Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Old Lobster Traps Never Die

They are made into Christmas Trees
Watercolour, oil pastel and marker
Charlene Brown

I first heard about this custom only this year, but apparently lobster trap Christmas trees were first built in the New England States almost twenty years ago. The idea was picked up in lobster fishing ports in the Atlantic Provinces about ten years ago. There, the trees are often festooned with uniquely painted buoys commemorating fishers who have been lost at sea.  

December being one of the proverbial ‘months with an R’ I wondered at first about this particular use of lobster traps, but I read further and discovered that only traps that have been put to good use for many years and are considered beyond repair are used.  

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

My first Christmas away from home

Watercolour and oil pastel
©2018 Charlene Brown

This painting may be used as an illustration in Chapter 3 in the 6-generation auto-fictional journal I am writing. This chapter features a composite character (mostly me) called Mary-Jean. Here’s an excerpt from the draft.

In November 1963, after hitch-hiking through a ridiculous number of countries, Mary-Jean started looking for a job near Innsbruck, so she would have a place to stay during the upcoming Winter Olympics.  She got a job washing floors in a Krankenhaus on a mountain-side south of the city. One week after she started she was told that ‘her’ President had been shot. As she hadn’t yet acquired the 50-word German vocabulary one needs to wash floors in Austria, they practically had to act out Kennedy’s assassination in Dallas to get the message across. Even though Kennedy wasn’t her President at all, like many Canadians she thought he was terrific.  It was a very lonely time until a joyous Tyrolean Christmas – despite the trauma of being her first Christmas away from home – worked its miracle a few weeks later. 

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Juan d Fuca Marine Trail

The Juan de Fuca Marine Trail is a rugged 47-kilometre trail along the southwest coast of Vancouver Island. 

The upper picture is a panoramic view of the Strait of Juan de Fuca and the Olympic Mountains in Washington State. The lower picture shows Seal Grotto, a prime seal habitat.

These paintings may be used as illustrations in Chapter 6 of the multi-generational auto-fiction novel I am writing  the ‘purely speculative’ chapter I referred to in my December 5 blog post. They show a very real adventure that took place ‘way back in 2018’ and is referred to in a conversation that takes place in 2042 in the novel.

Pay attention; there may be a test.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Boundless Human Energy Haiku

Mt. Robson, BC

Haiga is a style of painting that incorporates the clean, minimalist, yet often profound, aesthetic of haiku.  Both haiku and haiga translate nature through an artistic language with spiritual immediacy and selfless skill. This is achieved through Zen-like training in contemplation and technique.

About twenty-five years ago I attended a watercolour workshop in the Canadian Rockies given by well-known American artist, Barbara Nechis. We were in the Bow Valley surrounded by spectacular peaks, and Barbara reminded us that some of them had been painted hundreds, if not thousands, of times. She went on to suggest that, under the circumstances, we consider carefully whether or not each of the paintings we were about to produce really ‘needed’ to be done.

I’ve tried to heed Barbara’s advice – working on something approaching her wonderfully loose, semi-abstract style. Hence the ‘abstracting’ of Mount Robson into clean  and simple haiga to go with the clean and simple haiku.

Having cleared that up, we will now attempt to make sense of the first line of the haiku.  It refers to a possible outcome of research on modified microbes. Genetically engineered bacteria and yeast can produce hydrocarbon-based fuels from organic waste. In addition to being renewable, the microbes are ‘carbon-neutral’ using about the same amount of carbon to produce the oil as will be emitted when it burns.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Mid-21st Century Northern Lights

Northern Lights at Takhini Hot Springs, near Whitehorse and Talus Lake in Tombstone Territorial Park 
Watercolour, crayon and marker
©2018 Charlene Brown

This painting may be used to illustrate Chapter 6 of the multi-generational  auto-fiction novel I am writing. Chapter 6 begins in 2042 and is set in Yukon.

Chapter 1 of the novel begins fairly accurately with my  grandmother’s adventures at the turn of the twentieth century, but the young women in succeeding chapters, including myself in Chapter 3, become less individually recognizable and more likely to be ‘composites’ representing more than one person. Chapter 6, about ‘Alexandra’ who is born in 2027 is, of course, purely speculative.