Graphite Drawing: In Praise of Plants

This is a large graphite drawing (about the size of A3) beautifully and softly rendered, titled ‘Praising Plants’. I have set up this drawing as a way to show gratitude towards (house) plants. They provide us with oxygen, hence the text ‘Thank Your for your O2,’ a word rhyme that names oxygen by its element. Instead of drawing plants in pots, I have used a frame decorated with Ginkgo leaves. These leaves are found near Ginkgo trees, often in growing in botanical gardens or in Asian cities. Inside the border, I have added two plant motifs, Acanthus and Pimpernel Bay-leaf Manilla, inspired by William Morris, a British textile designer, poet, novelist, translator, and socialist activist associated with the British Arts and Crafts Movement. The two other plant motifs are designed by me; Bamboo and Lotus flower.

One should see this drawing as a garden, as a local botanical garden in which one can deeply relax and become thankful for what plants do for us. Not only do they provide us with oxygen, but also with soul nourishment and above all, with beauty. Frame this drawing and feel inspired by what plants mean for us and how they can enchant us with their intricate patterns. I sell this original and there are no copies available. This makes this drawing unique gift.

Paula Kuitenbrouwer

at Etsy

This drawing at Etsy.

An Original Fibonacci Wave Mandarin Duck Drawing to Celebrate Love Wedding Friendship Engagement

Mandarin Ducks Bobbing on Hokusai’s Wave

STORY
Says the male outstanding colourful Mandarin drake to his lovely wife; ‘I love you profoundly; I will stay with you till the end of my days. I don’t know where I end and you begin’. Says the sweet female duck to her handsome drake; ‘Such is our lifelong bond; the high waves of life can’t drift us apart. Together we swim, spatter and stay close to each other to confirm our bond that will last a lifetime’.

OBSERVATION
Is there something more beautiful than seeing a closely bonded couple, in which the male and female are equal in rights, expression, and status. Their love doesn’t need dominance, it isn’t a power-game. They have moved beyond that, to a realm that we call love.

ARTIST STATEMENT
I have drawn, painted, and sold many Mandarin Duck couples and it brings me great pleasure that in parts of the world, where I do not live or travel, my mandarin duck drawings decorate walls of living, study or sleeping rooms. Mandarin Ducks symbolize love and loyalty, and friendship. This drawing has a luxurious, golden border. It needs a lovely square frame.

 

FENG SHUI
In Asia and in Feng Shui it is said that having Mandarin Ducks in your home (painting or picture) attracts love and loyalty. And why not? When people enter the room, they notice this picture of love and loyalty and that is subtly stored in their minds and hearts. They don’t see a drawing or print with one object, but with two birds that love each other. It sets the mindset or mood for a start of a deep friendship or love. Having a mandarin print in your home is suppose to attract love. Maybe it isn’t a myth at all. In traditional Asian culture, mandarin ducks are believed to be lifelong couples, unlike other species of ducks. Hence they are regarded as a symbol of love, affection and fidelity.

FIBONACCI SEQUENCE
I have drawn mandarin ducks in full colour and as albino and leucistic couples. I have drawn them against a minimalist white background, suggesting a pond, or suggesting reeds. And I was about to set out to add a new couple to my portfolio when I noticed the Fibonacci Sequence in one of my old sketches. It made my heart miss a beat because it brought a flood of inspiration. I immediately set out to make a circular composition, adding two ducks shaped as in the well-know Fibonacci fashion. And after having done that successfully, I couldn’t stop and added parts of The Great Wave off Kanagawa by the Japanese artist Hokusai next to the mandarin ducks. Now I had four Fibonacci elements, as I recognized the Fibonacci sequence in Hokusai’s wave too.

MANDARIN DUCKS
These mandarin duck couple, deeply in love with each other, are bathing in wild waters. In fact, they are so deeply bonded, they have no idea where they individually begin or end. They have become one in emotion and routine. They are one with the waters they live in too. The beautiful Hokusai wave, which could be interpreted as the pleasant and unpleasant high waves life throws at every couple, can’t separate them. They will stay together during their whole life; in high tide and low tide, in calm and difficult times, through day and night, till the end.

COPYRIGHT & ORDERING
This drawing/design is copyrighted. I offer this original drawing as a commission. This means that your drawing is hand-drawn, slightly different not in shape or style but perhaps a bit different in colour, as it will be a hand-drawn copy of the first drawing. Original drawings should be ordered via Etsy and will have a waiting list as I draw them mindfully.

YIN YANG SYMBOL
Please, notice the Mandarin ducks eyes holding a Yin-Yang symbol. I can do your drawing without this symbol hidden in their cute eyes.

At Etsy

Paula Kuitenbrouwer

@mindfuldrawing on Instagram

Inquiries:

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.

 

My Inspirational Cabinet

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

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.

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’

The Soul: Painting the Unpaintable

The Soul: Painting the Unpaintable

On an altarpiece owned by the Catharijneconvent Museum in the Netherlands, we see Mary and Gabriel; an Annunciation, of course. But the Annunciation is shown in so many paintings that it requires us to make an extra effort to see how remarkable this painting is.

Altarpiece Circa 1400

Let us talk you through it. This is a Flemish altarpiece dating from the late Middle Ages. The painting is about an episode in the Bible, yet it has subtle emotions. If it had been a Renaissance piece, the emotions would be expressed in full; Mary’s body wouldn’t be so poorly executed. The late Medieval characteristic of this painting is that it is richly decorated. It has sumptuous features, such as Gabriel’s clothing, the floor tiles and wallpaper. Mary and Gabriel blend in almost too much, especially Mary with her plain clothing against the heavily decorated background.

Then there is another lovely feature you shouldn’t miss. Gabriel, Mary and the two angels look alike. The most obvious explanation would be that the painter used his or her family as models: his sister or mother as Mary, his brother as Gabriel and his cousins as angels. Another explanation is more theological and much deeper: Mary, the angels and Gabriel were deliberately made to look alike, pale and delicate countenances surrounded by ginger hair, because the painter wanted to stress that Mary, Gabriel and the angels all are very close to God: that they resemble each other, thus also resembling God.

This is a plausible explanation, because the painter has given the theology of the story much thought. Although you might think that this painting was a show of architectonic and texture-drawing skills there is something many will miss while observing this altarpiece.

The painter was philosophical about how to paint God, incarnation or the soul before birth. Have a look at the golden beam of light that descends from the position between the two angels. The fact that the beam comes from above and is positioned between the angels, shows it is a holy sign. At the end of the beam we see the white dove, representing the Holy Spirit. The dove looks like an ocean-diving pelican, aiming to catch a big fish. Here we should remember that, for medieval Europe, the pelican, renowned for its love of its young, symbolised Christ himself. Mary is in a blissful meditative stage of prayer, open to the message of Gabriel when the dove of the Holy Spirit descends on her.

Baby Jesus

Nothing new, you might think, but notice the tiny figure that follows after the white dove has entered Mary’s mind. There is a small figure, a small, naked boy: Jesus, diving into Mary as the Holy Spirit does, which shows that Mary is soon to be pregnant with a holy child. Mary’s highest point, while reading her book, is her head: Jesus entering her head instead of her chest or lap shows that Jesus comes from ‘above’. With Joseph nowhere to be seen, the painting focusses on the spiritual aspect of a soul descending into a woman.

From this 15th century religious painting, let’s now move on to The Burial of Count Orgaz by El Greco, painted in 1568.

El Greco

The painting shows the miracle that is said to have happened during the burial of Count Orgaz: two saints descend from heaven to place the body of Count Orgaz in his tomb. While the painting shows Saint Stephen and Saint Augustine in full glory, tenderly putting Count Orgaz in his resting place in the lower part of the painting, halfway across the canvas an angel carries the soul of the count to Christ, who is positioned high up in the painting, gesturing by his open arms a welcoming sign. Between the earthy world in which Count Orgaz is laid to rest, and the heavenly world, hangs a whitish translucent veil. Its folds show there are angels hiding in it and, due to its uneven distribution, it creates numerous spaces or ‘heavens’. Dante wrote about many hells; this painting hints at many heavens. Between Mary and St. John the Baptist is a very narrow opening to which the angel with curly hair carefully pushes the soul of Count Orgaz.

Angel carrying soul

El Greco makes this soul-carrying angel a midwife in reverse, holding the soul of Count Orgaz with its vague, baby-like features, while it makes its ascent through the opening. Mary, in heaven, has one hand ready to support Count Orgaz’s soul, while St. John de Baptist is already communicating the arrival to Jesus.

We now have seen two paintings in which the soul is shown as a child’s physique. Why have the painters done that? Aren’t there full-grown, adult souls? The arriving soul and the departing soul are shown as a young child because a child is a symbol of innocence because it is without (sinful and full-grown) flesh, without actions it has performed as a responsible adult. When we see a beautiful baby or young child, we say; ‘what an angel’ and we may say that again of a shrunken, wise and kind grandparent. Obviously, to be an earthly angel one has to be either a new arrival from heaven or an almost-departing soul. One has to have that ethereal quality, with little flesh on the bone and an excess of lovingness and delicacy.

The soul in modern paintings is often the spiritual doppelganger of a person. The soul has the same size and form as the person from whom it departs. Paintings of outside body experiences show a shadowy twin figure hovering over a sleeping person. There is nothing exciting about this way of depicting of a soul. These modern souls are cheap replicas. They hold no philosophy, no symbolism or imagination. How different is the Flemish altarpiece of the Annunciation, or El Greco with a burial and an ascent to heaven in one painting, showing not only a dense social scene with many of Toledo’s notables, but also this curious soul, demonstrating theology, philosophy and creative imagination.

To paint a soul challenges a painter to think about what a soul is. It is the psyche of the Greek philosophers: pure consciousness? How would you paint pure consciousness? Is it the thymos, a person’s vitality, spirit or energy? How to express vitality with the help of paint and a brush? It certainly isn’t a person’s eidolon, the empty shadow that goes down to Hades, bereft of all vitality and awareness. The eidolon is the soul minus what makes us human. And what we see in these two paintings – the soul about to enter into life in the Flemish altarpiece and the departing soul of El Greco – are clearly human souls. In fact, what we see is something extraordinary: at attempt to paint the unpaintable.

.
Gerwyn Moseley & Paula Kuitenbrouwer