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

stilllifes-framed-white-blog

 

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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Studio Pictures: MindfulDrawing.com

 

Paula’s prints are at Etsy.

Here is Jamie’s Poetry website, a website full resources.

Saunter through Patricia’s colourful garden here!

Marts, For Much Deliberation is one Trinidadian geographer’s attempt to compile as much geographical information as possible from existing internet resources. Very interesting!

Sybille’s, my Italian art friends, most colourful website is here.

Lilliya’s beautiful Etsy shop is here. You should see how she combines wood with silver. Elvish, magical, very skillful and beautiful.

Linda is a great and unstoppable illustrator and story-teller. Enjoy her weekly blogposts here.

Stay happy & healthy,

Paula

 

 

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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Art Prints of Butterflies and Garden Birds

Click on the images to enlarge

I have uploaded most of my written art musings to LinkedIn Pulse. Although this blog has over 300 readers, LinkedIn Pulse has more. Many more. It is rewarding to see that my articles are read by people who aren’t subscribed to my blog and probably aren’t looking for art musings, but come across it and enjoy reading about art. You will find articles on the thoughts behind my drawings, on Raphael, on aesthetic principles or on compositions at LinkedIn Pulse. There is also art history, art appreciation and art musings. Here they are:  Paula’s Art Musings.

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The red glossy fridge magnet, leaning against the Korean box, is part of ‘Patron Art project’ by Irish artist Frank Corry. The Patron Project evolved from a series of works which use fragments of wrecked cars. Info on Frank Corry’s Patron Art Project is here.

Amazon Studio Licht

Studio Picture Amazon

Studio Pencils in Mugs

That is it for now.

Stay healthy, happy and creative!

Love,

Paula

at Etsy

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

 

 

Lotus in pond, with roots and dragonfly

Lotusbloem met wortel

Lotus Plant, copyright by Paula Kuitenbrouwer

Scientific name: Nelumbo nucifera.

A lotus plant grows in a pond. Lotus-roots are edible and nutritious. Have you ever seen them in an Asian food shop? Do you know how all parts of a lotus plant connect? I didn’t and I had to do some research to get the botanical facts right.

A lotus plant is a highly esteemed symbol in Buddhism as being one of the “Eight Auspicious Symbols” of this religion. The roots of a lotus flower extend into the mud, the stem grows up through the water and the flower blossoms above the surface.

For a Buddhist this living on 3 levels, in the mud, in water and air, signifies progress. The soul progresses from the mud (read: mess and materialism), through the world of water in which we live our daily life and experience our world, higher up to enlightenment in the ethereal world of air and light.

There is a saying or consolation for when things are difficult; ‘A lotus only grows in a muddy pond’, stating that in order to flower, to bloom, one has to accept the mud, the mess, chaos, dirt or ugliness.
In Buddhist art lotuses are all over the place. Sometimes Buddha sits in an opened lotus-flower, thus symbolising his awakening.
Paula
Prints at Amazon Handmade or Amazon Handmade, or via mindfuldrawing@gmail.com with banking payment or paypal.

Koi Carp, Koikarppi, Cyprinus carpio, Koi fiŝo, Niŝikigoi, 비단잉어, Carpa koi

Koi met Vis Vaas

 

Koi carp, or more specifically nishikigoi are a group of fish that are ornamental varieties of domesticated common carp that are kept for decorative purposes in outdoor koi ponds or water gardens.

Koi carps are mesmerizing. People are willing to pay big money for a pretty carp fish. An ‘Agasi’, the blue koi,  is particularly pretty. I think I know why.
Some time ago I sat next to a large pond that was filled with koi with beautiful colours and patterns. I looked at them and looked at them. I sat and sat and got mesmerized. I asked myself why I was I so intensely enjoying sitting next to this pond and looking at the slow and gently moving  fish? I just didn’t want to go home, I couldn’t get enough of it.
Suddenly I understood.
The pond with koi had become my thinking. Each koi represented one thought, a thought that lighted up against the dark, deep pond. Thought swam in and out of my mind and koi carp swam in and out of my vision. The more the fish got used to me and I to them, the slower they appeared and disappeared. Simultaneously, my thinking process became a flow; it slowed down and became less demanding. I became aware of my thoughts coming and going, like the koi. Sitting by the pond and looking at the colourful, smooth swimming fish became a spontaneous meditation.
Has this meditation helped me to understand the obsession with koi and the willingness to spend a monthly salary on a beautiful Agasi? Yes, I do understand now, but that doesn’t mean I became obsessed because that is a choice. However, I decided to draw a koi-series to capture the meditation experience in coloured pencil drawings. Every time I look at my drawing I want to feel that meditation again. And I hope others feel it too while looking at my drawing.
This happened years ago and I’m still drawing ponds with koi.
I still must be mesmerized.

Paula

My Koi series is at Etsy in print. If you like to buy a koi print without an buyers account on Etsy, contact me via mindfuldrawing (add) gmail (dot) com.

Originals not for sale.

Two Koi with Lotus.

Two Kingfishers with Koi.

Two Koi with a Dragonfly.

 

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