Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Not in Alberta or British Columbia


Kakabeka Falls
Watercolour and crayon
©2017 Charlene Brown

Kakabeka Falls are on the TransCanada Highway 30 km west of Thunder Bay. At 40 meters, it is the second highest waterfall in Ontario.  (The much better-known Niagara is only 11 meters higher.)

Not only is it a very pretty waterfall, Kakabeka comes with a great story… An Ojibwe Chief instructed his daughter, Princess Green Mantle, to devise a plan to protect her people from an imminent Sioux invasion. She entered the Sioux camp along the Kaministiquia River and, pretending to be lost, bargained with them to spare her life if she would guide them to her father’s camp. Placed in the bow of the lead canoe, she instead led the warriors and herself over the falls to their deaths. The legend claims that one can see Green Mantle when looking into the mist of Kakabeka Falls, a monument to the princess who gave her life to save her people…

If I’d remembered that story when I was painting this I would have included her in the picture.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Another Canadian Landscape

Bow Valley
Watercolour and crayon
©2017 Charlene Brown

In my Review of 2016/Plan for 2017 blog post earlier this month, I said I’d produced 10 poems using 'found' haiku and computer-stylized versions of my Canadian landscape paintings, and I was going to compile up to 50 of these poems on computer-stylized landscapes.

I don’t actually have 50 Canadian landscapes (that I like) painted, so I’ll be adding to the supply between blog posts about my travels.

I hope to concentrate on parts of Canada I haven’t painted much before, and this isn’t a great start on that aspect of the project.  This location, Canmore, is just a few miles downriver from Banff, which I have painted many times.

My next one will definitely be in a province other than Alberta or British Columbia.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Travels with our Grandkids III e – Edinburgh and Glasgow

From the outset, the Scottish Parliament building and its construction were controversial. Begun in 1999 with completion planned for 2001, it actually opened in 2004, £400 million over-budget. The design won numerous awards including the 2005 Stirling Prize, and, according to Wikipedia, has been described as a tour de force of Arts & Crafts design and quality ‘without parallel.’  It also placed fourth in a 2008 poll on what UK buildings people would most like to see demolished.

I think the driver on the tour bus Keara and I were on in 2007 might have been one of the folks who placed this building so high in the demolition rankings the following year. We drove by so fast that, by the time he even mentioned what it was, we'd missed most of it.

On to Glasgow, where I had been looking forward to showing Keara the Gallery of Modern Art.  It’s housed in the iconic former Stock Exchange building, the columns and façade of which had been undergoing a major cleaning the last time I was in Glasgow. It was a little disappointing to find that the cleaning had apparently gone so well that they decided to wrap the elegant Corinthian capitals snugly in layers of black netting to keep them clean and pigeon-free.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Travels with our Grandkids III d – Edinburgh


Verdigris stags rampant
Watercolour
©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.

And here's the picture of Keara I used to paint St Giles. She is wearing the soccer shirt we had just bought because we were freezing. In July.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Travels with our Grandkids III c – Inverness

Friday, 27 July: We arrived at Oxford station in good time for the train to Paddington, the first leg of a fairly complicated five-stage trip to Inverness…. But, as we learned at the gate onto the platform, the main line to Paddington was undermined and had been closed all week! Fortunately for us, railway employees all carry computers with which they can reorganize even the most confused travellers and, by a totally different route, we caught up to our original itinerary in Sterling, where we were finally able to sit in the seats I had reserved weeks before.
Here’s Keara, on the left below, in front of our hotel in Inverness, and on the right her view of Inverness Castle, directly across the river.

























I actually did this painting, a Virtual Paintout entry, quite recently.  When I’d first learned the Virtual Paintout was to be in Scotland, I had mentioned that I might try the Scottish Parliament and when one of the people who had heard me say that saw this painting he said, “So that’s what the Scottish Parliament looks like… what’s so controversial about it?”  You’ll see in my second post about our time in Edinburgh, a few days from now.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Travels with our Grandkids III b – Oxford

Saturday, 21 July: In the morning, a wonderfully funny presentation by Colin Dexter was accompanied by cataract off roof into garden where kids were splashing around, allegedly learning about “Lyra’s Oxford.” Evening cataract-accompanied presentation on CS Lewis again featured kids splashing about in the garden apparently having a drama workshop – looks very much like learning about Lyra’s Oxford.
Sunday, 22 July: Tewkesbury “like a war zone, with water treatment plant
overwhelmed, homes west of Oxford evacuated.” We got as far as the Folly Bridge before discovering our river cruise had been cancelled – Thames (called Isis, in Oxford) too high and too fast. We had a walking tour along it – yes, it was high and fast – to Oxford Tower, instead.

Monday, 23 July: “One of the electricity sub-stations in Gloucester succumbed, cutting off power to 48,000 homes – if the other one had gone, emergency services would have had to launch the biggest
evacuation of people since the Second World War.”  We were on the ground floor of our hotel so, before departing for our day at Warwick Castle, I put our suitcases on the dresser in our room, despite assurances that ‘we’re higher than the University and the University isn’t going to flood. We saw a lot of flooding on the way to Warwick, including the river raging past the castle, but our hotel was fine – put suitcases back on floor again.


Tuesday, 24 July: Last night, “100 firefighters and 150 Royal Marines and Gurkhas saved the day,” and we were assured flood had peaked. However, still much concern about sewage in water apparently not yet receding in “watery ghost towns” so put suitcases back up before departing for day at Blenheim Palace (On the left are Keara and a friend from California in the maze there).  Sun shone, birds sang; we had a splendid day. Suitcases back down when we got back.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Travels with our Grandkids III a – Oxford

In 2007 I took Keara to a Road Scholar Inter-generational study program in England Harry Potter school (with a little Inspector Morse thrown in for the grandparents) in Oxford. 
Then we went to the European Pipe Band Championships in Inverness, and visited Edinburgh and Glasgow.
I’ll tell the story in terms of my response to a question we saw on July 29, in an article in The Independent on Sunday, “Where were you during the Great Floods of July 2007?” combined with the newspaper’s notes for the week…

We arrived in Oxford on July 18, the day before the Road Scholar program was to start, and on July 19, caught the train to Paddington Station and spent a beautiful sunny day seeing the highlights of London – Big Ben, the Palace, the Tower, and other photo opportunities.

Friday, 20 July: We had a lecture on Tolkien, and the kids were making a map of Middle Earth when the “… heavens opened. Oxfordshire got five inches of rain – normally 90 days’ worth – in five hours” during which we walked around the Oxford Colleges. In the evening, while the kids had their first drama workshop, we went to one of Inspector Morse’s favourite pubs, the Trout at Wolvercote. The deck was awash.



Saturday, January 7, 2017

Virtual Paintout in Puerto Rico

'Serpentinata caribeña,' sculpture by Guy Rougemont
Watercolour and crayon
Charlene Brown


The Virtual Paintout is in Puerto Rico this month.  After my husband mentioned pristine beaches on the west coast near the former USAF base at Ramey, I concentrated my search in that part of the island, and found this colourful sculpture in the centre of the Mayagüez campus of the Universidad de Puerto Rico. 

It is a tribute to the late Miguel Chamoun, a graduate of the Department of Mechanical Engineering.  Here is a link to the Streetview that I used to paint it. 



Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Review of 2016/Plan for 2017

Palm Springs from the top of the Tramway
Watercolour and crayon
©2016 Charlene Brown

Travel journaling:  I have started a project to expand on the sketches and paintings my grandchildren and I produced during the trips I took with them between 2004 and 2013. This will be completed in 2017.    
‘Clean energy’ haiku/haiga project:  I have produced 10 poems using ‘found’ haiku and computer-stylized versions of my Canadian landscape paintings. I plan to compile up to 50 of these poems, and may even try to explain some of the non-sequiturs in them!
I completed two NYU/Scientific American on-line courses, Mysteries of the Universe and Psychology of Creativity, as well as the ArtBiz Creative Content Camp and hope to do a writing workshop at the Banff Centre for the Arts and Innovation in 2017.