Thursday, July 30, 2009

Painting Gardens

Harbour Garden

Watercolour and crayon

©2009 Charlene Brown

I had thought of titling this Runway Garden, as the harbour is used by four floatplane airlines with up to 60 flights a day when the Legislature is in session. I quite like the planes and had even planned to include a couple in the painting, until I decided that was just too busy (as is the harbour, according to some residents.)

Back on topic – I started a garden painting project last year, concentrating specifically on ancient water gardens, and had set up a Google Alert (archaeology ancient garden innovative) which led me to recent research and terrific picture ideas for everything from the Hanging Gardens of Babylon to Aztec chinampas… and eventually, to a very comprehensive blog post on Making a Mark. I enjoyed reading about art blogging so much that, three days later, I started 1150 Words, launched a bunch of new projects -- the 2010 Olympics, Egypt, Peru, entries in DSFDF -- and didn’t do much at all with ancient water gardens. I might get back to that sometime soon – maybe the walkway gardens will end up in my version of the Herodium…

Sunday, July 26, 2009

It's a Graphic Novel!


Computer collage

©2004 Charlene Brown

Collage is a technique invented by Picasso. He stuck fragments of newspaper and other pre-printed patterns onto his compositions, creating irrational conjunctions and incongruities of scale—as if his work didn’t already have plenty of both.

When I combined and overlaid the pictures and graphics for ‘1904’ at the time of the 100th anniversary of my grandparents’ marriage and arrival in Banff, I referred to the result as a computer collage. However, the images were recognizable and text fragments readable, rather than just part of a design. So, it is really more of a montage, made by juxtaposing or superimposing pictures or designs.

Once, when I showed it to a group of people, one said it was just like scrapbooking! She was a scrapbooking enthusiast, so I decided to take it as a compliment, but was relieved when someone else pointed out that, because it includes background, context and dialogue, it’s a graphic novel!

Photoshop simplifies the process of creating collages/montages/graphic novels (how about graphic short stories?) like this, because it is non-destructive. Original documents, including irreplaceable photos firmly stuck in family albums, as well as pages from treasured journals, letters, and fragile old newspapers, are scanned into the computer, and the resulting print-outs can be cut up, re-sized if necessary, and moved around at will.

I think I’ll write a graphic novel (more than one page long!) that will include paintings on this blog. Stand by for Chapter 1.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Another Video of Victoria

Entrance to Victoria Harbour

Watercolour and crayon

©2008 Charlene Brown

I painted this little island in the Victoria harbour, with its resident inukshuk and spectacular Olympic Mountain backdrop, following an early winter snowfall last year. I also used Photoshop to paint a video of it that I intended to enter in the ‘My Victoria’ one-Minute Video competition at the Victoria Film Festival. It turned out to be too long (three minutes, and their absolute limit is two) and complicated (I called it ‘The Theory of Everything’) for the competition, but I recently put it up on Youtube. Click here if you’d like to have a look at it.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Grand Prix at Qualicum Beach

I’ve just received an email asking if I’d like to race in the Grand Prix d’Art again this year. This is a painting race held in Qualicum Beach, about 160 km upisland from Victoria. I wish I could be there on July 25, because I had a great time last year. This is the painting that I completed at the practice workshop held the day before the race. At the workshop, you pick your location and decide what to include – in this case, the Old Schoolhouse Art Gallery, the inukshuk in front of it, and Mt Arrowsmith in the distance. For the actual race, you pick your location out of a hat at 10 am, and have til 11 to find your spot and set up. Qualicum Beach is a beautiful place, so there are no bad locations. But there are some difficult ones. Mine had some lovely little shops grouped around a delightful garden – my only difficulty was deciding which way to look! Everyone stops painting at 2 pm, then you’ve got half an hour to get back to the Gallery, and frame and hang you picture.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Don't Replace Our Bridge!

Blue Bridge, Victoria
Watercolour, crayon and ink
©2009 Charlene Brown
This double lifting span bridge between Vic West and downtown Victoria was designed by Joseph Strauss, who also designed the Golden Gate suspension bridge in San Francisco. The narrower span has a rail line and a bicycle lane, and the wider span has three car lanes and a pedestrian walkway. When the bridge opens, the spans are moved one at a time – the rail span goes up first, and when it is all the way up, the car span is lifted. They are lowered in the reverse order, to minimize the delay for cars and pedestrians. This picture shows the bridge just after the lowering process has begun. We sometimes complain about it being opened every time someone takes a notion to sail over to the Upper Harbour, but now that they're talking about replacing it with a higher span, we've all grown quite fond of our 85-year-old bottleneck.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

American Sketches

Skagway, Alaska
Watercolour and computer painting
©2005 Charlene Brown
Happy 4th of July to all of you in the States!
This painting was done following a cruise to Alaska in 2005. I started with a photo I’d taken of the main street of Skagway – that’s our ship, the Veendam, docked at the end of the street – on a day when the clouds completely obliterated the mountains. I lightened and filtered the image in Photoshop, printed it on an A4 sheet of Hahnemuhle Digital Fine Art inkjet watercolour paper, then put some colour back into the street scene and added the mountains with watercolour. I have added this painting, and some small sketches of Alaska and Hawaii to my website

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Canada Day!

Canada Day in Victoria

Watercolour, crayon & ink

©2007 Charlene Brown

This is the view of Victoria’s Inner Harbour from Songhees Point, named for the Songhees First Nation from whom the land was purchased about 100 years ago. I producedd a video of this picture for the ‘My Victoria’ one-Minute Video competition a couple of years ago. To see the whole video, click here.

Blog Address Change:

My next post, on the 4th of July, will be at a new address If you have a link to 1150 Words, please make a note of this new address in case your link doesn’t change automatically – I wouldn’t want to lose any of you!