Sunday, December 29, 2019

One more for the Bucket List

Mulafossur Falls
Watercolour and oil pastel
©2019 Charlene Brown
This spectacular waterfall is on Vagar, one of the Faroe Islands, an autonomous territory within the Kingdom of Denmark. These islands form an archipelago north of Scotland about halfway between Norway and Iceland.

The uniquely stark landscapes of the islands work well as computer-stylized designs. On the right is a design based on this painting with an overlay of some interesting facts about the extensively developed system of tunnels through mountains and undersea between islands that links almost 90% of the population of the Faroe Islands.

Sunday, December 22, 2019


Star Fountain
Watercolour and oil pastel
Charlene Brown

The fountain shown here is on Star Street in Bethlehem near the Church of the Nativity which covers the grotto believed by most Christians to be the location of the birth of Christ two thousand years ago.

Bethlehem is about ten kilometres south of Jerusalem. The area was occupied by Rome at the time of Christ’s birth, and has been invaded and occupied many times over the years since.  Although control of the region has alternated between Arabs and Israelis in recent years – it was part of the Israeli-occupied West Bank after the Six-Day War in 1967, but was turned over to the Palestinian Authority following the Oslo Accords in 1993 it is mainly Christians who come to see Bethlehem, especially at this time of year.  I hope to be one of them next November.

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Travelling wave reactor haiku

Black swans and alicorns
©2019 Charlene Brown

When putting together 'found' poetry for Inventing the Future, my book of clean energy haiku,  I somehow missed ‘travelling wave reactor,’ a potential source of clean energy with seven syllables!  So here it is – the most enigmatic poem yet.
An allegory
Travelling wave reactor
Alchemy balance

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 such as:
  • a black swan, which is an unpredictable or unforeseen event, typically one with extreme consequences, or 
  • a mythological creature, a mixture of pegasus and unicorn, referred to as an alicorn - the Latin word for the horn of a unicorn in alchemical texts.
Alchemy is, of course, the medieval forerunner of chemistry - a seemingly magical process of transformation, creation or combination. 

Sunday, December 8, 2019

National Geographic list of Best Trips

Jiaxiu Tower, Guiyang, Guizhou
Watercolour and oil pastel
Charlene Brown

A recent email from National Geographic featured a list of 20 Best Trips, so I opened all the links looking for possible additions to my Bucket List. I’ve been to a few of the places listed, Mostar in Bosnia & Herzegovina, Abu Simbel in Egypt, the Grand Canyon in the United States and Tasmania in Australia, and I’d heard of all the others except Guizhou Province.

It turns out that, “Historically one of China’s most isolated and undiscovered provinces, southwestern Guizhou is gaining global notice as a cloud computing and big-data centre. The mountainous region’s plentiful water and cool climate are draws for Apple, Huawei, and other tech powerhouses that have established or are building facilities in the provincial capital, Guiyang.”  Who knew?

The word ‘mountainous’ caught my eye so I tried searching for something paintable… But this striking juxtaposition of the 14th century Jiaxiu Tower and some 21st century towers was the only location that caught my eye. I probably won’t be adding Guizhou to my Bucket List.

But Puebla in Mexico, another place on the list, could be a possibility.

Sunday, December 1, 2019

Climate change?

Yellow-browed Warbler
Watercolour and oil pastel
©2019 Charlene Brown

Warming temperatures are causing the habitats of some species of plants and animals to shift to higher latitudes and altitudes.  In Canada we are seeing insect and bird species, until a few years ago only found in the United States, moving further and further north.

The recent and very rare sighting on Vancouver Island of a Yellow-browed Warbler was not one of those however.  Exciting as it was – birders came from mainland British Columbia and Washington state –this was simply an example of an Asian resident blown off course.

This warbler – there was just the one, not the family group in the painting – is referred to as a ‘vagrant’ and, considering how far he is from his normal migration route between Russia and South-east Asia, likely a ‘hitchhiker’ as well, for at least part of the distance.