November 14, 2013

Bearspaw by Maureen Flynn-Burhoe




Upcoming Events



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

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

Identifying Rocky Mountain peaks visible from Calgary is an ongoing personal project which gives a sense of perspective to life in the foothills. Individual peaks are like waves that seem to rise and descend disappearing from view depending on the clarity of the air or the time of day.

From this view on Crescent Heights overlooking the Bow River we can glimpse Gibraltar Mt. 2665 m. to the west (on the left side of the image). The Misty Range which are part of the Highrock Range on the east side of Kananaskis Provincial Park are visible next. This includes Mist Mt. 3140 m. and Storm Mt. 3095 m. Then we see Bluerock Mt. 2789 m. and Mt. Burns 2936 m.

Mt. Rae 3225 m. which is also part of the Highrock Range’s Misty Range, “serves as the head of the main watershed to Calgary, Alberta by way of the Rae Glacier flowing into Elbow Lake, source of the Elbow River. At 10,558’, Rae is the highest mountain viewed on the front range from Calgary. [It was named in 1859 after Arctic explorer Dr. John Rae.] Mt. Rae was recommended by this post at http://www.summitpost.org as “the most scenic and accessible high alpine foliage in all of the Canadian Rockies.”

Continuing north and to the right we can see Cougar Mt. 2863 m. and Mt. Sarrail 3147 m.

Tombstone Mt. 3035 m. in the Opal Range is next.

Banded Peak 2934 m., Outlaw Peak 2970 m., Mt. Cornwall 2956 m., and Mt. Glasgow 2950 m. are part of the Glasgow Group in the Front Ranges. These are stunning from the top of Moose Mountain.

Mount Glasgow is in the Elbow Valley of the Kananaskis Range. Banded Peak is one of the easiest to identify because of the brown cliff band which is visible all year round. Mt. Cornwall just behind Mount Glasgow has a highly visible arch of permanent snow-covered scree slopes.

Further north are Mt. Blane 2972 m., Mt. Brock 2879 m., Mt. Hood 2873 m.of the Opal Range with Mt. Evan Thomas 3097 m. as the most northerly peak in the range. The Opal Range strata is thrust in a striking vertical orientation. George Dawson mistakenly thought that small cavities lined with quartz were coated with a film of opal.

Mt. Remus 2688 m and Mt Romulus 2832 m are marked but they cluster where with other Opal mountain peaks and are not that clearly distinguished.

Fisher Peak 3052 m. is quite prominent. It is the highest peak in the Fisher Range a range of mountains which includes mountains between Calgary and Kananaskis Highway.

Mt . Howard 2777 m. is half hidden behind the tall building.

Prairie Mountain and Moose Mountain would be the next in line to the north but they are not visible in this photo.

Hailstone Butte 2363 m.
Plateau Mt. 2514 m.
Mt. Burke 2545 m.
Mt. Gass 2866 m. Mt. Lyall 2952 m.
Unnamed Peak 2870 m.
Mt. Farquhar 2905 m.
Holy Cross Mt. 2667 m.
Mt. Head 2782 m.
Pyriform Mt. 2789 m.
Junction Mt. 2650 m.
Unnamed 2865 m.
Unnamed 2850 m.
Gibraltar Mt. 2665 m.
Mist Mt. 3138 m.
Storm Mt. 3095 m.
Bluerock Mt. 2789 m.
Mt. Burns 2936 m.
Mt. Rae 3225 m.
Cougar Mt. 2863 m.
Mt. Sarrail 3147 m.
Tombstone Mt. 3035 m.
Banded Peak 2934 m.
Outlaw Peak 2970 m.
Mt. Cornwall 2956 m.
Mt. Glasgow 2950 m.
Mt. Blane 2972 m.
Mt. Brock 2879 m.
Mt. Hood 2873 m.
Mt. Romulus 2831 m.
Mt. Evan Thomas 3097 m.
Fisher Peak 3052 m.
Mt . Howard 2777 m.
Prairie Mt. 2210 m.
Moose Mt. 2436 m
Mt. Bogart 3144 m
Mt. Sparrowhawk 3121 m
Wind Mountain 3124 m
Mt. Allen 2819 m
Mt. Lougheed 3107 m
Mt. Lorette 2489 m
Big Sister 2970 m
Middle Sister 2769 m
Little Sister 2694 m
Mt. Lawrence Grassi 2684 m
Grotto Mt. 2206 m
Mt. Fable 2702 m
Mt. Peechee 2934 m
Mt. Girouard 2995 m
Mt. Inglismaldie 2964 m
Saddle Peak 2831 m
Orient Peak 2636 m
Mt. Costigan 2980 m
Mt. Aylmer 3162 m
Unnamed 2960 m
Devil’s Head 2796 m
Castle Rock 2960 m
Unnamed 2, 930 m
Unnamed 2, 580 m
Ostukwan Peak 2, 530 m
Dormer Mountain 2768 m
Barrier Mountain 2962 m