Friday, February 25, 2011

Seeing what you're looking at

(click on painting to enlarge)
Watercolour, gouache and crayon
©2011 Charlene Brown

I’ll be launching an environmental project soon, involving caribou and oilsands among other issues, so you’ll  be seeing these beasts again, computer-painted and posterized. Meanwhile, I have to tell you what I learned about my observation skills while drawing this…
I was working from a photograph I took of a caribou (in Denali, Alaska, actually, although these are supposed to be in Alberta) and decided he wasn’t holding his head up properly.  I rearranged him a little along the lines of Monarch of the Glen – and discovered he simply wasn’t right! So I Googled caribou Images and discovered caribou never hold their heads up! I’ve observed enough caribou to form the opinion they have by far the best-looking antlers in the entire deer family, but it wasn’t until I tried to draw one that I even noticed they must go through life with their heads at or below shoulder height!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Another Twentieth Century Flashback

The Alhambra
Watercolour and ink
©1996 Charlene Brown
April 5, 1996 was a perfect day to see the Alhambra... and I discovered, after a one-hour climb from the Granada train station to the palace gate, that literally thousands of others thought so as well. (It happened to be the Good Friday holiday, which may have had something to do with this.) A sign at the head of the long queue just inside the entrance warned that tickets on sale at that time were for admission to the Moorish Palaces at 1400 hrs. By the time I’d climbed to the top of the queue and worked my way down to that point again, the ticket I got was for admission at 1630 hrs. I hadn’t waited so long to get into anything since Expo ’67 in Montreal!
There was lots to see as I waited for my hora de entrada to the Moorish Palaces, including the walls and towers of the oldest part of the Alhambra, the Alcazaba, from the Arabic al-qasba, the fortress.  There is a theory that the Alhambra came by its name, again from an Arabic word, al-hamra, for red, because of the colouration in the stone used to construct it. But I prefer the explanation that, in their haste to fortify the position, the original Muslim conquerors were forced to work by the red glow of torchlight. Present day visitor have no such constraints, of course.  I had all the time I needed to sketch the all-encompassing view from the watchtower – the courtyards, and roof-tops of the palaces, up through gardens and olive groves to the peaks of the Sierra Nevada.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Virtual Paintout in Romania

Bank on Bulevardul Unirii, Bucharest, România
Watercolour, gouache and crayon
©2011 Charlene Brown

The Virtual Paintout  is in Romania this month so I’ve been having a look round the many picturesque city streets and country roads that have been logged by the Google Streetview cameras. I picked these buildings, including the Carpathian Commercial (the bank in the picture title), from a huge array of interesting architecture extending as far as the eye can see on both sides of Bulevardul Unirii.  Have a look at this link, rotate the camera 360 degrees, and you’ll see what I mean.
When I first saw the other paintings already posted on the Virtual Paintout, I kind of wished I’d stumbled upon the spectacularly-situated castle of Vlad the Impaler (Dracula) near Bran, as Genevieve Cseh did, but then decided that this boulevard was pretty impressive as well.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Living on a Houseboat in Paradise

Houseboats in West Bay
Watercolour and crayon
©2011 Charlene Brown

I think everyone wishes at some point that they could live on a houseboat (or float home, as they prefer to be called) in some nice warm place. Here’s a bunch of people living the dream in Victoria Harbour.

We try not to be too smug about our climate here – especially this week with the weather being seriously awful almost everywhere else in North America, not to mention Australia where they’re having some of the worst weather in history – but pretty soon we’ll abandon restraint and do the annual flower count. It’s always in the millions way before the rest of Canada has seen its first crocus. Sorry.