For the sole purpose to inspire you…

For the sole purpose of inspiring you, I like to show you what dropped in my mail box from Japan; two lovely packages with beautiful Sashiko threads. I chose these colours for representing Earth and Ocean. The earth being dressed up in autumn colours and the ocean with different hues of blue and green.

You can travel the world by car or plane but you can also travel through the world of crafts. I wrote in a former blogpost that I can’t exactly remember how I ventured into the world of Sashiko. But by dwelling in the world of Sashiko, I noticed how beautiful some Japanese hand-dyed threads are. I come across a lot of thread that I can’t order because I can’t read Japanese. However, these threads I found at the Japanese Amazon and they will soon assist me in creating a Sashiko display that is both experimental and (hopefully) decorative. Before you think, ‘Paula has traded her pen and pencils for needles’. No. Certainly not. Please, return soon for more creative updates and inspiration.

Love from Paula

P.S. Being back in the Netherlands, I designed a new, bilingual name card. I also re-activated my Etsy shop. It needs some tweaks but it shows that I am back again after a long Irish sabbatical. Visitekaartjes.jpg



Sashiko, a Creative World

What have I learned so far about Sashiko? A lot! I should preform 10x better by stepping up in neatness, using better colours, and that the backside of the fabric shouldn’t look like a migraine. I can also speed up by using a longer needle. I wish that I could buy Kazu thread but I can’t read Japanese, so I can only buy Sashiko yarn via the English version of Last, by posting about Sashiko, I gained some very inspiring contacts, like Watts Sashiko who has ventured into the world of Sashiko much deeper. My artist friend Sybille Tezzele Kramer spontaneously invented Sashiko. You should see her process. And Megan Williams, who makes Sashiko a creative meditation in which she remembers her beloved father. Sashiko is a world that bubbles with creativity.

Sashiko (刺し子, literally “little stabs” or “little pierce”) is a form of decorative reinforcement stitching (or functional embroidery) from Japan that started out of practical need during the Edo era (1615-1868). Traditionally used to reinforce points of wear or to repair worn places or tears with patches, making the darned piece ultimately stronger and warmer,this running stitch technique is often used for purely decorative purposes in quilting and embroidery. The white cotton thread on the traditional indigo blue cloth (said to recall snow falling around old farmhouses) gives sashiko its distinctive appearance, though decorative items sometimes use red thread.

The indigo blue fabric, beautiful pastel coloured thread, and traditional Japanese patterns captivate me. I can’t help but finding Sashiko irresistible.

Paula Kuitenbrouwer

Artist, Author & Expat

‘Birds, Butterflies, Fish & Botany’

Bitten by the Sashiko Bug

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Confession, followed by Action


I can’t remember how it all started, but some time ago I got bitten by the Sashiko bug.

Sashiko (刺し子, literally “little stabs” or “little pierce”) is a form of decorative reinforcement stitching or functional embroidery from Japan that started out of practical need during the Edo era (1615-1868). Traditionally used to reinforce points of wear or to repair worn places or tears with patches, making the darned piece ultimately stronger and warmer, this running stitch technique is often used for purely decorative purposes in quilting and embroidery. The white cotton thread on the traditional indigo blue cloth its distinctive appearance.

Perhaps it was the traditional indigo blue fabric that caught my eye or the traditional Japanese patterns that I already loved. To cut a long story short, I ordered some Sashiko challenges and books on and set out to discover what Sashiko was all about.


Well, Sashiko is a long story and a world of possibilities which I eagerly liked to explore. Especially during our move from Ireland to the Netherlands, I needed a creative challenge that I could store in my backpack and pick up during moments of (relative) rest. In that aspect, Sashiko worked like a meditation for me. I started with  simple pre-printed fabrics but hadn’t Sashiko worked like a calming meditation, I would have been disappointed. To follow pre-printed patterns was too easy for me, I thought. But, be aware, Japanese crafts aren’t easy. As soon had I finished a few coasters, I noticed a mistake! Bang.. I just received a blow with the Zen stick, on my non-geometrical ego. But surely I am forgiven as I am following visual instructions with Japanese texts and I can’t read Japanese!

Sashiko with Tokyo Bowl and Sea-glass
Sashiko with Tokyo Bowl and Sea-glass


I am stepping up my Sashiko creativity now. Next to working on a few more creative projects, I am now designing my own Sashiko composition using traditional Japanese patterns. (I will keep you posted on this). My goal is learning a lot in a short time span and then organising a Sashiko workshop. My other goal is, having lovely Sashiko table cloths that match with my indigo blue Tokyo tableware. Being Dutch, I love blue ceramics. And I can’t help but smile at the cleverness of Sashiko’s geometrical designs. Just when you think Sashiko is a no-brainer, you discover you can improve your efficiency and creativity. As I wrote, Sashiko is a world of possibilities.

I am planning to give a Sashiko workshop in January 2019. Fill in the form should you feel interested in signing up. You will receive information on my Sashiko workshop.

Paula Kuitenbrouwer

Author, Artist & Expat

‘Birds, Butterflies, Fish & Botany’

At mindfuldrawing at Instagram

My Inspirational Cabinet

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I am setting up my studio. My inspirational cabinet shows some of the treasures that I found on the beach, woods, or meadows. On display are my precious deer skull, an ox horn (bought), a sheep horn from Manx (Isle of Man), an unknown horn, shells, Killiney beach stones, fossilized wood (gift), grey washed beach wood, and bits of old iron.

I found that rusty part of a vehicle on a farmer’s track in the Wicklow Mountains (🇮🇪) and decided to, very appropriately, use it as a frame for Raffaello Sanzio’s Putto holding Vulcan’s tools. Vulcan is also known as Hephaestus, the Greek god of blacksmiths.

Also on display is my ‘cave painting’ art print with the Venus of Willendorf and the Lionman. Did you know the Lionman (Löwenmensch) isn’t per-se male? The name Lionman is a word contraction of Lion & Human. I wrote an essay on prehistoric hand stencils, which you will be able to find here. ‘Dead’ treasures can still be beautiful and some clearly haven’t lost their quality to inspire. Without being Gothic, I think that much inspirational energy seems to be stored in nature treasures. Drawing inspiration from nature doesn’t always have to come from flowers or fluttery butterflies. Do you agree?

Paula Kuitenbrouwer

Artist, Author & Expat

‘Birds, Butterflies, Fish & Botany’ 

at Etsy

N.B. After having taken a long Sabbatical with my Etsy for studying at Oxford Department of Continuing Education, I yet have to update my shop. However, the good news is, my shop is online again. Should you like to purchase my booklet, art prints or original drawings, please contact me. By Christmas, I will have my shop neatly organized again.

I will keep you posted on a very pretty Mid-Winter, Yule, or Christmas drawing that I have in mind. I might turn it into a card too, like my Celtic Wild Boar card. You can watch the process of designing my Celtic Boar card here.

P.S. To my loyal online art friends, I am very sorry for having neglected your updates. I just moved the last box out of our apartment. My studio is coming along pretty well. You haven’t fallen from my radar. I am just still very busy with getting settled. I am longing very much for routine and returning to drawing and painting, and staying in touch with you all.

Lovely Ducks


My series of lovely ducks. Or, my series of different embroidery techniques. Ducks are often regarded as hilarious or silly but the truth is that they are amazing. They feel at home in water, diving under water, and they can fly long distances despite their heavy bodies.

I will soon offer this pattern on Etsy. There is so much creativity to gain by creatively interpreting their intertwined bodies expressed by swirling lines. I’ll keep you posted but for now, my ducks keep me company in my new Dutch studio that is taking shape. A few more boxes to unpack and one painting easel to assemble.


Happy to be back in Holland!

Much love,

Paula Kuitenbrouwer

Artist, Author & Expat

‘Birds, Butterflies, Fish & Botany’

@mindfuldrawing on Instagram

Moving from Country to Country

On the left a dried Physalis, strong and fragile. On the right, a ball of trimmed hair, also strong and fragile. Every spring, I offer our garden birds some trimmed hair to use as bedding to line their nests. (Yes, some of our baby garden birds have very luxurious baby-beds). After a storm, I found left-over hair woven in to a ball, hollow on the inside. It amazed me.

Wasn’t it Kahlil Gibran saying the wind likes to play with hair? I interpreted Gibran’s remark as poetry but after founding this beautifully woven ball, I thought; ‘That wasn’t a poetic line, that is a description of an observation’.

During our international move, I kept three items on my desk; my sketchbook, an embroidery hoop, and an inspirational book on Asian art. I managed to pack two bags with creative essentials to travel with us. I wouldn’t know what to do without them.

When you move house, or you move from country to country, you become a slave of your possessions, which I think is horrible and almost shamefull. You have to deal with deadlines that can’t be ignored because a whole chain of events counts on your reliability. Despite the hard work, you need to sleep and eat well and stay fit, which is impossible. How can one stay upbeat when one is lived by possession, deadlines and exhausting long days? For me the answer is sitting down for short moments and focus on creativity. Even if it is only leafing through a sketchbook, or remembering your creative projects. That energizes.

If you are, like me, interested in Japanese art, in textile crafting, in Japanese aesthetics, and indigo blue is one of your favourite colours, the chance you come across Sashiko is pretty high. And thus, a new adventure begins.

Keeping you posted!


P.S. We have left Ireland. We sailed away on a fine day. The Irish Sea was smooth and we thoroughly enjoyed arriving in Wales. The mountains of Snowdonia looked amazing. We arrived home and were met with such love and joy. It gave us energy to get back on track as soon as possible.

Stone Circles

I have be working on this hoop during our journey home, of travelling, crossing two seas. Sailing between the UK and the Netherlands, makes me aware of crossing Doggerland, the fast unexplored and archaeological treasure, that lies is beneath the North Sea. Doggerland was flooded by rising sea levels around 6,500–6,200 BC. It was probably a rich habitat with human habitation in the Mesolithic period.


More land might be claimed by rising sea levels in the near future. Half of the Netherlands lies beneath sea level.

I wish that I could see what was beneath the water. Stone circles? It must be fascinating!

Paula Kuitenbrouwer

Artist, Author & Expat

‘Birds, Butterflies, Fish & Botany’

King Eider Duck (Somateria spectabilis) Drawing & Embroidery

Good-day to you! I am a King Eider and this is a coloured pencil drawing made by Paula Kuitenbrouwer. Paula is currently preparing an international move, thus her pencils are disappearing into big boxes. As she is rather creative and doesn’t like to put her creativity on hold, she is using my portrait and that of my beloved wife as an embroidery design.

Forgive me my vanity, but don’t I look handsome? And doesn’t my wife look adorable? Paula has done me great favour by expressing my black plumage in a contemporary style. Over the next few weeks, Paula will finish the feathers of my wife. In a way she is painting two portraits, one with coloured pencils and one with a needle and thread. While Paula is busy, we swim in Arctic waters and showing people how ‘King’ we are.

King Eider Drawing & Embroidery
King Eider Drawing & Embroidery: copyright Paula Kuitenbrouwer

Paula Kuitenbrouwer
Artist, Author & Expat
‘Birds, Butterflies, Fish & Botany’

Tufted Duck Couples in Different Colours

My Tufted Duck series is growing steadily. One more to go for having six.

imagesEvery duck shows different stitches.

A few months ago, I bought The Embroidery Stitch Bible by Betty Barnden. Leafing through it propelled me back to Junior School, art-class. I could see myself, as a young girl, working on a Needle Sampler. I still remember it! It was a pretty one with many different stitches, numbers, puppets, and floral designs.




It is fun to get acquainted with different stitches again. I also feel that textile crafting is good for the brain and a fun thing to do. It keeps my hands busy and my mind creative. It does demand concentration but in a pleasant way.


Textile crafting certainly has the same effect as meditation.

After finishing an embroidery hoop, there is some tidying up and reorganizing to do. And after that, I like to study which different embroidery arts exits. I am very smitten with Japanese and Chinese ‘silk’ embroidery but also I am impressed by Crewel designs. Most likely, I will end up creating eclectic pieces, being so widely inspired.

Be creative & be happy,

Paula Kuitenbrouwer

Artist, Author & Expat

‘Birds, Butterflies, Fish & Botany.

Paula Kuitenbrouwer's Birds, Butterflies, Fish & Botany