Valentine’s Day Gifts: Love Is in the Air

Last year, I bought a wooden card with a colourful seahorse on it and sent it to my husband’s work address. It collected some curious staff members eager to learn who would sent so bluntly a Valentine’s card to a married man. His wife (of course!) although that turned out to be an anti-climax for some but warmed my husband’s heart. He returned home that day with red roses. The card said: ‘You are MY seahorse’ and because that cute sea creature has zero resemblance with my husband, it made me laugh. However, thinking a bit deeper, male seahorses are terrific fathers. Male seahorses are equipped with pouches; when mating, female seahorses deposit up to 1,500 eggs in male’s pouches. A male seahorse carries her eggs for 9 to 45 days until the baby seahorses emerge fully developed, but very small. Learning about this devoted fatherly fact, it reminded me how, when I was a new mom, my back was often burning with pains by carrying my toddler daughter and how my husband carried her on his shoulders, back, and front in a baby carrier. So, after all, he is my seahorse.

I like to point out Mandarin Ducks art cards or a Mandarin embroidery hoop (there is only one available) as perfect Valentine’s gifts. In Asia mandarin ducks are associated with love. Having a mandarin print in your home supposes to attract love. This is handy information for some of us looking forward to Valentine’s Day. Maybe it isn’t a myth at all.

In traditional Chinese 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. Receiving a Mandarin Duck card is a gift experience. Its inlay is full colour. There is a full colour name card of me with two couples of Mandarin Ducks. Plus a seal sticker and a vintage post stamp. The cards arrives in a plastic cellophane or fully addressed if commissioned. Mandarin duck cards help gift-givers to express themselves through a lovely and colourful designs of two ducks that are cosily resting together.

Paula

My booklet has one chapter with illustrations on a Mandarin duck couple too. It is here.

Cards at Etsy.

Embroidery Mandarin Duck at Etsy.

 

Personalized Birthday Print with Favourite Birds, Flowers or Butterflies

bert-85-white-background

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

Motherhood by Kuytenbrouwer

MoederschapClick on picture to enlarge

Martinus Antonius Kuytenbrouwer (1777-1850) was a Dutch soldier and painter of  animals and landscapes. His first exhibition was held in 1813 in Amsterdam followed by more successful exhibitions. Horses played a major role in his work as a painter, most likely because as an officer he dealt with horses daily.

Martinus Antonius Kuytenbrouwer was a member of the Utrecht Society of Arts and Sciences and the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Amsterdam. He married Johanna Sophia Gijsberta Kolff in 1798. Their son M. A. Kuytenbrouwer Jr. (1821 -1897) became a painter too.

A total of 24 works are known by Kuytenbrouwer Senior.

Above is shown the undated Motherhood.

As one can expect in a painting by Kuytenbrouwer Sr., the horse, with its foal, takes centre stage. The mother horse is suckling her young. The cows seem to be the only mothers in the painting without babies. The small flock of sheep has two lambs and the shepherd family has a big, healthy looking baby contently drinking too. I see an orange little thing next to the shepherd mother that can either be a robin or a flower.

The manor house in the back is unknown to me and I wonder what the 11 trees mean. The tree most to the left looks the oldest, while the trees to the right seem to be younger and skinnier. This seems a perfect natural representation. If the trees should symbolize something, could it then be that the 11 trees represent members on one family? It wasn’t uncommon at Kuytenbrouwer’s time to have large families. Maybe the age and number of the trees also represent Motherhood: the oldest and thickest tree is the mother of all the young ones that are grouped a bit further away, closer to the light and open field.

I love paintings and art with breastfeeding mothers. When a mother sits down to breastfeed her hungry baby, a peaceful and relaxed moment is guaranteed. The father shepherd snuggles up closely to his wife and baby, and enjoys the scene.

The mother horse keeps an eye on the painter as if to say: ‘You are allowed to watch and paint, but don’t disturb us; a happy baby means a happy family’.

Paula Kuitenbrouwer

p.s. Readers ask if I’m related to M.A. Kuytenbrouwer. M.A. Kuytenbrouwer is my father’s family but of a distant branch of the Kuytenbrouwer-family tree and -of course- a few generations back. The name Kuytenbrouwer changed through the generations from Coytenbrover to Kuytenbrouwer to Kuitenbrouwer. There are now Kuytenbrouwers and Kuitenbrouwers. The family of Kuitenbrouwer (with y and i) can be traced back to the 15th century in the east of the Netherlands.

Motherhood by M.A. Kuytenbrouwer postcards are available here

More on M.A. Kuytenbrouwer Sr. and Jr. here, here and here.

My Dutch book on breastfeeding and motherhood is here.