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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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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Two Female Eclectus Parrots, Eclectus roratus

Eclectus Parrot

Two Female Eclectus roratus, copyright Paula Kuitenbrouwer

In my former post (click here), I tell a story of two Welsh swans and their adopted goose. How talking to a Welsh RSPB officer informed my husband and I about the existence of  homosexual birds, a fact that was new to me. As a result of this knowledge, I came to think that my bird portfolio was 100% representing my life, with my husband, depicting birds as couples, sometimes with eggs or chicks. I had failed to include homosexual birds and I made that up by drawing two male Black Grouse.

Korhoen Black Grouse original & print

Two Black Grouse; original & framed print

Choosing two colourful male birds was easy, but finding colourful female birds turned our to be difficult because female birds tune down their colours in order to stay unnoticed while breading and rearing chicks. I thumbed through all my bird-guides but couldn’t find colourful female birds. Lucky, I have a niece, Jenna, soon to be a Veterinary Assistant and already working as a zookeeper. Jenna van der Vet needed only a few minutes to come up with: ‘Eclectus Parrot’. Well, if you don’t know which bird that is, as me, and you google ‘Eclectus roratus’ you get a very enjoyable and colourful result. See, the male Eclectus is green and the female is blue-red. What more to wish for? I’m very grateful to Jenna, for advising me on this exotic bird that wasn’t listed in my European bird guides.

For a long time ornithologist thought that the green males and blue-red females were different parrot species. It is unusual for a female bird to differ from her male counterparts and if they do differ, they aren’t wearing bold colours. The red-blue Eclectus parrot makes you wonder how the canopy she chooses to breed in, in the wild, looks like. How can her blue-red plumage protect her? She is stunningly pretty.

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Two females sit closely together, grooming each-other. To confirm their bond, I have given them golden rings. Gold, really? Yes, you can’t possible give a dull ring when they, themselves, are so outrageously dressed up in the finest colours of cobalt, ultramarine, indigo and light blue as well as scarlet, wine, crimson and rose red.

This prints makes an excellent gift for lesbian couples, congratulating them with their friendship, engagement or marriage.

Thank you Jenna! Keep going places.

Love,
Paula

Jenna’s Dutch Guinea Pig Breeding Centre

At Etsy

Two Female Eclectus Parrots at Etsy

 

Gay Bird Drawing of Two Black Grouse

 

Korhoenpaula

Some years ago my husband and I enjoyed a holiday in Wales. After long walks, we would sit down in the evening on a stone jetty overlooking the Afon Mawddach, which looks like a loch, but opens up to the Irish sea. Two swans and one goose would come up to us for some bread. As we built up this routine, we started to question this odd trio. Luckily we found a British RSPB officer to enlighten us on the unusual swan couple with its tag-on goose. Why weren’t the swans breeding and why had they adopted this goose? Why did they stay together, goose and swans?

The RSPB officer told us that local conservationists had the same questions and that, while the goose and swans were ringed, blood was drawn and sent to a lab. Reported back was that both swans were male. This, as we had expected, was a homosexual swan couple that had kindly adopted a lonely goose. We laughed out loud, because somehow we had known this, but how could we know for sure? We continued feeding the swans and goose till the end of our holiday.

Did you know that close to 10% of all species (not only humans and birds) is homosexual? And that we often fail to see that with birds. This is because not all bird species show visible differences between male and female birds- many male and female birds have the same plumage and only behaviour (or a blood draw) will help to notice gender differences.

Recently I thought about my bird drawings and that my Etsy shop is full with heterosexual bird couples. I reflected; ‘I’m missing out on the 10% of birds that is homosexual, and that isn’t kind’. My thoughts went back to Wales, to the swans of Afon Mawddach and I decided to draw a gay and lesbian bird couple.

It was easy to find bird models for a gay couple. All I needed were two males that are known for their competitive display of their handsome plumage during the mating season so that even those with little bird knowledge would get a sense of two males. I chose to draw two male Black grouse, Lyrurus tetrix, not in the least because they are so pretty indigo blue.

Korhoen Detail

Every bird watcher knows that male Black grouse aren’t friendly to other males during the mating season. They put up a big show, a macho display and often fight with each-other. Showing them in a non-competitive way, confirms their bond. My Black grouse couple sits closely together on the same stone. They eye each-other tenderly.

Love,

Paula

Black Grouse Couple at Etsy.

Two Female Eclectus Roratus birds are here.

Shop at Etsy

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

 

 

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