New Work in the Making

I am working on the successor of ‘Praising Plants‘, ‘Ode to All Oak Trees‘ and ‘Sophisticated Succulents‘ and returning to William Morris for inspiration. 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. They 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 many modern flower designs, Morris 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.

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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. 

Paula Kuitenbrouwer   At Etsy & Instagram

Sophisticated Succulents

After ‘Praising Plants’ followed ‘Ode to All Oak Trees’. Allow me now to present ‘Sophisticated Succulents’.

This softly rendered graphite drawing shows Living Stones, Echeverias, and String of Pearls succulents, plus many more. Of course, setting up this composition made me buy a few more succulents which was part of the joy of drawing this ‘desert garden’. Initially, I wanted to add the title ‘Sophisticated Succulents’ in classical, elegant letters but then I thought no. Succulents aren’t elegant. They are cute but basic, strong and bulky. They spend all their time surviving harsh conditions. Thus, I added a letter type that resembles their shape; basic, cute, bulky, as if full with stored water. I am always amazed and delighted how much thinking goes into a square inch of detailed drawing.

What is your most inspiring succulent related place? A desert? A shop? Mine is the Desert Garden of the Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna.

Paula Kuitenbrouwer

On Etsy

On Instagram

P.S. Voor mijn Nederlandstalige lezers: mijn meest recente artikel in het Boeddhistische Dagblad is hier.

Lotus Plant Drawings: Botanical and Symbolic

I have drawn two different lotus plants. Much venerated in Buddhism, the lotus is one of the ‘Eight Auspicious Symbols’.

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

Available at Etsy.

 

Personalized Birthday Print with Favourite Birds, Flowers or Butterflies

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I’ve designed a personalized birthday print for my father’s 85th birthday. It show his three favourite birds. There is a lapwing on the left, a collard dove in the middle, and an oyster-catcher at the right. Finding a harmonious combination of numbers and birds was a nice task to work out. The collared dove stands high and mighty on the 5, with his beak resembling the shape of the little flag of the 5. The curvy chest of the lapwing is  synchronized with the curve of the 8. And the chest of the oyster-catcher is aligned with the curve of the 5. The oyster-catcher and the lapwing hold the 8 and 5 in place by putting their legs on both sides of the numbers.

Paula