Drawings the Elements of Life

What do you think are the elements of life? In classical thought, the four elements earth, water, air, and fire as proposed by Empedocles. Aristotle added a fifth element, aether; it has been called Akasha in India and Quintessence in Europe. Feng Shui works with five elements and I planned to draw all of them. But first I had to interpreted them artistically.

The result is 5 large drawings of Wood, Earth, Water, Metal, and Fire. I have tried to make the elements engaging.

For Water, I have drawn a cut through that shows water in a pond. As water is so minimal visible, it is the lotus growing in the lotus pond that shows indirectly the element of water.

For expressing Wood element, I have drawn a cut through, showing the growth rings.

For Earth, I have drawn a layered cut-through showing soil and dirt (and burrowing bunnies). But as I have a great interest in prehistory, so I have incorporated how we use earth element, as dirt, since prehistoric times, for making ceramics and building stone walls.

Expressing Fire wasn’t that easy. The best and most effective way to express fire was to set my art paper on fire. However, effective that expression would have been, it would be short lived and showing the most destructive quality of fire, and not leaving me with a drawing! Thus, I have drawn flames and fiery petals of red tulips presenting the element’s passion and dominant red colour.

Metal was a delight to work on, artistically, because I wanted to feel like a blacksmith. I drew a metal and shiny teapot with white-washed and golden decorated tea cups. I worked with Derwent metallic coloured pencils using Bronze, Gold, and Silver. It works! Even the small prints show a metallic shine that communicated the metallic element.

After having drawn Metal, Wood, Water, Fire and Earth, I mused long and hard over how to to draw Air, or Aristotle’s’ Aether or Quintessence. Maybe one day I will try but for now, these are my Feng Shui elements and they seem to be in perfect harmony.

Paula Kuitenbrouwer at Etsy

At Esty these 5 element drawings are for sale as originals. They are perfect for decorating a Feng Shui Consultant Office.  I have them available as little art prints too for helping Feng Shui teachers to educate the Five Elements. Contact me in case you need bigger art prints.

 

Valentine’s Dreams and Mistletoe

Winter Green
You find Mistletoe at the centre of this overview of Winter Greens. Copyright Paula Kuitenbrouwer

I found some clippings of mistletoe on the estate of Oostbroek, a small Dutch estate in the centre of the province of Utrecht. As Valentine’s Day is approaching mistletoe is harvested and on sale in Dutch flower shops. Mistletoe is traditionally related to love; ‘Kissing under the Mistletoe’ and hanging it above your bed on the 14th of February for inviting your true love to appear in a dream. The belief of dreaming about your true love due to being close to a plant, holds three interesting elements. Firstly; plants have powers, although that is a bit of a no-brainer as we love to drink our coffee and tea, use herbs for cooking, and take them as medicine. Secondly, mistletoe is a powerful plant. In anthroposophy it is used for its anti-cancer properties. Maybe that was known long ago too as it is believed that druids harvested mistletoe ritually, with a golden sickle, for blessing their livestock (writings of Pliny the Elder)). Mistletoe, a hemi-parasitic plant, that grew on oaks (sacred to the Celts) was preferred. The last element that is hidden in Valentine-Mistletoe traditions is about dreaming and truths being communicated through dreams. Although we dismiss dreams as nonsense nowadays, in the past dreams were evaluated for truths and inspiration. It was a matter of separating the wheat from the chaff and for that there were wise elders to consult. Coming across mistletoe is special. It seems to say: ‘I am defying winter’. Even a sceptic can not ignore a spring coloured plant growing in a greyish midwinter landscape.

Paula

I am advised not to send my Vinculum Amoris (‘Bond of Love’ Horses with Swans and Hares cards) or Valentine’s cards as Valentine’s gifts outside the EU because they won’t make it before Valentine’s Day. My Vinculum Amoris and Valentine’s cards & embroidery are at at Etsy. Of course, my Vinculum Amoris Horses and Mandarin ducks keep their symbolism and meaning despite passing the Valentine’s Day deadline because they are about love, friendship, and loyalty. One might hope love stays on our minds the other 364 days of the year.

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My booklet ‘Birds, Butterflies, Fish & Botany’ is very low in price at the moment on Amazon.co.uk. Seize the opportunity! You won’t regret buying this booklet with 13 of my drawings and texts. My art friend Sybille recommends it especially for those who need to stay home due to being ill as my booklet takes the reader outside admiring Birds, Butterflies, Fish & Botany.

Judy BarendsThe same counts for a book made by my art friend Judy Barends. She recently published a lovely book with her watercolour artwork. Thematically there isn’t much difference between Judy and my work, as we both find great pleasure in drawing and painting Nature’s treasures. However, when inspired, Judy grabs for her watercolours, and I open by box with my coloured pencils or oil paints. Judy’s text are poetic and mine are more like stories; both our booklets are observational nature journals. For Judy’s book, go to her website.

Thank you!

Paula

At Etsy. A little overview for what you can find:

 

 

Still lifes, Foreshortening, and Nature Booklets

Drawings of blue ceramic bowls with mini ‘Zen’ gardens, Zebra or flowering Echeveria succulents, and stacked Killiney beach stones, geological treasures from Ireland. The Irish beach stones have such elegant and surprising patterns.

The Zebra cactus and succulents were the best thing to draw because I like drawing plants that have leaves growing into the direction of the viewer. For drawing such perspective you need a technique called foreshortening. Think about the figures of God, angles, and saints in Michaelangelo’s Sistine Chapel.

God by Michaelangelo

Michaelangelo mastered the skill of foreshortening effortlessly. One can do the same with flowers and plants, actually with everything that is three-dimensional. Like my tulip having one petal opening towards the direction the viewer.

Tulip in Oil Paint; Paula Kuitenbrouwer

Back to my still-life drawings. This tiny ‘Zen’ gardens survived our international move and are waiting patiently for ‘Spring comes, and the grass grows by itself‘ (Lao Tzu).

Stay safe & stay warm!

Love,

Paula

Round Blue Pot at Etsy  & Oval blue flower pot at Etsy

paulas-bookcover

My booklet ‘Birds, Butterflies, Fish & Botany’ is very low in price at the moment on Amazon.co.uk. Seize the opportunity! You won’t regret buying this booklet with 13 of my drawings and texts. My art friend Sybille recommends it especially for those who need to stay home due to being ill as my booklet takes the reader outside admiring Birds, Butterflies, Fish & Botany.

Judy BarendsThe same counts for a book made by my art friend Judy Barends. She recently published a lovely book with her watercolour artwork. Thematically there isn’t much difference between Judy and my work, as we both find great pleasure in drawing and painting Nature’s treasures. However, when inspired, Judy grabs for her watercolours, and I open by box with my coloured pencils or oil paints. Judy’s text are poetic and mine are more like stories; both our booklets are observational nature journals. For Judy’s book, go to her website.

Celtic Inspired Art Card and Mega Insect Hotel

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img_5859-1My Celtic inspired Illusion-Fusion ‘Horses, Hares & Swans’ art card is now available at Etsy.  I am still in such admiration for Iron Age Celtic artwork. It combines shape-shifting illusions with geometrical and decorative designs in a way that dazzles me. You see circles and rotating designs in which faces appear and disappear; in which animal forms materialize and disappear again. As if the viewer goes through a shamanistic consciousness changing experience.  The questions and challenges surrounding Celtic art and the fun of experimenting with blending animals, shapes, and forms keeps me busy.

Talking animals. I like to show you a huge insect hotel that my family came across during one of our walks. In fact, it is so well designed, small mammals, birds, and reptiles might seek refuse in it before winter comes or before a passing storm. Being impressed by this hotel, I feel obliged to write a recommendation for my animal friends.

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Grand Insectum

Set in the Dutch estate of Amelisweerd, a few km outside the Medieval town of Utrecht, this  high-end hotel is your top-location where you feel pampered. Come and enjoy culinary delights, relax at whatever suites that fits you, and hibernate till you can overlook Amelisweerd’s lush green meadows again. Occasionally you will meet fellow guests with mammal, bird-like, or reptile appearances; should this lead to you feeling uncomfortable, our front desk personal will relocate you without any extra costs. We offer Royal Suites, Junior Suites, and Double Suites. Hibernating at the Insectum is all about your well-being.

Paula Kuitenbrouwer

At Etsy

at Instagram

at Amazon.co.uk

Abstraction in Sashiko and Iron Age Art

Sashiko, Japanese traditional pattern stitching, is an interesting geometrical challenge. Equally interesting is discovering the meaning of the old Japanese patterns; some refer to nature scenes. Like ‘Linked Plovers or Chidori Tsunagi’:

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‘Wind blowing Grasses or nowaki’,

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‘Diamond Blue Waves or hishi seigaiha’.

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With the help of transparent geometrical templates bought Aliexpress, I copy and design the Sashiko patterns on paper and later transfer them to fabric. What I also like about the stitched geometry of Japan is the level of abstraction of the designs. Iron Age artists mastered abstraction; think about the Uffington White Horse in the UK.

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As I love using details and details in details, abstraction is a great challenge to me. Which lines can you erase and still have a flower, bird, or horse? Which lines are essential? And how does a geometrical design help the human brain to perceive abstract images and connect them to our life?

Paula Kuitenbrouwer

 

Shapeshifting, Valentine’s Day & Animal Drawing

Celtic Horses by Paula Kuitenbrouwer
Copyright Paula Kuitenbrouwer ‘Celtic Horses with Swans and Hares’.

(Nederlandse tekst onderaan)

There is a level of subtly in expressing shape-shifting in Celtic art that continues to fascinate me. We see the best shape-shifting Celtic art expressed in metal artwork. How much shape-shifting was expressed by Celtic shamans, artists and craftsman (probably brought together in one person) in wood and stone, we will never know as that is lost forever.

We often see faces in old trees and we see faces in, for instance, Avebury‘s megaliths. In their art, Celtic artists, challenge us to a much higher level of perception. What do we see? Wheels? Faces? Human or animal faces? Big eyes or heads of birds? Things seem pop up, in our consciousness, and disappear again, much like the Rabbit/Duck and Old Woman/Young Lady drawings that psychologist use to show how one can change his/her perception.

The question why Celtic art expressed shape-shifting fascinates me too. Bronze age Celtic craftsmen lived in a world full of spirits; sacred landscapes, monuments, and perhaps even every day tools. Ancestral and animal spirits dwelled everywhere. We have great difficulty understanding their world because we have dismissed spirits. Perhaps shape-shifting art was educational and instrumental to learn to perceive another realms? Or to express that we can see different realms simultaneously?

How many animals do you perceive in my drawing? There are six. I could easily push this drawing a bit further, but I like to use it as a Valentine gift for my husband. The banner will get the text ‘Vinculum Amoris’, the Bond of Love. I will print a few art cards with luxurious full colour inlays: with and without the text. Perhaps you like this art card but with your own text in the banner.

Don’t forget Valentine’s Day! Just spread a bit of love. It doesn’t has to be romantic love. Friendship is equally important. I suggest Mandarin Ducks for romantic love because these ducks symbolize love, and Celtic cards for friends.

Paula

Mandarin Ducks Cards

Mandarin Duck Cards by Paula Kuitenbrouwer

Mandarin Duck Embroidery

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Blue Celtic Art Card with Boars

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Celtic Art Card with Stag

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Celtic Art Card with Vinculum Amoris in the Banner   &

celtichorses empty banner hare swan

Celtic Art Card with an empty banner for you to fill in

In Dutch:

Deze kaart is door Paula Kuitenbrouwer gemaakt, geïnspireerd door het volgen van een cursus aan Oxford Universiteit over Keltische kunst. In Keltische kunst veranderen dieren vaak qua vorm; dieren worden mensen, mensen worden dieren, vogels worden zoogdieren en omgekeerd. Zo zie je heel veel in één plaatje. Paula vond dat zeer inspirerend en heeft 6 dieren in haar tekening samengebracht. Iedereen ziet eerst de paarden. Maar daarna zien sommigen eerst de zwanen en anderen eerst de hazen. Zo zie je dat je van perspectief, van perceptie kunt veranderen zoals psychologen dat laten zien aan de hand van de welbekende Eend/Haas en Jonge Vrouw/Oude Vrouw tekening.
Deze kaart komt met een kleurrijke inleg waarop een tekst of brief geschreven kan worden. Deze kaart heeft een lege banner waarin u een naam of korte tekst kunt schrijven zoals ‘Liefde’ of ‘Beterschap’. Uitstekend geschikt cadeau voor paarden, dieren of Keltische kunst liefhebbers. Komt verpakt in plastic met een naamkaartje en een sluitzegel.
Paula Kuitenbrouwer is eigenaar van http://www.mindfuldrawing.com en is te vinden op Instagram als @mindfuldrawing. Ze leeft met haar man en dochter in Nederland.

Celtic Artist Card

 

Celtic Art Card by Paula Kuitenbrouwer
Celtic Inspired Art Card by Paula Kuitenbrouwer
Text on Card Paula Kuitenbrouwer
Text on Celtic Art Card by Paula Kuitenbrouwer

This is a handmade card showing the illusion of an antique golden-silver disk with Lapis Lazuli inlays. There are four boars, many swans, and 4 hidden faces to discover. Inside the card there is a full colour inlay and an extra inlay with the following text: My Celtic Art Project. This is my contribution to my ‘Who are the Celts?’ course at Oxford Department for Continuing Education, week 5 ‘Make your Own Celtic Art’ (2017). At the end of a demanding week of studying participants were challenged to make their own Celtic art. I used Golden/Silver ink-pens, an ordinary Bic blue pen, art paper, a protector, and many rulers to create an illusion of a golden plate decorated with silver and Lapis Lazuli boars. Notice the boars, hidden faces, and many swans.
© by Paula Kuitenbrouwer

This engaging card comes in protective cellophane, a name card, and a seal sticker. All in all this is an art project card that will entertain its (new) owner and it leaves plenty of room for a handwritten text.

At Etsy.

 

Prehistoric Rhinoceros

Rhinoceros Embroidery
May I present some prehistoric testosterone? From Chauvet Cave (France), a most impressive Rhinoceros, who, after being drawn on beautiful coloured cave walls at c. 30,000 BCE, never fails to impress.

P.S. My booklet is down to 2.99 British Ponds on Amazon.co.uk. This is such a low price, and it is First Come, First Serve. After it is bought, the price goes up again. So, be quick.

And let me know when you have bought my booklet: I will send you an Ex Libris. State your request for the Raphael Apostle, the Raphael Horse or the Old Tree Ex Libris.

More news: all hand embroidered Duck Couples and my Woolly Rhinoceros are now listed on Etsy. You will be surprised how low I keep my prices. I have to do that because shipping is so expensive and I think art and crafts should be affordable.

All at Etsy.

Man of Mander

To reconnect with nature and with the past, we recently visited a few burial mounts near Ootmarsum in Twente (NL). This is a protected archaeological site and visiting this sleepy site feels as if one enters a thin place.

Here was found the ‘Man of Mander’, a shadow figure in stone (body imprint in stone) of a person almost of 2 metres tall and having no feet. He has probably been a Stone Age hunter or farmer. As a burial gift, for the Afterlife, he carried a stone arrow head. Why his feet are missing asks for careful analysing. One explanation could be that he was encouraged by his tribal members not to dwell on Earth as a spirit, instead to journey to the After Life.

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‘Man of Mander’, a shadow in stone of a decomposed body. The Man of Mander lies as a foetus on his side; feet are missing.

This area has had its burial chambers too, or ‘hunnebedden’ in Dutch, but they have long gone. Farmers and builders were, like us, eager to re-use large stones for building a nearby church and a pigsty. This sounds grinch-worthy and it surely is, but stones have a habit of looking perfect for re-using.

Standing there, in the cold, enchanted by the place, I read a poem about the burial mounts written by Mr. B.W.A.E baron Sloet tot Olthuys (1807-1884). The poem describes how the poet stands, like we did, near the burial mounts and muses about who lies there ‘sleeping for centuries’. All the sudden the poet becomes aware of a man. The man starts asking him questions. How is to believe in one god instead of many; how it is to work for another instead as for oneself? Is the poet as free and as in harmony has he, the Stone Age hunter, feels? I loved reading this poem because of the importance of empathy and asking questions (Cognitive Archaeology). Studying the unwritten past is like looking into a mirror and seeing our modern life and conditioning reflected. Asking questions to those living in the past is making an effort to step outside oneself, which is a very difficult yet wise thing to do from time to time. 

Paula Kuitenbrouwer

Artist & Author of ‘Birds, Butterflies, Fish & Botany

at @mindfuldrawing on Instagram

Portfolio at Etsy.