Thursday, February 18, 2010

Things to take on a painting trip to Mexico

(click on image to enlarge)
Sketches from previous painting trips
Watercolour and ink
Charlene Brown

I first started listing stuff last year with 12 Painting things to take to Peru which I soon had to modify with 5 things learned while painting in the Andes Now I’ve changed it again, given that there will be three or four other people on this family trip to Mexico who I hope will paint along with me. Finally, it occurred to me that I really should have two lists.
For plein air painting on location:
  • Portable Koi watercolour set with palette and waterbrush
  • Pencil or pen
  • watercolour postcards
  • camera
  • GPS – useful for noting latitude and longitude and direction of view
For studio painting (aka hotel, preferably plein air poolside) add the following to location list:
  • watercolour sketch book with map and archaeology notes about the Mayan civilization
  • loaded palette and a Ziploc bag to keep it in (plus extra tubes of favourite colours)
  • brushes – at least 2 round, 1 flat, 1 rigger
  • pencils, sharpener, and eraser
  • pens (fine and extra fine)
  • crayons and markers (fluorescent, bronze and copper produce a lovely Mexican look)
  • Masquepen masking fluid in 30ml applicator bottle and piece of crepe to remove it
  • glue stick for collage
  • camera

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Roving Art Critics

Hatta, U.A.E.
Watercolour and ink
©1991 Charlene Brown

Painting on location, besides being an adventure, is the best way to get a ‘feel’ for your subject, and certainly the most satisfying way to produce a picture. 
There is a special appeal to capturing the wild places of the land. But, in the United Arab Emirates, I wanted to include aspects that are uniquely Arabian, so I often painted in and around the towns. When I painted the little mountain village of Hatta, about an hour’s drive from Dubai, I wasn’t striving for over-all photo-realism. But, as usual if I’ve taken the trouble to make my way to a place for the purpose of painting it, I tried to make the subject at least recognizable – never forgetting the advantage painters have over photographers in that we can tighten things up and selectively telescope the perspective…
Some time after I'd painted this, a roving art critic (aka door-to-door carpet salesman) checking out the artwork on our walls had one comment about ‘Hatta’.
Roving art critic: That’s not Hatta!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Virtual Paintout in San Francisco

Golden Gate Bridge
Watercolour and crayon
©2010 Charlene Brown
San Francisco is the February location for the Virtual Paintout and it’s taken me until now to make up my mind among the incredible number of highly paintable views of the Bay Area. I’d pretty well decided, after seeing the lovely locations painted by Cathy Gatland, Leslie Hawes and Melissa Guensler that it would be a great idea to paint a place I would really like to be. And then, somehow I ended up on the Golden Gate Bridge! Zooming down a freeway, surrounded by people who actually know where they’re going and want to get there faster than you happen to be going is never a pleasant place to be. I really like these virtual paintouts and plan to continue participating – but next time I think I’ll look for some place that seems to just shape itself into a brilliant design like Laura Starrett has done. Some place with no cars at all.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

The Extreme Sport of Watercolour Painting

Ninh Binh Temple, Viet Nam

Watercolour and crayon

©2008 Charlene Brown

I don’t usually post paintings on this blog two days in a row – mainly because I don’t usually paint them that quickly. But, as you can see, I didn’t just paint Ninh Binh Temple today. The reason I’m putting it up now is that it relates to an article I wrote, The Extreme Sport of Watercolour Painting, which appears in the current issue of Empty Easel I hope you’ll have a look at it, and check out the other features on Empty Easel – an excellent source of practical advice, tips, and tutorials for creating and selling art. My story probably isn’t as educational as most of the articles Empty Easel prints, but I hope you’ll find it inspiring, or at least entertaining.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Disappearing Glaciers II

Crowfoot Glacier 2010

Watercolour and crayon

©2010 Charlene Brown

Here is the present day Crowfoot Glacier, thinned down considerably, as are all the glaciers along the Icefields Parkway between Banff and Jasper. The lower toe of this glacier broke off about fifty years ago, and a Banff pioneer, Jimmie Simpson, predicted in a newspaper interview at the time that all the Rocky Mountain glaciers would have virtually disappeared by the middle of the 21st century… So far, they seem to be about on schedule.

Some say that the climate change indicated by the melting of the glaciers has been on-going since the Little Ice Age and has nothing to do with Canadians’ growing ‘carbon footprint.’ I’m inclined to agree that our carbon emissions are not the major factor here, but I disagree completely with the extension of this theory that says there is therefore no point in cleaning up “the dirtiest energy source in the world” – the Alberta Oil Sands – ironically located in the same province as these spectacular glaciers.