Thursday, June 22, 2017

Virtual Paintout in Guatemala

Watercolour and crayon
Charlene Brown

The Virtual Paintoutis in Guatemala this month.  When I heard this, I headed directly for Tikal on Google Streetview.  Tikal has been on my bucket list for some time.

Of course I found no end of paintable locations in this magnificent Mayan ruin, but was finally able to settle on this view of the Temple of the Jaguar, which was started around 700 CE and is about 47 metres tall. (That makes it 17 metres taller and at least 100 years older than the much better known El Castillo at Chichen Itza in Mexico.) 

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Lake Louise from a brand new angle

Where was the photographer standing?
2017 Charlene Brown

This painting is based on a photo by Paul Zizka Photography for Banff & Lake Louise Tourism, published in the Globe & Mail on May 19 this year. I looked at a Google Earth view of the area and decided he could have been on Mt. Saint Piran... but the angle of the view from Mt. Saint Piran isn’t quite right. Perhaps he was at the top of it controlling a drone-mounted camera hovering just a little to the east.

However it was done, I know I haven’t ever seen a picture of Lake Louise from this angle, and I really liked this one.  So, despite my plans to paint pictures of Canadian landscapes in provinces or territories other than British Columbia and Alberta for my Haiku project, here I am with another Alberta painting.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Here's what we did in Iran XI

Naqsh-e Jahan Square, Isfahan
Watercolour, crayon and computer
©2017 Charlene Brown

Isfahan, regarded as one of the finest cities in the Islamic world, is the site of the most stunning building in Iran, the Shah Mosque, the construction of which began in 1611. Known since the Islamic Revolution of 1979 as the Imam Khomeini Mosque, it is located on Naqsh-e Jahan Square, the second largest public square in the world (No.1 is Tiananmen in Beijing).  Also on this expansive square are the Ali Qapu Palace (on the right in this picture) another large mosque and the gate to the Isfahan Grand Bazaar – and the day we were there, calèches, an art class from a girls’ school and dozens of picnicking families.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Here's what we did in Iran X

Towers of Silence
Watercolour, crayon and computer
©2017 Charlene Brown

Yazd was the birthplace, and remains a stronghold, of Zoroastrianism – the world’s first monotheistic faith. The day we arrived, we visited the Fire Temple, to which Zoroastrians from all over the world travel to see the sacred flame and, as we departed for Isfahan the next day, we stopped at the Towers of Silence, where the dead were placed for ‘sky burial’ consumption by vultures.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Here’s what we did in Iran IX

Central square in Old Yazd, showing wind towers and the monumental Amir Chaqmaq complex

Our group from the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, on the way to dinner in Old Yazd at sunset, Jameh Mosque in the background

Yazd, an oasis surrounded by the mountains of the high desert, is graced with great Islamic architecture.  But what I found most paintable were the many windtowers found in the narrow, shady streets of Old Yazd.

Neighbourhood mosque in Old Yazd
Watercolour, crayon and computer
©2017 Charlene Brown

According to Wikipedia, windtowers, or windcatchers, are traditional Persian architectural elements providing natural ventilation by catching the wind from any direction and directing it down into the building. Windcatchers can be found in traditional Persian-influenced architecture throughout the Middle East, including the Gulf Arab states, especially Dubai.  That is where I first saw them.

According to the World Bank, Dubai is one of the largest consumers of energy per capita in the world and in the summer months an estimated two thirds of that is used for air conditioning. There has been some hopeful theorizing that the windtower concept could be integrated into new buildings there and this might make a meaningful reduction in their “AC addiction.”

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Here`s what we did in Iran VIII

The rock tomb of Darius the Great
Watercolour, crayon and computer
©2017 Charlene Brown

From Persepolis, our bus took us to Naqshe Rostam, about 10 km to the northwest. This precipitous cliff is one of the most spectacular and awe-inspiring sites of the ancient Achaemenid Empire, consisting of the colossal tombs of several Persian kings dating to the 4th and 5th centuries BCE as well as several reliefs carved by the Sasanians in the 3rd century CE. 

Friday, June 2, 2017

Here's what we did in Iran VII

Watercolour, crayon, computer
©2017 Charlene Brown

What I had expected to be the highlight of our trip – Persepolis, built by Darius the Great in 515 BCE and burned by the invading Greek army led by Alexander the Great not quite 200 years later – turned out to be everything I had hoped it would be, and more.  We explored the entire site – with a guide who continually referred to ‘Alexander the Not Great’ – from the statuary of the colonnaded gates to the long bas relief-lined stairways up to elevated terraces and palace ruins, and on up to the rock tombs from which the whole valley can be seen.

Here are some of my favourite sculptures.

Gate of All Nations
Bas relief in the Apadana Palace
Unfinished Gate

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Here's what we did in Iran VI

Naranjestan Gardens
Watercolour, crayon and computer
©2017 Charlene Brown

The second part of our tour, in the southern, more frequently visited and hotter part of Iran, began with our arrival in Shiraz. We were scheduled to drive out to Persepolis the afternoon of the first day – by somebody who had never been there in the heat of the day, according to our guide.
She had arranged instead for us to go to Persepolis in the cool early morning of the next day, and took us to the Naranjestan Gardens and Nasir al Molk Mosque – both of which were pretty cool, even on a hot afternoon.

Mihrab at the Nasir al Molk Mosque