Sunday, January 26, 2020

Famous Canadian Volcanoes

Mount Meager
Watercolour and oil pastel
©2020 Charlene Brown

Spoiler alert: There are only two famous Canadian volcanoes and this isn’t one of them.

Along with New Zealand, Indonesia, the Philippines, Japan, and the American states of Alaska, Washington, Oregon and California, we are in the Circum-Pacific belt of earthquake and volcanic activity known as the Ring of Fire.

Although we on the west coast have recently become earthquake-aware, and are (very gradually) becoming earthquake-ready, there is little awareness of the many volcanoes here in British Columbia.

Most, including one of the famous ones, Black Tusk, are extinct. Black Tusk is the upper spire of a stratovolcano, visible in the background of the Whistler Inukshuk postcard painting on the right.

Among the potentially active Canadian volcanoes, the most recent eruption occurred about 150 years ago at Lava Forks in northwestern British Columbia near the Alaska border.  

About 100 years before that, in 1775, an eruption of the Tseax Cone killed almost 2000 of the Nisga’a people.  I wrote about this eruption last year.

I have also painted the other famous Canadian volcano, Mount Garibaldi, which last erupted 8000 years ago.

As for the subject of this week’s painting Mount Meager has the distinction of being the site of the most recent big explosive eruption in British Columbia, about 2350 years ago. And a fumarole field venting steam has recently been revealed by the receding glacier on top of this dormant volcano. 

Sunday, January 19, 2020

King Herod’s Fortress

Diptych, watercolour and oil pastel
©2020 Charlene Brown

The fortress of Masada is on an isolated mesa high above the Dead Sea. It is renowned for the palaces and fortifications of Herod the Great, king of Judaea prior to the birth of Jesus in nearby Bethlehem, and for its resistance to the Roman siege in 72–73 CE. Masada is one of the most important archaeological sites in Israel because it symbolizes the determination, heroism and eventual martyrdom of its defenders during that siege. It was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2001.

Climbing the Masada at sunrise, by the winding ‘snake path’ that can be seen in the painting on the left, has become something of a tradition, and our trip to Israel next November will include an ascent (by cable car and not at sunrise) to ‘King Herod’s Fortress’ – if the trip ever actually happens... Perhaps I will know next week if it's still on.  

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Israel is starting to look even further away than next November

Sea of Galilee from Mt. Arbel
Watercolour and oil pastel
©2020 Charlene Brown

Besides being very scenic, the area between Nazareth and the Sea of Galilee is of great significance as the location of many historical events, from Biblical times to modern day conflicts.

The University of Victoria trip to Israel I hope to participate in next November will touch on several of these but is unlikely to present such paintable views as I have cobbled together (from photographs on the internet) for this painting.

Unfortunately, the whole trip is looking less and less likely to take place, following last week’s horrifying developments in the Middle East.

Sunday, January 5, 2020

Review of 2019/Plan for 2020

First light in a winter wonderland
Watercolour and oil pastel
©2020 Charlene Brown

This is the view of The Three Sisters, Ha Ling and the snow-covered evergreen and larch trees, from the hotel in Canmore where we spent a few days during our Christmas trip to Alberta. (Specifically, it’s the view from the hot tub.)

This post is a review of progress on various blog projects during 2019 and my plans for these projects in 2020:
·      Travel painting: I continued to paint mostly landscapes, writing about out-of-the-way British Columbia landscapes ‘less painted,’ as well as writing 10 blog posts about a June 2019 UVic travel study program trip to Newfoundland + Labrador  I also explored the painting possibilities on seven trips that are only in the planning, or even bucket-listed’ stage.
·      Clean energy haiku/haiga project: In November, I published ‘Inventing the Future with Clean Energy Haiku,‘ a book containing 50 illustrated poems using ‘found’ haiku and computer-stylized versions of my Canadian landscapes. It’s available on Amazon. 
·      I completed a first draft of an autofictional novel about the career planning and launching years in the lives of young women in six generations of my family. In 2020 I plan to complete this book – as a collection of six short stories beginning in 1898, 1925, 1958, 1987, 2017 and 2042 – as recommended in an editorial evaluation by Friesen Press here in Victoria.
·      A few years ago I put together a cross-cultural 'History of Design' timeline covering art and architecture from prehistoric times to the beginning of the twenty-first century.  I linked tables from this History of Design to six cross-cultural ‘time capsules’ I compiled in 2018. 
·      Compilation of Christmas letters since 1990: I plan to add a few paintings to the photos already in these letters, before editing them and putting them all together. Several 2019 blog posts were about 'missing' paintings of places I visited but didn’t paint at the time, and I plan to continue painting these additional pictures.