Sunday, February 26, 2017

Travels with our Grandkids IV e – Peru

Back in Lima for our return flight to Vancouver the following day, our Farewell Dinner was held in the best part of town. We were ushered into one of the townhouses of the Conquistadors near the Cathedral Plaza – except that our guide encouraged us to use the term explorer rather than conquistador, which means conqueror.

Here’s Nick looking around the spectacular gilded foyer of a home originally built by a ‘friend of the explorer Francisco Pizarro.’ 

The Cathedral Plaza was painted from photos taken at its spectacular best, the way it looks just after dinner – at about 11 pm!

As I recall, a surprising number of our inter-generational group would have joined the crowd around the fountain were it not for a bus driver who was pretty determined to get us back to our hotel before midnight!

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Travels with our Grandkids IV d – Peru

These salt-evaporation ponds are four kilometers north of the town of Maras, down a canyon that descends to the Rio Vilcanota and the Sacred Valley of the Incas. The salt pans were built by the Incas almost seven hundred years ago and are still being used. An intricate irrigation system diverts an extremely salty (yes, of course we tasted it) natural stream into shallow dug-out shelves, and as the water evaporates the salt settles out.

The sketch on the left was barely started on location (well, back at the hotel) in Peru, as there is actually way more work involved in starting than you’d think. Just deciding how many of the 2000 odd salt pans to include in the picture took quite a while. 

This postcard shows the jagged walls of Sacsayhuaman, an Incan ruin on a mountainside above the city of Cusco, which can be seen in the background. The huge stone blocks weigh up to 200 tons, and nobody knows how they were cut, moved and fitted (perfectly) into place! The words ‘Viva El Peru’ on the far side of the valley are actually lighter than their surroundings and started out written in a white crayon resist on this postcard… but the resist lost its grip along the way, and I decided to use ink instead.
 And here’s Nick on top of the wall lest you get the impression from the postcard picture that the wall surrounding  the Sacsayhuaman citadel is of ordinary size at all.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Travels with our Grandkids IV c – Peru

Moray Agricultural Complex Peru
Moray Agricultural Complex – Incas used these precisely irrigated circular terraces for agricultural experimentation, taking advantage of the sharp elevation differentials and dramatic microclimate variation.

I found my GPS useful for identifying landmarks by plotting latitude and longitude and direction of view, and noting these figures in my sketchbook. The mountain peak on the right, seen from this viewpoint (located at 13 degrees south, 73 degrees west, looking WNW) was later identified as Veronique.

 Here is a detailed view of Nick’s version of Moray. He actually climbed down to the lowest (and hottest) level of the complex, so included the cantilevered stone steps between the terraces in his painting.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Virtual Paintout in Nashville

Music City from the Riverfront transit station
Watercolour and crayon
Charlene Brown

The Virtual Paintout is in Nashville this month. It’s the capital of Tennessee, so I first considered this telephoto streetview of the State Capitol from Jefferson Street, but then decided this shot of Music City from the Riverfront transit Station was quite a bit more interesting and, of course, more uniquely ‘Nashville.’

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Travels with our Grandkids IV b - Peru

White-water rafting Peru
Whitewater rafting turned out to be much more fun than I thought it would be! This painting is based on a photo of a wonderfully calm stretch of the river. The waves are totally a product of my Masquepen-fueled imagination. But they did happen. Three times!

I used a surprising amount of masking fluid to preserve the white areas in both the paintings shown here, as well as using it to draw the quipu in the overlaid painting I posted February 9.

In this painting of Potato Farmers in the Andes, based on a picture taken almost directly into the morning sun in the northeast sky, masking was used to bring out back-lighting effects on the glacier and the figures in the foreground.

We learned that potatoes originated in Peru, and they have preserved and include in their diet hundreds of varieties of them. Surprises every day for my grandson and myself, accustomed to eating maybe two and a half varieties.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Travels with our Grandkids IV a – Peru

In 2009, I took Keara’s brother, Nick, on a Disney Expedition to Peru. Our main objective was either to explore Incan archaeology or go white-water rafting on the Urubamba, depending on which one of us you were talking to...
I had actually starting writing my blog at that time so, rather than just repeating the Peru blog posts from May and June 2009, I’ll add some new pictures. This first is an overlay of three paintings from my sketchbook: 
  • a structure (part of the water system at Ollantaytambo) with a typical Incan step design, 
  • a quipu – an intricate knotted cord accounting system (base 10, apparently) used by the Incas and earlier Andean civilizations, 
  • and probably the most famous place in Peru, Machu Picchu. The last part was started on location just below the Guardian’s Hut near the top of the archaeological site – while I waited for my grandson and other energetic members of our group to return from a climb to the Incan Bridge.

The second picture is a photograph of an outdoor dance performance of the legend of Apocatequi, the Incan god of lightning. The dancers were all on two-meter stilts and the lighting was eerie and mesmerizing – and, as you can see, impossible to guess a good camera setting for!

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Not even in a Province this time

Mount Thor Nunavut
Mount Thor
Watercolour and crayon
©2017 Charlene Brown

This huge granite spike is located in Auyuitttuq National Park on Baffin Island in Nunavut.
I’ve seen it described as the coolest-looking mountain in Canada... Okay, I can agree with that, given that its 1250 m west face is the longest purely vertical drop on earth. But it’s also been described as the meanest-looking mountain in Canada, which I couldn’t understand until I realized they were talking about climbing it! Apparently there were 30 attempts to climb Thor Peak before a team managed to scale it in 1985. It took them almost five weeks – what were they thinking?