Cernunnos Inspired Stag in Ancient Worlds

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The oldest (Celtic) god is Cernunnos, depicted with the antlers of a stag, seated cross-legged, associated with animals, and holding or wearing a torc (is a large rigid or stiff neck ring in metal, made either as a single piece or from strands twisted together).
Not much is known about Cernunnos but interpretations identify him as a beneficent god of nature, life, or fertility. I find it interesting that Cernunnos is half man, half stag. We clearly like to relate ourselves to such a magnificent animal. It looks well built yet elegant, noble and humble, strong but vulnerable.
I remember driving on Island of Mull and being redirected due to roadworks. As we continued our journey on small roads, all the sudden a huge stag stood in front of us. My husband stopped the car and for a moment we looked in awe to this mighty animal. It looked at us and we looked at him with instant respect, so close and intense was the encounter, that we can still recall the moment, decades later.  It will linger in our memory probably forever.
It is therefore that I have drawn stags and deer often. The challenge is always to capture the strength and elegance. Recently, I drew a full stag but I was disappointed because it didn’t stand out. It had not the mightiness that I was looking for. I then applied the ‘Celtic’ method of looking which lines and shadows were essential and which I should leave out. Say 90% of my initial lines were erased and as a result I not only ended up with a more powerful stag, the space that became available allowed me to work on applying beautiful lines and figures (see how the eyes of the stag are also birds). Thus, the stag is complied of many seemingly loose elements, connecting and giving it form.
Ancient Stones
Ancient Stone Graves Copyright Paula Kuitenbrouwer
I placed it in an ancient Upperworld, Middle world, and Underworld. The Upperworld shows the sun and the moon and the antlers of the stag shapeshift into birds that fly away, symbolizing a shamanistic journey to the Upperworld. The Middle world is shown as tree branches and tree trunks. The Underworld can be entered by visiting an ancient burial site, or being close to dolmens, as is the belief of ancient peoples. I knitted all worlds together by using patterned borders.

Paula Kuitenbrouwer

At Etsy

Artist Info:  I used Derwent Graphite H7 and H3 only, on Winsor & Newton cold press paper. Using only Derwent H pencils gives a drawing very soft tones. Personally, I favour this, but others might judge that it needs more enforcement of darker areas. A few small prints of my drawing show a more enhanced or ‘harder’ version. There are many ‘Celtic’ pattern vectors freely available but I decided to design my own irregular patterns.

Rollright Stones Story

 

Standing near two ancient stones that are part of the Rollright Stone circle, I noticed a story. A story… not a speculation because the stones are now in a different condition compared to when they were put up by Bronze Age stone circle builders. The story is about shapeshifting. We see a shaman woman with a respectable headdress to the right having her face almost blended with an animal that looks directly at her, symbolizing contact, perhaps a conversation. The animal looks like a rabbit, or a pig, and itself is shapeshifting because its back side has another shape of an animal head.

Both the shaman woman and the animal emerge from the Underworld, which is known for to be a place to journey to in order to meet or consult your spirit animal. As the shaman woman is either sinking into trance, and thus into the Underworld, the shapeshifting takes place and the animal and shaman are coming face to face. Or, they emerge from the Underworld and as the shaman woman is coming out of her trance, the pig/rabbit leaves her, only their noses are still connected, and slowly takes its own form again, a form still somewhat dreamy and not easily to identify (pig or rabbit?).

Maybe stone circles were storytelling ‘books’ or instruction manuals used by shamans to educate a new generation of practitioners. Maybe the stones were not only chosen because of their shapes but painted as well to enhance the manual’s illustrations. Maybe…maybe.

Paula Kuitenbrouwer

At Etsy

At Instagram

May I recommend my booklet that is currently 2 British ponds at Amazon.co.uk. This extremely low price is only granted to the first customer. As soon as one has bought it for 2 British ponds, the price goes up again. This price is lower that its production costs. I hope one of my regular website visitors is in need for a sweet gift.

 

 

 

Postage Stamp Design

 

 

Recently, I found out that one can buy online postage stamps. It is very handy but such ‘post stamp’ appears to be a sudoku-like 9 square code that you pen down in the upper right corner of an envelope. Handy but disappointing, especially when you enjoy receiving a neatly handwritten envelope with an exotic postage stamp.

 

As so much digitalization is met with a return to pre-computer behaviour, like note booking, calligraphy, and snail-mail, I decided to return to using post stamps too. I bought a bag of old, hobby postage stamps that are used by Hobonichi journalling or notebook designing, and added them next to the postage codes. Somehow that didn’t do the job. And so, I set out to design a post stamp that shows a lovely nature scene, elegance, and spaciousness.

 

Paula Kuitenbrouwer

Paula’s booklet at Amazon

The Post Stamp at Etsy

Paula’s Etsy shop

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Jugenstil Art Nouveau Ex Libris (Work in Progress)

Designing Celtic interlace is fun; making an Art Nouveau (Jugendstil) corner design is as exciting.

Art Nouveau added beauty to our world between 1890 and 1910. Both Jugendstil and Celtic patterns were inspired by natural forms and structures, particularly the curved and intertwined lines of plants and flowers. What Celtic design has more than Jugendstil are Celtic animals like boars, horses, and birds. Jugendstil used more shell shapes. What I love about both is that one has to make an effort to understand the designs. Although they look instantly beautiful and fascinating, one can spend extra time to ‘unlock’ what can be seen in these natural patterns. Did I just see an owl? Or was it a horse-head? Flowers seem to come and go, an organic flow of natural forms that tell us a story. Perhaps a story of a woodland walk, or of a floral bouquet one gives to a friend. Or perhaps we are looking at a story of a beach walk, collecting shells. Life is like that and our dream-world is like that: we are witnessing a flow of events.

Paula Kuitenbrouwer

At Etsy

at Bloglovin

An Original Fibonacci Wave Mandarin Duck Drawing to Celebrate Love Wedding Friendship Engagement

Mandarin Ducks Bobbing on Hokusai’s Wave

STORY
Says the male outstanding colourful Mandarin drake to his lovely wife; ‘I love you profoundly; I will stay with you till the end of my days. I don’t know where I end and you begin’. Says the sweet female duck to her handsome drake; ‘Such is our lifelong bond; the high waves of life can’t drift us apart. Together we swim, spatter and stay close to each other to confirm our bond that will last a lifetime’.

OBSERVATION
Is there something more beautiful than seeing a closely bonded couple, in which the male and female are equal in rights, expression, and status. Their love doesn’t need dominance, it isn’t a power-game. They have moved beyond that, to a realm that we call love.

ARTIST STATEMENT
I have drawn, painted, and sold many Mandarin Duck couples and it brings me great pleasure that in parts of the world, where I do not live or travel, my mandarin duck drawings decorate walls of living, study or sleeping rooms. Mandarin Ducks symbolize love and loyalty, and friendship. This drawing has a luxurious, golden border. It needs a lovely square frame.

 

FENG SHUI
In Asia and in Feng Shui it is said that having Mandarin Ducks in your home (painting or picture) attracts love and loyalty. And why not? When people enter the room, they notice this picture of love and loyalty and that is subtly stored in their minds and hearts. They don’t see a drawing or print with one object, but with two birds that love each other. It sets the mindset or mood for a start of a deep friendship or love. Having a mandarin print in your home is suppose to attract love. Maybe it isn’t a myth at all. In traditional Asian 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.

FIBONACCI SEQUENCE
I have drawn mandarin ducks in full colour and as albino and leucistic couples. I have drawn them against a minimalist white background, suggesting a pond, or suggesting reeds. And I was about to set out to add a new couple to my portfolio when I noticed the Fibonacci Sequence in one of my old sketches. It made my heart miss a beat because it brought a flood of inspiration. I immediately set out to make a circular composition, adding two ducks shaped as in the well-know Fibonacci fashion. And after having done that successfully, I couldn’t stop and added parts of The Great Wave off Kanagawa by the Japanese artist Hokusai next to the mandarin ducks. Now I had four Fibonacci elements, as I recognized the Fibonacci sequence in Hokusai’s wave too.

MANDARIN DUCKS
These mandarin duck couple, deeply in love with each other, are bathing in wild waters. In fact, they are so deeply bonded, they have no idea where they individually begin or end. They have become one in emotion and routine. They are one with the waters they live in too. The beautiful Hokusai wave, which could be interpreted as the pleasant and unpleasant high waves life throws at every couple, can’t separate them. They will stay together during their whole life; in high tide and low tide, in calm and difficult times, through day and night, till the end.

COPYRIGHT & ORDERING
This drawing/design is copyrighted. I offer this original drawing as a commission. This means that your drawing is hand-drawn, slightly different not in shape or style but perhaps a bit different in colour, as it will be a hand-drawn copy of the first drawing. Original drawings should be ordered via Etsy and will have a waiting list as I draw them mindfully.

YIN YANG SYMBOL
Please, notice the Mandarin ducks eyes holding a Yin-Yang symbol. I can do your drawing without this symbol hidden in their cute eyes.

At Etsy

Paula Kuitenbrouwer

@mindfuldrawing on Instagram

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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.

Prehistoric Rhinoceros

Rhinoceros Embroidery
May I present some prehistoric testosterone? From Chauvet Cave (France), a most impressive Rhinoceros, who, after being drawn on beautiful coloured cave walls at c. 30,000 BCE, never fails to impress.

P.S. My booklet is down to 2.99 British Ponds on Amazon.co.uk. This is such a low price, and it is First Come, First Serve. After it is bought, the price goes up again. So, be quick.

And let me know when you have bought my booklet: I will send you an Ex Libris. State your request for the Raphael Apostle, the Raphael Horse or the Old Tree Ex Libris.

More news: all hand embroidered Duck Couples and my Woolly Rhinoceros are now listed on Etsy. You will be surprised how low I keep my prices. I have to do that because shipping is so expensive and I think art and crafts should be affordable.

All at Etsy.

On my Desk

On my desk: Hannah Green’s notebook that I use for Sashiko notes, my booklet ‘Birds, Butterflies, Fish & Botany’, my Sashiko cloth with autumn colours, and its beautiful hand dyed, multi coloured yarn, as well as my Ex Libris.

There are so many projects to work on; one life isn’t enough! Apart from that, I wish to live multiple creative lives in different times; like that of a Celtic blacksmith in the late Iron Age or of a prehistoric stone cutter. Or that of a Medieval weaver. But, who knows… I might have live these lives already. Which creative life does appeal to you, apart from your current one?

Paula Kuitenbrouwer

Artist & Author

‘Birds, Butterflies, Fish & Botany’

at Etsy

For the sole purpose to inspire you…

For the sole purpose of inspiring you, I like to show you what dropped in my mail box from Japan; two lovely packages with beautiful Sashiko threads. I chose these colours for representing Earth and Ocean. The earth being dressed up in autumn colours and the ocean with different hues of blue and green.

You can travel the world by car or plane but you can also travel through the world of crafts. I wrote in a former blogpost that I can’t exactly remember how I ventured into the world of Sashiko. But by dwelling in the world of Sashiko, I noticed how beautiful some Japanese hand-dyed threads are. I come across a lot of thread that I can’t order because I can’t read Japanese. However, these threads I found at the Japanese Amazon and they will soon assist me in creating a Sashiko display that is both experimental and (hopefully) decorative. Before you think, ‘Paula has traded her pen and pencils for needles’. No. Certainly not. Please, return soon for more creative updates and inspiration.

Love from Paula

P.S. Being back in the Netherlands, I designed a new, bilingual name card. I also re-activated my Etsy shop. It needs some tweaks but it shows that I am back again after a long Irish sabbatical. Visitekaartjes.jpg