Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Fourth Revolution Haiku

Larch Valley


This is a computer-abstracted version of a painting that was based loosely on some other people’s photographs taken from Sentinel Pass above Larch Valley. I’ve never been up there myself, because of a grizzly bear warning posted at the trailhead at Moraine Lake (plus it’s a really long climb.)  

The haiku is advocating a larger role for direct current on our power grids, as DC is required by many end-use devices such as digital equipment, solar PV, storage batteries, electric vehicles.  The fourth revolution is, of course, the fourth industrial revolution – intelligent automation, artificial intelligence that enables robots to learn and communicate with each other, machines that can make multiple products and customize each one, software-driven systems.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Climate change preparation

The Oilsands

Canada is gradually improving its ranking in environmental opinion polls, but we’re still subject to some derision, focusing on the Alberta Oilsands, which critics refer to as ‘tarsands that produce the world’s dirtiest oil.’
They may be right, but I think if we paid higher carbon taxes we could pay for whatever research it takes to clean up this energy source. And this would be far better than going to war over oil in the Middle East or using food to make biofuels.

In the meantime, I thought I’d present this ‘blot on the landscape’ as a ‘cleaned up’ semi-abstract design. As for making sense of the rest of the overlaid haiku, Googling ‘climate change preparation’ will get you over a million results to read...

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Haven’t painted Banff in over two months!

Banff, from Sulphur Mountain
Watercolour and oil pastel
©2017 Charlene Brown


I was once quoted by Katherine Tyrrell, on her blog Making a Mark writing, “ ...until I was about eight, I was only vaguely aware that anybody painted anything but the Canadian Rockies.”  The Rockies, especially the Banff area, continues to be a favourite location, with this being my 88th Canadian Rockies blog entry. I was quite surprised to notice my last Banff painting was September 17, although I’ve probably gone even longer than that occasionally.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

A trip to Ireland and Scotland with the girls – 10

Sunset at Carberry House
Watercolour and crayon
©2017 Charlene Brown

We planned to stay in a ‘Scottish Baronial pile’ near Edinburgh for our last night in Scotland, and selected the splendid Carberry Tower Mansion House and Estate from the various piles available. Fortunately it occurred to one of the girls that Carberry was much too splendid to spend a night which would end at 4 am when we had to leave for the Edinburgh airport for our flight to Toronto, so we scheduled our second last night in Scotland there instead.
The place has quite a history, being first mentioned in the 11th century when King David I of Scotland granted Carberry to the monks of Dunfermline Abbey. The original building was a simple square tower house, ‘built more for strength than ornament’ according to Wikipedia. It changed hands many time over the years, and was gradually improved piece by piece, with no apparent plan, except that the extension seemed to proceed in ‘an anti-clockwise direction.’  It turned out surprisingly well.  Eventually it was owned by the 16th Lord Elphinstone, who was married to Lady Mary Bowes-Lyon, whose sister Elizabeth visited and helped at the Red Cross bazaar held at Carberry Tower in 1915. Apparently, Elizabeth liked the place so much that, years later she and her husband brought their two daughters there for summer holidays.  That was in the early 1930s before anyone knew that the elder daughter would become Queen Elizabeth II. 

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

A trip to Ireland and Scotland with the girls – 9

The Royal Mile
Watercolour and crayon
©2017 Charlene Brown

We were very lucky in our hotel selection in Edinburgh, discovering when we arrived that we had a great view of the Scott Monument (BTW, almost everyone knows at least two quotes by Sir Walter Scott – ‘Oh what a tangled web we weave, When first we practice to deceive!’ and ‘Breathes there a man with soul so dead, Who never to himself hath said, This is my own, my native land!’ – although some of us may have thought they were Shakespeare…)  And the Scott Monument was just far enough to our left so as not to obscure any of the Royal Mile!


I thought this painting was so close to the real thing, that I tried right-clicking on it and searching Google for the image. The ‘visually similar images’ Google found were Pecs in Hungary, New York City, Wroclaw in Poland, Pacific City (in the Crackdown3 computer game, I think), Philadelphia, Atlanta, Quebec City and Buenos Aires.

Below is a picture of us on Victoria Street, below Edinburgh Castle.  This colorful location was the inspiration for Diagon Alley in the Harry Potter books.  Google thinks it looks like Copenhagen, Liverpool, Dublin, Istanbul, London and (Yes!) Victoria Street in Edinburgh.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

A trip to Ireland and Scotland with the girls – 8

Giant's Causeway
Watercolour and crayon
©2017 Charlene Brown

If you’re familiar with the Giant's Causeway, which heads out from the coast of Northern Ireland towards Scotland, you’ll know you can’t actually see all these aspects of the formation from just one spot. So I’ve painted it from several spots, as is my custom.

I’ve included as many of the 40,000 interlocking basalt columns as seemed appropriate, and added the little puddles from the latest rainfall in the concave tops of many of them. Most of the columns are hexagonal, although there are also some with four, five, seven or eight sides. The tallest are about 12 metres high and the solidified lava in the cliffs is 28 metres thick in places. They are result of an ancient volcanic eruption,  or the remains of an unsuccessful road-building project started by Irish giant Fionn mac Cumhaill (Finn MacCool) – depending on who is telling you the story.


Sunday, November 5, 2017

Living the dream in a warm place

I think everyone wishes at some point that they could live on a houseboat in some nice warm place. Here’s a bunch of people living the dream in Victoria Harbour.

We try not to be too smug about our climate here – but every February we get going on the annual flower count.  It’s always in the millions way before the rest of Canada has seen its first crocus. Sorry.

And – not only do we have warm winters, we don't need air conditioning in the summers.  The low-carbon economy everyone's trying for is pretty easy to maintain here.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

A trip to Ireland and Scotland with the girls – 7

Peace Wall – Belfast

In place of the paintings I usually post here, I am illustrating this post with photos of one of the peace walls in Northern Ireland.

The peace walls are a series of barriers put up to minimize inter-communal violence between  Catholics, most of whom are Irish Nationalists, and Protestants, most of whom are British Loyalists. The first of these barriers was built in 1969, following the outbreak of ‘The Troubles.’ They increased in both height and number following the Good Friday Agreement of 1998, but since 2008 have been gradually ‘opened’ and dismantled.

In recent years, ‘political tours’ have become increasingly popular, with black taxis with Catholic and/or Protestant drivers taking visitors around Belfast’s peace lines, trouble spots and famous murals. Many of these murals are professionally painted with beautifully rendered portraits and dramatic scenes. On the murals on some parts of the walls, however, input from anyone who feels moved to write or draw something is encouraged. In one of the photos, my daughter is adding a thought to such a stretch on the most famous wall, which separates the Nationalist Falls Road and the Unionist Shankill Road in West Belfast.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

A trip to Ireland and Scotland with the girls – 6


Kylemore Abbey
Watercolour and crayon
©2017 Charlene Brown

This magnificent estate is much more extensive than I’ve pictured it here. The famous Victorian walled garden on the mountainside in the upper left quadrant is actually some distance from the abbey, and the walk to it shown on the right,below, took close to half an hour. 

I liked the 'Hundertwasser look' I imagined in this telescoping of perspective and added to it with some concentrically-lined trees and meadows.

Kylemore had a very romantic beginning, built in 1867 by Mitchell Henry, doctor, industrialist, politician and pioneer, for the love of his life on the location of a hunting lodge where they had honeymooned in 1850.  They had a gloriously happy life with their nine children in this idyllic location, but unfortunately she died (on holiday in Egypt) in 1874.  After that the estate changed hands a couple of times, in large part because of gambling debts. In 1920 it became the home for the Benedictine nuns who arrived as refugees after their monastery at Ypres was destroyed in World War I. 

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

A trip to Ireland and Scotland with the girls – 5


Connemara
Watercolour and crayon
©2017 Charlene Brown

Next we traveled through the truly majestic Inagh Valley in the Connemara district.

I was tempted to include all of its visual delights tiny villages, stone bridges spanning rushing creeks and waterfalls, flocks of fluffy black-faced sheep, the occasional Connemara pony but decided to confine my painting to the basic mountain scenery, without even trying to work in an outcropping of green Connemara marble.

Perhaps I will have some of these embellishments in the next painting an all-encompassing panorama of Kylemore Abbey and the Victorian walled garden at the head of the valley.      


Monday, October 16, 2017

A trip to Ireland and Scotland with the girls – 4


Cliffs of Moher
Watercolour and crayon
©2017 Charlene Brown


We had another bit of rain the day we walked the famous Cliffs of Moher, Ireland’s most visited natural attraction.  (In fact we had bits of rain every day we were in Ireland. And rainbows every day as well.)

Unfortunately, these spectacular 120 m high cliffs have also been described as one of the ‘most deadly tourist hotspots on the planet.’  Despite extensive fencing along the most-visited stretches of the cliff edge, designated ‘official’ paths, and many ominously-illustrated warnings (note the now-famous selfie-sender featured in the sign on the right, below), accidents and suicides are actually increasing in frequency.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

A trip to Ireland and Scotland with the girls – 3

Ladies View
Watercolour and crayon
©2017 Charlene Brown

One of the stops on our Irish RailTour was Killarney, and from there we were taken by bus on the very winding, sometimes precipitous Ring of Kerry.

A highlight was the Ladies View of the Killarney Lakes so named because Queen Victoria, while dedicating or inaugurating something during an official visit, gave her ladies-in-waiting the day off and sent them on an excursion.  They spotted this lovely vista and insisted that the Queen herself have a look at it the next day.

In keeping with this backstory and assuming Queen Victoria was always accompanied by a kilted bagpiper, we were ‘piped’ to the lookout point. Our piper was not kilted, but decked out in industrial-strength raingear known as an Inverness Cape, leaning stoically into the wind. I’ve exaggerated how much of the ladies view you could see that day everything but the piper was actually kind of blurry.  

Sunday, October 8, 2017

A trip to Ireland and Scotland with the girls - 2


Cobh
Watercolour and crayon
©2017 Charlene Brown

After Blarney Castle, our Irish RailTour took us to the picturesque port of Cobh on the south coast of County Cork. 


This relatively small town was key to the maritime and emigration legacy of Ireland. In the eighteenth century, the port, then known as Cove, had become an important centre for merchant shipping (and the accompanying piracy), and in the nineteenth century became a tactical navel military base, especially during the Napoleonic Wars between France and Britain (of which Ireland was still a part). The name of the port was changed to Queenstown in 1848 to commemorate a visit by Queen Victoria and was a major point of embarkation for the transportation of ‘criminals’ to Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania) as well as the massive migration to North America at the time of the Famine. The name was officially changed to Cobh, a Gaelicisation of Cove, in 1920 around the time of the formation of the Irish Free State. 

A ‘Victorian’ garden and many international flags line what is now a major cruise ship terminal.   

Thursday, October 5, 2017

A trip to Ireland and Scotland with the girls - 1


Blarney Castle
Watercolour and crayon
©2017 Charlene Brown


My daughters and I last went on a trip together, just the three of us, to celebrate my sixtieth birthday, many years ago.  We decided it was time for another one, and selected Ireland because none of us had been there, and Scotland because our family is pretty solidly of the Scottish persuasion.

It is said that kissing the Blarney Stone will bestow upon you the ‘gift of the gab’ (or blarney).  It is also said, by just about everyone who has been to Blarney Castle – including us, that they didn’t have time to kiss anything. There’s just too much to see standing stones, mysterious caves, fern gardens, waterfalls to waste any time standing in line, climbing an alarming number of spiral steps and hanging upside-down off the edge of the roof to kiss the stone parapet that juts out about half a meter (see top left of tower in the painting). 

The pictures below are of my daughters on the castle grounds.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Stuff you used to know, but now have to Google


I’ve never lived in this city. Actually, I did live in Edmonton from 1959 to 1962, but the city pictured here was not there at the time.
The only structures in this painting that I remember from my university days are the High Level Bridge and Provincial Legislature on the far left and the Fairmont MacDonald Hotel, which is just about exactly in the middle – and it is quite different from the MacDonald I remember. Back then, the hotel had a huge ‘Brutalist’ addition, and the whole structure was referred to as a ‘tiny perfect chateau and the box it came in.’ Anyway, the box has been removed, and dozens of much nicer boxes have been added to form today’s Edmonton skyline.

Energy research is quite different from the physics I knew back in the day as well. And when you can’t even remember most of the physics you did know back then, well it’s a good thing there’s Google and Wikipedia now...

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Haiku non sequiturs


Saint Andrew’s in on the Bay of Fundy, which has about the highest tides in the world, which suggested this painting for this haiku.

The middle line, makes sense tidal power to the grid: Marine currents, unlike many other forms of renewable energy, are a consistent source of kinetic energy because of regular tidal cycles influenced by the phases of the moon. Unlike wind, wave and solar power, intermittency is not a problem, so tidal power can be a reliable input to the electricity grid.


But, as with most of my haiku, where the lines really are randomly selected and grouped, the end result is kind of a non sequitur. Eventually I will try to make sense of these non sequiturs…

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Another not-particularly-random haiga selection


This haiku reminded me of  the Cave & Basin National Historic Site, the 1885 birthplace of Canada’s National Park System.   At this location, in Banff National Park, naturally occurring warm mineral springs can be found inside the cave and outside in an emerald-coloured basin.

When I worked there I was completely unaware of the lovely springs and pools above the cave shown here. I think the same can be said of most of us even now. Although there are lots of warm and hot springs all along the mountain chains in Alberta and British Columbia, nobody gives them much thought except as a place to swim. We should be looking at geothermal power potential more seriously, though probably not at any spring that’s given birth to a National Park System. 

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Possibly the prettiest place in Saskatchewan


LeBret
Watercolour and crayon
Charlene Brown

My discovery of this lovely village wasn’t entirely accidental as I concentrated my search in the famously beautiful Qu’Appelle Valley.  

LeBret is well known for its Stations of the Cross leading up to the Qu’Appelle Mission seen in the foreground of this painting.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Another Canadian Landscape not in Alberta or British Columbia

Niagara
Watercolour and crayon
©2017 Charlene Brown

This view of Niagara Falls only shows about half of the Horseshoe (Canadian) part of the falls, giving precedence to the (smaller) American Falls in the foreground. It seems more paintable, though, than the better-known straight-on view of Horseshow Falls shown below.
 
I probably shouldn’t add it to my collection of Canadian landscapes, given that it’s less than half Canadian... but I’m a little short of Ontario locations, so I’m counting it.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Virtual Paintout still in Buenos Aires

Plaza Naciones Unidas - Floralis generica
watercolour and crayon
2017 Charlene Brown

This relatively new (inaugurated in 2002) icon of Buenos Aires officially goes by the name of Floralis Generica, but is generally known as the Big Steel Flower. It is 23 metres high and 32 metres wide when the petals are open.  They actually close down to 16 metres at night. It sits in the centre of a pool of water which reflects the flower and protects it from vandals. Here is a link to the Streetview I have painted

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Virtual Paintout in Buenos Aires


Bosques de Palermo
Watercolour and crayon
2017 Charlene Brown

My first thought was to paint a Steetview of 9 Julio Avenue (July 9 is Argentina’s Independence Day), a boulevard said to be the widest city street in the world. It has seven lanes in each direction and is flanked on either side by parallel streets of two lanes each. Rapid transit lines, inaugurated since I saw 9 Julio Ave in 2002, runs for three kilometres down the centre of this spectacular street. 
But then I recalled that ‘too much pavement’ is often a problem when you’re looking for a paintable Streetview, because the Google camera is usually mounted on a vehicle driving on the pavement, and it occurred to me 20-some lanes of it would be hard to work around.
I decided to concentrate my search on the pathways of the many parks in Buenos Aires. Here is a link to the Bosques de Palermo, one of many very paintable locations I found.


Saturday, August 19, 2017

Haiga selection

 Cape Dorset - Inuit Art Central

Haiga is a style of illustration that reflects the pure, minimalist aesthetics of haiku poetry.  In my haiku project, the haiga on which I place the haiku are computer-simplified versions of some of my Canadian landscape paintings.

Last week I explained that lines of haiku are selected randomly from lists of ‘found’ phrases, in order to create potentially-brilliant juxtapositions of unrelated concepts. 


I used the same procedure to find unrelated haiga backgrounds for the poems…  within reason, of course. If you know where Cape Dorset is, you will know that the selection of a line beginning with ‘remote’ was not entirely random.  Or even slightly random.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Random definitions of 'random'


Haiku on Mont Royal

My haiku-generating project makes random selections of phrases I have found in newspaper and magazine articles about clean energy research. These 5 and 7-syllable phrases are grouped together, again randomly, into haiku poems 3 lines of unrelated, enigmatic and potentially-brilliant combinations of concepts related to environmental and economic aspects of the development of clean energy technology.

Just to be clear by ‘random’ selection I mean something about halfway between the pure randomness that statisticians have devoted their lives to generating, and the early-21st century buzzword which I think just meant crazy unpredictable. So, the lines of haiku are selected and grouped ‘by chance without a plan or system.’ Next week I’ll talk about the selection of the haiga illustrations for the background of each haiku.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Canada C3 (Coast to Coast to Coast)


Pond Inlet
Watercolour and crayon
Charlene Brown
(based on image from cbc.ca)

Participants in Canada C3, the 150-day expedition from Toronto to Victoria via the Northwest Passage, will be in Pond Inlet from August 12 to August 14.

This is one of the most picturesque communities in Canada’s Arctic.  It is surrounded by parts of Sirmilik National Park, with mountain ranges and several dozen glaciers viewable in all directions. This is, of course, why I picked this location to paint, but here are some additional interesting facts about the place...

Climate change has caused this part of the Baffin Island coastline to be ice-free for longer periods and in recent years it has been navigable for as long as three and a half months. In addition to the short sea cargo shipping season, food and other supplies are flown in from Montreal, 2500 km away, year-round, and are very expensive. There are three schools, Ulaajuk (elementary), Nasivvik (junior and senior high) and the Nunavut Arctic College. The record high temperature for August is 19 degrees C; the average high temperature in August is not quite 9 degrees C.



Sunday, July 30, 2017

The grass is greener on the other side

Mt. Olympus from Hurricane Ridge
Watercolour and crayon
©2017 Charlene Brown

It’s true the grass is greener on the American side of the Strait of Juan de Fuca. This is because they get much more rain than we do. In fact Victoria is said to be in the ‘rain shadow’ of the Olympic Mountains. Moist Pacific air dumps everything it’s got on the area I’ve painted (represented by the biggest red cloud on the weather map on the right) before it gets to Victoria.


They don’t have actual hurricanes as the name of the ridge and its appearance on the weather map would imply – but they get a lot of rain.  And anywhere from 30 to 60 feet of snow every year!

A bunch of us from the Esquimalt racing group went over for an afternoon of hiking along Hurricane Ridge last weekend and we had a great day, with high cloud, almost no rain at all, and just enough of a breeze to cool the July day down to perfect!

The spruce trees are bluer on the other side too…

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Canada C3 (Coast to Coast to Coast)


Sam Ford Fjord
Watercolour and crayon
©2017 Charlene Brown

Canada C3, one of the Signature Projects for Canada's 150th Anniversary, is an epic 150-day sailing journey from Toronto to Victoria via the Northwest Passage. Through this unprecedented journey, Canada C3 is celebrating our environment, sharing the stories of coastal communities and connecting Canadians from coast to coast to coast.

I was looking for locations to paint on the expedition's scheduled route, and selected Sam Ford Fjord initially because of its memorable name, and then because I discovered it is quite spectacular. Canada C3 will reach the Sam Ford Fjord on August 10

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Not in Alberta or British Columbia


Lunenburg
Watercolour and marker
©2017 Charlene Brown

I painted this mainly to round out the collection of paintings of all parts of Canada for my Haiku project which was definitely short of locations in the Maritime Provinces. I selected Lunenburg because it was so peaceful and seemed to be about the prettiest place in Nova Scotia.  And I was a little surprised when research revealed that is has a long (for Canada) and often-violent history.


Lunenburg was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995, to protect its ‘unique architecture and civic design’ and because it was considered to be the best example of planned British colonial settlement in Canada. The aim of this British colonial settlement was to drive out the Mi’kmac and Acadian Catholics, which they apparently did very well.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Hydrolaccoliths

Pingos in the Northwest Territories
Watercolour and crayon
©2017 Charlene Brown

One quarter of the world’s Arctic ice dome hills, called pingos, are located in a region near Tuktoyaktut just east of the delta of the Mackenzie River. In various stages of growth and collapse, their striking profiles dominate the skyline in this very flat area even though they are only 5 to 36 meters in height.

I plan to use this painting in my Haiku project.  I wonder if there is any significance in the fact that their other name, hydrolaccolith, has five syllables ?

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Virtual Paintout in Malta

Hagar Qim Temple
Watercolour and crayon
Charlene Brown

The Virtual Paintout is in Malta this month. When I learned that, I headed immediately to Hagar Qim, one of the megalithic temples of Malta, as I’d been there in 1999, and wanted to see if I could find the location I’d painted at that time. I found it, even including the island of Filfla in the distance. 

The whole area is now nicely shaded by the canopy I’ve included in this painting. (We found a similar arrangement at Persepolis in Iran when we were there a couple of months ago.)


Here's a link to the Streetview of Hagar Qim above.

On the right is the painting I did eighteen years ago. I used to paint more carefully then.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Alberta Badlands (not)

Killdeer Badlands
Watercolour
©2017 Charlene Brown

Who knew there were spectacular badlands in Saskatchewan? Everyone but me, apparently, and the Killdeer Badlands have been described as the baddest of them all.


This wild, other-worldly landscape features free-standing flat-topped buttes, hoodoos and other weird formations… and, most years, very little grass. Even sage and cactus have a tough time surviving. This is noteworthy as they are part of Grasslands National Park. 

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Nunavut again

Pangnirtung Fjord
Watercolour and crayon
©2007 Charlene Brown

Pangnirtung is the only place in Canada where I’ve actually seen chartreuse arctic poppies. I like these flowers so much that I transplanted them all the way to the painting of Yukon I posted last October. 

The northern end of this fjord is in Auyuittuq National Park the most accessible of the National Parks in Nunavut... which is to say, it’s hardly accessible at all





Thursday, June 29, 2017

A perfect place to paint or pot

A studio with a view
Watercolour and crayon
©2017 Charlene Brown

If an artist could choose a location for a studio anywhere in the world, I think Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands would be contenders – especially a spot that included a view of the ocean and some mountains.

The perfect place shown here is on the south coast of Vancouver Island, near Sooke, looking out across the Strait of Juan de Fuca to the Olympic peninsula of Washington state. This particular location is already taken (by artisans who somehow find the time to look after llamas and a spectacular garden as well as potting and woodworking) but there are still a few perfect places available...


Thursday, June 22, 2017

Virtual Paintout in Guatemala

Tikal
Watercolour and crayon
Charlene Brown

The Virtual Paintout is 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?
Watercolour
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. 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

Persepolis
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