Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Sea to Sky Highway again

Furry Creek Golf Course


©2010 Charlene Brown

I have painted several pictures of and from the Sea-to-Sky highway, which runs from Vancouver to Whistler. It was upgraded, spectacularly and at great expense, for the 2010 Winter Olympics. We’re lucky in that we have family in Squamish and drive up this fantastic highway quite frequently. (Many British Columbians have never even seen it and have been known to point out, quite rightly, that it’s hardly fair they all have to pay for it.)

The drive is especially beautiful on the fairly rare occasions when the snow comes right down to sea level, as shown in the paintings I posted in January and April of last year But I also love the colours in this picture, taken last October, including the glacial turquoise of Howe Sound, typical of the late summer and fall. Sometimes it looks more like the South Pacific than the North Pacific it very definitely is.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Painting Sensational Shadows

(click on image to enlarge)

Ballooning over the Masai Mara
Watercolour and ink
©1996 Charlene Brown

Our most spectacular game viewing in Kenya was from a hot air balloon – just as the sun was rising. The close-up view of the wild animals from directly overhead is truly unique.  Admittedly, some of the ‘impact’ of a giraffe’s neck is lost from this angle, but you get it all back in its sensational early-morning shadow.  At this time of day, the impalas, the trees and the two balloons cast pretty impressive shadows as well. Painting this wondrous sight, which I did not attempt in the basket of the balloon, was quite a challenge. But the shadows were a little easier to figure out after I determined from my photographs that they all extended toward a vanishing point at eye level.  And because we were in a balloon, eye-level was slightly above the horizon…

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Creative Archaeology

(click on image to enlarge)

Mayan Sunrise
(repainted Mach 27 to better reflect pigment shifting effect of painting with clear water)
Watercolour and crayon, Photoshop
©2010 Charlene Brown
This week on Making a Mark Katherine Tyrrell asked us to identify, rank, and assign scores to our personal top watercolour art instruction books. I’m sure I wasn’t the only painter who took this as permission to spend most of yesterday just reading and looking at the pictures in my personal stack of these big beautiful books… .

I think there are two quite different questions to ask in evaluating watercolour instruction books: … Do they contain good explanations of the technicalities and idiosyncrasies of the medium? …Do they have lots of fantastic ideas?
I have a nagging feeling I should be asking the first question more, but in fact have always been more interested in the ideas in books – provided they have enough actual information that any resulting ‘successful’ paintings are the product of more than just amazing good luck.
Today’s picture ‘Mayan Sunrise’ (the ruins at Tulum again) is my interpretation of Experiment 62 in my personal favourite ‘Watercolor Bold & Free,’ by Lawrence C. Goldsmith. It bears no resemblance to Mr Goldsmith’s illustration of Experiment 62, but I love the concept – would you believe ‘painting with clear water’ – and plan to try a whole different version of it, or perhaps another one of the experiments in this book, in future creative archaeology paintings.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Virtual Paintout still in Stavanger

The other side of Lutsiveien

Watercolour and crayon

©2010 Charlene Brown

Just north of the red farmhouse I painted a few days ago, this spectacular panorama can be seen on Google Streetview. When I found this location, I couldn’t decide whether to paint the farms or this beautiful outlook, then realized there was nothing stopping me from doing both!

This is the first time I’ve sent in more than one painting to the Virtual Paintout. There are lots of other wonderful sights to see in and around Stavanger on this site – be sure to have a look.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Virtual Paintout in Stavanger

Red Farmhouse on Lutsiveien

Watercolour, ink and crayon

©2010 Charlene Brown

Philip is working on the next two-page spread of my graphic novel, and I’ve been off having a great time on the Virtual Paintout, which is in Stavanger, Norway this month.

For last month’s Virtual Paintout, I set out to find, and paint, a place I would really like to be… and then, somehow I ended up on the Golden Gate Bridge! As I mentioned at the time, zooming down a freeway, surrounded by people who actually know where they’re going and want to get there faster than you happen to be going is never a pleasant place to be.

But look at this place near Stavanger – I’d love to b there! Not only does it have a wonderful setting, but their view to the northeast must be spectacular. Next, I’m going to paint what I can see of it on Google Streetview.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Graphic Novel Artwork

CSIS, espionage, disinformation, Kyrgyzstan, Iraq

Chapter 6 (Prologue, Chapter 1 and Chapter 4 posted previously)

InDesign document, computer photomontage

‘Joanne’ drawn by Philip Hogg

©2010 Charlene Brown

This is the most recently-completed portion of my graphic novel – the first two pages of Chapter 6. 

Monday, March 8, 2010

Painting with the kids

When our daughters were young, I would occasionally take the time to show them how to draw or paint something – with varying degrees of success. ‘Success’ being anything from the modest triumph of spending a couple of hours without anyone getting yelled at to that wonderful time after I showed them how to paint plaid and every painting they did for two months had people with plaid clothes. And plaid houses too, come to think of it.

It has taken me a lot of years of ‘painting with the kids’ to figure out it’s better if you don’t ‘help’ them too much – maybe even limiting the help to wiping paint off their arms from time to time.

Painting a picture together is always fun. Ideally, everyone does what they’re best at, which in my case usually meant the kids did the people and the cars and trucks.

And guess what? That still seems to be the case! The grandson who did this Pepsi truck in Dubai 12 years ago is going to give me a hand with the people in my graphic novel! I’ll show you how the first couple of pages of Chapter 6 turned out in a couple of days.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Mayan ruins of Tulum

Here are the pictures I didn’t have time to finish while we were in Mexico. Actually, what with all the other things we did during our short but wonderful stay on the Mayan Riviera, I barely started them!

The first painting is of El Castillo, as it was named by the Spanish, a structure which is spectacularly located on a cliff overlooking the Caribbean.

The second shows the Kukulcán Group, located just to the north of El Castillo, and consisting of the Templo del Dios del Viento (Temple of the Wind God) and several templos miniatures.

The oldest Mayan structures date from about the 3rd century CE. Many of the most outstanding ones were rebuilt by the Toltecs in the 12th century CE. If you are interested in how this relates to other historical developments – the Middle Ages in Europe, the rise of Ghengis Khan in Asia – have a look at page 6 in my Design Timeline

Painting Essentials for two kinds of painting trips

Koi Watercolors™ Pocket Field Sketch box, TulumCeremonial Square, Tulum


©2010 Charlene Brown

There are two kinds of painting trips – those involving some hiking or even climbing, where you carry all your stuff and paint on location, and those where you stay in one place long enough to spread out and do a ‘proper job,’ letting the paint dry between layers and other refinements. My recent trip to Mexico had a bit of both, but not enough of the latter to actually finish anything other than quite a few postcards.

The things I listed for ‘on location’ painting in my February 18 post worked out beautifully. I was especially pleased with my Koi Watercolors™ Pocket Field Sketch box. It was very easy to work with, even in a strong wind, as the postcards are held securely in the lid. We were lucky to have the strong winds, BTW, as it was extremely hot the day we went to Tulum.

The supplies I listed and took along for ‘studio’ painting, on the other hand, mostly didn’t see the light of day. This was only because of the time problem I mentioned, though. I’m taking all the same stuff on my next trip – because we’re going to be in the same place for three weeks!

I’m still working on a couple of larger paintings, which will give you a better idea of the spectacular setting of Tulum, and hope to have them finished and posted later today.