Saturday, June 28, 2014

Friedensreich Hundertwasser: artist, environmental designer and architect

(click on image to enlarge)
Watercolour and marker
©2014 Charlene Brown

The unique and always extravagant artistic vision of Friedensreich Hunderwasser (1928-2000) expressed itself in painting, environmentalism, design of facades, as well as stamps for various countries and the United Nations. The common themes in his work are bright colours, organic forms, a reconciliation of humans with nature, and a strong individualism.  He was not fond of straight lines.
His architectural work is comparable to Antoni Gaudí (1852–1926) in its use of colourful tile and biomorphic forms. He was also inspired by the art of Austrian painters Egon Schiele (1890 -1918) and Gustav Klimpt (1862 - 1918).
I love Hundertwasser’s work, and have previously painted one of his facades – a district heating plant in Vienna.  I finally made it round to see the fantastic Hundertwasserhaus, built about thirty years ago, after my recent University of Victoria Travel Study program in the Balkans.

Most of the UVic program involved much older structures – Roman Archaeology and Medieval and Venetian Renaissance architecture and I’ll be writing some blog posts about these as soon as I finish up a few more paintings. 

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Napoleon, not your average World Conqueror

Watercolour and Photoshop
©2008 Charlene Brown

Watercolour and Photoshop
©2008 Charlene Brown

In 1798, Napoleon landed in Egypt and proceeded to invade the country as he had many others.  This, however, was no ordinary invasion… Among his 54,000 men, Napoleon had included 150 savants — artists, scientists, engineers and scholars who Napoleon expected would give to their Egyptian contemporaries the benefits of the enlightened culture of Europe of the time.  This they did, but by far their most lasting accomplishment was to record meticulously the ancient Egyptian architecture, culture and history they observed.  
Napoleon is not remembered as a scientist, but he thought of himself as one. He was trained as a military engineer and had been elected to membership in the National Institute, the foremost scientific society in post-Revolutionary France. As it turned out, the cultural and scientific aspects of his 1798 expedition far outweighed its dubious military accomplishments, and the resulting publication of the Description de l'Égypte and the Scientific and Military History of the French Expedition to Egypt, revealed the vast extent of the achievements of this ancient civilization… In the opinion of one of Napoleon’s artists, Egypt had been a sanctuary of the arts and sciences and their feats of architecture and engineering in some ways surpassed that of the Greeks who later conquered them.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Virtual Paintout in Vladivostok and the Primorsky Kray Region

(click on image to enlarge)
Russky Bridge
Watercolour and CP
©2014 Charlene Brown

This month the Virtual Paintout is in Vladivostok and the Primorsky Kray Region of Russia. 

I noticed the towers of this bridge, sometimes called the ‘Bridge on the Eastern Bosphorus,’ from a considerable distance and took quite a while to navigate to it on Google Streetview

It reminded me of similar bridges I have painted on the Virtual Paintout in Japan and Latvia, but at 1.104 kilometres it is longer than the other two – apparently the longest cable-stayed bridge in the world.   

Friday, June 13, 2014

A lake less painted

(click on image to enlarge)
Lake Minnewanka
©2014 Charlene Brown

I painted Lake Minnewanka, near Banff, a few weeks ago, and it occurred to me at the time that I’d only posted one other painting of this lake

Lake Minnewanka has been, over the years, a rather less popular location for artists, and it’s hard to say why. It’s in the front range of the Rockies and it’s not glacier-fed, so unlike most of the lakes and rivers in the area, it doesn't have the famous turquoise colouring, but the surrounding mountains are up to the local standards, so I decided to have another go at it.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Useful Camera tips for artists’ reference photos II

(click on image to enlarge)
Shooting the South Face in Peru
Watercolour and ink
©2009 Charlene Brown

Backlighting: This problem usually arises when you’re shooting people in front of a bright background, but comes up in landscape photography too – if you’re trying to photograph the north face (always the best side for ice and snow, unless you’re south of the equator) of a mountain at high noon. The main thing is to make sure the lens is shaded, and if you want to see details in an otherwise silhouetted foreground figure, force the flash.

Shaky Zooming: The effect of an unstable camera increases exponentially when using a zoom setting, and is best handled with tripod and remote shutter release.  Failing these, be sure your camera’s internal stabilizer is on if it has this capability (I used to just leave mine on all the time I like it so much, but this can be a real battery-drainer, so don’t.) Brace the camera against something and activate the shutter delay (just a 2 second delay, not the 10 second one you use if you’re trying to get into the picture yourself.

Shutter delay is probably a good idea for time exposure shot too.

Restoring your camera to its normal operation after you have (accidentally or on purpose) got it on some peculiar Manual (M) mode setting.

Quick reference Listing:
  • Mode, if other than idiot-proof, point-and-shoot, or iA (intelligent automatic)
  • Numbers, representing clock-face positions (12,3,6 or 9) on the circular curser button.
Dim light: P OK OK 6 6 6 OK ISO high OK return return
High Angle: P Q 3 3 LCD 12 OK
Fast movement: Q Burst 6 5AF OK
Depth of field: A Exp 9 9 f3.3 OK
Backlight: P 3 6 6 OK
Shaky zoom: Zoom 9 12 OK
Time exposure: S 9 12 OK Exp 6 6 6 Exp 
Restore: M OK 3 3 OK 4/7 6 6 6 OK Yes No return