Thursday, May 28, 2009

5 things learned about painting in the Andes

Moray Agricultural Complex -- Incas used these precisely irrigated circular terraces for agricultural experimentation, taking advantage of the sharp elevation differentials and dramatic microclimate variation.
Watercolour and crayon
© Charlene Brown

1. If you go on an Adventure by Disney, you’re not going to have time to finish more than about one painting – what with climbing every mountain, fording every stream, white water rafting on the Urubamba and all.
2. A GPS is useful for plotting latitude and longitude and direction of view on your sketchbook map. This data can help in the identification of distant landmarks (in the above case, 13 S 73 W, looking WNW, Veronique Glacier)
3. Fluorescent, bronze and copper paint or markers produce a lovely South American look.
4. Masquepen masking fluid in 30ml applicator bottle and piece of crepe to remove it travel beautifully!
5. You need a Ziploc bag for ephemera – extra stuff and things not suitable for collage. Plasticized ice cream bar wrappers, for example, have great designs, but can only be glued after scanning and printing on more suitable paper.

Here is a detail view of my grandson’s version of Moray. He actually climbed down to the lowest (and hottest) level of the complex, so included the cantilevered stone steps between the terraces in his painting.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

12 Painting Things to Take to Peru

Arenal Volcano, Costa Rica
Ink and watercolour pencil, annotated page in 4”x 6” Opus Archival Drawing pad, from an Elderhostel Intergenerational trip with our eldest grandson in 2004.

I'm setting out tomorrow with our 10-year-old grandson on an expedition to the Andes. We've assembled what I hope will be the perfect (comprehensive but compact) array of art supplies for the trip. Here's the list:

1. coil bound watercolour sketch book with map and archaeology notes about the Incas
2. watercolour postcards
3. pencils, sharpener, and eraser
4. pens (fine and extra fine, permanent ink)
5. crayons
6. markers
7. tubes of watercolour paint in closed plastic tub, nested in tub for water
8. paint brushes in plastic holder
9. palette in a Ziploc bag
10. glue stick for collage
11. Camera with extra batteries or charger and South America adapter plug
12. Kleenex

I’m hoping my grandson will paint too, so there are two sketchbooks, water tubs, and sets of brushes, and we’ll share most of the rest of the stuff.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Creative Archaeology

Alexandria Serapeum
Computer painting
Charlene Brown
This painting of the Temple of Serapis at Alexandria doesn’t actually exist except on my computer. It was produced by overlaying images of the god Serapis and the Bull God Apis on a Photoshopped photo of Apollonia, Libya.

A little background on the miraculously suspended statue of Sirapis (which may not have existed either)… After Alexander the Great conquered Egypt in the 4th century BCE (page 4 on History of Design website) a combined Hellenistic-Egyptian god in human form, equivalent to the very popular Apis, was introduced to reconcile the two belief systems. An impressive temple was built (apparently vaulted in lodestone) that housed a colossal wood and iron statue of Serapis “which was neither supported on a base, nor attached to the wall by any brackets, but remained suspended.”

Later Christians considered this engineering feat diabolical trickery and the temple was ordered destroyed in the 4th century CE.

When possible, I prepare my sketchbook with notes such as this, which tend to conjure up interesting images – more about this in my next post, ‘12 things to take on a painting trip.’

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Pretty Mountain Scenes

MacKenzie Mountains, Vancouver Island, Canada
Watercolour. Crayon and ink
©2009 Charlene Brown

I’ve been working on expanding my painting repertoire, which used to be almost exclusively ‘pretty mountain scenes.’ (Hence the name of my website, ) However, when asked to produce a painting for the group show at the seniors centre where I paint on Wednesdays, this is what I came up with.

The scene was pieced together from several photos taken straight into the noonday sun from a bus doing about 70kph on a winding road near the west coat of Vancouver Island. Fortunately, the brilliance of the late spring snowfall was pretty memorable, as the main feature of each of my reference photos was the sunlit reflection of my camera on the window of the bus.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Different Strokes Challenge: Madison Ave.

DSFDF Challenge: Madison Ave. NYC
Watercolour and crayon
Charlene Brown
This is my entry in the Week 32-34 Challenge on Different Strokes from Different Folks.

The buildings in Karin Jurick’s photo were (not surprisingly) fairly straight – unlike mine which seem to relax a little more every time I look at them. (Sometime after I started this picture, even using a ruler from time to time, I lost focus as I was concentrating on putting more people in – an on-going project. This is my story and I’m sticking to it.)

I think that some landscapes pretty much have to have figures in them, and many others would be more interesting with them. Even wilderness scenes can benefit from the inclusion of a human or animal figure or two, to provide scale if for no other reason. So I’m making the effort to learn how to paint – or better still, imply – people, groups or crowds. Any suggestions are welcome…

Friday, May 1, 2009

Egyptian Temples - Luxor and Edfu

Luxor Temple at Night
Watercolour, crayon and computer
©2009 Charlene Brown

Black Horus at Edfu
Watercolour, crayon and computer
©2009 Charlene Brown

These are the last, and most abstract, of the Photoshop-abstracted Carnet de Voyage paintings from Egypt. Previous postings can be seen by clicking on ‘Egypt’ in the Index of Blog Posts, on the right. I have one more picture, the Temple of Serapis at Alexandria, totally computer-created, which I’ll put up soon.
You may have noticed I’ve changed my blog title. I’m going to change my URL too, in fact already did so yesterday. Briefly. I soon discovered that anyone linking to my blog would arrive at a dead end, and there was no way of telling them the new URL. Yesterday was a particularly bad day to lose people as my blog was linked to my article ‘5 Good Reasons to Paint Your Own Postcards, on (Google Analytics advised me this morning I had a 346% increase in hits yesterday, so I’m glad I recovered). I’m planning to change my rather cumbersome URL (what was I thinking?) to, but will wait until I’m back from Peru so I can keep an eye on it. Any suggestion about smooth transitions?