Losing oneself; bridging the gap

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While working on a Ex Libris (bookplate) commission, I sort of fell in love with the dogs, Jessie & Meiko, that I was drawing. One could say: ‘Of course, these dogs are very cute. They look healthy, playful and are full character’. Yet, I think there is more. As my graphite pencil is creating fur, I am, in my mind, touching that fur. When I add eyes to a dog, I add a soul to a body. And when I admire a healthy fur coat, I like to touch it and give its owner a cuddle. An artist can’t help but ‘bridging the distance’ between himself and an object. Of course this is not always the case. For instance, with political art, despite being  deeply involved with the object, one needs to step away from it personally  on order to add collective feelings, like repulsion, anger or fear to it, feelings much bigger than one person’s likes and dislikes.

Take for instance Guernica, Picasso‘s oil painting completed in June 1937. Or ‘Judith Beheading Holofernes’, by Caravaggio (1599). You need a healthy distance to the suffering in both paintings otherwise you would die over and over again during the making of this type of artwork. Still you can’t paint a convincing painting without coming very close to the objects that need to be transferred onto a canvas or drawing pad.

For me this is one of the mysteries of drawing and painting, and probably also of writing. It is about losing yourself, coming so close to objects of your focus that you disappear for a while. And this losing yourself can happen during the painting of a human, dog, flower, snail or ship. Or even seas, rocks, landscapes.

As I am progressing with my Oxford course ‘Rituals and Religion in Prehistory’, I read the following sentence: ‘Ethnographic studies of modern hunter-gatherers have often revealed that they view the landscape as something that is literally animated with moral, mystical and mythical significance. Particular places, rocks, lakes and rivers, are often believed to be the creation of ancient ancestors or spiritual beings, while birds, fish and mammals are seen as creatures that are powerfully related to humans’. (Living with the dead amongst hunter-gatherers, Aiden O’Sullivan of the Department of Archaeology, UCD, Ireland).

Has such ethnographic thesis been pushed forward by people with artistic sensitivity? To feel more than yourself alone or to feel that animals and places are full life, one has to be able to scale down oneself. And to open up to another way of perceiving life, or even being able to enrich one’s perception to sense life in, what we at school collectively have learned, dead material.

With art making, this way of perceiving doesn’t come as a forceful act or as a mind stretch; it naturally happens when people meditate or practise mindful drawing. In ‘The Zen of Seeing, seeing/drawing as meditation’, Frederick Franck describes drawing as ‘The Way of Seeing’, as a way of meditation, a way of getting into intimate touch with the visible world around us’. And distance in that world, whether it is geographical distance or distance in time, seems to be irrelevant.

Do you feel like bridging a geographical or time gap when you are making art? What are your thoughts on this, dear fellow artists?

Paula

www.paulaartshop.com

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

 

 

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

 

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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

Art Prints of Butterflies and Garden Birds

Click on the images to enlarge

I have uploaded most of my written art musings to LinkedIn Pulse. Although this blog has over 300 readers, LinkedIn Pulse has more. Many more. It is rewarding to see that my articles are read by people who aren’t subscribed to my blog and probably aren’t looking for art musings, but come across it and enjoy reading about art. You will find articles on the thoughts behind my drawings, on Raphael, on aesthetic principles or on compositions at LinkedIn Pulse. There is also art history, art appreciation and art musings. Here they are:  Paula’s Art Musings.

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The red glossy fridge magnet, leaning against the Korean box, is part of ‘Patron Art project’ by Irish artist Frank Corry. The Patron Project evolved from a series of works which use fragments of wrecked cars. Info on Frank Corry’s Patron Art Project is here.

Amazon Studio Licht

Studio Picture Amazon

Studio Pencils in Mugs

That is it for now.

Stay healthy, happy and creative!

Love,

Paula

at Etsy

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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Artists Inspired by Nature Treasures: Sybille Tezzele Kramer, Liliya Tereshkiv, Lois Mathews and Paula Kuitenbrouwer

Sybille Tezzele Kramer, Liliya Tereshkiv, Lois Mathews & Paula Kuitenbrouwer

Sybille Tezzele Kramer:

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Italian born Sybille Tezzele Kramer draws inspiration from her direct surroundings in Sud-Tirol. Sybille shows her appreciation for weeds with her drawing, named Erbacce/Unkraut. Notice Chamomile, Poppy, Alchemilla, Foxtail grass and Dandelion. Also, notice the smiling face of the weeds. Weed smiles because it is stronger than all the poison that is used. And why using it? Why do we categorize some plants as obnoxious weeds and others as ornamental plants? Why do we say some stones are pebbles and others are gemstones? Sybille creates a three-dimensional effect by drawing a heliocentric composition. Read more about this lovely drawing here. Sybille’s Erbacce/Unkraut/Weed is available here. The original Erbacce is touring through Italy as a mobile exhibition ‘Lo Sguardo Obliquo’.

Liliya Tereshkiv:

Liliya Tereshkiv, a Ukraine born artist, also living in Italy, is the woman behind Sorriso Design. Liliya shows us how nature inspires her by picking up leaves and pine cones and looking at the blue sky. Here is her lovely Etsy shop full woodwork, jewellery and home decoration. Have a look, you will be surprised. More of Liliya’s nature photos are here.

Lois Mathews:

For years I’m enjoying the walks Lois Mathews records at her delightful blog  Sketching on Whidbey Island. If there are sketches directly inspired by nature, they are Lois’ water-paintings. I don’t like to sit in front of a screen, but that all changes when I read Lois’s records and nature studies. Did I just feel a bit of fresh air? Or did I hear a songbird? Do I noticed footprints on the walking track? Lois’s nature journal enchants me.

Me:

An empty wall, wood and driftwood treasures and a few of my prints. I’ve put them together for a playful exhibition of a few of my prints. My birds and butterflies feel perfectly at home in their natural environment.

There is nothing definitive or pretentious about this, I can add and remove things without damaging the wall. There is bark of an eucalyptus tree, a honeysuckle knot, pine-cone branches, driftwood, some wooden pegs and prints.

Paula

Paula at Etsy

Paula at Amazon Handmade

Lotus in pond, with roots and dragonfly

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Lotus Plant, copyright by Paula Kuitenbrouwer

Scientific name: Nelumbo nucifera.

A lotus plant grows in a pond. Lotus-roots are edible and nutritious. Have you ever seen them in an Asian food shop? Do you know how all parts of a lotus plant connect? I didn’t and I had to do some research to get the botanical facts right.

A lotus plant is a highly esteemed symbol in Buddhism as being one of the “Eight Auspicious Symbols” of this religion. The roots of a lotus flower extend into the mud, the stem grows up through the water and the flower blossoms above the surface.

For a Buddhist this living on 3 levels, in the mud, in water and air, signifies progress. The soul progresses from the mud (read: mess and materialism), through the world of water in which we live our daily life and experience our world, higher up to enlightenment in the ethereal world of air and light.

There is a saying or consolation for when things are difficult; ‘A lotus only grows in a muddy pond’, stating that in order to flower, to bloom, one has to accept the mud, the mess, chaos, dirt or ugliness.
In Buddhist art lotuses are all over the place. Sometimes Buddha sits in an opened lotus-flower, thus symbolising his awakening.
Paula
Prints at Amazon Handmade or Amazon Handmade, or via mindfuldrawing@gmail.com with banking payment or paypal.

Fall Harvest Dangling Display with Berries, Eucalyptus, Birch, Chestnut & Brambles

I’ve drawn ‘Harvest Dangling Display’ after I collected the first autumn leaves and fruits in our garden and nearby park. Left to right: Berries, Eucalyptus, Birch, Chestnut, and Brambles are dangling on a piece of driftwood that I found bobbing in an Atlantic Ocean tidal pool at the east coast of Ireland. It has this bleached grey colour and texture that I find very pretty.

Prints come with a Hahnemühle Certificate of Authenticity & Hologram System that is designed to protect the security and genuineness of this limited edition and reproductions on Hahnemühle paper. Printed details are amazingly clear.

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Details:

 

Print is available at Etsy and at Paula’s Art Shop

Paula