Monday, July 28, 2014

Eleven years after the Kootenay Burn

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

We were in the Rockies a couple of weeks ago and I had a chance to hike up Marble Canyon, which had been closed for some time because of fire-damaged bridges.  

This view, looking south down the canyon, shows some significant and encouraging changes from when I painted this same area two years ago. Some of the silvery-mauve patina of the burned forest on the higher slopes remains since my blog posts, ‘Purple trees’ and ‘More purple trees’ but the colour that really jumps out now is the startling green of the fuzzy new pines – now almost a metre high.  

Friday, July 25, 2014

Meanwhile, back at the lake...

The view from our hotel
Watercolour sketch
©2014 Charlene Brown

This tranquil view of Lake Ohrid (even the swans and their cygnets were dozing off – within a few metres of the shore) belies the often-violent history of the area.

Samuil’s fortress benignly overlooks the iconic Macedonian Orthodox St. Jovan Caneo church, thought to have been built in the 13th century prior to incursions by the expanding Ottoman Empire, and the lake itself, which Macedonia (then Yugoslavia) shared with Albania through many tumultuous years. 

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

West toward the mountains

Samuil’s Fortress on Lake Ohrid
Watercolour sketch
©2014 Charlene Brown

Away from the capital, Macedonians seem less preoccupied with the Greek question, but they have had to contend with various invasions over the years, and the remains of the imposing fortress of Tsar Samuil would seem to indicate this was never a simple matter.  The fortress was built during the Middle Ages, on the site of the original fortification built in the 4th century BCE by Philip II.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Macedonia: Victim or Perpetrator of Identity Theft?

Mustafa Pasha Mosque in Skopje
Watercolour sketch
©2014 Charlene Brown

On May 28 we crossed the border into the Republic of Macedonia, which until 1991 was part of Yugoslavia. When that country broke up, the ages-old dispute with Greece over the use of the name Macedonia was reignited.  The Greek government contends that Macedonia is, and always has been, a region of Greece, and although there are many true (Greek) Macedonians living in the Republic of Macedonia, that doesn't make the rest of them Macedonians.  Various compromises have been worked out with the EU, USA, etc. about how they are to be regarded internationally, and they seem to be dealing with it… but the Greeks have succeeded in forcing them to rename a huge statue in the main square of Skopje, ‘The Great Warrior’ instead of ‘Alexander the Great,’ as originally intended – because he was really a Greek.

Another interesting, though not particularly relevant, fact is that the mosque in this sketch was completed in 1492. 

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

first of the Roman ruins

(click on image to enlarge)
Theatre at Plovdiv
Watercolour and Photoshop™
©2014 Charlene Brown

Plovdiv was known as Philippopolis (and I kind of wish they’d left it at that) after being conquered by Philip II of Macedon, the father of Alexander the Great. It became a centre of great cultural significance during Roman times, with numerous public buildings, shrines, baths, and this theatre. Like Rome it was built on seven hills, and the remains of the theatre, still in use today, are splendidly located on a ridge between two of them overlooking the main part of the city.

Friday, July 11, 2014

On the road to Plovdiv

European Poppies
Watercolour sketch
©2014 Charlene Brown

We were in Bulgaria in time for the rose festivals, and the displays of this flower, for which Bulgaria is world-renowned, were spectacular… but what I liked even more were the brilliant wild poppies carpeting the roadside ditches, meadows and hillsides everywhere. These almost fluorescent flowers are found throughout Europe at this time of year. 

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

The adventure begins…

Alexander Nevsky Cathedral
Watercolour and crayon sketch
©2014 Charlene Brown

Our University of Victoria Travel Study Program ‘Balkan Odyssey’ began in Sofia, Bulgaria on May 26 at this Orthodox cathedral. Our tour was to go through eight countries, so to help remember where I was, I made a habit of including flags in my paintings whenever there happened to be any – there are four Bulgarian flags in this one.

The architecture of the other two faith groups strongly represented in the Balkans, Roman Catholics and Muslims, found its way into several of the landscapes and cityscapes I sketched during the trip – but I didn't try anything as complex and hard to draw as this cross-domed basilica again!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Virtual Paintout in Greece

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

The Virtual Paintout is in Greece this month.  Having the whole country in which to find a good painting location was almost more difficult than having to work within a restricted area! 

First, I spent way too much time trying to get a good shot at the Acropolis from one of the nearby streets in Athens, and had no luck at all.  So I went to Santorini, to a spot at the top of the cliffs above the cruise ship terminal, where I knew I’d find great views of the rest of the crescent-shaped island plus the volcanic cone in its centre. Here’s a link to the one I selected.