I will be working on this hoop during the time of travelling from country to country, 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. Musing over this, the ferry keeps sailing over Doggerland. I wish that I could see what was beneath the water. Villages? Stone circles? It must be fascinating!
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.
Artist, Author & Expat
‘Birds, Butterflies, Fish & Botany’
My Tufted Duck series is growing steadily. One more to go for having six.
Every 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.
Last year, I drew all Feng Shui’s elements. To help you remembering my drawings, I add a small compilation of my work.
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.
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.
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…..
Unicorns, square circles and red Tufted ducks only exist in our art and imagination. Fantastic concept can inspire us endlessly. Ruddy Shelducks (Brahminy ducks) come close being red ducks but in fact they have orange-brown body plumage. My red Tufted ducks are deep red, dressed up with gold and a variety of different stitches. The satin glow of their pink chest give an impression that they just left the duck pond. While the last drops fall of their waterproof plumage, this cute couple starts preening their feathers.
I always use my own designs, based on my coloured pencil drawings or oil paintings.
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.
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.
Remember the lino print that I made recently? It was inspired by observing a Tufted duck couple. Although the stylized style is new to me and not often practiced by me, I enjoyed playing with the intertwining lines. In fact, I enjoyed it so much (it felt positively Celtic) that I copied my drawing and set up an embroidery design.
My preening ducks keep me busy. What wing part is from the right sided duck and what from the left? Nobody knows and that I find the most charming part of this design.
My duckish ambitions haven’t acted out completely and I foresee more playing around with these lovely ducks. In fact, the next embroidery is in the making, as you can see. (By the way, Tufted ducks aren’t green. The male is black-white and the female brown. They have darn cute, large and round shaped heads with a charming tuft).
I learned a new word: woolgathering. I like new words and I especially like woolgathering because I like textile craft, cotton, wool and gathering supplies. But that is not what woolgathering means, however woolgathering was original used for gathering the leftover pieces of wool after sheep shearing. Woolgathering now means to indulgence in aimless thought or dreamy imagining, in short, day-dreaming. Can artists day-dream? Or do they rush to their sketch-books, canvasses, notebooks in a bee-line to pen down their inspirational ideas?
William Wordsworth wrote in his Daffodils poem that when he is ‘In vacant or in pensive mood, They (daffodils) flash upon that inward eye’. Is that vacant and pensive mood daydreaming or woolgathering? I don’t think so.
Lovebirds by Paula Kuitenbrouwer Art Print of Pencil Drawing is available at Etsy.
Poetic reflecting is closely related but it seems different from woolgathering to me. Woolgathering is without focus; poetic reflection demands concentration. However, the effect is the same; inspiration floods the mind. Off I go, rushing to my desk where my sketchbooks, notebooks and soap-stones are waiting for me. I leave the woolgathering to others.