November 14, 2013

Bearspaw by Maureen Flynn-Burhoe




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12″ x 24″
Acrylic on Gallery Canvas
Shown in Federation of Canadian Artists exhibition Calgary Branch

It was a cool fall evening and the rolling foothills of the Rockies were still an enigma to me. I was still learning the names of plants like silverberry (also known as wolf willow), which were used by the Blackfoot. Its shades of grey differed from those of the ubiquitous poplar. I wanted to capture the rich tapestry of textures in the colours unique to the foothills. I wanted to capture the shapes carved in geological time as the glaciers melted, cutting furrows and creating the Bow River with its origins in the distant Rockies. I was beginning to learn the names of the peaks, the High Rock Mountains to the left and the distinctive Devil’s Head to the right. I could see a scattering of people, families, some walking thier dogs, meandering along the winding trails, becoming miniaturized the farther they went. The gullies were deep as they reached the bottom their voices could be heard as if from some strange space. It was cold and I was wearing my Dicken’s painting gloves and was wrapped in blanket. As usual I was chasing the light. The most dramatic light for painting is that half light when the sun is setting or rising. But as every plein air artist know, one has to work quickly to catch the rapidly changing light. I returned a second evening and then finished the details in my home studio. During that period I was listening to a very dark apocalyptic novel, Blind, and I was playing it in the background as I painted at home. It had an impact on the mood of the painting. But the sunburst provided that sense of hope on the distant horizon. Very Sturm und Drang


Silverberry, Wolf Willow, Misisaimi’soyiis (Blackfoot), Binomial name: Elaeagnus commutata

For more about Blackfoot see Glenbow Museum. (2005).  Nitsitapiisinni Exhibit. Calgary, Alberta: Blackfoot Gallery Committee

Photo of Silverberry on Flickr

See Plein Air Gallery

© 2013 Art by Maureen Flynn-Burhoe. Last updated October 2013. meta4site@gmail.com

150, 000 visits

November 27, 2009

Near Roche Miette on the Yellowhead Highway we get stopped by a “sheep-jam”, bighorn-induced traffic congestion [1] at about the same time that we interrupted a truly engaged activist, peace rider who was cycling to Alaska to raise awareness of climate change. Just after our second sheep-jam where a film crew member also caught in the same traffic jam, pulled over to catch some sleep behind the wheel of a powerful all-terrain vehicle(did he see that many bighorn already?), we stopped to film a pack of wolves. After we booked into a place to stay in Jasper, we drove up to the ski hill at Marmot. A huge raven guided us along the winding road to the lodge. This winter there is a record snow fall to the delight of snowboarders and skiiers. The tasks of downloading the day’s film clips and photos to Picasa, and reading Gadd to name peaks, etc, were again interrupted by Yellowhead wildlife. Wapitii surrounded the hotel attracting amateur photographers to the unbelievably fun shot of a wapiti posing in front of the Wapiti signage.

Later on the same day speechless hits reached 150, 000 perhaps at exactly the same time we were left speechless by the miyat.

Speechless began as the next step from “beached wail” a failed attempt to overcome serious creative blocks . . .

Speechless does not really require the author to write. Web 2.0 platforms are ideally designed for writers who cannot write. At least for writers who cannot write in a straight line. Rhizomic thinkers and learners can allow themselves to “get lost.” All we need to do is to mark the virtual trail with something more solid than breadcrumbs.

Speechless cannot imagine faces or stories of its visitors and would rather that for now at least, that the speechless face be faceless, ageless, genderless, not associated with any institution, or group, or ideology, or demographics . . .

Speechless shares resources using the Creative Commons,
for memory work,
for revisiting histories with an ethical dimension,
for virtual tourists,
for the blogosphere,
for public policy,

Speechless has been a technological tool for mind-mapping . . .


1. See Ben Gadd 2008:408. Gadd explained that the bighorn sheep ovis canadensis, are plentiful in this area and female and young are often sighted here.

He claimed that the mountain named in the 1820s by voyageurs Roche Miette (Miette Rock) probably comes from the Cree word miyat (bighorn sheep). This tangible (very geological) link to the early (fur) trade routes is one way that the nonlinear learner can be pulled in so many directions that only web 2.0 platforms and applications could mind map it.

Gadd also notes a number of commonplace Canadian English misprononciations and/or mispellings of geological formations and place names in the Rocky Mountains with Spanish, French, Irish, Cree, Ojibwa etc origins.

Webliography and Bibliography

Gadd, Ben. 2008. Canadian Rockies: Geology Road Tours. Corax.

Ontology of the sphere

January 28, 2009

Draft: New technologies make accessible complex algorithms for the transformation of images through spherical distortions.

Reflections off shiny convex surfaces, such as the pupils of our eyes, the Esherian sphere, vases, teapots, mirror the world in miniature and capture light and space with fascinating distortions.

Adobe Photoshop provides at least two options for creating these distortions by using the Filter tool > Distort > polar coordinates or
Filter tool > Distort > spherize.

For my teapot reflection series I prefer to work from real objects and their reflections.

For the labeling the Rocky Mountains skyline panoramas I have been simply pasting long collages of series of digital images taken at 180 to 360 degrees. The result is virtually impossible to share online. The resolution is always set too low and text as well as identifiable montane features become illegible. What was crystal clear on the PC through the zoom feature is completely loss in Web 2.0.

I have considered using polar coordinate distortions and/or spherize features.

This is a tip from someone who has been working with polarpans longer than I have

This is one section that I spherized using a rather convoluted process. I noted it below so I won’t forget but I am still working on it.

From SpherizeAndPolarCoordinates

reflexive sphere

spherical models

polar coordinates

tips from pros:

polar coordinates vs spherize

Adobe Photoshop > filter > distort > polar coordinates

Adobe Photoshop > filter > distort > spherize > 80% with inserted rectangular skyline

digitage/collage of skyline images ie a scroll which is about 1/3 to 1/4 of c. square image to

be spherized. Place inserted rectangle at c. centre not quite at top of a c. square

image size width: 100 cm, height: 65 cm resolution 100 pixel dimensions 28 m: width 3864

pixels by height: 2532 pixels

1. original image to spherize: pixel dimensions 86.3m

width 120 cm height 50 cm resolution 180

2. place rectangle in new file 120 x 120

3. spherize with original rectangle in upper centre

4. experiment with degrees of spherization c. 85%

5. check for resolution

6. PC cannot spherize images that are too large

7. too much loss of resolution makes mountain ranges lose clarity and labels illegible

8. have to find juste milieu

6. clip to detail of spherized rectangular skyline scroll

On clear days the Rockies are visible from the Crowfoot Library lookout and unique features of specific mountains make them easier to identify. Mount Blane (2993 m), the highest in the Opal Range is distinct because of the Blade, a gendarme or tower on the ridge to the right of Mount Blane’s summit.

From CrowfootLibraryLookout

The map insert situates the Opal Range, which is a long range of peaks directly east of the Kananaskis River.

This map indicates distances between visible peaks and the Crowfoot Library lookout.

View Larger Map

bivouac.com provides this information on the Opal Range:
“It is bounded on the N by Rocky Creek and on the E by Evan-Thomas Creek and the Little Elbow and Elbow Rivers. KeyPasses: Elbow Pass (2088m – border pass with Misty Range); Little Elbow Pass (2240m – border pass with Cornwall Group); Evan-Thomas Pass (2149m – border pass with Fisher Range) Includes: Includes Tombstone Mountain and ridge that extends to the N. Excludes the Wedge because it is separated from the Range by Rocky Creek and an Unnamed Creek. Terrain: A period that occurred during the Lewis Thrust called the Laramide Orogeny created the Opal Range. The steeply tilted strata are virtually the same in each peak, with softer layers sandwiched between harder layers. These softer layers have eroded, leaving the harder layers in place and forming the deep notches and gaps typical of the range. History: Named by George Dawson because he discovered small cavities lined with quartz and coated with what he thought were thin films of opal. However, it was not Opal but a chert with a similar appeareance composed of silica imbedded with various quartz impurities. Recorded first ascents of the peaks were not completed until the 1950’s and most of the peaks in the range are named for ship’s or people that were part of the Battle of Jutland in World War I. The W side of Mount Blane (13 km NE of Upper Kananaskis Lake). (44 km SW of Bragg Creek). (4 km SE of Mount Evan-

My first embodied experience of mountains was in the mid-eighties in France and it left me speechless. We have been living within viewing range of the spectacular Rocky Mountains for over a year now and I am still in awe at the visual phenomenon of recognizing geographical formations with the naked eye, that are hundreds of kilometers away. I was born and grew up on Prince Edward Island where we had rolling hills, fields, harbours, and magnificent ocean views, but no vistas or panoramas that could cover this scale. For reasons I do not understand I have always needed to place my visual world in measurable perspectives and have even learned to map waves and spherical objects in order to draw and paint them with more accuracy.

This is one of the many Google maps I am working on as part of this project and others. From Calgary’s Crowfoot Public Library Lookout I have added lines to mountain peaks visible to the naked eye in ideal light. These lines indicate the distance. Each peak marker has additional information about the peaks including height in meters. I am hoping to eventually include ranges, subranges and regions as well as brief summaries on the history of naming, etc. (For now I rely heavily on bivouac.com, peakfinders, wikipedia as well as travel, history, geography and photography books). Information panels in national, provincial and municipal parks also provide some information. I am beginning to create and upload to my Picasa albums, icons (resolution 72 dpi, 65 pixels x 65 pixels) from my own digital photos for each peak.

I am struggling with Google Earth as I have overloaded my .kmz files.

Picasa allows me to tag my individual digital images and to place them in digital albums while maintaining separate albums on my PC to enhance findability. Semantic tools used on the Internet are developed on PCs too.

In order to paint the Rockies I wanted to first know where they were in relation to my easel. I don’t know why but I really want to know names of things including their historical and scientific names. Geological formations fascinate me as much as the history of the First Nations whose trails became our highways. I wanted to know exactly where I was and where they are with locational indicators. I wanted to know their height and how they were linked to neighbouring peaks. We became chasers of the light, watching Calgary skies for the best conditions for capturing images of the Rockies. We searched out the best sites for viewing the mountains from here and returned to them often. Most of our pictures were not that great from a photographic or aesthetic point of view. But bit by bit we were able to see more peaks clearly and identify them.

I began to take 180 degree pans even when the light was not great if at least some of the peaks were more visible.

We drove and hiked closer to the peaks as much as we could and continue to do so looking for more vistas and slightly different angles.

Using online and print sources piece by piece small sections came together.

I began to trace the contours of the peaks skyline so I could more clearly see which peaks were farther west, which were closer to us.

I used both Google Earth and Google’s My Maps features to geotag and tag exact peaks. Then I created lines between the peaks and the site from which I was taking photos so I could visualize compass directions.

I used the various mountaineering sites like bivuoac.com to study maps, to learn the language, to situate peaks within ranges, regions and subranges. I gathered descriptive information.

In Picasa I can geotag and label my photos and I have started uploading some of them to my Picasa album.

Using Adobe PhotoShop Creative Suite I create digitage (collages of digital images using .psd layer options) and I add text fields to label peaks and other features that help situate them.

I upload, tag and geotag some of these labeled images to Flickr but I have been disappointed by the low resolution in my free account.

Recently I have begun to upload higher resolution images to my wordpress accounts, including this one.

A group of savvy semantic web experts have created programs to autogenerate similar images! They describe how they align real photos with a synthetic panorama. I guess that is what I have been doing manually. See Technologies of Vision: semantic image labelling, Marmota: Visual Environmental Monitoring. Recently I received this delightful email from one of the researchers-collaborators:

Dear Maureen, I saw your picture and I think it is very related to the mountain labelling tool I’m working on: http://tev.fbk.eu/marmota (as a demo, please look at the photoblog). Can you describe the context of the Peaks’ Project? You are also welcome to add your photos to the flickr group labelledmountains Merry Christmas from Italy, michele

I thought it would be an appropriate time for me to contextualize my own slow world process involved in my “Naming the Peaks Project.”

Naming the Peaks Project in my ocean.flynn Flickr album
From BenchlandsPeaks’ Project: From Benchlands,
originally uploaded by ocean.flynn.

Webliography and Bibliography

Technologies of Vision: semantic image labelling

Marmota: Visual Environmental Monitoring