Sunday, October 23, 2016

Can you guess where this is?

Kluane Icefield
Watercolour and crayon
©2016 Charlene Brown

I think that my first guess would have been that this icefield was in Switzerland. But the name reveals its location in Yukon, part of the bi-national Kluane-Wrangell-St. Elias-Tatshenshini-Alsek park system stretching from Glacier Bay in Alaska into the highest mountains in Canada.
This spectacular icefield is relatively unfamiliar because this view point is almost inaccessible  (at least when compared to glaciers in Switzerland you can get to on a train) despite being less than twenty kilometres from the Alaska Highway!
I should probably mention that the chartreuse arctic poppies I’ve added may not actually grow in Yukon.  They are native to the northermost parts of Scandinavia and the only place in Canada I’ve ever seen them is Pangnirtung in Nunavut.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Virtual Paintout still in Newfoundland

L’Anse aux Meadows National Historic Site
Watercolour and crayon
©2016 Charlene Brown

L’Anse aux Meadows dates from the early 11th century.  It is the first and only known site established by Vikings in North America and the earliest evidence of pre-Columbian transoceanic contact and European settlement in the New World.

The reconstructed sod longhouse in the painting is patterned after the remains of wood-framed peat-turf buildings excavated at the site.  These remains were similar to those found in Norse Greenland and Iceland built in the same period about 1000 years ago. 

It was named a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1978.

Here is the link to the Google Streetview of the site.

Friday, October 7, 2016

This is my 100th Virtual Paintout!

St. John’s Harbour from Signal Hill
Watercolour and crayon
©2016 Charlene Brown

The Virtual Paintout is making one of its rare excursions into Canada this month – to the island portion of the province of Newfoundland & Labrador. 

Signal Hill was the site of St. John’s harbour defences from the 17th century to the Second World War, and where Guglielmo Marconi received the world’s first transatlantic wireless signal in 1901.  It’s a great place for hiking, and even better for motoring around in the Google car or whatever they used to find this Streetview. Here’s another view of St. John’s from the gun emplacement in the centre of my painting. They must have used something besides their car to get that one.

Monday, October 3, 2016

This is my 500th blog post!

Entrance Island Light
Watercolour and crayon
©2016 Charlene Brown

The latest artist studio tour for our fundraising group from the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria was to Gabriola Island, about a twenty-minute ferry ride from the up-island city of Nanaimo. As always we visited several fascinating and productive (and idyllically-situated) workspaces – two of which are included in the mix in this painting.

The Entrance Island lighthouse off the northern tip of Gabriola, has been there since 1876. Situated so close to Nanaimo, it has watched over thousands of boaters and kayakers, and for many years the annual flotilla of bathtubs in a race to Vancouver.  The lighthouse keepers have rescued many in distress, regularly saving lives over the years, and the boating community, in turn, keeps its eye on the lighthouse.  In 1995 when it was announced that Entrance Island might lose its keepers, more than 100 kayakers, in an act of protest, formed a ‘human life preserver’ around the island. Since then, almost every newly-elected Provincial and Federal government has included this integral part of the Gabriola Island community in their budget-cutting  plans... but the lighthouse keepers carry on.


Monday, September 26, 2016

Art Extravaganza by the Sea

Sketch of  ‘Mother and Child’ stone sculpture by Mike Rebar

On the weekend of September 17-18 the coastal walkway at Macaulay Point in Esquimalt was transformed into a seaside open-air gallery of 3-dimensional art – the Third Annual Sculpture Splash. 

This larger-than-life-size carving by Mike Rebar, in the style of the Inuit, was among my favourites.

From Mike’s website,  I learned that he sculpts local marble that he harvests from various sites on Vancouver and Quadra Islands.  He sees the integral form of each piece inside the stone, then works with traditional handtools, carbide chisels and diamond blades until his vision emerges.  Fine details are achieved with hand files followed by wet and dry sanding to complete the process... worth contemplating on the days when watercolour painting seems like too much of a challenge.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Virtual Paintout in Lancaster County, PA

Lawn sale day in Terre Hill
Watercolour and crayon
©2016 Charlene Brown

Here’s a link to the right side of ‘Lawn sale day in Terre Hill.’  I wanted to add some houses and lawns from further down the street, so I used my panorama format sketchbook.  

I began this sketchbook in Japan and this Virtual Paintout seemed like a good opportunity to start filling the rest of the pages.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Finding strategic clean energy haiku

Johnston Canyon
Watercolour and Photoshop™
©2016 Charlene Brown

There are more and more articles online and in print media about the environmental and economic aspects of climate change. Such articles, predicting future harmful effects and advancing strategies for mitigating and preventing them, are good sources of ‘found’ clean energy haiku.  

And new or once known but now forgotten phrases – particularly scientific or technological terms you have to look up in Wikipedia – make the best ‘strategic’ found clean energy haiku.

For example, the first two lines in the poem on the Johnston Canyon picture:

eponymous laws
primordial gravity
divide and conquer

are a little less enigmatic if you Google:

eponymous laws: Many scientific phenomena are defined by eponymous laws or principles or rules, named after the person who first discovered or defined them – Avogadro, Newton, Mendel, Planck – and most of us can’t remember most of them (with the notable exception of Murphy, whose law everyone remembers).

primordial gravity:  The existence of primordial gravitational waves (ripples in space-time that originated in the very early universe or Big Bang) could reconcile general relativity and quantum mechanics to reveal a ‘theory of everything.’

They still don’t make a lot of sense, but they are less enigmatic. 

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Really old climate records

The Burgess Shale
Watercolour and crayon
©2016 Charlene Brown

The Burgess Shale was discovered by paleontologist Charles Walcott in 1909 high on a ridge above Emerald Lake in Yoho Naitonal Park.  He 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 since Walcott’s discovery, 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 localities continue to yield new organisms faster than they can be studied.

The Shale has attracted the interest of paleoclimatologists who are studying fossil records that appear to show a rapid acceleration in the diversification of complex organisms during the Cambrian Explosion.  This evolutionary event was a short period half a billion years ago, during which most major phyla in existence today appeared.  When researchers understand the climate of that period and its effects, they may be able to predict long-term future effects of climate change on species diversification and extinction.