Ireland’s Treasures: Blue Ceramics, Succulents and Killiney Beach Stones

Ceramic Series 2

Still Life with Blue Ceramics, Succulent, and Killiney Beach Stones from Ireland, by Paula Kuitenbrouwer

Blue ceramics are a thing in Ireland. Ireland’s garden centres sell deep-blue glazed pottery, both large and small. Together with cacti, succulent plants and Killiney’s beach stones, they make lovely miniature rock or Zen gardens.

Killiney beach, located near Ireland’s capital, Dublin, has a cobble stone beach. This beach is a delight for stone collectors. Killiney beach has some of the oldest rocks in Ireland: large boulders of Leinster granite and limestone are strewn all over. Small pebbles of a distinctive micro-granite from Ailsa Craig in the Firth of Clyde can also be found. No wonder that I bring back home a good few of these stones and show these beautifully decorative pebbles in my still lifes.

There is something special about combining blue ceramics, that represent the bluish ethereal colours of Ireland’s coastal areas, with the dull but decorative grey stones, and the slow growing succulents and cacti. The stones are very old, the cacti and succulents grow slowly and the blue pottery looks ageless, no matter. These miniature little Zen or rock gardens look fresh and they hold your gaze for a while.

Paula Kuitenbrouwer

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Framed in white washed wood

It has been a pleasure making this series. It involved sauntering on Killiney Beach and bringing home awesome pebbles. Plus going to garden centers for buying blue pottery and succulent plants. I now have a few very pretty pots in my window sill and the succulents are doing very well. They are really my kind of plants because they allow me to forget them for a while without becoming cranky. And because I feel guilty for neglecting them, I buy deluxe cactus food which is probably nonsense because cacti and succulent flourish best in poor soil anyway. In fact, my cacti and succulents are doing so well, that they produce a lot of offspring. Which urges me to buy more deeply indigo glazed pots and collecting stones for building lovely miniature Zen or rock gardens.

Paula

The art prints are for sale in my Etsy shop, individually and as a series. At Etsy

Some of you like to see how I work. Work in progress photos are good fun.

 

My desk with a drawing in progress and the stilllife in front of me

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Shamanistic and Lascaux Cave Themed Art Study

Shamanistic Art by Paula Kuitenbrouwer at www.mindfuldrawing.com

Detail of Lion-man

Shamanistic Art by Paula Kuitenbrouwer at www.mindfuldrawing.com

Detail of Venus of Willendorf,

Shamanistic Art by Paula Kuitenbrouwer at www.mindfuldrawing.com

 Prehistoric Lascaux Shaman Art Study by Paula Kuitenbrouwer

As far as we know now, the oldest ‘religion’ is shamanism and the oldest art is prehistoric cave art, as to be found, for instance, in the French cave of Lascaux and the cave of Hohlenstein Stadel, Germany.

I’ve drawn a shamanistic or prehistoric art theme study. My drawing shows Venus of Willendorf and Lion-man of Hohlenstein Stadel at its centre.

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The Venus of Willendorf, a.k.a. the Woman of Willendorf, 28,000 – 25,000 B.C.E, which is an 11.1-centimetre high statuette of a female figure estimated to have been made between about 28,000 and 25,000 BCE. I adore this hand-size small statuette and in order to understand it deeper, I’ve drawn Venus front, back and side-ways. I’ve discovered such fine details and by drawing this small statuette, my appreciation for it has grown and grown. I’m sure you have seen it before, but have you noticed Venus’s skinny arms, and her small fingers resting on her (pregnant) breasts? Did you notice that she has three scars on her left arm and that, maybe as a result of these scars, her fingers of her left hand are badly shaped?

‘Why has she no face?’, I kept asking myself. It isn’t because the carver couldn’t handle details, look at her skilful and detailed hair-do! Maybe her face isn’t featured because what she represents is bigger than her individuality. ‘Why are her arms so disproportional skinny?’ And related to this, ‘why is she missing her feet?’ (Scientist don’t believe they got lost). Venus has arms, hands and fingers, but why did Venus’s creator chose to give her emaciated arms? What is the narrative of this decision? Should we see Venus’s skinny arms and missing feet in relation to her missing facial features and conclude that Venus is not a person, but as a goddess, a fertility symbol? But is she pregnant as so many assume? She looks like having a high BMI; did prehistoric pregnant women have a high BMI? I can only picture prehistoric people as rather slender, and pregnant women slender with a bigger belly. Although a mammoth is a big meal, there weren’t prehistoric supermarkets full ready-to-eat meals.

Catherine McCoid and LeRoy McDermott have hypothesised that the figurines may have been created as self-portraits by women, that is a self portrait carved by looking down on your own body, having no mirror at hand to correct that top-down perspective. The woman looks down and sees her bodily features but her feet are overshadowed by her big belly. But if a woman looks down on her (pregnant or big) belly, she indeed doesn’t see her feet, but she doesn’t see her vulva either and the Venus of Willendorf has a vulva and legs. Although McCoid and LePoys self-portrait theory is very interesting, it is a 21st century theory that has an individual (observation) at its heart. For me the missing face and feet and the skinny arms are references that stretch further than a wish to make a 3d self portrait.

lionman

The Hohlenstein Stadel lion-man dates back 40.000 years. ‘Man’ stands here for human, because the gender of this statuette, is uncertain. This statuette is 11 cm height, 3 times taller than Venus. Lion-man is half man- half animal. Lion-man is sculptured from woolly mammoth ivory and probably one of the oldest known zoomorphic (animal-shaped) sculpture in the world. Remarkable are the seven parallel, transverse, carved gouges are on the left arm. If I’ve correctly observed, Venus of Willendorf has 3 markings/scars on her left arm. ‘Why?’ I ask myself, while I study these statuettes by drawing them. Did prehistoric people vaccinate themselves by setting scratches is upper-arms? That is a very 21st hypothesis, but do not underestimate how clever prehistoric people were. Although there is no proof that prehistoric cave people performed brain surgery as the ancient Inca surgeons (AD 1000) did, by successfully removed small portions of patients’ skulls to treat head injuries, prehistoric cave people might have had their smart ways with administering herbs and drugs for medical reasons. But maybe it had nothing to do with health but with hierarchy. After all, we still use army stripes to communicate military hierarchy.

For me, sitting quietly in my studio, reading, drawing and studying brings me close to the objects that I draw or paint. This process of mindfully observing, quieting the mind and focussing on the object is bridging the gap between the object and me.  Firstly, I appreciate the features and carves that shape Venus and Lion-man, but then I try to steer away from art appreciation. I try to feel what the creators of Venus and Lion-man had in mind. I try to see how many hours they have worked on these statuettes. Did they use models? Where were they when they made these statuettes? And finally, I arrive at deeper questions, why these carves on their arms? Why don’t they have human faces? Are these statuettes ‘l’art pour l’art’, for the sake of art exclusively, or are these statuettes used in shamanistic rituals?

As a vegan and pet owner, I love reading about research that rebukes differences between animals and humans. There is hardly a week passing without scientific evidence emerging on how clever animals are and how humanly they behave. By now we know bees do maths and pigs are extremely sensitive so smart that they can do maths too when they are rewarded with snacks (like …right, children). Regarding hybrid statuettes, I so wonder whether there is a why, when or who to the difference between choosing prehistoric hydride statutes having a human body with an animal (like Lion-man) and, for instance sphinxes, having an animal body with a human head.

In the background of my study of Venus of Willendorf and Lion-man of Hohlenstein Stadel, I’ve drawn the stick topped by a bird of the shamanistic scene of Lascaux ‘Prostrate man with Bison’, hand prints as found in many prehistoric caves, ‘Engraved deer’ and ‘Large black cow’, also both Lascaux paintings.

For many prehistoric art is the start-point of art, based on the assumption that we have gained much since 40.000 BCE. Having studied many hours of art history, I fully appreciate and understand the assumption of linear progression. Yet, when I study prehistoric art, the question that nags me persistently and makes me lose track of time, that makes me hungry for more and more hours of studying is; ‘What have we lost since 40.000 BCE?’. Scientific research and shamanistic books make me think that we have lost a lot. I hope that by studying more, through reading and drawing, I will regain a bit more insight in why we are so stunned by prehistoric art and what we have lost.

Paula Kuitenbrouwer

At www.paulaartshop.com

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Peony Time

Pioenroos print met pioenroos

A real Peony, a printed Peony and notice the one on the Korean flower vase.

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Peony and Tulip art prints of pencil drawings by Paula Kuitenbrouwer

Beach treasures

Beach treasures. Before you think Paula has painting pebbles, I didn’t. That awesome white stone with that intricate wine red pattern, that is dried seaweed. Nature is a great artist.

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On a desk with 3 art prints by Paula Kuitenbrouwer.

Dog Sketch

And my darling daughter drew this cute dog. I framed it straight away. My daughter’s shop is at Etsy too, click here to say hello by giving her perhaps a whole lot of hearts?

Love,

Paula

My Etsy & my Art Shop.

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Ma, a Japanese aesthetic principle, in my three bird drawings

I’d like to show three paintings in which I have incorporated Ma, a Japanese aesthetic principle. Ma is described as ‘an interval in time and/or space’, thus referring to empty spaces, vagueness or abstraction. Empty spaces, in which nothing seems to happen, are full of possibilities. How do my three birds deal with Ma in their portraits?

Ekster by Paula Kuitenbrouwer

For my portrait of Magpie, Korea’s national bird, I added orange colour to compensate for a magpie’s black and white plumage. To stay close to her Korean habitat, I decided to position Magpie on a colourful and fruit-bearing persimmon branch, heavily laden with pumpkin-shaped kaki. Magpie is content with her portrait, and so am I.

Crow Kraai by Paula Kuitenbrouwer

Setting up a composition for a portrait of Carrion Crow was a little harder. Negotiations with this proud and cheeky bird were tough. I talked him into sitting on a mountain ash branch, but initially he didn’t agree with my decision of pushing him a little to the rear.

‘You are an indigo blue-ivory black bird’, I explained by pointing out that humans don’t like black things. I explained that I could trick humans in loving his plumage by adding the rich palette of colours of an autumn Mountain Ash.

‘This branch has fresh green, bright orange and deep red, and will charm viewers in loving your monotonous black feathers. And if I use a diagonal composition, I can guide the viewer along the branch, climbing up from deep red, through the bright orange to sap green. After such a colourful journey, people don’t mind a bit of solid black. But to do that, I told Carrion Crow, I have to push you a little to one side, but that is okay. Reluctantly, Carrion Crow agreed.

Sparrowhawk by Paula Kuitenbrouwer

My Sparrowhawk demanded to sit high and mighty on the top branch of a proud pine tree. The world of humans doesn’t interest him. He soars above it, looking down on our wars over oil, mass migration and our overheated, overpopulated world.

Sparrowhawk knows he has this intricately textured and awesome coat of feathers, which makes fashion designers drool. Not much is needed next to such an eye-catching bird; two almost evenly-coloured pine cones complete the portrait. Sparrowhawk sat down just long enough for me to make a portrait, and, without so much as a ‘thank-you’, flew off to his own world, soaring high above ours.

Back to Ma.. In all three bird portraits you’ll notice considerable emptiness. My birds seem to look into this emptiness. What do they see? A suitable partner? Prey? Are they guarding their hidden nests? Are they exploring new horizons?

Ma is for you to fill in with your imagination, with your story-telling, your ornithological knowledge or poetry. But Ma can also be left open. We don’t need to fill in empty spaces with projections, trauma, words or sounds. Ma offers a thinking pause or escape from our train of thoughts.

Magpie, Carrion Crow and Sparrowhawk understand Ma naturally. We are enchanted when we see a bird resting on a tree branch and we long to be like them: resting in Ma, accepting the here and now.

Paula

at  Etsy and at Paula Art Shop

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Lotus Plant Drawings: Botanical and Symbolic

Two Lotus Prints

Lotus Plant’ & ‘Lotus Pond with Tortoise’

by Paula Kuitenbrouwer

In preparation for the upcoming birthday of the Buddha, I have drawn two different views of a lotus plant. Much venerated in Buddhism, the lotus is one of the ‘Eight Auspicious Symbols’. It is also a delight to draw, as the textured leaves and petals of the plant encourage the kind of finely-detailed observation and drawing work that give richness and texture to an image.

For my first drawing, ‘Lotus Plant’, I researched and focused on all the interconnecting parts of the plant. Most drawings and paintings of the lotus concentrate on the flower itself; the next part, the stem, is submerged and thus often merely hinted at. And the roots, although many of us will be familiar with them as edible parts of the plant, are rarely depicted in art, since they grow deep in the muddy bed of the pond.

For a Buddhist, this concept of living in three mediums – mud, water, air – signifies a progression. The soul journeys from the muddiness of materialism, through the water-world in which we live and experience our daily, day-to-day lives, and thence beyond, to enlightenment in the ethereal world of light and air. That these parts are all connected, roots to stem, stem to flower, is reflected in my drawing.

My ‘Lotus Pond with Tortoise’ shows the flowering plant, partly in water, and blooming just at the surface. A tortoise, resting on a rock, looks up at the lotus. Such a bright and beautiful flower is an inspiration to all who see it, tortoise as much as human.

In Asian culture, tortoises are sacred. The longevity and tenacity that they symbolize seemed to me to be a wonderful way to celebrate what the birthday of the Buddha means. We need to live long and work hard to reach enlightenment. And if the ageing process is enlightenment in slow motion, as John C. Robinson describes in his book ‘The Three Secrets of Ageing’, then my combining of the symbols of enlightenment with those of longevity expresses this process.

Paula Kuitenbrouwer

Lotus (Botanical) at Etsy

Lotus with Tortoise at Etsy

 

 

Artists Inspired by Nature Treasures: Sybille Tezzele Kramer, Liliya Tereshkiv, Lois Mathews and Paula Kuitenbrouwer

Sybille Tezzele Kramer, Liliya Tereshkiv, Lois Mathews & Paula Kuitenbrouwer

Sybille Tezzele Kramer:

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Italian born Sybille Tezzele Kramer draws inspiration from her direct surroundings in Sud-Tirol. Sybille shows her appreciation for weeds with her drawing, named Erbacce/Unkraut. Notice Chamomile, Poppy, Alchemilla, Foxtail grass and Dandelion. Also, notice the smiling face of the weeds. Weed smiles because it is stronger than all the poison that is used. And why using it? Why do we categorize some plants as obnoxious weeds and others as ornamental plants? Why do we say some stones are pebbles and others are gemstones? Sybille creates a three-dimensional effect by drawing a heliocentric composition. Read more about this lovely drawing here. Sybille’s Erbacce/Unkraut/Weed is available here. The original Erbacce is touring through Italy as a mobile exhibition ‘Lo Sguardo Obliquo’.

Liliya Tereshkiv:

Liliya Tereshkiv, a Ukraine born artist, also living in Italy, is the woman behind Sorriso Design. Liliya shows us how nature inspires her by picking up leaves and pine cones and looking at the blue sky. Here is her lovely Etsy shop full woodwork, jewellery and home decoration. Have a look, you will be surprised. More of Liliya’s nature photos are here.

Lois Mathews:

For years I’m enjoying the walks Lois Mathews records at her delightful blog  Sketching on Whidbey Island. If there are sketches directly inspired by nature, they are Lois’ water-paintings. I don’t like to sit in front of a screen, but that all changes when I read Lois’s records and nature studies. Did I just feel a bit of fresh air? Or did I hear a songbird? Do I noticed footprints on the walking track? Lois’s nature journal enchants me.

Me:

An empty wall, wood and driftwood treasures and a few of my prints. I’ve put them together for a playful exhibition of a few of my prints. My birds and butterflies feel perfectly at home in their natural environment.

There is nothing definitive or pretentious about this, I can add and remove things without damaging the wall. There is bark of an eucalyptus tree, a honeysuckle knot, pine-cone branches, driftwood, some wooden pegs and prints.

Paula

Paula at Etsy

Paula at Amazon Handmade

Mandarin duck (Aix galericulata)

Two couples of ducks on my painting easel. A Teal couple 0n the right side, and left, a Mandarin couple. Teals are the smallest ducks of Europe. For the male Mandarin I’ve used every colour section of my coloured pencil box, which doesn’t happen that often. It was therefore a joy to draw both drakes, constantly looking at many, many photos to see how colourful they are during the spring and summer. It is very easy to overdo the colours, but if I were to down-tune them, the drakes would be offended by me downplaying their remarkable plumage. Here are the prints: Eurasian Teals (right) & Mandarin (left)

Studio Picture with Ducks on my Easel (1)

In the back of the photo you see the hanger that served as inspiration for my ‘Harvest Hangings‘.

Herfsthanger

There are unfinished and finished canvasses behind the easels and a bucket with different kind of wooden sticks. I collect pieces of wood, shells, stones, feathers, forest-fruit, treasures of the natural world that one day might come in handy when I set up a new canvas. Somewhere in a drawer there is a dead stag-beetle, a dried shark egg, a dried nymph, a butterfly wing (almost dust now), and a herbarium with dried leaves and flowers.

Paula

at Etsy

Fall Harvest Dangling Display with Berries, Eucalyptus, Birch, Chestnut & Brambles

I’ve drawn ‘Harvest Dangling Display’ after I collected the first autumn leaves and fruits in our garden and nearby park. Left to right: Berries, Eucalyptus, Birch, Chestnut, and Brambles are dangling on a piece of driftwood that I found bobbing in an Atlantic Ocean tidal pool at the east coast of Ireland. It has this bleached grey colour and texture that I find very pretty.

Prints come with a Hahnemühle Certificate of Authenticity & Hologram System that is designed to protect the security and genuineness of this limited edition and reproductions on Hahnemühle paper. Printed details are amazingly clear.

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Details:

 

Print is available at Etsy and at Paula’s Art Shop

Paula