Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Update on the Victoria Abstracts

High Rock Park

Photoshopped watercolour

©2010 Charlene Brown

I’ve completed painting abstract versions of the three Victoria pictures I posted beginning October 27. This is not one of them.

You know how sometimes when you’re not happy with a painting you’ve just finished and put it aside for a few days, then look at it with fresh eyes, and it looks surprisingly more successful, or at least has some potential you hadn’t noticed…? Well, that didn’t happen with my abstract paintings – in fact, they were worse every time I looked at them. So I tried Photoshopping my original paintings, and am quite pleased with the results! I’ll post the others sometime in December.

High Rock Park looks pretty much like the representative version in the size shown here, so please be sure to click on the picture to enlarge it and see how Photoshop handles the picky details.

I liked the Photoshop version of Butchart Gardens so much I’m making it into a video… and working on that got me further side-tracked into doing something about an archaeological video I mentioned way back in July in my mid-year review. I’ll post that as soon as it’s finished.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Another twentieth century flashback

From a moving train

Watercolour and ink

©1996 Charlene Brown

Canadian ‘Group of Seven’ painter Lawren Harris is said to have leaped from a moving train in his eagerness to begin a day of sketching in the Canadian Rockies. In the fall of 1996, I could have done that too, but took the less rigorous approach of doing the sketching itself from the moving train. It is hard to imagine a pleasanter way to travel.,,

This painting shows the dazzling outlook from Switzerland’s Glacier Express over the baroque village of Andermatt. This spectacular view actually alternated from left to right during the serpentine climb toward the early October snowline.

Speaking of dazzling, the best ice fields are often on the north slopes of the Alps, and their most spectacular aspects are seen by looking south. Around noon, that means facing pretty well straight into the sun. (in June of last year I wrote a blog post mentioning you get the same effect looking north in the Andes) Photographs from inside a train are dominated by the window’s reflection of brightly lit hands and camera. The only way to get a nice picture is with fairly sophisticated photographic equipment – or, of course, paintbrushes.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Abstract of Butchart Gardens (not)

Changtse, Everest, Lhotse and Nuptse

Watercolour monotype

©1998 Charlene Brown

The abstract of the Butchart Gardens still needs a surprising amount of work for something that was supposed to be spontaneous and bold (and really quick). So here’s another flashback to the twentieth century, complete with cautionary note about printmaking (see below).

At the Banff Mountain Book Festival in 1997, it seemed like I was one of only about five people who had never climbed Everest. I didn’t even have painting it on my bucket list… So it was fairly surprising when, four months later, I found myself in Nepal attempting to get to a good spot to do just that by climbing from Changa Narayana to Nagarcot. After taking four hours to complete the ‘three-hour’ climb to this vantage point, and discovering Everest was still barely visible, I realized I was going to have to get closer to paint it. I also realized I’d better do it the easy way – using photographs taken from a Buddha Air flight from Kathmandu to Everest and back, non-stop.

I was lucky enough to get two perfect shots as we circled by Changtse, Everest, Lhotse and Nuptse. I later combined them and used the monotype printmaking process I outlined in another twentieth century flashback.

In fact, I think the whole thing is too close to the subject, and was never that pleased with the composition. I’m only showing it here so I can include the above-mentioned cautionary reminder about printmaking… The clouds streaming from the Himalayan peaks were created by removing blue paint from the printing plate with a wet tissue. They were not part of the original drawing – done while I was being careful to do everything in reverse. The result – clouds on Everest apparently driven by an east wind – almost never happens, I am told.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Virtual Paintout in Rio de Janeiro

From Estrada do Sumaré

Watercolour and crayon

©2010 Charlene Brown

When I learned the Virtual Paintout was in Rio de Janeiro this month, my first thought was to paint a beach scene including the fantastic Gaudi sidewalk (yes, THE Gaudi designed the sidewalk there!) but then I couldn’t find a scene I liked. I discovered later that several painters – have a look at the Virtual Paintout entries from Horst Hittenberger, Trevor Davies, Jennie Stewart and Jeri Risin – found great ‘Gaudis’ to paint, but somehow I missed them all.

I chose a panorama view from the road up to the statue of Christ the Redeemer instead. Here’s the link to it BTW, along one stretch of the road near the top, the Google camera picked up a leaf, and included it in every ninth picture for several kilometres! I’ve been wondering how many other people noticed that leaf.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

High Rock Park

Esquimalt Harbour

Watercolour and crayon

©2010 Charlene Brown

Of the many rocky outcrops that dot the southern tip of Vancouver Island, High Rock Park is one of the easiest to get to, being in the middle of Esquimalt, just west of downtown Victoria. There is a cairn at the top with a plaque identifying the main features in the 360 degree view, including Mounts Baker, Rainier and Olympus in Washington State.

Actually, the view the day I was up there didn’t extend anywhere near that far. After a typically dry summer in the ‘rain shadow’ of the Olympic peninsula, we’ve had a drizzly, foggy fall. Hence the bright green moss all over everything. The lawns around town are also sporting a green glow not usually seen until mid-winter.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Butchart Gardens

The Sunken Garden

Watercolour and crayon

©2010 Charlene Brown

This is the ‘realistic’ starter painting for another Victoria landmark I intend to make into an abstract someday soon. I’ve made it a little unreal by telescoping the perspective and raising the viewpoint to include waterfalls, pools and fountains not actually visible from this terrace at the top of the ramp down to the sunken garden.

This spectacular garden, now a national historic site, was begun by Jenny Butchart in 1904, when she decided something needed to be done about the gaping hole left where limestone had been quarried for the family cement business. If you want to see what this wondrous place really looks like, click here.

I think I’ll do one more ‘realistic’ painting of some part of Victoria, then abstract all three and post the best one. Maybe I’ll ask you to guess which one it is…