Sunday, April 5, 2020

Our expanded 1993 Christmas letter

Click on image to enlarge
Screenshot of a 3-page Christmas letter
Adobe InDesign™ document
©2020 Charlene Brown

Here’s another Christmas letter, with the addition of a sketch of the rock-cut tombs at Petra in Jordan, and an overlay painting of a caracal lynx.

As you may have guessed, I’m not actually doing any painting these days – the seniors’ centre where I normally paint is closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic and I don’t have a space set up for painting in our condo.

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Missing from 1994

Bidaya Mosque
Watercolour sketch
©1994 Charlene Brown

In our 1994 Christmas letter, I mentioned a trip to the emirate of Fujeirah on the east coast of the UAE with visitors from Canada. There was a photo of our friends at the tiny Bidaya Mosque, and I am planning to add this watercolour sketch of the mosque to the expanded letter, which I will write a blog post about in a few days.

The entire UAE has been pretty well covered by Google Streetview so I took a tour along what was a winding coast road in 1994, to see what the mosque looks like now. As you can see below, it looks much the same, but the winding coast road has definitely been upgraded.

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Our expanded 1992 Christmas Letter

Click on image to enlarge
Screen shot of a 3-page Christmas letter
Adobe InDesign document
©2020 Charlene Brown

Here's another Christmas letter, with two paintings added: Active Pass between Galiano and Mayne Islands, and the Fort at Bahla in Oman.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Gardens as Art: Aesthetic Journeys around the World IV

Imperial East Garden in Tokyo
Watercolour and crayon
@2015 Charlene Brown

The fourth of this year’s Sunday Art Lecture Series, Shibusa Aesthetics: Spontaneity in Japanese Gardens” was to have taken place March 29, but has been postponed to October 4.

According to Dr. David Young, who will present this lecture, "The goal of a traditional Japanese garden is to re-create nature in an artistic way that improves upon nature. But can something be natural and artificial at the same time? This interesting challenge was met in Japan with the concept of shibusa, which can be translated as ‘restrained spontaneity’ and has been used to create gardens that are not really spontaneous and natural but appear to be so."

I sketched this part of the Imperial Gardens during a tour of Japan with the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria in November 2015.

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Gardens as Art: Aesthetic Journeys around the World III

Sculpture Garden
Watercolour and oil pastel
Charlene Brown

The third of this year’s Sunday Art Lecture Series, Niki de Saint Phalle’s “Giardino dei Tarocchi” in Italy was to have taken place today, but has been postponed to October 25.

This park-like property in Tuscany is filled with enormous otherworldly female figures assemblages made of bizarre collections of objects, evoking a sense of the absurd.  A stroll through the garden is apparently “a magical experience” that I have never had. The painting above is based on several photos found on the internet

I’d like to see it for real (some day when we’re able to go back to Italy) so I looked up its location. It’s shown on the map on the right should you too be wondering.                          

Friday, March 20, 2020

Gardens as Art: Aesthetic Journeys around the World II

Matarea Garden
Watercolour and oil pastel
©2020 Charlene Brown

At the second Sunday  Art Lecture, on March 8, Dr. Marcus Milwright described many aspects – artistic, medicinal and religious – of this fabulous but elusive botanical wonder in Egypt.

According to legend the garden sheltered the Holy Family after they fled to escape the persecution of Herod, and early Christians considered the area sacred. Thus, in medieval times, even though it belonged to the Islamic Sultan, only Christians could harvest the valuable balsam oil.

The garden’s actual appearance is open to speculation as most of the early illustrations of it were done by European artists and mapmakers who had never actually been there. Most agree that there was a large sycamore, traditionally the ‘Virgin’s Tree,’ and an obelisk nearby (although I think the one I included is far too tall, making the garden look more like it’s in Washington DC than Cairo) and there was some sort of water mechanism, and the precious balsom shrubs (to which I’ve added orange trees) were surrounded by a wall with a guarded gate.  The detail on the right is from an illustrated map, from the 1575 edition of Sebastian Munster`s Cosmographia.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Gardens as Art: Aesthetic Journeys around the World I

Monet’s Garden
Watercolour and crayon
©2013 Charlene Brown

This year’s Sunday Lecture Series at the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria opened March 1 with a beautifully illustrated presentation on Monet’s Garden at Giverny by Dr. Melissa Berry of the University of Victoria.

When Claude Monet moved to Giverny in 1883, his objective was creation. Unlike previous artistic ventures, he no longer seemed satisfied finding inspiration for his canvases in a world in which he had no control. Thus, Monet’s largest, most immersive masterwork was born, or rather cultivated. He approached his land with an artist’s eye, and continued to develop his garden, adding to and drawing inspiration from it.  It served as his subject matter until his death in 1926.

I sketched the water garden at Giverny seven years ago, after I had been there with my granddaughter on a Road Scholar Intergenerational program.

Monday, March 16, 2020

Gardens as Art – the COVID-19 Interruption

This year’s Sunday Lecture Series, an annual fundraiser organized by the Associates of the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, got off to a great start with lectures on Monet’s Garden at Giverny on March 1, followed by the Matarea Garden in Cairo on March 8.  

Then came COVID-19.  So far only one case has been found on Vancouver Island, but the third and fourth lectures of the series have been postponed indefinitely – as has every large public gathering.

At least the lectures will be easier to reschedule than, for example, ‘A Conversation with Michelle Obama’ which was to have been in Victoria, her only Canadian stop, on March 31.

I will go ahead with my planned blog posts of paintings relating to each of the gardens to be featured in the series, starting on Wednesday.