Thursday, March 28, 2013

A nineteenth century flashback

(click on image to enlarge)

Haida Village
©2010 Charlene Brown

I’m not saying this was painted in the nineteenth century – just that it is based on 19th century photographs, taken when the totems in the villages of Haida Gwaii were still intact, and the structures inhabited.
The sepia photographs I used were very smoky, but I was able to discern large freestanding animal carvings in addition to the totems… and the totems appeared to be larger at the base than the top, unlike the present day totem vestiges I painted last week.
I have been asked about the tiki carving I included last week to illustrate my ‘narrow base’ observations… I bought it in a souvenir store in Auckland in 1967.  So no, it is not particularly ancient or authentic – but he's kind of cute, don't you think?

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Ninstints in Haida Gwaii

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Last vestige of a village
Watercolour and crayon
©2013 Charlene Brown

Ninstints, near the southern end of the Haida Gwaii archipelago (formerly the Queen Charlotte Islands) was hit hard by small pox in 1862 and eventually abandoned in 1885. The Ninstints totems are being allowed to succumb to the natural decay of the lush Northwest rainforest.
There has been much discussion of the significance (or lack thereof) of vertical order of images on a totem pole – including the opinion that the "low man on the totem pole” is actually in the most prestigious position! Placing a figure at the bottom increases its prominence as a feature of the pole because trees are thicker towards the base. 
Except when I was drawing these Ninstints poles it became apparent that in most of them the top is bigger… I could find no discussion of this exception to ‘the rule.’ Am I the only person who thinks they’re flared at the top – more like a South Pacific tiki (see example on the right) than a North Pacific totem …?

Monday, March 18, 2013

The Roller Coaster of Shipping

Plein air Painting: the book cover
Photograph and Photoshop
©2013 Charlene Brown

This is the cover of the book I've been writing over the past few months. It’s finally up for sale on Amazon and it’s in a format that allows you to read a few pages for free.  
I say ‘finally’ because when I started the process I was under the impression that publishing books in Kindle-readable format was a straightforward process – especially if you’d already written a bunch of blog posts that looked like they might flow together in an orderly manner.
I should mention before continuing that Kindle Direct Publishing really is amazingly straightforward… unless, of course, you want to put a few pictures in your book! My Kindle conversion misadventures went on for some time, until I discovered who said they could convert my manuscript to look pretty much like the pdf I’d sent them.  But the whole thing was still pretty scary…
Then, on February 9 I saw an article by Seth Godin, The Roller Coaster of Shipping, that I found very reassuring. The article contains an annotated graph of the terrifying stages of publishing a book.  I was going through Stage 6 – “the pre-publication lizard-brain second-guess” at the time, and it was quite a revelation to learn that even Seth Godin, who has written a lot of best-selling books, would ever go through Stage 6.  AND what was even better was discovering that it would be followed by the infinitely better Stage 7 – where you realize it’s really going to happen. That is the stage I'm now enjoying!
BTW, Stage 8 is annotated, "Why haven't you read my book yet?"  Wait for it.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Urban Sketching for Beginners

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Verdigris stags rampant
©2013 Charlene Brown

Rule #1 for beginning urban sketchers: Do not attempt to draw fantastic architectural features such as the Crown Spire on the tower of St. Giles in Edinburgh.

Rule #2 (a):  If you have broken Rule #1, cover fantastic feature with ivy or a large tree, or failing that...

Rule #2 (b) Create a diversion by giving your picture a mystifying name, such as ‘Verdigris stags rampant.’

There really are some stags rampant guarding the base of the statue in front of St. Giles. Here’s a close-up of two of them.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Virtual Paintout in Vilnius, Lithuania

(click on image to enlarge)
Gedimino prospektas
Watercolour and crayon
©2013 Charlene Brown

This month the Virtual Paintout is in Vilnius, Lithuania, and I found this perfectly composed Streetview looking up Gediminas Avenue. Here's a link to it.  After I finished the painting, I moved up the street to see if I could find out the name of the place at the end. It’s a Basilica, and I discovered Google Streetview had included this wedding party in front of it!  I hope somebody paints them.  With faces.