Going beyond predictable performance practice

Decades back, I read a remark that most people dare not to accept their greatness. Today such quote would provoke criticism because currently there are too many inflated egos grabbing power and money. If it wasn’t for the middle class, the mediocracy, the sane and well balanced mass, and the majority of people who ‘Stay Calm & Carry On’ that we are still sailing through epic well-fare inequalities without revolt. So, bravo for this ‘middle’ group. However and despite of living through this inflated ego era, the quote recently inspired me to run an experiment as I applied in solely on art practice.

I know what I am good at in my studio. But what would happen if I would go beyond choosing the comfortable or predictable performance practice? What if I, after feeling inspired, would dismiss my first impulse to work, hit a pause button, and dwell a day or two on the question of how can I work with this idea on a next ‘greater’ level? And with the next level I mean higher quality of tools, larger in size, and/or more daring in execution (the latest prerequisite/demand being the most difficult to imagine). Well, it has been fruitful to run such experiment. It has resulted in opening my oil paint box that had been closed for over 2 years. The smell of the tubes and the well-known names of the classical palette…mmmm! And touching a large white canvas, already seeing with my mind’s eye a primarily lay-out (the size of the canvas scares me). The ‘next level’ might still not be something great, instead it probably is still very modest, but the process of lifting up yourself to a higher and more daring level has certainly given much joy and has nourished my creativity.

Paula

 

My booklet at Amazon.com & Amazon.co.uk and, of course, Etsy. I can not add a lovely art card to your order when you order at Amazon, however I will add on one should you order at Etsy.

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Abstraction in Sashiko and Iron Age Art

I ventured into Sashiko embroidery for a while. Sashiko, Japanese traditional pattern stitching, is an interesting geometrical and embroidery challenge. Equally interesting is discovering the meaning of old Japanese patterns that Sashiko uses; some refer to nature scenes. Like ‘Linked Plovers or Chidori Tsunagi’:

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Do you see a flock of birds, flying from down-left to upper-right?

Or look at ‘Wind blowing Grasses or nowaki’,

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And there is ‘Diamond Blue Waves or hishi seigaiha’.

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With the help of transparent geometrical templates bought Aliexpress, I copy and design the Sashiko patterns on paper and later transfer them to fabric. What I also like about the stitched geometry of Japan is the level of abstraction of the designs. Iron Age artists mastered abstraction too; think about the Uffington White Horse in the UK.

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As I love using details and details in details, abstraction is a nice challenge to me. Which lines can you erase and still have a flower, a bird, or a horse? Which lines are essential? And how does a geometrical design help the human brain to perceive abstract images and connect them to our life? Sashiko is a creative challenge and from there you seem to develop more and more creativity.

Paula Kuitenbrouwer

Dutch Artist and owner of http://www.mindfuldrawing.com living in Utrecht.

At Instagram

Paula’s Etsy shows her commissions, original drawings, some embroidery and art prints.

Mindfulness in the 1600s

The Practice of The Presence of God by Brother Lawrence.

I’m reading about mindful meditation. Brother Lawrence, a monk in the 1600s, promised he would live day and night, in good and bad times, in God. He spent many years practising the presence of God in his life. His key to this practice was that he strove to be consciously aware of God’s presence at all times, which seems the true epitome of (Christian) mindfulness.
To me it means that with everything I do, I ask myself if I’m acting in the best consciousness and ethical conscientiousness. For me this means that I need to be aware and practise self-discipline, carefulness,  and thoroughness. It is very easy to wander away from awareness and thoroughness, like with any meditation. If this happens, I bring myself back into the presence of God. It is a wonderful meditation, but not an easy one. Having said that, the more you do this, the longer the stretches of time of being in God, or being mindful, do occur.

I started to read this tiny book months ago, and I do return to it often, because Brother Lawrence’s promise still inspires. To purposefully enjoy God’s presence, or mindfulness, in your life, is like opening up to small miracles. Pouring tea becomes a meditation and so does watering the flowers on the balcony. It is still a bit hard to feel the presence of God while paying bills (and all other worldly and bureaucratic chores ), but to stay mindful, to stay open for the presence of God non-stop is what it is about. And when I succeed, I feel a happy appreciation for the smallest things in life.

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Rembrandt’s master work of his son, Titus van Rijn, in a monk’s habit
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Is this book only for Christians? Not at all. I recommend it to all people who are interested in the spiritual life. It is about mindfulness in the 1600s. Thich Nhat Hanh says, in one of his many books that I’ve read, that if you need the address of God, he will give it to you; it is Here and Now. Brother Lawrence would probably have said: God’s address is being in the presence of God.
Paula Kuitenbrouwer