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   &

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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.

Ducks Embroidery Pattern Instant Download at my Etsy

I have uploaded in my Etsy shop a 15 pages embroidery pattern instant download with full-colour illustrations. This PDF, that comes with 3 different traceable pattern-drawings, offers the textile crafter inspiration and freedom to play with favourite stitches within the boundaries of the pattern.

Unless you need a stitch-by-stitch a cross-stitch pattern, this isn’t for you. This PDF offers you a possibility to select your favourite colours and experiment with new stitches. I drew this duck pattern and used it 6 times, and I highly recommend buying a stitching bible or a stitching guide to experiment with new stitches and to embellish the ducks with luxurious patterns.

This is a great pattern for freedom loving beginners who like to fill up the ducks with Running stitches or advances embroiderers who dare to use more complicated stitches. Your pattern will be available as an instant download as soon as your order is complete.

 

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This hoop project  demands a 22cm or 8 inches hoop; a light box (or a sunlit window functioning like a light box) or traceable fabric, a fabric pencil, and threads with dazzling colours for making your own Dazzling Ducks.You will receive 1 file of 15 pages with:

. The story behind this pattern;
. Main instructions, although the word inspiration covers the PdF download better;
– Three patterns in black and white  – for tracing;
– Advice about the transferring method and hoop size.

 

After having used the Duck Patterns, please, hand them over to your (grand)children as a colour page. You might get inspired by their use of wild colours all over again!
For PERSONAL use only.
Copyright remains with the designer Paula Kuitenbrouwer.
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While I am working on too many projects, our piggies are enjoying their daily catnaps in their cosy cottages. I love the human life……but I wish that I could nap so easily as they do.
Kindest greetings,
Paula

Crane Birds Work in Progress

Carefully cutting away the transfer fabric which held the original drawing of the crane birds. Next, I will be working on the Dutch landscape, which will have a low horizon. This will be a gift for my bird loving father, who had the luck of seeing a large group of crane birds flying over. An increasing number of crane birds are nesting in the Netherlands, which is great.

Paula Kuitenbrouwer

Artist & Author

@mindfuldrawing at Instagram

 

On my Desk

On my desk: Hannah Green’s notebook that I use for Sashiko notes, my booklet ‘Birds, Butterflies, Fish & Botany’, my Sashiko cloth with autumn colours, and its beautiful hand dyed, multi coloured yarn, as well as my Ex Libris.

There are so many projects to work on; one life isn’t enough! Apart from that, I wish to live multiple creative lives in different times; like that of a Celtic blacksmith in the late Iron Age or of a prehistoric stone cutter. Or that of a Medieval weaver. But, who knows… I might have live these lives already. Which creative life does appeal to you, apart from your current one?

Paula Kuitenbrouwer

Artist & Author

‘Birds, Butterflies, Fish & Botany’

at Etsy

Mandarin & Wood Ducks Cards

 

Mandarin and Wood ducks nest in tree cavities. The female doesn’t feed her ducklings because that is too much work compared to having a nest on water level between reeds. There is another bird that doesn’t feed its young. Lapwings don’t feed their chicks but for other reasons. Lapwing chicks are born on a field that lies fallow, which means they are very vulnerable to predators. Parent lapwings use all their energy to guide and defend their chicks. Feeding would lead predators directly to the cute fluff balls.
There is another difference between lapwings and mandarin and wood ducks, apart from lapwings being meadow birds and the other two are waterfowl. Lapwings both take care for raising their young in a coordinated manner. When danger is detected one of the parents will call out orders (mainly ‘For the love of life, freeze and remain still!’) while the other parent will cleverly distract or lead the predator away from the chicks.
The male mandarin and wood duck, both being such handsome drakes, can’t do that, they wisely stay away from the mums and their ducklings. Should the extraordinary colourful daddy of the family take part in feeding the ducklings, he would draw too much attention to his reproduced and fluffy DNA. For a female mandarin duck to be married (yes, for life) to such handsome fellow comes with a price.
Paula Kuitenbrouwer
Artist & Author

instagram_PNG13.png @ mindfuldrawing

img_4951I have made a few Mandarin and Wood Duck cards, with a full colour inlay. They come in protective cellophane and a seal sticker. There are at my Etsy, but you can contact me too via the contact form. (scroll down).