Sunday, August 1, 2021

Leftover vegetables

 Developing good eating habits 











 Backstory of the Illustration above





Shamrock Farms cauliflower



I used the top square of the painting above to illustrate an article about developing good eating habits I published recently on Medium. The article was about a lot of things besides developing good eating habits – that just happened to be the only part of it that had anything to do with any paintings I had on my computer.  

The previously-used part of ‘Developing Good Eating Habits’ is from a 2009 blog post, and is my interpretation of a photo of a vegetable arrangement on a painting challenge called ‘Different Strokes from Different Folks’ (the photo is shown to the right of the previously used painting). 

It didn’t occur to me until after I went to a lot of trouble to find these leftover vegetables that three vegetables didn’t look like a particularly good variety to be called a good eating habit, so I added a turnip, an eggplant, some carrots and pulses, a handful of new Yukon Gold potatoes and a very paintable cauliflower I happened to see on the Shamrock Farms Facebook page.


Sunday, July 25, 2021

And the Words of the Prophet Are Written on Her Blog Each Year

Palm Springs from the top of the Tramway
Watercolour and marker
©2017 Charlene Brown

Here’s a good reason for having an art blog – it enables you to write self-fulfilling prophecies

Mostly, when friends or people I meet hear I have an art blog, they will express surprise (at YOUR age!)  They’ll ask a couple of polite questions but generally they don’t interrogate me about the thing.

Sometimes however, they’ll want details. Muttering vaguely that I enjoy painting and posting a painting every week requires that I make time for painting regularly will barely slow them down. They’ll ask what I’m doing with my blog.

If they look interested after I say a few words about paintings I’ve written about on my blog, I try a little strategic extrapolation about what I’m going to do next.

Then, in order to avoid having my extrapolation turn into an outright lie, I actually have to do something — resulting in the renowned self-fulfilling prophecy.

In early January each year I publish* these extrapolations on my blog as plans for the coming year. These plans can include any activity, really, that might result in a series of paintings, or even a book.

*Publishing my extrapolations pretty well guarantees that they will become self-fulfilling prophecies.

Should you be wondering about the painting above: My first blog post each year (the one with the prophecies) is usually illustrated with a painting of the place we’ve just spent Christmas -- such as Palm Springs.



Sunday, July 18, 2021

My Recent (Virtual) Camping/Kayaking trip

Upper Kananaskis Lake
Watercolour, crayon and computer
©2021 Charlene Brown

Like all of the Alberta paintings I’ve done since the pandemic confined us to Vancouver Island, this painting is based on photos taken by my daughter. She and her family camped at this idyllic location, a 4-kilometre kayak trip along the lake, a couple of weeks ago.

I have been to that lake for real, though not in a kayak actually I’ve never been anywhere in a kayak and wrote about a spectacular climb up from there to Rawson Lake

BTW, my daughter mentioned that the Rawson Lake trail is closed this year because there are grizzlies in the area.

Sunday, July 11, 2021

Call for Entry!

Shirakawa-go, Japan
Nisga’a Memorial Lava Bed, Canada
Takht-e Soleyman (Throne of Solomon), Iran

Call for Entry! notices for competitions and juried exhibitions are always exciting.  And when the entries being called for are to be online no framing! no shipping! my enthusiasm is boundless. I did hesitate for a couple of days before starting to look for paintings to enter in the ART2LIFE International Juried Art Exhibition 2021, however, simply because all of the demonstrations I’ve watched on Nicholas Wilton’s ART2LIFE series are totally abstract, and my paintings aren’t.

But then Mr. Wilton himself pointed out that with any huge competition, “There is so much art being looked at, only the most compelling and different work has a chance to stand out.” I inferred from this and other things he said that even the most experienced international judges may doze off from time to time. 

I looked at my blog, intending to hit ‘abstract’ on the ‘What This Blog is About’ list, but hit ‘archaeology’ instead (it’s nearer the top of the list). The three paintings above are my first selection for possible entry.  That could change.  We’ve got until July 23 to decide.  


Sunday, July 4, 2021

What are you missing the most about not being young anymore?

Squamish, British Columbia
Watercolour and crayon
Charlene Brown: Painting based on a photograph credited to Destination BC/Mitch Winton that appeared on the cover of the Summer 2021 issue of Right Sizing magazine 

I recently read a terrific article in Crow’s Feet  by Ruby Lee.  She had surveyed her friends on Facebook and compiled a list of the 10 things about being young that they miss the most. I think most of the replies came from people approaching 70.  

You may want to go through them to see how they compare to your own observations about aging.  I know I certainly did.

I’m happy to say that there are several things on the list that I’m not yet missing, like:

·         being able to get up off the floor (although I’ll admit I haven’t tried it ‘no hands’ lately)

·         having my original body parts, except for small parts of most of my teeth. (I’m not counting other missing things like a gall bladder or my wisdom teeth because they haven’t been replaced)

·         being able to eat anything I want (but then I never did want to eat spicy stuff that started to hurt before you even swallowed it)

·         having good eyesight and hearing (in fact, since I had my cataracts done, my eyesight is the best it’s been since I turned forty (in 1982)

·         being able to walk barefoot

 One thing on the list that I’m sure I’ve lost (but don’t miss) is:

  •          being able to stay up all night and still function the next day.

Throughout my fifties we lived in Dubai, where a lot of things didn’t even start until well into the cool of the evening.  When we returned to Canada, I was happy to revert to dining at unfashionable hours in broad daylight.

The list also mentioned:

  •          thinking that I knew everything

I think they meant that, although they realized many years ago that they didn’t know everything, until fairly recently they continued believing they could figure out anything they didn’t already know.  At that time, it became apparent (to me anyway) that there are certain things that millennials were born knowing and the rest of us will never figure out.

I’m hoping that one of the things on Ruby Lee’s list that’s also on my ‘missing’ list was more pandemic-caused than age-related:

  •          being impulsive and deciding to do things on the spur of the moment

I used to go to Squamish and Calgary, where our daughters and their families live, a lot – not exactly on the spur of the moment, but pretty much whenever I felt like it. This applied especially to Squamish (pictured above) which is only 90 miles from here as the crow flies  (much longer via a 2-hour ferry, three bridges, one tunnel, downtown Vancouver, and the Sea-to-Sky Highway, but still… )  Now that the barriers between Health Regions are being lifted, I’m about to find out if I can resume being impulsive.

Finally, there are a couple of things on the list that I too am definitely missing:

  •        having infinite energy (not that I ever had that – what I miss is having any energy at all some days).
  •        the feeling that the world is at my feet and that I have all the time in the world to explore it.  Okay, this is a scary one, but I’m pretty sure I still have time and enough energy to explore quite a few more things.

I inferred that there were some things about being young that Ruby Lee doesn’t miss at all, from her summary statement:

 “It took me a long time to get to the place where I am now. Even though my body is starting to have issues and I can’t lose weight, I don’t want to go through those life lessons that got me to where I am now.”

And with that, I agree completely.


Sunday, June 27, 2021

Painting my horse collection

A selection from the collection
Watercolour and crayon sketch
©2021 Charlene Brown

I’m the layout editor for a publication called Happenings put out by the Associates of the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria. Besides writing about the group’s fundraising activities, we have always invited members to submit stories about their own art-related international travel. But those stories dried up about a year ago, a few weeks after the pandemic got a grip on ‘happenings’ of any kind.

Fortunately someone suggested we invite people to write about their collections. This series has been very popular, with stories about collections ranging from Western Canadian paintings and Inuit stone cut prints, through opera LP covers and jail keys to ceramic vegetables and illuminated manuscripts. More and more Associates have accepted our invitation to write about their stuff as they discover that the collections don’t need to be particularly valuable (though some are) just interesting. My collection is scheduled for publication next year.

People often include stories about the variety of circumstances that got them started on their collections. Here is mine.

When we moved to Dubai and I was planning to do a lot of travelling, I thought I might collect elephants from various places. We already had a very good ‘starter’ set. My husband had several huge rosewood elephants he got in India in the 60s and I had a tiny brightly painted herd from Sri Lanka given to me in the early 80s. But then it occurred to me that many of the countries (like, every country not in South Asia or Africa) to which I hoped to travel would be unlikely to have a typical elephant that I could add to my collection.

Collecting horses made more sense — lots of countries have iconic horses. Also, I am a Horse — it’s my Chinese Zodiac animal.

From left to right, beginning in the top row, the horses in the painting above are:

· Etruscan horse and chariot: the Etruscan civilization in Northern Italy was assimilated by Rome in the 6th century BCE. However, this particular stylized version of Etruscan sculpture, although obtained in Italy and identified as a Riproduzione Archeologica, is a mid-20th century CE American design.

· A 21st century Native-American themed ‘collectible’

· Authentic replica of the Flying Horse of Gansu (200 CE) also known less poetically as The Galloping Horse Treading on a Flying Pigeon

· Arabian show horse purchased from a vendor who had dozens of them spread out on the sidewalk beside the El Djem Roman amphitheatre in Tunisia. Probably not an authentic replica

· Traditional Dalecarlian carved and painted horse obtained in Stockholm

· Traditional Oaxacan wood carving of a flying unicorn or alicorn obtained in Huatulco.

· Sharjah Horse: traditional wood carving with inlaid brass and copper armour, from the Emirate of Sharjah, near Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.

· Authentic replicas (larger one has a seal from the National Archaeological Museum in Athens) of a bronze horse from the Greek Geometric Period (900–700 BCE)

The reason I decided on this montage, rather than a grouping of the whole stable, is that they are by no means the same size. A couple are about 15 cm high, and most of the rest are from 6 to 8 cm high — except for my favourite, the Sharjah Horse, which is 60 cm high.

Sunday, June 20, 2021

An introduction to my horse collection

Oil and gasoline
Abdulwahed Al-Mawlawi

The second medium listed above for ‘Arabian’ is not a typo.  When I first saw this painting I was struck by the intensity of what I assumed was watercolour because of the wet-in-wet effects. Abdulwahed explained he achieved this watercolour ‘look’ by painting with oils thinned with gasoline, then dripping undiluted gasoline onto the wet painting.  Don’t try this at home, kids!

Arab horsemen
Patricia Al Fakri

I met both artists whose work is shown here, Abdulwahed, a Qatari, and Patricia, who is British, at the Dubai International Arts Centre when I worked there in the 1990s.

We all bought a lot of each other’s paintings at the Arts Centre, and the reason I selected these two for this blog post, is that I’ve just embarked on a project to document my collection of horses - paintings, archaeological replicas, carvings, and just plain collectables.  

I haven’t ever painted any horses myself, so what I’d planned was to do one now depicting some of my most interesting carvings, sculptures etc and then to write a blog post about it.  That painting is taking quite a bit more time than I thought it would, so these paintings are introducing the topic. Maybe my (somewhat less professional) horse painting will be ready in time for next week’s blog post.

Sunday, June 13, 2021

Another spectacular look at Afghanistan

From the Khyber Pass
Watercolour, crayon and computer
©2021 Charlene Brown

This painting is based on a combination of photos of the Khyber Pass found on the internet. I’ve never been to Afghanistan, but my husband went there several times when he was stationed in Pakistan and Kashmir with the UN. He usually flew into Kabul, but once traveled by bus over the Khyber Pass pictured here. 

Despite the attraction of beautiful mountain landscapes, I will not be adding this or last week’s location to my bucket list unlike the two mystery destinations I wrote about last month. They were in Portugal, BTW.