Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Taking the road less traveled

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To a place less real
watercolour, crayon and Photoshop™
©2015 Charlene Brown

Last week I read an article in the Travel Section of the Globe & Mail about fascinating (and, in my opinion, very paintable) places that most of us have never heard of.

They were all in South America, and this is one of them – Potosi, Bolivia. ‘To a place less real’ is the result of running a more realistic painting of Potosi, with which I wasn’t entirely delighted, through my favourite Photoshop filter.  

I’ve sometimes wondered why the special effects capabilities of Photoshop are referred to as ‘Filters’... Maybe it’s because you can use them to filter out the parts of a picture you don’t like.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Elegant Environment-Energy-Economics Haiku II

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In my first post on Elegant EEE haiku, I mentioned a plan to program a computer to write and illustrate haiku in a manner I hoped would be reminiscent of Norman McLaren of the National Film board of Canada…

Getting a computer to write haiku (well, a haiku-like non sequitur) is fairly straightforward. (Should you be wondering, Wikipedia defines ‘non sequitur’ as a logical fallacy where a stated conclusion is not supported by its premise and therefore the conclusion is arbitrary.)

Persuading my computer to produce an abstract illustration of the lines of haiku as it prints them, however, is a part of the project I haven't even started. When I figure that out, I’ll post an outline of the methodology. Meanwhile, here is a haiku example, overlaid on a computer-abstracted version of the painting of the Opabin Plateau I wrote about last week. I’ll explain the objective of these verses in my next ‘haiku’ post.

A ‘how to invent stuff’ non sequitur
Watercolour and Photoshop™
©2015 Charlene Brown

According to Leon Zolbrod, in his book, Haiku Painting, haiku illustration, or haiga, transcends the world of haiku poetry, revealing new insights that the poem alone, despite the inimitable expressiveness of Japanese calligraphy, cannot express. From the beginning of haiku development in the 17th century, poet and haiga artist alike endeavored to eliminate every superfluous element and to attain an austere beauty, akin to that of abstract art, associated with the discipline of Zen and its emphasis on purity and simplicity.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Soaring out of sight again

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The other side of the mountain
Watercolour and crayon
©2015 Charlene Brown

I hadn’t tried this before even though I’ve always thought the ‘topless’ effect evokes the precipitous nature of a mountain most forcefully, in Group of Seven Paintings for example. And I thought at the time that I’d probably try more paintings of mountains soaring out of sight.

This view from the Opabin Plateau includes the even more precipitous south face of the continental divide above Lake Louise  in my opinion among the most paintable string of mountains anywhere.  

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Virtual Paintout on the Monterey Peninsula

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Golf cart crossing on 17 Mile Dr.
Watercolour and crayon
©2015 Charlene Brown

The Virtual Paintout is on the Monterey Peninsula in California this month.  I’ve certainly heard of Monterey, and was quite surprised when my first foray on Google Streetview was kind of dull.  

My daughter, who has been there, overheard my comment that it was quite nice but not particularly interesting, and suggested I try ‘something’-mile drive along the coast... it’s spectacular! And she was right. Click here to see the Streetview of this part of 17 Mile Drive. 

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Elegant Environment-Energy-Economics Haiku

Drawn-on-film animation ©NFB

I got an email from the GVPL the other day to tell me the Japanese Design book I’d requested was available for pick-up. Unlike some of the history books on the reading list for our November trip to Japan, this book has lots of pictures, so it’s easy to remember some of the stuff I’m reading. For example, did you know the Japanese have at least twelve words for ‘elegant’? One of these words (suki: informal, subtle elegance) could be said to describe the environment-energy-economics haiku  I hope to program a computer to write.

My plan is to have the computer illustrate the haiku it generates as well, in an appropriately suki manner, possibly reminiscent of the hand-drawn animations Norman McLaren produced at the National Film Board of Canada about sixty years ago. The classic McLaren animation, Blinkity-Blank, is an excellent example of his signature irreverent and playful style, which often features lines, dots and other abstract forms, along with people, birds and the occasional horse. And it goes on f o r e v e r. It was created in 1955, well before we all developed 22-second attention spans.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Another Banff Sunset

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Late evening, early summer
Watercolour and crayon
©2015 Charlene Brown

This was supposed to look like it belonged in a set with the Banff Sunset I painted a couple of weeks ago. As it happens, about all they have in common is a lot more detail than can normally be seen after sunset, when the only natural light is alpenglow.

There are a couple of reasons they’re so different. I didn’t have the other painting available for reference when I painted this one and, more importantly, I couldn’t find my indigo paint, so I used Payne’s gray instead.  I haven’t used my Payne’s gray for so long it took almost five minutes to get the lid off the tube... And I think I like it better!

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Virtual Paintout in Santa Fe

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Looking east on West Palace Street
Watercolour and crayon
©2015 Charlene Brown

After motoring around town (sometimes along streets with instantly melting and reappearing snow cover, apparently not photographed entirely in one day) I selected this view including the New Mexico Museum of Art. 

The Museum, just one of four state-supported museums in Santa Fe, is in the next block on the left side of the street. I think it’s one of the most attractive examples of the iconic Pueblo Revival style of architecture, featuring rounded corners, irregular parapets, thick battered walls and projecting wooden roof beams, which is very popular in Santa Fe. If you click on this link to Google Streetview, then click a couple of times on the arrow that appears on the street, you can travel to the next block, then pan the camera left to see the front of the museum.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Mid-year update

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Banff Sunset
Watercolour and crayon
©2015 Charlene Brown

Here are some highlights concerning progress on The Plan for 2015:

I’ve excerpted and combined information and ideas from old projects that I haven’t looked at for a while and made some of them part of a new project – recycling a lot of paper and freeing up almost a gigabyte of computer space in the process!

My new project is an offshoot of the Fine Art of Physics book I completed in April. 

Painting our Christmas trip to La Vegas is the only travel journaling I’ve done so far this year, but I have big plans for painting during and following an Art Gallery trip to Japan I’ll be doing this November... and I’ve done my usual 'virtual travel journaling' by participated in six Virtual Paintouts this year, Philadelphia, Bangladesh, Greenland, Bhutan, Cesky Krumlov, and Estonia.