Sunday, December 10, 2023

Hand-painted Christmas cards!

Trial Runs
©2023 Charlene Brown

In September I decided, with a burst of enthusiasm, to paint individual Christmas cards this year. After a month I had produced a total of six acceptable cards.

Five of the six are shown above, arranged in front of what will pass for a Christmas display on my dining room sideboard.  (Top row, L to R) Mount Cascade from Johnson Lake, Lake Minnewanka, Castle Mountain, (front row, L to R) Moraine Lake, and Mount Rundle all in Banff National Park.

We actually have more than six friends, so I admitted defeat, selected the sixth one (below), to be printed on card stock for the folks who don’t have computers and added to the email greetings for those who do.

 Lake Louise
©2023 Charlene Brown


Sunday, December 3, 2023

50 Shades of Orange

Bow Valley Sunrise
Watercolour and crayon
©2023 Charlene Brown 

As I’ve said before, there are many ways to use white crayons in watercolour paintings.  I’m also going to talk a lot about using neon orange in ‘Paint Every Mountain’ − the book I’m putting together about hiking and painting in mountains all over the world.

This deceptively warm-looking winter sunrise is one of my favourite examples of orange crayon effects.  In the coming weeks I’ll write about others, such as back-lit flowers, iron oxide or glints of iron in rocks or soil, manufactured items like clothing and, of course, fall colours (especially larch).  I’ll also be including in my book odd effects like I wrote about in this 2014 blog post 

Sunday, November 26, 2023

Just off the Icefields Parkway

 Mistaya Canyon
Watercolour and crayon
©2023 Charlene Brown

 The trailhead for this spectacular canyon is on the Icefields Parkway (Highway 93) just south of Saskatchewan Crossing, and the walk in from the highway is only about half a kilometer.  But, oddly enough, almost everyone drives right by  ̶  at or over the posted 70 kph speed limit. 

This stretch of the river is referred to as a ‘deep slot’ canyon, and I should admit that you can’t get this clear a view of the turbulent water… so I’ve combined what can be seen from a couple of viewpoints looking southwest toward Mt. Sarbach.

Sunday, November 19, 2023

White: the Essential Crayon

Mt. Assiniboine
Watercolour and crayon
©2023 Charlene Brown


In a blog post on September 17, I mentioned watercolour painting en plein air when the plein air is too cold to do much of anything with actual water. My solution to this problem is to do the outdoor ‘painting’ with a white crayon, and finish the picture is some nice warm place. Here is another one of the paintings I’ll put in the 'white crayon' part of ‘Paint Every Mountain’ − the book I’m putting together about hiking and painting in mountains. And here are some more examples.

Evening in Banff
Watercolour and crayon
©2023 Charlene Brown

Tamarack Glen, Bugaboo Provincial Park, British Columbia
Watercolour and crayon
©2012 Charlene Brown

Evening in Whistler Village
Watercolour and crayon
©2010 Charlene Brown

Kananaskis Country
Watercolour and crayon
©2020 Charlene Brown

Cape Dorset, Nunavut
Watercolour and crayon
©2009 Charlene Brown

Sunday, November 12, 2023

COP27 was not a total failure

Al Sahaba Mosque of Sharm el-Sheikh
©2022 Charlene Brown

The 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference or Conference of the Parties of the UNFCCC, COP27, was the 27th United Nations Climate Change conference.  It was held in November of last year in Sharm El Sheikh, on the southern tip of the Sinai peninsula in Egypt.

No new targets for carbon emissions reduction were established, as COP27 was overshadowed by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.  The war had strained pipeline supplies of gas, which meant that oil and gas-producing nations became more influential at COP27, undermining the negotiations. World leaders preoccupied with spiraling energy prices were reluctant to act boldly on fossil fuels.

COP27 was expected to promote climate justice as Africa is the continent most affected but least responsible for the climate crisis. Negotiations for a fund that would compensate developing countries for the loss and damage caused by climate change dominated the negotiations.

Almost two days after the negotiation deadline, member states agreed to establish such a fund – a win for developing countries.  However, there was no agreement about who would pay or who would control and manage the money. This remains to be negotiated at COP28, to be held next month in Dubai, UAE.

What is COP28?




Sunday, November 5, 2023

The secret ending

(Click on image to enlarge)

Background illustrations for ‘By-election in Exceptional Pass’
Watercolour and crayon
©2023 Charlene Brown

Two weeks ago, I wrote a blog post about a picture that I’d removed from the graphic novel I’ve written, so I could shorten the book and clear the last page for publishing information.  I mentioned at the time that this would also get the ending in off the outside back cover. 

Just so you’ll know, here’s what the illustrations on the (now) inside back cover look like.  I’ve left out the writing that will go on them, of course, in order not to reveal the surprise ending.

Can anyone identify this? It's as Fatsia japonica or Japanese Aralia

Friday, November 3, 2023

A Summer Job Like No Other - Part II

 The patio at Alestine’s on the hottest day in the history of Inuvik: there are two more tables inside and a few more on the roof

Watercolour and crayon
©2023 Charlene Brown

This painting is based on (and resembles closely) a photo taken by Rachel Hogg, writer of the blog from which the following was excerpted.

"I appreciate everything below the 69th parallel so much more now. Like vegetables. And Vancouver grocery stores. It’s crazy that we just go into stores and get any type of produce we could dream of in the south.  What sort of store has cucumbers often enough that you’d learn to expect them? Only awesome stores that I will do my best not to take for granted after this trip.

"We discovered the awesome side of Inuvik when we went to Alestine’s. It’s a restaurant run by Alice and her husband out of their front lawn, where they have an old school bus that has been converted into a kitchen. She is such a warm and welcoming lady and her spot had the funkiest decor. This is a place that would not likely fly in a big city, but she’s made it a lovely space for both locals and tourists. We had dinner at a picnic table, where 10 minutes after being seated, Alice came by and said: We’re all full so you’re getting company.

"We ended up having a lovely dinner at our picnic table with a couple who are camping around the territories and Alaska for the summer. They’re from Vancouver and one is a genetic counsellor. She was dumbfounded when I told her that my mom was a genetic counsellor too. Out of the 400 genetic counsellors in all of Canada, what are the odds that I’d meet another one up in the middle of nowhere in the Arctic?"

Wednesday, November 1, 2023

A Summer Job Like No Other Part I

A Jobsite with a View
Watercolour and Photoshop™
©2023 Charlene Brown

This painting is based on a photo by Rachel Hogg showing the view looking straight down from the top of a cell tower near Rainy River Ontario, after her tower inspection team was forced out of northern Alberta by wildfire smoke.

The following is excerpted from Rachel’s blog.

"This was a perfect day to illustrate the highs and lows of this job. Robin and I were in such good moods heading to the first site, and everything was funny.

This is when I think: God I love this job. This is literally the coolest way to spend my summer.

Then I climbed a 100-meter tower. There were quite a few places which needed new electrical tape or nuts that needed tightening, so it took longer than usual, about 2 hours to go up and down."

Note: There were several other pictures on Rachel’s post, having the following captions:

·  "If I have to suffer through these, you need to at least see a picture of one of the nasty buggers 

·  no idea what this one is

·  So many mosquitoes

·  Absolutely massive fuzzy hornet-looking thing that was at least 2 inches long that flew around me when I was 300 feet up – absolutely terrified me

I also don’t think I’ve sweated that much in ages. The last step in each inspection is re-tensioning the guy wires if the tension is outside of the allowable range. We have this spreadsheet which accounts for thermal expansion depending on ambient temperature, so we just plug in the outside temperature, see the adjusted allowable range, and crank the tension turnbuckle until it’s good. We had to adjust so many of the guy wires today, and it is no easy feat.  Both Robin and I have pipe wrenches, and are putting our entire body weight into it. It felt like being on a rowing machine, but for 2 full hours while being devoured by mosquitos. The biggest dilemma of today was: keep our jackets on to avoid becoming a walking bug bite? Or take them off to avoid becoming a walking pool of sweat? "