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.
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.
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.
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.
I went to our local art-shop and asked what new products have been introduced in the graphite section. The sales person advised me to have a look at Derwent’s Graphitint. He assisted me with trying out the pencils on different art papers. I was sold on the spot. I should keep a better eye on new tools. Too often I see horribly bright and plastic stuff being introduced at the checkout of artist shops. Thus I have adopted a strict policy of ignoring promotions. But these Graphitints were almost hidden, very decently stored between loads of other pencils. The modest colours, timid character, and humble attitude of these pencils charms me! This is not a review and I am not affiliated to Derwent; I am upgrading my knowledge and tools, which is a good and nice thing to do. May I ask my fellow artists what are your most recent added tools and what new products do you happily work with? What are your favourite tools anyway? Currently my favourites are Derwent H pencils; perhaps Graphitint will join the list.
This is a large graphite drawing (about the size of A3) beautifully and softly rendered, titled ‘Praising Plants’. I have set up this drawing as a way to show gratitude towards (house) plants. They provide us with oxygen, hence the text ‘Thank Your for your O2,’ a word rhyme that names oxygen by its element. Instead of drawing plants in pots, I have used a frame decorated with Ginkgo leaves. These leaves are found near Ginkgo trees, often in growing in botanical gardens or in Asian cities. Inside the border, I have added two plant motifs, Acanthus and Pimpernel Bay-leaf Manilla, inspired by William Morris, a British textile designer, poet, novelist, translator, and socialist activist associated with the British Arts and Crafts Movement. The two other plant motifs are designed by me; Bamboo and Lotus flower.
One should see this drawing as a garden, as a local botanical garden in which one can deeply relax and become thankful for what plants do for us. Not only do they provide us with oxygen, but also with soul nourishment and above all, with beauty. Frame this drawing and feel inspired by what plants mean for us and how they can enchant us with their intricate patterns. I sell this original and there are no copies available. This makes this drawing unique gift.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.