Wednesday, May 29, 2019

My 116th Canadian Rockies blog post

Banff again
Watercolour and crayon
©2019 Charlene Brown

I was once quoted by Katherine Tyrrell, on her blog Making a Mark writing, “ ...until I was about eight, I was only vaguely aware that anybody painted anything but the Canadian Rockies.” 

The Rockies, especially the Banff area, continues to be a favourite location, with this being my 116th Canadian Rockies blog entry. 

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Synergy haiku

Here’s an interpretation of the haiku on the painting of Lake O’Hara, above.

Line 1: Storable power: energy storage systems convert electricity into a storable form of energy and release the energy back as electricity at a later time. Storage technologies under study include pumped-storage hydropower, compressed air systems that can spin a turbine, and utility-scale batteries.
Line 2: Net zero-ready building: designing building to be very energy efficient with the appropriate infrastructure to handle an on site power when the price of onsite generation (from photovoltaics for example) and storage comes down
Line 3: This is synergy: creation of a whole that is greater than the simple sum of its parts.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Not to be confused with the Leighton Artists Colony*

Leighton Art Centre
Watercolour and oil pastel
©2019 Charlene Brown

British-born artist Alfred Crocker (AC) Leighton came to Canada commissioned to paint the Rockies by the Canadian Pacific Railway.  In 1933, he initiated a summer art school near Banff.  This led to the establishment of the Banff School of Fine Arts, which became the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity.
In 1952 Leighton and his wife built a home on a property west of Calgary, with a “300-mile view of the Rocky Mountains"  paid for with a cheque written on a page of his sketchbook.
Following his death in 1965, his wife Barbara, already an artist in her own right, enrolled at the Alberta College of Art and Design, where she received a diploma in fibre and metal crafts. At ACAD she found the support of young artists who were attracted to the Leighton history and the artistic and natural beauty of their home and property and her idea of turning it into an Art Centre.
In 1970, Barbara sold half of her quarter-section to invest in the purchase for $1000 of an abandoned 1919 one-room schoolhouse. Her friends pitched in to help restore the building and convert it to an art studio, which became the heart of the Leighton Art Centre’s extensive children’s programs Eventually, weaving and pottery studios and a large greenhouse were added to the house, all in the half-timbered Arts & Crafts style of Leighton’s original design.

* Perhaps I am the only person who has tended to conflate the Leighton Art Centre and the Leighton Artists Colony...  

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Really Old Climate Records

The paleontologist who discovered the Burgess Shale in 1909 was so impressed with the extent and diversity of the layers of fossils, that he returned over a dozen times, finding more life forms every time. Over the years the Geologic Survey of Canada and the Royal Ontario Museum got involved and many additional outcrops have been found, stratigraphically both higher and lower than the original. These layers continue to yield new organisms faster than they can be studied.

Here is an explanation of the haiku on the painting of Emerald Lake and the Burgess Shale, above:
Line 1: Shale stores ‘fossil fuel’ energy.
Line 2: Paleoclimatologists studying fossil records found a rapid acceleration in the diversification of complex organisms during the Cambrian Explosion, a period half a billion years ago, during which most major phyla in existence today appeared.
Line 3: When researchers understand the climate of time of the Cambrian Explosion and its effects, this could add synergistically to their ability to predict long-term future effects of the range and rate of climate change.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Hardly anyone I know has been here

Avenue of the Baobabs
Watercolour and crayon
©2019 Charlene Brown

I have to admit there’s a certain appeal to visiting places very few of your friends have seen. Madagascar appeared on this particular part of my bucket list when I heard from a friend from our Dubai days that she had made the trip and loved it.

The place may not be ideal for a painting trip, however. What my friend found most enchanting and I’d have to agree were the many varieties of lemur. And they seem to be just about impossible to even photograph, let alone paint. 

What are paintable, and almost as unique to Madagascar as the lemurs, are the baobab trees.  The huge ones found on the ‘Avenue of the Baobabs’ are up to 800 years old and almost 50 meters around the base. Their origin was explained by early, apparently very imaginative, Arab traders, as regular trees that had been ripped out of the ground and replanted upside down, probably by the devil.  

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Climate Migration Haiku

The emerging phenomenon of climate migration refers to the enforced evacuation of areas about to be rendered uninhabitable or submerged by climate change. This migration is likely to be northward and upward to higher elevations, and may eventually shift population concentrations. How will this previously unforeseen circumstance be handled?

Here is an explanation of the remaining lines of the haiku on the painting of the Kluane Icefield, above:
Line 2: Reaching grid parity is considered to be the point at which an energy source becomes a contender for development.  By eliminating the huge costs of electricity transmission or transport of fuels for on-site generators, the development of alternate energy sources is especially important in the North.
Line 3: It is possible that melting permafrost could not only exacerbate global warming by releasing methane and other powerful greenhouse gases, but might have initiated a runaway process of temperature increases. It also could cause erosion because permafrost lends stability to barren Arctic slopes.

Friday, May 10, 2019

Easier to get to than some parts of BC that I’ve painted

Sandcut Falls
Watercolour and crayon
©2019 Charlene Brown

Sandcut Beach is on the southwest coast of Vancouver Island, along the Juan de Fuca Highway between French Beach Provincial Park and Jordan River.  It’s about a ten-minute walk in from the highway about 30 kilometres past Sooke. There's even a boardwalk to get you over the thick beds of moss and ferns in a rainforest of giant cedar and Douglas fir.

The picturesque and very paintable falls have cut several channels through the protruding layer of sandstone high above the beach.

Sunday, May 5, 2019

Disruptive new stuff haiku

This is the first entry in Chapter 6 of the Clean Energy Haiku book I am writing Handling the unforeseen and unintended.

Kakabeka, the second highest waterfall in Ontario, comes with a great story…  An Ojibwa Chief instructed his daughter to devise a plan to protect her people from an imminent Sioux invasion. She entered the Sioux camp, pretending to be lost, bargained with them to spare her life if she would guide them to her father’s camp. Placed in the bow of the lead canoe, she instead led the warriors and herself over the falls to their deaths. The legend claims that one can see her when looking into the mist of Kakabeka Falls, a monument to the princess who gave her life to save her people… If I’d know about this before I painted the falls, I would have included her and made this an allegorical picture.

Here’s an explanation of the haiku on the painting above.
Line 1: Technology or service displacing established industry
Line 2: An allegory is a device used in literature and art to ­signify a meaning that is not literal. It may be symbolic of a concept, like disruptive new stuff or unintended consequences of legislation.

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

A possible addition to the Bucket List

Chefchaouen, Morocco
Watercolour and crayon
©2019 Charlene Brown

I was feeling a little bit envious of friends who are going to Morocco next week.  I tried Googling images of that country to see what I might have missed when I was there about forty years ago, before I took up travel painting. One of the first places to grab my attention was Chefchaouen.  It is famous for its striking blue plastered and tiled buildings, but I’d never heard of it! It turns out my friends will be going there. Now I'm really envious!

This painting is a combination of several pictures from the internet. I think this view of the mountains might have been taken with a telephoto lens as none of the others showed them looming this close by.  There were a several sort of panoramic pictures taken from adjacent hillsides, and while trying to include as many aspects as possible, I neglected to sketch in a suitable foreground.  As artist Robert Genn once said about the importance of a good foreground, “a wide-angled, receding landscape without the counterpoint of a human-scaled foreground is a trip to the country without a picnic basket.” I think a bucket list picture especially should provide for a picnic.