Sunday, August 21, 2022

We should all switch from red meat to that other basic food group ─ chocolate

Watercolour and crayon
©2022 Charlene Brown

Following years of drastic deforestation in the Brazilian rainforest, a small forest agriculture, or agroforestry, program has been started. Their best-known projects are shade-grown coffee and chocolate. In addition to food production, the main objective of the program is restoration of the land’s vital carbon sequestration capability.  

Because of climate change, it may be that tropical programs such as this will be needed in agricultural areas that are currently temperate. The gradual migration of plant species to higher latitudes and elevations expected with increasing temperatures is symbolically represented in this allegorical painting.

Unfortunately, existing agroforestry programs are not keeping up with the continuing destruction of the rainforest aimed at freeing up land mainly for the purpose of growing soy for beef production.

Sunday, August 14, 2022

Another possible dual solution to problems made worse by climate change

Banff Firebreak
Watercolour and crayon
©2021 Charlene Brown

One of the unforeseen results of many decades of successful forest fire prevention in North America has been thousands of square miles of overmature, tightly packed, highly combustible conifers, particularly in National Parks – a perfect storm of wildfire hazards as climate change worsens conditions around the world. 

Beginning about a hundred years ago, firebreaks such as the one in this painting were cut to protect inhabited areas. This firebreak is now pretty well filled in, and can no longer be easily seen, and a multi-year plan to improve and expand it was launched in 2020.

The original break was a clear-cut on the north face of Sulphur Mountain, with no replacement of trees.  I understand the new one will extend over a much larger area on the west slope of the mountain, with some thinned clusters of trees left in place, and additional deciduous plantings, so that’s the way I’ve painted it.  Deciduous trees provide shade for groundcover as well as acting as fuel breaks because they ignite much less readily than conifers.

I first wrote about this situation and the beginning of a solution a year ago, on August 15, 2021. The part about deciduous trees may have been just optimistic whimsy on my part.  I hope not, but I have not been able to find any recent report of progress on the new firebreak. 

I’ll write about another possible ‘dual’ solution to climate-change problems in a blog post about Agroforestry next week.

Sunday, August 7, 2022

Could this be a solution to two climate change problems?

Solar Vineyard in France
Computer-stylized watercolour
©2022 Charlene Brown

Solar Agriculture, sometimes known as agrophotovoltaics, describes the use of land for both alternate (low-carbon) electricity generation and agriculture.

In some parts of Europe, 2% of agricultural land is allocated to the installation of solar photovoltaic panels.  Sometimes the panels are raised high enough to allow access for farm machinery. They are generally mounted in single-axis rotating arrays.

Research to determine what crops will maximize the efficiency of this dual use of the land has been ongoing for some years.   It has been found that grapes adapt well to cultivation under solar panel arrays, in fact they benefit from the intermittent shade provided during extremely hot days and the partial shelter on cold nights at the beginning and end of the growing season.  

Sunday, July 31, 2022

The Disappearance

Illecillewaet Glacier
Watercolour and crayon
©2022 Charlene Brown

This glacier is easily seen from a short stretch of the TransCanada Highway (near the bottom of the first long drop west of the summit of Rogers Pass) but is actually very difficult to access and track. 

Thus, it is all the more impressive that Illecillewaet’s recession and (even more difficult to measure) downward flow and resulting ‘net’ recession, were painstakingly determined almost every year from 1887 until 1911 by an intrepid American, Mary Vaux. She used heavy steel plates big enough that it was (usually) possible to find them each year and a 45-kg camera, that required two pack horses.

Mary Vaux's comprehensive, old (by North American standards) data has been compared to modern net recession measurements, which were resumed in 1945 after a gap of about 30 years caused by World Wars I and II and the Great Depression between them.  This comparison with on-going research, now carried out by Parks Canada, is proving that, as suspected, ‘anthropogenic forcing’ (human-caused impact) is massive and accelerating.

Like glaciers all over the world, Illecillewaet is disappearing.  

Sunday, July 24, 2022

A break from blog posts about carbon emissions

Virtual AirBnB on the Amalfi Coast
Watercolour and crayon
©2022 Charlene Brown

This painting was based on some pictures my daughter sent me of the spectacularly-located villa she and her husband and another couple rented on the Amalfi coast near Positano. I hope to get back to real international traveling and painting next year but, for now, am still enjoying completely effortless virtual participation in adventures like this.

Meanwhile, back in the world of climate change, the Carbon Almanac has been published.  Several hundred of us worked on this project (you’ll find me at the beginning of the eleventh row at Meet the people behind the Carbon Almanac.) 

If you’re tired of hearing people debate climate change’s causes and dire consequences without providing facts to help you make your own decisions, I hope you’ll consider buying a copy of The Carbon Almanac  (27 CAD)


Sunday, July 17, 2022

Direct Air Capture may be the answer – but when?

Carbon Engineering DAC facility at Squamish
Watercolour and crayon
©2022 Charlene Brown

According to a World Economic Forum paper by Victoria Masterson, direct air capture (DAC) involves removing CO2 from the air and storing or reusing it. This reduces the atmospheric concentration of this greenhouse gas (GHG), which is now dangerously high and contributing to climate heating, especially in the North.

Given that the transition to clean energy likely cannot be accomplished in time to reach net zero CO2 emissions by 2050, a massive scale-up in carbon capture capability, including DAC, is needed.

Companies such as Microsoft, Shopify and Swiss Re are buying into DAC to offset their emissions.  Carbon Engineering and partners around the world are working to deploy DAC facilities that can each capture one million tonnes of CO2 per year ─ equivalent to the carbon removal capacity of approximately 40 million trees.

Sunday, July 10, 2022

A Great Start on the Great Green Wall

 Fighting back on the front lines of climate change
Watercolour and crayon
©2022 Charlene Brown

'Fighting Back' is based on a combination of internet images of the Great Green Wall in Niger, Senegal and Mali.

This African-led initiative, launched just 15 years ago in 2007, has made amazing progress on the ambitious plan to grow and/or restore an 8000km belt of biodiversity across the continent from Senegal on the Atlantic to Djibouti on the Red Sea. This formerly lush region (as represented in the photo below), known as the Sahel, had already fallen victim to some of the challenges that humanity could be facing this century  desertification, drought, food shortages, migration and international terrorism.

Wall In Hatshepsut’s temple at Dier el-Bahri near Luxor, Egypt
showing lush gardens in the Land of Punt, a country on the Red Sea in what is now Sudan.

©2008 Charlene Brown  

Sunday, July 3, 2022

This is not the border between Canada and Denmark

A disputed but paintable border
Watercolour and crayon
Charlene Brown

My original plan, now that Canada and Denmark have finally agreed on where to divide up Han Island between the Canadian territory of Nunavut and the Danish district of Greenland, was to paint the landscape along the newly established Canada/Denmark border.  However, when I Googled some images of Han Island, I found it’s about the least picturesque place in all of Canada and/or Denmark. 

About the same time, I came across some photographs of a much more spectacular 'border' along the ceasefire line between India and Pakistan in the state of Jammu and Kashmir in the Karakoram Range of the Himalayas.  I decided to paint that one instead.   This painting is based on a photograph by Cory Richards in National Geographic Magazine 03.2021.  It was taken from a Pakistani post on a lateral moraine beside the rubble-encrusted waves of the Baltoro Glacier.

Besides being much more paintable, this area known as the Highest Battleground in the World has always been much more contentious than Han Island, where Canadian and Danish armed forces have amicably taken turns 'occupying' the disputed territory over the years.  Han Island legend has it that each time one country was driven off, they would leave a supply of whisky for the other side to celebrate their victory.

At the other extreme, the disputed but paintable border (actually a line of control) in this painting has been the scene of many armed skirmishes over the years since partition. The United Nations has stationed military observers in India and Pakistan for over seventy years.  My husband was one of them in 1966-67. 

Monday, June 27, 2022

Renewable Energy Rant

Wind Farm in Southern Alberta
Watercolour and crayon
©2016 Charlene Brown

I will begin by repeating what I said yesterday:

I agree completely with a rant by Eric Reguly in the June 18 Globe + Mail, titled "Unfolding crisis shows fault in putting biofuels before food."  He highlights the irrationality of continuing to subsidize the production of biofuels using food crops as the danger of widespread famine resulting from the war in Ukraine increases every day. 

The following is my own rant about ‘Renewables’, originally posted in April 2021:

Outdated analyses of the climate change mitigation potential of various technologies refer to ‘renewable’ alternatives to fossil fuels.  In these analyses, biofuels (or biomass), which do not result in significant GHG emission reductions* are combined with other renewables (solar, wind, tide) that have huge potential to make significant GHG reductions, and nuclear energy, which is a whole different class with unique disadvantages (public perception) and advantages (remote location can greatly reduce need for transmission lines or pipelines). 

‘Renewables’ should not be considered as a group with similar climate-change mitigation potential.  Alternatives to fossil fuels should be described as low-carbon, clean or green. These alternate energy sources include nuclear and do not include biofuels.

* Originally, biofuels were viewed as inherently carbon-neutral, assuming the carbon dioxide plants absorb from the air as they grow completely offsets, or neutralizes, the CO2 emitted when fuels made from plants burn. However, this offset is largely negated by the GHGs emitted during the cultivation, harvesting, transportation, and refining processes.  When burned for power generation or heating, biofuels emit about the same amount of GHGs as fossil fuels. 

Sunday, June 26, 2022

Climate Change Preparation

The Oilsands
Page from my haiku book, Inventing the Future
©2019 Charlene Brown

I agree completely with a rant by Eric Reguly in the June 18 Globe + Mail, titled "Unfolding crisis shows fault in putting biofuels before food."  He highlights the irrationality of continuing to subsidize the production of biofuels using food crops as the danger of widespread famine resulting from the war in Ukraine increases every day.  He points out that this procedure is a terrible waste of food.  And he argues convincingly that producing biofuels from food crops has almost no effect on carbon emission reduction – a fact I alluded to in the following blog post from December 2017:

Canada is gradually improving its ranking in environmental opinion polls, but we’re still subject to some derision, focusing on the Alberta Oilsands, which critics refer to as ‘tarsands that produce the world’s dirtiest oil.’

They may be right, but I think if we paid higher carbon taxes we could pay for whatever research it takes to clean up this energy source. And this would be far better than going to war over oil in the Middle East or using food to make biofuels.

In the meantime, I thought I’d present this ‘blot on the landscape’ as a ‘cleaned up’ semi-abstract design.  As for making sense of the rest of the overlaid haiku, Googling ‘climate change preparation’ will get you over a million results to read...

Tomorrow I will re-publish my own Renewable Energy Rant, originally posted on this blog in April 2021.


Sunday, June 19, 2022

A Nice Surprise in Canmore

Canmore ArtWalk
Watercolour and crayon
©2022 Charlene Brown

Until my most recent visit to Canmore, I’d never heard of the Spur Line, despite having grown up in Banff, only a 26 km drive away.  My lack of awareness notwithstanding, the Spur Line was an important part of the Canmore’s history from the late nineteenth century until 1979, crossing the Bow Valley to connect the mine to the CPR mainline. 

The part of what became the Spur Line Trail from the iconic Canmore Engine Bridge to 7th Avenue has, in recent years, been turned into an Art Walk showcasing paintings created by artists, some of them children, from the town of Canmore and the Stoney Nakoda First Nation at Morley. 

Paintings depicting wildlife found in the area and wide-ranging aspects of community history, are done on boards prepared from timber cut along the trail, then sealed to protect them from the mountain weather.  The collection is a nice surprise in an already spectacular walk.


Sunday, June 12, 2022

Painting a Misty Memory


Na Pali Coast, Kauai, USA
Watercolour and crayon
©2022 Charlene Brown

I wrote several blog posts about the trips on which I took each of my grandchildren, back in the day.  Hawaii was our destination in 2005, and I wrote blog posts about that trip on Dec. 4, Dec. 14Dec. 18and Dec.23, 2016.

I started publishing stories about ‘My Travels With Our Grandkids’ online on Medium, beginning this March with my 2004 trip to Costa Rica. For that story I used the same photos and paintings I’d used on this blog. 

For the Hawaiian trip, however, I wanted to add a picture of the spectacular Na Pali coast on the island of Kauai. I hadn’t included any of my photos of it in the blog posts because they were very misty and totally unrecognizable to anyone but me  So I painted this picture showing details I had recorded only in my (not particularly photographic) memory.


Sunday, June 5, 2022

Here’s something I didn’t have time to paint

The springs above the Cave + Basin
Watercolour and crayon
©2016 Charlene Brown

This painting has already been round the block a couple of times − in 2016and then again in a slightly stylized version I used in a haiku book, in 2017 − but I’m going to use it again, just because I was at this spectacular location again  a few weeks ago, but this week I had to stay home for a Zoom meeting on my usual painting day at the seniors’ centre.

Should you be wondering, here’s an explanation of why we’re still meeting on Zoom, since pandemic restrictions have been lifted and most of us have had two shots and two boosters.  We have in fact started having in-person general meetings, but the meeting this week was an editorial meeting of the team working on our newsletter.  We’ve discovered it’s much easier to work on Zoom with the layout person (me, as it happens) sharing the screen where the publishing program is being run.  It seems people with real jobs are finding this too, and it looks like there will be huge changes in the way offices operate, now the advantages of not having to get together in the same place every day have been recognized.  



Sunday, May 29, 2022

Historic church in Canmore

REDress Project
Watercolour and computer
©2022 Charlene Brown

The dresses now on display at this church are part of an on-going project to increase awareness of the horrendous findings of the MMIWG.

My interest in painting this church relates to a much less dire controversy involving it and St. Paul’s Presbyterian Church in Banff. 

The Canmore church, built in 1890 and 1891 in the ‘Carpenter Gothic’ style, was one of the first Presbyterian churches in Alberta.  Ralph Connor, an ordained Presbyterian minister, was sent on a mission to the Canadian Rockies, serving Banff, Anthracite and Canmore about a hundred years ago.  He was an ardent advocate of temperance, labour rights, and the progressive ideals of the Social Gospel movement.

In 1925, he was strongly in favour of joining other Presbyterian churches, as well as Methodists and Congregationalists to form the United Church of Canada.  The idea was popular with his congregation in Canmore, but the Clerk of the Session in Banff (my grandfather, Jock Thomson) led a successful revolt to “ensure that St. Paul’s remained Presbyterian.” 

This resulted in Ralph Connor serving the remainder of his mission in Canmore only.  In spite of this, he played a leading role in bringing the various denominations together, and was soon called to serve in St. Stephen’s Church in Winnipeg. 

By the time of his death in 1937, Ralph Connor had become a prominent figure in the United Church and a best-selling author of several books, some relating to "difficulties in the mission fields of the Canadian West."  The church in this painting was named the Ralph Connor Memorial United Church in 1942.


Sunday, May 22, 2022

Finally – a Real Trip to Paint!

A new view of Cascade
Watercolour and computer
©2022 Charlene Brown

When I was growing up in Banff, we would occasionally swim in Johnson Lake (which we called Johnson’s Lake and still do).  And somehow we never noticed the spectacular view of Cascade and its reflection in that lake. Maybe that was because we never walked far enough along the lake, beyond the heavily wooded area near the road,  to see it.  More likely it was because when you live in Banff you don’t even see Cascade because it’s always there

Anyway, I was in Alberta a couple of weeks ago for the Mothers Day weekend (my first time off the Island in two years!) and made a point of finding some new painting locations. 

Full disclosure:  I took photos at these locations to be used as reference pictures back here in Victoria.  It’s still much too cold to be sitting around painting in Banff.


Sunday, May 15, 2022

A Sankey diagram* of the Albedo Effect

It’s complicated
Watercolour, crayon and marker
©2022 Charlene Brown

Albedo, or degree of whiteness, determines the fraction of light that is reflected by a body or surface, and the complementary fraction that is absorbed. Albedo is a simple concept that plays a complicated role in climate change, especially in the Arctic.

Sea ice covered with snow reflects as much as 85% of the sunlight that strikes it, absorbing only 15% of the heat. Whereas deep blue open water can absorb as much as 90% of the sun’s light and heat. The heating effect of climate change is compounded over the years as melting results in more open water and longer ice-free periods.  Melted ice is replaced with thinner ice, resulting in an earlier thaw the following year.

A similar compounded effect has been observed on land in the Arctic, where the length of the snow-free period each year will have an effect on the amount of time that the land is absorbing and holding heat, and subsequent speeding up of the spring thaw.  In addition to this, the lower albedo of bare land varies with the darkness of the vegetation.  Generally lighter deciduous vegetation will reflect more sunlight and absorb less than evergreen trees and shrubs.

An unexpected phenomenon, a shift in vegetation from conifer to deciduous ground cover, has been observed in the taiga of northern Canada by measuring the albedo of the area over a period of years. Last September, I wrote about the possibility that this increased reflectivity of the land surface will exert a negative radiative effect, or cooling, on the climate. 

 * Sankey flow diagrams feature directed flow lines the widths of which are proportional to the size or intensity of whatever is being measured, in this case incident and reflected sunlight.


Sunday, May 8, 2022

The hybrid electric ferries have all been delivered

Heading to the Upper Harbour to be prepped for service
Watercolour and marker
©2022 Charlene Brown

I talked about the new hybrid-electric ferries being built in Romania in a blog post written just before the pandemic hit.

Despite all the disruption, these ferries have continued to arrive. 

But they have continued to operate on diesel power because the small Gulf Island ports they serve are not yet set up with on-shore power sources for charging their batteries.  So, still Step 1 in transitioning to zero-emission by 2050 that I mentioned two years ago.

Sunday, May 1, 2022

Creative Archaeology in Arizona

Montezuma Castle
Watercolour and crayon
©2022 Charlene Brown

Some of the pictures my daughter sent reminded me of similar pictures I’d taken when we visited Arizona in 2006.  There seemed to be a lot more very paintable-looking trees in our pictures so I’ve added them. I was told at the time that the trees were ‘ghost gums,’ but have since wondered if that was a little creative forest taxonomy to accompany the following creative archeology that led to the subject of this painting being called Montezuma Castle.  

About 150 years ago, European settlers, under the impression that all the really impressive archaeological sites in the southern part of North America were engineered by the Aztecs, named the structure after Montezuma II, the ruler during the Aztec Empire’s greatest expansion.  The name stuck even after it was determined that the place was abandoned in 1425 CE, about 40 years before Montezuma was born.  A Western National Parks publication, ‘A Past Preserved in Stone: A History of Montezuma Castle National Monument,’ states the ingeniously-located structure functioned more like a “prehistoric high-rise apartment complex.”


Sunday, April 24, 2022

More Virtual Hiking in Arizona

Beginning the Ascent
Watercolour and crayon
© 2022 Charlene Brown

Visitors to the Superstition Mountains don’t generally go looking seriously for the Lost Gold Mine anymore – most of the fatalities I mentioned last week were in the twenty years immediately after Jacob Waltz told one person how to find it – but most of today’s visitors make a token attempt at looking for gold among the nasty cliffs for which the area is famous.  

And they soon find the whole thing even more challenging than it looks.  And it gets hotter sooner in the morning than they expected…

But what eventually defeated my daughter was the California Brittlebush that carpeted the increasingly steep slopes leading up to the cliffs – the yellow brittlebush flowers were having a pollen extravaganza. She retreated as quickly as possible, barely able to see or breathe. A drugstore nearby had just the thing for victims of attacks by the local vegetation, and she had recovered almost completely by the next day.

Another advantage of participating only virtually I didn’t even hear about this adventure until they were back in Canada.

Sunday, April 17, 2022

More Virtual Camping in Arizona

Superstition Mountains
Watercolour and crayon
©2022 Charlene Brown

Unlike Sabino Canyon, the location of my virtual camping and hiking last week (really just a picturesque ravine in the Santa Catalina Mountains north of Tucson), this week’s setting is infamously connected to the legend of the Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine.

According to this legend, Jacob Waltz, who was actually a German immigrant employed at the Vulture Mine, claimed to have found the mother lode of gold in the Superstition Mountains.  He revealed its location to only one person as he lay dying in 1891. And he didn’t reveal it very clearly. Many lives have been lost since then as searchers climbing into every obscure corner in the extremely rugged terrain. There is now a widespread suspicion that Jacob was systematically stealing gold from the Vulture Mine, and came up with the story of the lost mine to explain the bags of gold under his deathbed.

Next I’ll paint my virtual hike up one of the precipitous paths among the crags of these mountains.



Tuesday, April 12, 2022

Time for more of my favourite kind of camping

Sabino Canyon
Watercolour and crayon
©2022 Charlene Brown

During the summers of 2020 and 2021, travel between provinces was discouraged, especially for “vulnerable elderly” people like me.  So I haven’t been back to my mountains (the part of the Rockies in Alberta) since 2019.  I was able to do lots of virtual hiking and camping in Alberta because my daughter supplied me with lots of reference pictures.

And this year I can get an early start on my favourite kind of camping (virtual) as she and her husband were camping and taking pictures in Arizona in March.  This was well ahead of the Alberta camping season, with warm (enough) nights, and nice cool mornings for hiking.

Sunday, April 3, 2022

Banff from a brand new angle

The View from the Mt. Norquay via ferrata
watercolour and crayon
©2022 Charlene Brown

A couple of weeks ago I said I’d never climbed the Mt. Norquay via ferrata, and probably never would.  I’m more convinced than ever of that now, having had another look at my granddaughter’s pictures of it when I used them for reference in painting this.

The via ferrata (iron path) is a relatively new concept in North America, but actually originated over a hundred years ago in Italy during World War I.  (Must admit, whenever I hear a phrase including the words “a hundred years ago” I think ‘right, mid-nineteenth century’ and quickly lose track of the point being made.)

Sunday, March 27, 2022

Banff from all angles IV

Looking South
Watercolour, ink and computer
©2022 Charlene Brown

This unusual view of Banff is a computer-altered version of a painting my daughter used for a poster back in 2009.  Her reason for selecting this particular painting is mentioned in a blog post I wrote at the time

I’m pretty sure it’s the only picture of Goat Mountain I’ve ever painted.

Sunday, March 20, 2022

Banff from all angles III

Looking East
Watercolour, crayon and computer painting
©2022 Charlene Brown

This is what Banff and Mt. Rundle look like from Mt. Norquay.  I was going to say from the top of the Mt. Norquay ski area and via ferrata, but then I remembered the photo the painting’s based on was taken near the bottom of the ski area.  I haven’t been to the top of it since about 1963 but, as I recall, the mountain looks quite different from that higher angle.

(I have never been on the via ferrata, which is above the ski area and probably never will.)


Sunday, March 13, 2022

Banff from all angles II

Looking North
Watercolour, crayon and computer painting
©2022 Charlene Brown

This better known view of Banff from Sulphur Mountain includes the iconic Banff Springs Hotel in the foreground, the town north and to the west of the hotel in the curve of the Bow River, Lake Minnewanka in the upper right and, of course, Mount Cascade, featured in almost every picture of Banff Ave. 


Sunday, March 6, 2022

Banff from all angles I

Looking West
Watercolour, crayon and computerpainting
©2022 Charlene Brown

This is the first of a series of four little paintings based on larger, more detailed pictures I’d done earlier. This one is based on a monotype I printed in 1995 and wrote a blog post about in2013

That monotype was based on a photograph of Banff taken looking west from the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity (Banff School of Fine Arts when I attended classes there as a teenager) – an unusual angle compared to the more famous views looking north from the top of the Banff Gondola and looking east from the Mt. Norquay ski area.  I’ll write about paintings of Banff from these two angles, plus another unusual angle looking south toward Goat Mountain in the next few weeks.

Sunday, February 27, 2022

Time-traveling with a bag of crayons again – and a cautionary tale

Sacsayhuaman, Peru
Watercolour and crayon
©2022 Charlene Brown

My first attempt to paint this Incan ruin on a mountainside above Cusco is shown below.

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, but the resist lost its grip, and I decided to use ink instead.  But I would have preferred to get the right (white) effect with the crayon Hence the cautionary tale…

Be careful where you find your white crayons

I was having lunch in a restaurant with my daughter and her kids in 2009 just before I took one of them to Peru, and the kids were given white placemats and crayons to play with.  I noticed there were a lot of white crayons (normally kind of hard to come by as you have to buy a large pack to get one white crayon).  My daughter pointed out that the restaurant had lots because, obviously, ”What kid is going to want to draw on white paper with a white crayon?”

I asked if I could have a couple, and the answer was, “Sure what kid is going to want to draw on white paper with a white crayon?” So we took a couple of them all the way to Peru -- where they proved to be completely useless at resisting anything because, again obviously, the crayons kids are given in restaurants are washable.

This painting's 'Viva El Peru' was done with totally unwashable crayons.


Sunday, February 20, 2022

Twentieth Century Design in Europe

The Atomium, Belgium
Watercolour, crayon, and marker
Charlene Brown

The Atomium was constructed for the first post-war world exhibition (Expo 58). The nine sphere model of atomic structure represents faith in the power of science, and in nuclear power.

This is the last of the four samples highlighted in the twentieth century time capsule below.

I have written nine stories for the online publication platform, Medium,
 each with four paintings representing four areas of the world.  So far, seven of these stories have been published, all with the underlying message: 
“History isn’t just a series of wars, you know.”  

A few of these examples, like today’s painting, mention war or even have obvious military connections Citadel in Mohenjo-Daro, Great Wall of China, Fort at Bahla, Alhambra at Grenada, and Morrow Castle in Havana.  But I think there is general agreement with my point that the art and architecture of civilization often outlasts the re-drawn maps and treaties and military alliances and other results of wars... And will continue to do so.

Sunday, February 13, 2022

Twentieth Century Design in the Near East and Africa

Hassan II Mosque, Casablanca, Morocco
Watercolour and crayon
Charlene Brown

Hassan II was the King of Morocco from 1961 until his death in 1999.  Because he stated in 1980 that he wanted the Hassan II Mosque to be built on the water, it is situated on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean.  Work began in 1986 and the mosque, with the tallest minaret in the world, was completed in 1993. It can accommodate 25,000 inside and an additional 80,000 in the outdoor courtyards.

Next week I will post my fourth painting illustrating twentieth century design selected from the cross-cultural timeline I printed in a blog post a couple of weeks ago

Sunday, February 6, 2022

Twentieth Century Design in Asia

Pudong, Shanghai
Watercolour, crayon and marker
©2022 Charlene Brown

In the early twentieth century, the Bundwith dozens of foreign banks and magnificent commercial buildings in the Beaux Arts Style, was world famous, the best known area of Shangai. However, The Communist government that took over in 1949 began the systematic removal of these ‘colonialist’ structures and, although there was some restoration in the 1970s and ’80s, international interest soon shifted to the Pudong New Area, directly across the river, when its amazing redevelopment began in the late twentieth century.  Some of the buildings shown here were not completed until the twenty-first century, but the structure most often associated with Pudong the iconic Oriental Pearl TV Tower (with red and blue lighting in the painting), was completed in 1994.

Sunday, January 30, 2022

Twentieth Century Around the World

Golden Gate Bridge
Watercolour and crayon
©2010 Charlene Brown

When completed in 1937, the Golden Gate was the longest and tallest suspension bridge in the world.  It spans the mile-wide strait connecting San Francisco Bay to the Pacific Ocean.

Of the four examples highlighted in the 20th Century time capsule below, the Golden Gate Bridge, representing design in the Americas and Pacific, is the only one I’d already painted -- back in 2010 actually.  I'll be painting the other three over the next few weeks.


Sunday, January 23, 2022

The Last Nineteenth Century Painting

Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus
Watercolour and crayon
©2022 Charlene Brown

This historic Victorian Gothic Revival structure in Mumbai, India was originally named the Victoria Terminus, when completed in 1887, the 50th year of the reign of Queen Victoria, then the Empress of India. It was renamed in 1996 after Shivaji, the 17th century warrior king who employed guerrilla tactics to contest the declining Mughal Empire.

This UNESCO World Heritage site represents Asia in the time capsule shown in a blog post two weeks ago, Nineteenth Century Around the World.