Sunday, January 24, 2021

Possible place for a pinch point?

Canmore Collegiate High School
Computer-altered watercolour and crayon
©2020 Charlene Brown

This building actually exists, unlike the high school I painted a couple of weeks ago.  And it too might make an appearance as a background in a fictional mountain town (apparently big enough to have two high schools) in my new graphic novel.

Pinch points are small complications or twists in the plot that serve to remind the protagonist of just what she’s up against.

I've made this sound more complicated than it really is, so here's a list of the ‘points’ that occur in a screenplay (or graphic novel derived from a screenplay).               

  • Inciting incident:         setting the scene    
  • Plot point 1:                 everything changes
  • Pinch point 1:              reminder, complications                   
  • Midpoint:                    moment of truth, reveals true nature of the conflict
  • Pinch point 2               reminder, or even a twist in the plot
  • Plot point 2:                 everything comes together
  • Climax:                        problem solved

BTW, this is my 800th blog post.  But who's counting...



Sunday, January 17, 2021

Betting on the Future


Starting Out in 2020

Watercolour and crayon

©2020 Charlene Brown

In a recent blog post Seth Godin made some predictions about how the infamous year 2020 will be thought of ten years from now.

“Whatever happens over the next ten years, if history is any guide at all, the year we just finished will be mostly a faded memory.

“What will matter more than what just happened is what we decide to do with where we are, daily, persistently, generously, for the next 3,650 days.

“Here’s to possibility, to justice, and to betting on the future.”

My book, The ‘Starting Out’ Years, which is finally being published, does just that.  One of my beta readers, said this last March after reading the first draft.  She liked the optimistic outlook of Fiona, the main character in Chapter 5, as she worked her way through the year 2020—and that was before we realized that 2020 was going to fall apart!


Sunday, January 10, 2021

A time-altered memory

Banff High School
mputer-altered watercolour and crayon
©2020 Charlene Brown

The internet must contain two or three photos of every important building (and several unimportant ones) ever built in Banff. All of them except the original Banff High School, it turns out. 

This painting had to be done from memory and is as accurate as I could make it. I should probably mention that one part of the painting where I wasn’t even trying to be accurate is the flag—as you may know, the red maple leaf flag became our official flag in 1965, five years after that high school was torn down.

And if you think that’s a stretch… I only remember one occasion in all the years I was growing up in Banff that there was a flag of any sort on that pole in February 1952 the Union Jack was flown at half-staff when the King died.

I may use a version of this painting as a background for one of the (fictional) scenes in the graphic novel I’ve started adapting from a screenplay I wrote several years ago. It may be the location of the first pinch point—more about the various ‘points’ in a screenplay (or graphic novel) in a couple of weeks.


Sunday, January 3, 2021

The Plan for 2021

The Inciting Incident
Computer-altered watercolour, oil pastel and crayon
©2020 Charlene Brown

 My plans for this blog in 2021:

  • Travel painting: We’ll see how that works out – bound to be better than 2020.
  • Graphic novel: Today’s painting is for this project.  I plan to base this on a screenplay I have written, with graphics corresponding to scenes for each plot point in the play.  The novel will begin with this ‘inciting incident’ a body floating on a lake (actually a repurposed beaver pond). 
  • Creative archaeology: In case my travel plans don’t work out, I may re-interpret some of the photos and sketches I accumulated in past archaeology-related travel with the University of Victoria travel study program.
Or, I could summarize my plans for 2021 with something artist Robert Genn used to say, “There’s always something to get on with, actually one damn thing after another.”



Sunday, December 27, 2020

Review of 2020: Be Kind. Be calm. Be safe

Christmas in Innsbruck
Watercolour and crayon
©2018 Charlene Brown

This painting was one of the illustrations in Chapter 3 of the YA novel I finished this year.

The title of this blog post, 'Be Kind. Be calm. Be safe' the daily message from our Provincial Health Officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry, seems to have gotten British Columbia through this unprecedented year in better shape than most.

And here’s what I painted and wrote about on my blog in 2020. 

·     Travel painting: I’ve continued to paint locations I’d planned to see, 

although most of this year’s plans are still on my bucket list.

·        I finished a YA novel about the career planning and launching years in the lives of girls in six generations of my family—in fact I finished Chapter 5, part of which takes place in 2020, several times, as schools and universities opened and closed. Hoping it will be published before the 'I Read Canadian' children’s and YA book promotion in February.

·        Compilation of Christmas letters from 1990: I added a few paintings to the photos already in these letters, before editing them and putting them all together. This turned out to be a much larger project than I thought it would be, but with 2020 being the kind of year it was, I also had lots more time available to do it.  I was able to complete 30 years worth of letters – 95 pages!

Sunday, December 20, 2020

Sparking joy without Marie Kondo

White-browed tit-warbler, native to the Tian Shan Mountains
watercolour and crayon
©2020 Charlene Brown

Having trouble with your 2020 resolution to de-clutter with Marie Kondo?   There are other ways to spark joy—the thought that 2020 is almost over sparks quite a bit of joy...

Or, according to Nicholas Wilton’s video, playing with colour sparks joy.  He says that colour “is pure emotion, and a stand-in for you and your feelings.”  Instead of choosing the ‘right’ colour to perfect your art, he says that if you always choose colours that say YES, you will always produce your best, most exciting work.

I’ve been doing that for a while, usually adding as much purple as possible to my paintings. But that's not what happened here.  White-browed tit-warblers look pretty much the way I’ve painted this one!  Don't you think that just knowing they exist sparks joy?

I remember just a year ago, thinking the relatively straightforward yellow-browed warbler was pretty terrific! 


Sunday, December 13, 2020

Synchronicity between our art and our lives

‘Urban’ background for a page in a graphic novel
Computer-altered watercolour and crayon
©2020 Charlene Brown

In the podcast I mentioned last week ‘Why trying to be good is killing your art,’ Nicholas Wilton suggests you list great painting experiences and techniques you have really enjoyed learning. 

Here is my short list:

1.      Helipainting in the Bugaboos with Canadian artists Robert Genn and LizWiltzen,  beginning a painting by placing ten basic shapes, which summarize the whole thing, leading to an abstract but recognizable landscape, possibly with telescoped perspective and rearranged components

2.      Abstract collage workshop with American artist Louise Cadillac  in the Greek Islands

And he says you should also think about the painting projects you are now working on about which you are most enthusiastic.

3.      writing and illustrating books

Because of what Nicholas Wilton calls the synchronicity between your art and your life, keeping these factors in mind will energize your work in the direction of whatever you truly want. It certainly works for him. So I'll give it a try - with an abstract graphic novel.

Sunday, December 6, 2020

Painting is more fun than ever now

St. Lucia 1 and 2
Mixed media
©2020 Charlene Brown

American artist Nicholas Wilton, in a podcast ‘Why trying to be good is killing your art,’ suggests you stop worrying about getting a painting ‘right’ – he believes ‘your best art will always come from finding your own way.’

Painting is more fun if you focus on the process of getting where you want to go, rather than the actual outcome.

Given the importance of looking back to get where we want to go, what time, place, and method in your past reminds you of how much you love making art?

My answer is 1986 St. Lucia: the first of my favourite painting trips (actually a surprise Christmas gift).  A technique I had a lot of fun with there was scraping paint out to create designs on cocoa pods, so I included some scraping in these paintings.