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.

images

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

Save

Save

Peony Time

Pioenroos print met pioenroos

A real Peony, a printed Peony and notice the one on the Korean flower vase.

Tulpen en Pioenroos peony print.jpg

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.

Desk with 3 prints I.jpg

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.

Save

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.

Three Tulip Head Amazon.jpg

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

Save

Save

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

 

 

The Soul: Painting the Unpaintable

The Soul: Painting the Unpaintable

On an altarpiece owned by the Catharijneconvent Museum in the Netherlands, we see Mary and Gabriel; an Annunciation, of course. But the Annunciation is shown in so many paintings that it requires us to make an extra effort to see how remarkable this painting is.

Altarpiece Circa 1400

Let us talk you through it. This is a Flemish altarpiece dating from the late Middle Ages. The painting is about an episode in the Bible, yet it has subtle emotions. If it had been a Renaissance piece, the emotions would be expressed in full; Mary’s body wouldn’t be so poorly executed. The late Medieval characteristic of this painting is that it is richly decorated. It has sumptuous features, such as Gabriel’s clothing, the floor tiles and wallpaper. Mary and Gabriel blend in almost too much, especially Mary with her plain clothing against the heavily decorated background.

Then there is another lovely feature you shouldn’t miss. Gabriel, Mary and the two angels look alike. The most obvious explanation would be that the painter used his or her family as models: his sister or mother as Mary, his brother as Gabriel and his cousins as angels. Another explanation is more theological and much deeper: Mary, the angels and Gabriel were deliberately made to look alike, pale and delicate countenances surrounded by ginger hair, because the painter wanted to stress that Mary, Gabriel and the angels all are very close to God: that they resemble each other, thus also resembling God.

This is a plausible explanation, because the painter has given the theology of the story much thought. Although you might think that this painting was a show of architectonic and texture-drawing skills there is something many will miss while observing this altarpiece.

The painter was philosophical about how to paint God, incarnation or the soul before birth. Have a look at the golden beam of light that descends from the position between the two angels. The fact that the beam comes from above and is positioned between the angels, shows it is a holy sign. At the end of the beam we see the white dove, representing the Holy Spirit. The dove looks like an ocean-diving pelican, aiming to catch a big fish. Here we should remember that, for medieval Europe, the pelican, renowned for its love of its young, symbolised Christ himself. Mary is in a blissful meditative stage of prayer, open to the message of Gabriel when the dove of the Holy Spirit descends on her.

Baby Jesus

Nothing new, you might think, but notice the tiny figure that follows after the white dove has entered Mary’s mind. There is a small figure, a small, naked boy: Jesus, diving into Mary as the Holy Spirit does, which shows that Mary is soon to be pregnant with a holy child. Mary’s highest point, while reading her book, is her head: Jesus entering her head instead of her chest or lap shows that Jesus comes from ‘above’. With Joseph nowhere to be seen, the painting focusses on the spiritual aspect of a soul descending into a woman.

From this 15th century religious painting, let’s now move on to The Burial of Count Orgaz by El Greco, painted in 1568.

El Greco

The painting shows the miracle that is said to have happened during the burial of Count Orgaz: two saints descend from heaven to place the body of Count Orgaz in his tomb. While the painting shows Saint Stephen and Saint Augustine in full glory, tenderly putting Count Orgaz in his resting place in the lower part of the painting, halfway across the canvas an angel carries the soul of the count to Christ, who is positioned high up in the painting, gesturing by his open arms a welcoming sign. Between the earthy world in which Count Orgaz is laid to rest, and the heavenly world, hangs a whitish translucent veil. Its folds show there are angels hiding in it and, due to its uneven distribution, it creates numerous spaces or ‘heavens’. Dante wrote about many hells; this painting hints at many heavens. Between Mary and St. John the Baptist is a very narrow opening to which the angel with curly hair carefully pushes the soul of Count Orgaz.

Angel carrying soul

El Greco makes this soul-carrying angel a midwife in reverse, holding the soul of Count Orgaz with its vague, baby-like features, while it makes its ascent through the opening. Mary, in heaven, has one hand ready to support Count Orgaz’s soul, while St. John de Baptist is already communicating the arrival to Jesus.

We now have seen two paintings in which the soul is shown as a child’s physique. Why have the painters done that? Aren’t there full-grown, adult souls? The arriving soul and the departing soul are shown as a young child because a child is a symbol of innocence because it is without (sinful and full-grown) flesh, without actions it has performed as a responsible adult. When we see a beautiful baby or young child, we say; ‘what an angel’ and we may say that again of a shrunken, wise and kind grandparent. Obviously, to be an earthly angel one has to be either a new arrival from heaven or an almost-departing soul. One has to have that ethereal quality, with little flesh on the bone and an excess of lovingness and delicacy.

The soul in modern paintings is often the spiritual doppelganger of a person. The soul has the same size and form as the person from whom it departs. Paintings of outside body experiences show a shadowy twin figure hovering over a sleeping person. There is nothing exciting about this way of depicting of a soul. These modern souls are cheap replicas. They hold no philosophy, no symbolism or imagination. How different is the Flemish altarpiece of the Annunciation, or El Greco with a burial and an ascent to heaven in one painting, showing not only a dense social scene with many of Toledo’s notables, but also this curious soul, demonstrating theology, philosophy and creative imagination.

To paint a soul challenges a painter to think about what a soul is. It is the psyche of the Greek philosophers: pure consciousness? How would you paint pure consciousness? Is it the thymos, a person’s vitality, spirit or energy? How to express vitality with the help of paint and a brush? It certainly isn’t a person’s eidolon, the empty shadow that goes down to Hades, bereft of all vitality and awareness. The eidolon is the soul minus what makes us human. And what we see in these two paintings – the soul about to enter into life in the Flemish altarpiece and the departing soul of El Greco – are clearly human souls. In fact, what we see is something extraordinary: at attempt to paint the unpaintable.

.
Gerwyn Moseley & Paula Kuitenbrouwer

 

Guido Reni (Bologna 1575-1642) St Joseph with the Infant Jesus

Reni JosephGuido Reni (Bologna 1575-1642) St Joseph with the Infant Jesus

Guido Reni lived from 1575 to 1642 and painted mostly in Rome. He ran a busy studio engaged on commissions from many Italian cities. Born in Bologna into a family of musicians, Reni was, as a child of nine, apprenticed under the Bolognese studio of Denis Calvaert.

I especially like St. Joseph with the Infant Jesus, painted in oil on canvas by this Bolognese painter. There is something captivating about this old father who holds baby Jesus. He is a handsome old man and he seems wise, but also vulnerable. To my opinion, Guido Reni has painted an older father who is well aware of the future of his baby. It is as if Joseph holds his treasure not only tenderly, but also in very high esteem.

Now look at baby Jesus. This isn’t a normal baby. It almost sits on Joseph’s hands and shows a remarkable awareness. As much as it is a baby, it is the spiritual master of Joseph already. Guido Reni also has given baby Jesus a lightness; not only by casting a bundle of light on the head and body of baby Jesus, but also by given this baby a beautiful glow. Reni’s baby Jesus shows in another way its ‘light’ too, by suggesting it is light-weighted. Joseph holds his baby as if baby Jesus weighs as much as a feather. This all adds to the impression Guido Reni aims for showing how remarkable baby Jesus was already as a baby.

I like to draw attention to the flower baby Jesus is holding. Most likely it is a lily. A lily symbolizes purity and integrity. In many paintings the Virgin Mary and other saints are  portrayed with a lily. Baby Jesus holds the lily close to the heart of St. Joseph, or you could say, St. Joseph holds baby Jesus, who holds the lily. This important baby is safe in the hands of his father. We can trust Joseph to keep baby Jesus safe from being harmed as a child. Maybe Guido Reni gives baby Jesus to hold the lily close to Joseph as if to say thank-you for taking care.

In the back of this painting (I think) I see Maria being visited by an angel. This could be an annunciation to the blessed virgin Mary scene.

I could go on and on showing you how beautiful Joseph’s cloak is done. Or the technical skills of creating grey hair through darkening the background around the head of Joseph with a thick green forest scene. However, I stop and return to my drawing to finish my small interpretation of this painting. Enjoy my work-in-progress.

Click here to see the finished drawing.

Paula Kuitenbrouwer


Motherhood by Kuytenbrouwer

Click 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.