Saturday, May 19, 2018

What the Eighth Century looked like around the World

A few years ago I put together a cross-cultural 'History of Design' timeline covering art and architecture from prehistoric times to the beginning of the twenty-first century.  I used either facts I'd learned while visiting archaeological sites or looked up when I was writing blog posts about them. While making some additions to this timeline recently, I noticed I have painted archaeological sites from the Americas, Asia and the Middle East dating from the eighth century CE, but didn’t have anything from Europe for that time period, where the time from the fifth to the fifteenth centuries was referred to as the Dark Ages. The first painting below fills the gap.  It and the other paintings posted here do not in fact show ‘what the eighth century looked like’ at all.  They show what some eighth century sites look like now.
AachenThe Cathedral of Aix-la-Chapelle in Aachen Germany, is one of the oldest in Europe. Construction started in the late eighth century by order of Charlemagne.  It was heavily damaged in the ninth century by Vikings and restored in the tenth century. Originally Carollingian in style, with Gothic additions in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, the cathedral was again heavily damaged, and restored, in the twentieth century. 

Copan, in what is now Honduras, known as the Athens of the New World, was founded in the fifth century and construction continued through the 700-year Golden Age of Mayan Culture.  The Hieroglyphic Stairway shown here, which has enabled historians to decipher the Mayan language, was completed in the eighth century.

The Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem is an example of Umayyad architecture which developed in the Middle East in the seventh and eighth centuries, at the beginning of Islam. Completed at the beginning of the eighth century, the Dome was built on the Temple Mount, site of Herod’s  Temple in the first century BCE and a subsequent Roman temple in the second century CE, and may have been an addition to an existing Byzantine building.  It collapsed and was restored after earthquakes in the ninth and eleventh centuries, became a Christian church after the Crusaders captured Jerusalem at the end of the eleventh century and was re-consecrated as a Muslim shrine in the late twelfth century.

Meanwhile in the Far East, the Bulguksa Temple was completed by the Court of Silla in the eighth century.  Considered a masterpiece of the Golden Age of Buddhist art, the temple encompasses seven National treasures of South Korea, including two stone pagodas, the Blue Cloud Bridge and two bronze statues of the Buddha. 

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Maquinna Marine Provincial Park

Maquinna Marine Provincial Park

Incoming Tide at Hot Springs Cove
Watercolour and oil pastels
©2018 Charlene Brown

This park is located northwest of Tofino in the Clayoquot Sound region of the West Coast of Vancouver Island. Twenty-five years ago the area was widely known as the site of the ‘War in the Woods,’ a series of protests related to clearcutting in Clayoquot Sound, which culminating in the arrest of 900 people in 1993 the largest act of civil disobedience in Canadian History.

Hot Springs Cove is only accessible by water or air plus a slippery two-kilometre hike through old growth rainforest. The geothermally heated water starts out at 50 C degrees, then cools down through a series of pools and waterfalls.  Unlike the folks shown here, very few people actually get all the way into the top pool.

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Overlaying Archaeological Sketches

Antikythera mechanism

Antikythera mechanism
Watercolour, oil pastel, marker
©2018 Charlene Brown

An intricate mechanism, considered to be the world’s first analog computer dating from the first century BCE, was found in 1900 in a shipwreck near the island of Antikythera in Greece. The recovered fragments of what became known as the Antikythera Mechanism are in the National Archeological Museum in Athens. I have reassembled these fragments and overlaid the result on a sketch I made at the archaeological site of the school where Poseidonius taught in Rhodes.

There are many theories as to who designed and built this ingenious mechanism. Our tour guide on a shore excursion from a Black Sea cruise in 2007 was a firm believer in the hypothesis, based on x-ray computed tomography and notations about solar eclipses, that it did in fact originate at this location in Rhodes.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Virtual tree-planting

Lake McArthur

Lake McArthur
Watercolour and oil pastel
©2018 Charlene Brown

I’ve never been to Lake McArthur, although it's quite close to Lake O'Hara in Yoho National Park.  This painting is based on some pictures of Lake McArthur I found on the internet. I had assumed the stunted timberline-type trees were larch, a deciduous conifer that changes colour, spectacularly, in the fall. After looking more closely at various photographs, I realized they were spruce, a regular conifer. But I had my heart set on orange trees, so these are transplants from the Opabin Plateau, behind and below the mountain on the extreme left. I’ve been there and I know the plateau has lots of larch, because I've painted them. 

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Elevate viewpoint and telescope perspective

Victoria new bridge

Springtime in Victoria
Watercolour and oil pastel
©2018 Charlene Brown

Here we are in Victoria, complaining about  our late spring while the rest of the country is still enduring ice storms and record-breaking April snowfalls. Our snow storms are pink, and consist of petals from plum and cherry trees which began blossoming in March (should have been
February) and the tulip magnolias are now in full bloom.

The title of this blog post hints at how I composed this view of Victoria Harbour. It is based on a panorama photograph taken from a much lower angle, which only hints at the various details. Individual blossoming trees cannot actually be seen in the original, and putting three cruise ships at Ogden Point was a bit of a stretch.  The cruise season is barely underway and so far we’ve only had two ships stop here on their way from the Caribbean to the Alaska run.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Industrial Symbiosis Haiku

Ottawa, the view from Gatineau
Watercolour and crayon
©2018 Charlene Brown

The ultra modern National Gallery of Canada, far left, was designed to reflect the design of the Gothic Revival Parliamentary Library across the Rideau Canal from it, just to the left of the Peace Tower in the picture on the left.

Quantum computing, working with qubits, is different from (well really, much better than) binary digital computing which can only have two values, 0 and 1. Qubits can hold exponentially more information than bits. 

The enhanced capability of quantum computing will be handy for designing something as complex as industrial symbiosis, which is an association between two or more industrial facilities or companies in which the wastes or by-products (such as CO2) of one become the raw materials for another.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Haiku beyond Fossil Fuels

Off Bonavista
Watercolour and crayon
©2018 Charlene Brown

At first glance, this haiku doesn’t seem to relate to icebergs directly, but may hint at a connection to climate change...

Inductive charging uses an electromagnetic field to charge a battery-powered device wirelessly.

A zero-carbon emitter is an energy producer that doesn’t give off CO2 or CH4 – something beyond fossil fuels, in other words.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Expanding Archaeological Sketches

Palastruine at Carnuntum
Watercolour, oil pastel and marker
©2018 Charlene Brown

This painting is the second enlargement of one of the sketches I made during a Travel Study Program in theBalkans in 2014.  As I mentioned when I posted the original sketch, this part of the Roman archaeological site at Carnuntum, about half way between Vienna and Bratislava, was so large and elaborate that it was mistakenly labelled the palastruine (Palace Ruin).  It is, in fact, a spa complex, possibly the largest Roman Baths north of the Alps.