing an iceberg about six kilometres off the coast near the Bonavista Peninsula.  The 10,000-year-old ice masses appeared early this year due to an El Niño weather system. The tips of these icebergs reach up to 24 m high, with as much as another 100 m beneath the surface.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Virtual Paintout in Napa Valley

Soda Springs Rd.
Watercolour and crayon
©2016 Charlene Brown

The Virtual Paintout is in the Napa Valley in California this month. Here is a link to the Google Streetview of Soda Springs Rd. 

This is at least the fifth time it’s been in this admittedly very paintable western state.  But the western provinces of Canada are also very paintable and the Virtual Paintout hasn’t been there once!  Their three (!) ventures north of the border have all been down east, to Nova ScotiaPrince Edward Island and New Brunswick. Not that I’m complaining... But I think I might summon up the nerve to make a suggestion sometime soon…

Monday, June 6, 2016

Yet another purple forest

Above the Stawamus Chief
Watercolour and crayon
©2016 Charlene Brown

The Chief, in the left foreground, towers 700 m. above the end of the Howe Sound fjord. It is (allegedly) the second largest granite monolith in the world.

From this point, on a hiking trail around the plateau at the top of Sea to Sky Gondola, we could see the town of Squamish, the port, the university campus and even Black Tusk, the core of an extinct volcano near the Whistler ski area. I included as much of this as possible, plus the mix of burnt and surviving timber and new growth covering that part of the mountainside – a theme I’ve used before.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Mayne Island: So near and yet so far

Been there (on one of those ferries) done that (sailed right on by)
Watercolour and crayon
©2016 Charlene Brown

The big ferries (2000 passengers and crew, 400 cars) that run regularly between Vancouver Island and the mainland barely slow down as they go by each other in Active Pass between Galiano and Mayne Island. Thus, while most of us who live on Vancouver Island have sailed by Mayne dozens of times, a surprising number of us have never actually been there.
One of the fundraising projects of a group I belong to, the Associates of the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, is to organize tours of artists’ studios on Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands. For (quite) a few dollars more than we have to pay for lunches, a chartered bus and ferries, we take the participants round to the often idyllically-located studios which may be deep in the forest, on a cliff overlooking the ocean, or in vineyards and orchards.  A couple of weeks ago, we toured Mayne, many of us for the first time, met some wonderfully creative people, all very involved in the activities of the close-knit artistic community there.
 I have previously written about studio tours on SaltSpring Island, Saturna Island, Campbell River, Quadra Island, Hornby Island and Denman Island

Monday, May 30, 2016

Enhancing Creativity VI

Preparing the mind for Creativity Enhancement
Watercolour and Photoshop™
©2014 Charlene Brown

Evangelia Chrysikou, our Psychology of Creativity instructor, reminded us frequently of Louis Pasteur’s declaration that ‘chance favours the prepared mind,’ and encouraged us to hold this thought while considering the myriad ways of enhancing creative thinking and creative ways of doing things.

Group brainstorming, for example, is only likely to be productive after participants have done some preparation in the form of individual study and solution-finding.  Similarly, the observation, presented earlier, of benefit being derived from an incubation period only after an initial period of concentration on a problem or project, illustrates the importance of preparedness.

Other ways to ‘prepare the mind’ are: 
·       Challenge yourself, by seeking activities outside your field of expertise.
·       Travel to a foreign country
·       Take a class. Like Psychology of Creativity.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Enhancing Creativity V

Visualization techniques
©1993 Charlene Brown

Research* has shown that episodic specificity induction – training in recollecting details of past experiences – improves performance on memory and imagination tasks and enhances divergent thinking. The ability to recall detail can be increased by forming a mental image –visualizing – a past or historical event.

Do exercises in episodic memory improvement through visualization always enhance creativity, or are creative people better – less restrained – at visualization and more inclined to do it well?

This painting is an exercise in historic visualization using umm al nar tomb carvings  with an overlaying technique I learned in a workshop with American painter, Douglas WaltonOverlaying, or superimposing, one image on another adds a new dimension to a painting and produces wonderfully evocative results. It also provides virtually limitless possibilities for adding great-looking bits of information and detail to a painting.

*Creativity and Memory: Effects of an Episodic-Specificity Induction on Divergent Thinking. Madore KP, Addis DR, Schacter DL

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Enhancing Creativity IV

Psychological distancing in Kyrgyzstan
Computer montage
©2010 Charlene Brown, characters by Philip Hogg 

Applying psychological distance means thinking of a problem as being far away geographically and/or in the future… Is this why we produce those high-flying, all-powerful ‘To Do Tomorrow’ lists at the end of the day?  

This technique makes people approach a problem or project in more abstract terms and has been shown to facilitate a more creative, less inhibited, approach. Seeing a problem from another person’s perspective may achieve psychological distance. Thinking of a problem situation as if it were unreal and unlikely can yield a ‘hypothetical’ answer. Or a graphic novel