Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Fourth Revolution Haiku

Larch Valley

This is a computer-abstracted version of a painting that was based loosely on some other people’s photographs taken from Sentinel Pass above Larch Valley. I’ve never been up there myself, because of a grizzly bear warning posted at the trailhead at Moraine Lake (plus it’s a really long climb.)  

The haiku is advocating a larger role for direct current on our power grids, as DC is required by many end-use devices such as digital equipment, solar PV, storage batteries, electric vehicles.  The fourth revolution is, of course, the fourth industrial revolution – intelligent automation, artificial intelligence that enables robots to learn and communicate with each other, machines that can make multiple products and customize each one, software-driven systems.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Climate change preparation

The Oilsands

Canada is gradually improving its ranking in environmental opinion polls, but we’re still subject to some derision, focusing on the Alberta Oilsands, which critics refer to as ‘tarsands that produce the world’s dirtiest oil.’
They may be right, but I think if we paid higher carbon taxes we could pay for whatever research it takes to clean up this energy source. And this would be far better than going to war over oil in the Middle East or using food to make biofuels.

In the meantime, I thought I’d present this ‘blot on the landscape’ as a ‘cleaned up’ semi-abstract design. As for making sense of the rest of the overlaid haiku, Googling ‘climate change preparation’ will get you over a million results to read...

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Haven’t painted Banff in over two months!

Banff, from Sulphur Mountain
Watercolour and oil pastel
©2017 Charlene Brown

I was once quoted by Katherine Tyrrell, on her blog Making a Mark writing, “ ...until I was about eight, I was only vaguely aware that anybody painted anything but the Canadian Rockies.”  The Rockies, especially the Banff area, continues to be a favourite location, with this being my 88th Canadian Rockies blog entry. I was quite surprised to notice my last Banff painting was September 17, although I’ve probably gone even longer than that occasionally.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

A trip to Ireland and Scotland with the girls – 10

Sunset at Carberry House
Watercolour and crayon
©2017 Charlene Brown

We planned to stay in a ‘Scottish Baronial pile’ near Edinburgh for our last night in Scotland, and selected the splendid Carberry Tower Mansion House and Estate from the various piles available. Fortunately it occurred to one of the girls that Carberry was much too splendid to spend a night which would end at 4 am when we had to leave for the Edinburgh airport for our flight to Toronto, so we scheduled our second last night in Scotland there instead.
The place has quite a history, being first mentioned in the 11th century when King David I of Scotland granted Carberry to the monks of Dunfermline Abbey. The original building was a simple square tower house, ‘built more for strength than ornament’ according to Wikipedia. It changed hands many time over the years, and was gradually improved piece by piece, with no apparent plan, except that the extension seemed to proceed in ‘an anti-clockwise direction.’  It turned out surprisingly well.  Eventually it was owned by the 16th Lord Elphinstone, who was married to Lady Mary Bowes-Lyon, whose sister Elizabeth visited and helped at the Red Cross bazaar held at Carberry Tower in 1915. Apparently, Elizabeth liked the place so much that, years later she and her husband brought their two daughters there for summer holidays.  That was in the early 1930s before anyone knew that the elder daughter would become Queen Elizabeth II. 

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

A trip to Ireland and Scotland with the girls – 9

The Royal Mile
Watercolour and crayon
©2017 Charlene Brown

We were very lucky in our hotel selection in Edinburgh, discovering when we arrived that we had a great view of the Scott Monument (BTW, almost everyone knows at least two quotes by Sir Walter Scott – ‘Oh what a tangled web we weave, When first we practice to deceive!’ and ‘Breathes there a man with soul so dead, Who never to himself hath said, This is my own, my native land!’ – although some of us may have thought they were Shakespeare…)  And the Scott Monument was just far enough to our left so as not to obscure any of the Royal Mile!

I thought this painting was so close to the real thing, that I tried right-clicking on it and searching Google for the image. The ‘visually similar images’ Google found were Pecs in Hungary, New York City, Wroclaw in Poland, Pacific City (in the Crackdown3 computer game, I think), Philadelphia, Atlanta, Quebec City and Buenos Aires.

Below is a picture of us on Victoria Street, below Edinburgh Castle.  This colorful location was the inspiration for Diagon Alley in the Harry Potter books.  Google thinks it looks like Copenhagen, Liverpool, Dublin, Istanbul, London and (Yes!) Victoria Street in Edinburgh.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

A trip to Ireland and Scotland with the girls – 8

Giant's Causeway
Watercolour and crayon
©2017 Charlene Brown

If you’re familiar with the Giant's Causeway, which heads out from the coast of Northern Ireland towards Scotland, you’ll know you can’t actually see all these aspects of the formation from just one spot. So I’ve painted it from several spots, as is my custom.

I’ve included as many of the 40,000 interlocking basalt columns as seemed appropriate, and added the little puddles from the latest rainfall in the concave tops of many of them. Most of the columns are hexagonal, although there are also some with four, five, seven or eight sides. The tallest are about 12 metres high and the solidified lava in the cliffs is 28 metres thick in places. They are result of an ancient volcanic eruption,  or the remains of an unsuccessful road-building project started by Irish giant Fionn mac Cumhaill (Finn MacCool) – depending on who is telling you the story.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Living the dream in a warm place

I think everyone wishes at some point that they could live on a houseboat in some nice warm place. Here’s a bunch of people living the dream in Victoria Harbour.

We try not to be too smug about our climate here – but every February we get going on the annual flower count.  It’s always in the millions way before the rest of Canada has seen its first crocus. Sorry.

And – not only do we have warm winters, we don't need air conditioning in the summers.  The low-carbon economy everyone's trying for is pretty easy to maintain here.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

A trip to Ireland and Scotland with the girls – 7

Peace Wall – Belfast

In place of the paintings I usually post here, I am illustrating this post with photos of one of the peace walls in Northern Ireland.

The peace walls are a series of barriers put up to minimize inter-communal violence between  Catholics, most of whom are Irish Nationalists, and Protestants, most of whom are British Loyalists. The first of these barriers was built in 1969, following the outbreak of ‘The Troubles.’ They increased in both height and number following the Good Friday Agreement of 1998, but since 2008 have been gradually ‘opened’ and dismantled.

In recent years, ‘political tours’ have become increasingly popular, with black taxis with Catholic and/or Protestant drivers taking visitors around Belfast’s peace lines, trouble spots and famous murals. Many of these murals are professionally painted with beautifully rendered portraits and dramatic scenes. On the murals on some parts of the walls, however, input from anyone who feels moved to write or draw something is encouraged. In one of the photos, my daughter is adding a thought to such a stretch on the most famous wall, which separates the Nationalist Falls Road and the Unionist Shankill Road in West Belfast.