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

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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.

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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!

Paula

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.

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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.

 

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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

Feng Shui Hoop Display

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Five Elements Creatively Approached

Last year, I drew all Feng Shui’s elements. To help you remembering my drawings, I add a small compilation of my work.

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Paula’s Feng Shui’s interpretations, showing its Water, Wood, Metal, Fire & Earth element. Copyrighted.

My 5 large, circular, artistic compositions that are now decorating one wall of our living room. I wrote a booklet about this creative process named ‘Feng Shui, A Creative Approach‘. After I had framed my Five Elements, I felt that this project was too inspiring to bring to a close. With our rooms already carefully evaluated on a harmonious representing of the Five Elements, I still wasn’t ready to leave this subject behind me. I printed small prints of my drawings and gave them to various friends. Sybille, a long and very creative art-friend delighted me with framing these mini-prints. (Click here to see her display of the mini-prints). For myself I printed my drawings on fabric, using Spoonflower. I framed the fabric prints with hoops. Somehow, they were begging for more creativity. I gave in eagerly, of course, and looked for nice embellishments to add to the hoop. Thus, I created an engaging hoop-sized display of Water, Fire, Wood, Earth & Metal.

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Feng Shui 5 Elements, Creatively Approached by Paula Kuitenbrouwer at http://www.mindfuldrawing.com. Copyright Paula Kuitenbrouwer 2018.

For Feng Shui’s Wood- element, I added a wooden button and a small wooden stick. I added a metal coin, a beautiful one to the fabric showing my Metal-element interpretation. This coin was in 2017 design for the Isle of Man £1 coin features two birds – a Falcon and a Raven. These birds are symbolically associated with the Island and feature on the Coat of Arms.

Adding an embellishment for Feng Shui’s Fire-element offered a challenge. Yes, of course, I could set my hoop alight but that would result in a very short-lived representation! It took me some time to find a solution. Ashes, perhaps? No, ashes are represented by Earth’s element. Artificial flames? No thanks, too kitsch. In the end, I opted for adding Red Dragon Beads, Dragons breathing fire and these beads showing interesting carvings. I attached them to a loose string, causing some movement. After all, fire is in constant motion, unless water that be still. Equally, I faced difficulties with adding a truthful water-element as an embellishment. After all, I can’t have a soaked and dripping piece of artwork hanging on my wall, but the dripping inspired me. Thus, I added watery looking, droplets decoratively to the hoop. Earth…what to do with Earth? Rubbing in my artwork in with dirty soil? No, of course. It seems better to add Feng Shui’s jewellery for the Earth element with terra-cotta coloured gemstones. All in all, this project resulted into an interesting and engaging display of Feng Shui’s element, artistically approached.

Have you ever wrapped your creative mind around Feng shui’s elements? As I hold a MA degree in Philosophy, I am interested to dive deeper into creatively expressing elements. Feng Shui covers 5 elements, but ancient philosophers wrote about more elements: Air and Aether. Air & Aether certainly pose a near impossible artistic challenge! I will keep you posted.

Paula Kuitenbrouwer

Artist, Author & Expat

‘Birds, Butterflies, Fish & Botany’

Visiting the Dutch Countryside

We are visiting the Netherlands; birding and hiking in the low lands, visiting villages and the countryside where our ancestors lived. We talk about past generations. What a wonderful stories we, three generations, share and pass on to the youngest generation. Sometimes our ancestors feel close, as if you can turn a corner or pass a group of trees and they will be there. In my mind’s eye, I see a group of men, pre-WWII dressed, joyfully cycling on old bicycles to their work. In my mind’s eye, I see great-grandmothers knitting behind old windows of antique, beautiful houses in well preserved towns. Maybe they still are there; we feel their kindness and beneficial wisdom. Maybe they shape-shift and come as buzzards that enchantingly fly over us or as elegant swans swimming towards the horizon in a sun-set coloured brook. We walk between fields of cereals. I hate to see the expansion of factory farming (knowing of the animal suffering inside these too large stables) but I thank farmers for growing healthy looking crops. The wind dances over fields of young oat stalks. Should I read a message in the silvery patterns that is written by the playing wind? Perhaps the message simply is thankfulness.

………en in de geweldige ruimte verzonken de boerderijen verspreid door het land, boomgroepen, dorpen, geknotte torens, kerken en olmen in een groots verband…..

(H. Marsman, Herinnering aan Holland)

Paula Kuitenbrouwer

Artist, Author & Expat

‘Birds, Butterflies, Fish & Botany’

 

Embroidery as Art

What makes embroidery art? What is required for embroidery to become a masterpiece? I have read a few books on embroidery but I haven’t come across a reflection on this question. As I am rather new to embroidery, I can only use my fine art (painting) knowledge.


A work of fine art is mostly appreciated for technical and artistic exquisite execution (skill and artistic talent). Having said this, there are many works of art that are regarderd masterpieces because of social, political or purely creative qualities.

For a beautiful piece of embroidery some criteria are similar to painting; technical skill, colour-choice, composition, originality of concept/theme, and quality of materials. Don’t underestimate originality; it is enjoyable and valued to see artisans using their your own source of inspiration. Their artwork reflects their life and their conflict or love for their life living in a certain place and time. Such inspiration creates a unique and uncompromising style or signature.

Blue Tufted Ducks by Paula Kuitenbrouwer

Returning to the question ‘What makes embroidery art?’ Embroidery demands an equal amount of skill as painting, drawing, woodwork, and ceramics. For all artwork counts that more skill leads to increased quality and value.

‘Blue Ducks’ & ‘Green Ducks’ in the series of Tufted Ducks by Paula Kuitenbrouwer.

I used gold thread & various blues plus freehand-stitch, pekinese-stitch, french-knots & openchain-stitch. I always use my own designs, based on my coloured pencil drawings or oil paintings. Occasionally I use my sketches for making lino-prints too.

Paula Kuitenbrouwer

Artist, Author & Expat

‘Birds, Butterflies, Fish & Botany’

@mindfuldrawing on Instagram