This is a lovely and exceptionally harmonious original Mandarin Duck composition. There is something magical about this couple positioned in the centre of a pentagonal shape, which is a Sakura flower (Japanese cherry blossom). Five chrysanthemums enrich and embellish the composition.
This artwork serves Fengshui aspirations, Valentine’s Day or a wedding inasmuch as you aspire to confirm or attract love and loyalty.
This mandarin duck composition is hand-drawn with coloured and wax pencils used in combination with a (natural) solvent. This creates a high level of details.
The mandarin ducks are closely together. Their show of synchronicity confirms their life long bond.
I have currently several of these Sakura- Mandarin ducks at my Etsy shop.
Paula Kuitenbrouwer’s art shop is at Etsy and her portfolio at Instagram. Contact her freely to discuss your commissioned artwork.
Over the last month, I have designed and worked on a new Mandarin Duck composition. A mandarin duck couple happily swims in their duck pond that is surrounded by five chrysanthemums. The duck pond has a pentagonal ‘Sakura’ shape, sakura referring to Asian cherry blossom. I combined the sakura, chrysanthemums, and mandarin ducks and was delighted and surprised by how harmonious the combination turned out.
At my Etsy art shop, I have several of these compositions available, mounted and not-mounted with a passe-partout, with full colour mandarin ducks or with albino or leucistic ducks. I am going to experiment with another Japanese flower shape: the Yukiwa flower, an equally harmonious shape that will elegantly ‘frame’ the mandarin ducks.
Should you like to commission a larger mandarin duck composition or you like to order a wedding set, feel free to contact me.
Let’s focus on some recent colourful artwork, and afterwards discuss some graphite artwork.
Who does not feel enchanted by koi carps? The way that they gracefully slide through their watery world makes us believe that they represent our thoughts and feelings. These large, but ever so elegant, soft-finned koi carps swim in freshwater; they appear and disappear, come and go from all directions, like our thoughts during meditation. The more the koi carps feel relaxed whilst being watched by you, so our thoughts slow down during meditation as we do not engage with our thoughts, but observe them manifesting and disappearing. Koi carps stand for prosperity and success. Their hardy nature has also led to koi being associated with longevity.
Graphite Artwork in Progress
I have been working on large graphite drawings. Whilst the world around me bursts into colour (it is spring here), I find myself turning to graphite artwork more and more. Somehow Dutch 17th century artists, working with graphite, ink and chalk, have me under their spell. I can not get enough of their soulful art. The funny thing is, I love colours! If the world would fade before my eyes and represent itself as monochromatic, I would cry my heart out. Yet, when I study graphite artworks by 17-18th century landscape artists, one has to admire their beautiful artwork. We see a drawing more clearly when the it is reduced to its essential lines, textures, light and shadows. Like a philosophical essay: one selects a subject (like a scene or scenery in drawing), adds perspective (like an architectural artist), focuses on an essential aspect or subject (as an artist does), and makes it clear what part of our complex world should receive our moral (in art, our aesthetic) attention.
I am also working on an In Memoriam drawing for my late brother. I like to share a few observations. First, this is a self-assigned task which I haven’t done before. I had to let the first weeks of grief pass because I needed a calm mind to assemble a composition that celebrates my brother’s life. As soon as I had worked out a composition, I noticed that I had postponed working on it. To my surprise, I found myself somewhat deliberately delaying working on this large drawing that will eventually become a prayer-card, a remembrance note card, and an Ex Libris. Why, I asked myself? I am a far stretch from a procrastinator; procrastinating is just not me. Then I knew. I do not want this drawing to be finished, at least not any time soon. I want to stay with the drawing, as if sharing -in mind and in spirit- moments with my late brother.
I know myself well enough; this drawing shall get finished as I will offer it to those who want to have a remembrance card or Ex Libris with my brother’s name on it because this is not about me, but about remembering my kindhearted brother. Yet, I now understand more profoundly why artists add ‘unfinished’ symbols to their artwork: an open book, a broken off branch of a tree, or an open door, to name a few. As long as I am transforming my grief into artwork, I feel much better, and delaying only shows that one needs time. This is not the kind of art-making that should be hurried. *Note later added: the In Memoriam- Remembrance drawing can be viewed here.
More updates shall follow soon. For now, may peace prevail on Earth, may my fellow artist friends feel a steady flow of inspiration, and wishing all others the very best.
One day I was admiring our local herbal garden and found myself in William Morris’ Trellis wallpaper design. To celebrate this moment of seeing artwork by the most famous Arts and Crafts Movement artist being alive right in front of me, I set out making a large watercolour painting. I believe the Arts and Crafts Movement and especially William Morris’ designs strengthened the human-nature connection.
This watercolour makes a lovely wink to past artisan times. Morris designed a simplified trellis with perfect squares, which I stayed true to. But instead of climbing roses and bluebirds, I have chosen passionflowers as host plants to a hummingbird and a butterfly. I have paid much attention to drawing an Arts and Crafts frame, in dark wood with embellishments.
Morris used different ground colours including blue, dark grey, taupe, and the off-white which I will do too. Blue symbolizing heavens, the ethereal part of life and dark, wood brown representing our earthly life. I have used some gold and iridescent paint so that light offers an enriching effect on this watercolour painting.
Size is 46 by 61 cm or 18 by 24 inches. Horizontally oriented. I always use Arches High Quality Art Paper, satin because of its soft satin feel and because, to me, it is simply the best. This artwork will need an off-white or softly coloured passe-partout (mount) and a frame. You will cherish this original artwork for years to come!
‘Trellis with lush Acanthus and Passionflowers, a Hummingbird and a Butterfly.’ (Passionflower is the host plant for hummingbirds and fritillary butterflies).
Should you like artwork that matches your William Morris wallpaper, consider commissioning me. I look forward to work with you.
What better than receiving a request to draw a floral triptych of lush spring flowers during the Corona lockdown? After the monochromatic under layer, working on these large Arches sheets (41- 61 cm), adding many layers of colour, felt like wandering through a lush garden.
The contrary was true. We were home most of the time, our city turning into a ghost town with museums and botanical gardens keeping their doors locked. Going to the supermarket and making a daily walk through greener parts of our area was all we did. I bought new green plants and planted some extra flowers on our balcony. But my real garden was on my drawing station and it was full irises, tulips, and daffodils. Before giving the sheets a protective spray, I added bugs and bees.
Packing up an commission always makes me nervous. But it worked by using an XL artist tube and three protective folios. By the time I brought the artist tube to the post office, our lockdown was almost over. Only our botanical gardens keep their gates closed till the 1st of July. Although I long to visit them, I understand that they can do very well without us, humans. They might even have had a jolly good time!
Follow the progress that I make drawing three lovely houses located at the Nieuwe Gracht, Utrecht. This large drawing demands much patience because these three pearls are full details. I will update this blogpost regularly. For videos on this project, visit my Instagram account @mindfuldrawing. Contact me for questions and commissions.
In my hometown of Utrecht, on two Rococo houses alongside the ‘Nieuwe Gracht’, stands Hercules holding the sky onto his shoulders. The ancient story goes that Hercules has taken up the firmament for Atlas allowing the old Titan a brief moment of respite to take up one of his labours.
I had to correct Hercules’ legs because all reference photos are taken from street level, and Hercules stands on top of a four story house, and it therefore the statute showed too short legs. I’ve elongated Hercules’ legs to create a level frontal view.
Hercules looks strong, but he is a demigod and demigods can do things we mortals can not. Yet, the maker of this statute, the Dutch sculptor Ton Mooy, has given Hercules a tormented expression.
I kept wondering why I like this Hercules. When I was about to draw his hair and face, I remembered. I had seen this kind of hair and facial expression before. Hercules has the same hair as Vercingetorix (see photo) and a similar tormented expression as the statute of the Dying Gaul (see photo), an Ancient Roman Hellenistic sculpture. There is beauty in showing that extraordinary strength and bravery often comes with pain.
Hercules Utrecht Statute by Ton Mooy, drawing by Paula Kuitenbrouwer
Herculus in Utrecht City Centre, drawing by Paula Kuitenbrouwer, Statute by Ton Mooij.
Herculus/Aardkloot/Nieuwe Gracht Utrecht by Ton Mooy
My ‘Gate to Heaven’, a lovely gate is located not too far away from my home, at Bruntenhof, Museumkwartier in Utrecht.
In real, there is no flower vase, just pavement in front of this gate. I received some feedback, stating: ‘There is a great difference between a photo of this gate and your drawing. A photo shows beautiful stonework but you have drawn something dreamy and poetic. The gate has become a portal to another world. You can walk through it and find yourself in a Medieval landscape with knights and dryads‘. I think the feedback itself is rather poetical, don’t you think? Such sensitive feedback stimulates me to make even more progress.
This gate can be found at Bruntenhof, Museumkwartier in Utrecht, in the centre of the Netherlands. It dates back to 1620. But it could be any gate, a dream gate, a portal to heaven, to another world. Gates are symbolic and often stand for a transformation or travelling between worlds. Gardens are set apart from manor houses by a gate. People drive through gates to enter an estate. Gates impress, transform, and show style; Roman, Art Nouveau, Classical, Medieval or gates are used for defence purposes. Drawings of gates can mean so much and are open to your interpretation.
Commissions are welcome for drawing a favourite place be it a gate home, residence, manor house, hotel, garden, holiday-home, estate, or apartment. Contact me for discussing your preferences.
For years, William Morris didn’t appeal that much to me because I was still under the influence of my study of Dutch Baroque floral painters. They, as no one else, could create depth and a feeling as if you were looking at a real bouquet. These Golden Age masters positioned their composition in such way that a large flower vases, with all seasonal flowers, would stand proudly on show and you could -in your mind- walk around it. You would admire not only the flowers but also water-drops and insect that rested on big and small petals. But, of course, you were looking at an illusion. Dutch floral painters studied flowers, one by one, made sketches on them, and then set up a composition as if all flowers were all in bloom at the exact same time, which is never the case in nature. A wonderful illusion; a much admired illusion.
William Morris looked one dimensional compared to these baroque painters, yet, I learned to see that compared to modern flower designs, Morris’s work certainly isn’t one-dimensional. He may not create as much depth as I would like to see, but he weaves flower stems, creating the feeling as if you are in nature and looking at bushes, trees, and flower beds. Some flowers are near, some further away.
My drawing will have another lovely title using again a two word alliteration. You are invited to guess. However, before doing that, one needs some botanical knowledge and isn’t that not exactly what makes us love William Morris? He educates and inspired us with his design, botanical knowledge, and colourful palette.
William Morris mainly scatters and extends broad leaf foliage, flowers, and sometimes animals for the purpose of creating a repetitive, yet not too repetitive, wall paper design. There is a difference in what we expect from wall-paper, a painting, and from a mural. We expect a mural to trick us like Harry Potter on Platform 9 ¾: we like to run into the world that is suggested by a mural. Wall-paper, on the other hand, aims at supporting the design and décor of a room. Wall-paper must suggest less depth than a mural or painting, but more than a brick wall, by weaving the stems of flowers and using the technique of foreshortening, Morris does exactly that however not overly.
I have yet many white spaces to fill up with my own designs; this way of freehand drawing is enjoyable.
Here you find more on my William Morris Trellis watercolour painting. (Click here)
I drew an engaging Ex Libris is for those who study, love, writes or owns (history) books. Or books on Prehistoric Peoples, Celts, Anglo Saxons, Viking, Medieval or Renaissance books. It shows many areas of interest starting at the Prehistory (top), following anti-clockwise with Saxon-Viking, Medieval and Renaissance border. The inside patterned border is in style with the outer border; upper part shows an Celtic interlace pattern, followed by a Saxon pattern in the Saxon-Viking area, a Medieval, and elegant Renaissance pattern.
The bookshelves show special areas of interest too: the top book shelf shows history books on prehistory. They are all in soft red ochre, the colour that shows up on many prehistoric cave paintings. The book cover embellishments are based on research done by Genevieve von Petzinger, a scientist who identified pictographs used by prehistoric peoples in cave art. You see aviform, circle, cardiform, cruciform, negative and positive hands, serpentiform and so on. The next bookshelf is reserved for Celtic books, showing book-cover embellishments that are typical Celtic. Following is a shelf reserved for Saxon books, (notice ‘Saxon’ written in Saxon letters), and Viking books, showing ‘Viking’ as a transliteration (not as a translation). One bookshelf lower, the books get more colour as they contain Medieval books; the embellishments show a castle, a medieval ‘M’, a crown, flowers, etc. The lowest bookshelf proudly shows Renaissance books that have more bright colours and more floral and decorative embellishments.
The name box is for your name. Might I suggest you do that with sepia-brown ink?
The book plates make a lovely, special and unexpected gift as they are engaging and full details. In fact, one can sit down and take in all details for a long time. ‘Find the Dolmens…’ (in the Celtic border), ‘Admire Oxford’s Bridge of Sighs (Medieval border), ‘Can you locate Florence?’ (Renaissance section), ‘How many Viking shields do you spot?’ (Viking section). One could imagine that the Celtic roundhouses are located in an Irish-British landscape. The Saxon houses could be imagined in Germany. The Viking houses are located near a fjord. The Medieval houses are showing a busy town with less green, buildings are cramped together for defence reasons. The Renaissance buildings are full pride and glory. It must have been dazzling living in a Renaissance city. This Ex Libris shows West European history. It could, however, show another cultural aspect, for instance, a different time-line, a different history related to another part of the world, another religion, history or cultural aspect, a mathematical border, geographical, philosophical, musical, botanical, zoological one. I can draw any Ex Libris that shows personal preferences. Contact me to discuss your commission.
I have drawn with Derwent graphite and Graphitint a border for an Ex Libris, a book plate, that can be used for other means as well. I enjoyed making this border so much and it ignited my imagination. This happened because I started with the border, something I haven’t done before. Normally, I plan a border and I start in the left-upper corner of a drawing because I am right handed. But I hadn’t had an idea for the middle part, so I continued with the border. I ended with a full boarder and consequently thought; ‘This border could be used for any document or certificate, be it a wedding certificate, a gradation document, a photo, a promotion, basically, any document that is highly personal and highly valued, worth customized framing’.
This border shows (I will show it later in full) 4 time lines of our West European history that are loved by a family: the Neolithic Times (shown here in the top -Celtic Roundhouses with dolmens-, Saxon-Viking times, the Late Medieval time, as well as the Renaissance. The Renaissance being visible on this photo too. I added an inside border (shown as a specific pattern related to the time period) and I will now add bookshelves full history books in the middle part.
This is a very full drawing and it keeps me busy. But I love seeing it grow into an engaging piece that expresses the love for history this family has. Yes, it could show another cultural aspect, for instance, a mathematical border, geographical, philosophical, musical, botanical, zoological one, I can draw any border that shows personal preferences.
Return here within a week and the full Ex Libris will be ready.
Recently, I found out that one can buy online postage stamps. It is very handy but such ‘post stamp’ appears to be a sudoku-like 9 square code that you pen down in the upper right corner of an envelope. Handy but disappointing, especially when you enjoy receiving a neatly handwritten envelope with an exotic postage stamp.
As so much digitalization is met with a return to pre-computer behaviour, like note booking, calligraphy, and snail-mail, I decided to return to using post stamps too. I bought a bag of old, hobby postage stamps that are used by Hobonichi journalling or notebook designing, and added them next to the postage codes. Somehow that didn’t do the job. And so, I set out to design a post stamp that shows a lovely nature scene, elegance, and spaciousness.