Crane Birds Work in Progress

Carefully cutting away the transfer fabric which held the original drawing of the crane birds. Next, I will be working on the Dutch landscape, which will have a low horizon. This will be a gift for my bird loving father, who had the luck of seeing a large group of crane birds flying over. An increasing number of crane birds are nesting in the Netherlands, which is great.

Paula Kuitenbrouwer

Artist & Author

@mindfuldrawing at Instagram


Embroidery as Art

What makes embroidery art? What is required for embroidery to become a masterpiece? I have read a few books on embroidery but I haven’t come across a reflection on this question. As I am rather new to embroidery, I can only use my fine art (painting) knowledge.

A work of fine art is mostly appreciated for technical and artistic exquisite execution (skill and artistic talent). Having said this, there are many works of art that are regarderd masterpieces because of social, political or purely creative qualities.

For a beautiful piece of embroidery some criteria are similar to painting; technical skill, colour-choice, composition, originality of concept/theme, and quality of materials. Don’t underestimate originality; it is enjoyable and valued to see artisans using their your own source of inspiration. Their artwork reflects their life and their conflict or love for their life living in a certain place and time. Such inspiration creates a unique and uncompromising style or signature.

Blue Tufted Ducks by Paula Kuitenbrouwer

Returning to the question ‘What makes embroidery art?’ Embroidery demands an equal amount of skill as painting, drawing, woodwork, and ceramics. For all artwork counts that more skill leads to increased quality and value.

‘Blue Ducks’ & ‘Green Ducks’ in the series of Tufted Ducks by Paula Kuitenbrouwer.

I used gold thread & various blues plus freehand-stitch, pekinese-stitch, french-knots & openchain-stitch. I always use my own designs, based on my coloured pencil drawings or oil paintings. Occasionally I use my sketches for making lino-prints too.

Paula Kuitenbrouwer

Artist, Author & Expat

‘Birds, Butterflies, Fish & Botany’

@mindfuldrawing on Instagram


I learned a new word: woolgathering. I like new words and I especially like woolgathering because I like textile craft, cotton, wool and gathering supplies. But that is not what woolgathering means, however woolgathering was original used for gathering the leftover pieces of wool after sheep shearing. Woolgathering now means to indulgence in aimless thought or dreamy imagining, in short, day-dreaming. Can artists day-dream? Or do they rush to their sketch-books, canvasses, notebooks in a bee-line to pen down their inspirational ideas?

William Wordsworth wrote in his Daffodils poem that when he is ‘In vacant or in pensive mood, They (daffodils) flash upon that inward eye’. Is that vacant and pensive mood daydreaming or woolgathering? I don’t think so.

Poetically reflecting is closely related but it seems different from woolgathering to me. Woolgathering is without focus; poetic reflection demands concentration. However, the effect is the same; inspiration floods the mind. Off I go, rushing to my desk where my sketchbooks, notebooks and soap-stones are waiting for me. I leave the woolgathering to others.

Paula Kuitenbrouwer

Artist, Author & Expat

@mindfuldrawing on Instagram

Feng Shui Elements artistically interpreted by Paula Kuitenbrouwer

This are Feng Shui’s 5 Elements: Water, Earth, Metal, Wood and Fire, drawn as artistic interpretations by Paula Kuitenbrouwer, Dutch nature artist living in Ireland.

These circulair compositions, that are printed on high quality art paper with lightfast pigments, show exquisite details and skill. They can be used at home, for Feng Shui workshops and in office rooms. They are engaging, invite exploring of your ideas about what are elements, what do they represent and which role do they play in your life. Are they in balance in your life, in your home, in your work-place?
As from ancient times philosophers discussed the elements of life. What were the building blocks of life? Many manuscripts were written on the elements of life, some adding air, aether and void as an element too.

Today the best known elements are for school students the periodic table and to Feng Shui specialist the 5 ancient Taoist elements.

Water: Paula has drawn a cut through that shows water in a pond. As water is so minimal visible, it is the lotus growing in the lotus pond that shows indirectly a body of water.

Wood: Again Paula uses a cut through, showing the growth rings, representing wood. Counting the growth rings of a tree is a way to tell how old a tree is.

Earth: Next to a cut-through, that shows soil and dirt layers, Paula shows how we use dirt since prehistoric times, to make ceramics and to built stone walls. This is a solid drawing representing the grounding and soil character of earth.

Fire: There are flames in this drawing, in one of its outer rings, but Paula prefers the fiery petals of red tulips to present the fire element, its passion and its dominant red colour.

Metal: Paula shows a beautiful silver teapot with white-washed and golden decorated tea cups. This drawing is done with Derwent metallic coloured pencils using Bronze, Gold and Silver. It works: the print shows a metallic shine that communicated the metallic element. Frame this drawing with a metallic frame and its crisp white background works effectively.

Paula Kuitenbrouwer is owner of and can be found on Instagram as @mindfuldrawing.

EX LIBRIS with Head of a Young Apostle by Raphael

I promised more Ex Libris designs so, voilà, here is my Ex Libris with my study of Raphael’s Head of a Young Apostle. More about this drawing by Raphael and its extraordinary value you will find here (click here). I fell so deeply in love with Raphael’s Head of a Young Apostle, I sat down to draw a study of it. It might sound strange, but I believe that artists often paint or draw themselves, even when they make portraits of others. One can not exapostel12escape ones own feelings, observation, perspective and projections, in that sense artists draw ourselves hidden in their drawings or paintings.

When it comes to drawing a portrait, like a ‘Young Apostle’ without having a life model in front of me, my subconsciousness  projects itself and draws itself to a certain extent. To a certain extent, because I am not a young apostle and I am a woman. Still, my study gives away a lot about myself; about loving the theme of a  young apostle, loving a Renaissance type of drawing, loving Raphael’s artwork, and altering Raphael’s model to a person that is taller and skinnier than his chosen model. exapostel13

I decided the use the study as a theme for my Ex Libris design which prompted me to select a Renaissance letter-font. Again, I grew so happy studying Renaissance manuscripts, letter fonts, and signatures. How pretty they are; how profoundly artistic and special.

Many years ago my family visited a Raphael exhibition and I had the chance to study a drawing by Raphael very close up. Not that I was alone, far form that! You had to buy tickets with a time-slot. But somehow, I was lucky and I could press my nose almost against the protective glass and have a very close look at a small piece of sketching paper with some Madonna sketches by Raphael. The paper had been carefully repaired in many places. I could see how conservators or restorers had added paper to the original paper, as you notice new fabric is being added to support fabric thatexapostel14 is falling apart. The whole document; the work of Raphael as well as the work by conservators made time stand still for me. I was enchanted. Mesmerized! While others were opening their art appreciative hearts to larger canvasses with bold colours and exquisite Madonnas and baby Jesus, I was hypnotized by this small piece of restored paper with unbelievable skillful sketches by Raphael. One knows when one meets a master.

Those who buy my booklet, will get one for free. Please mail me so that I can send my Renaissance Ex Libris to you by regular post: shipped from the Netherlands.

Paula Kuitenbrouwer

Artist, Author & Expat

Instagram @mindfuldrawing


Same Portrait, Different Colours


I found these two images of Da Vinci’s portrait of a woman (c.1473) and I like to invite you to observe the difference.

Of course the portrait is the same, only reflected. However, the colours are very different as a result of photography (lightning) and/or printing (pigments).

The large version has a terracotta and sepia colour palette. The beautiful warm reddish colour is complemented with a bit of subtle deep purple discolouration above the eye and in the dangling hair. The paper looks damaged with some whitish discolouration and even a bit of very vague green. The black is beautifully deep, especially at the place of the eye and next to the profile to the woman to push her face to the front and her hair to the back.

Now, observe the smaller version. This image looks faded. Still there is some orange-sepia at the top of the head. There is more green and blue in this image. Notice the soft green eyebrow and deep red in the nostrils. The woman’s dangling hair is grey, green, blue as well as red-brown. Her dress looks soft green. There is just enough black left to suggest depth, and enough ‘white’ to suggest light.

Both versions have a truly beautiful colour palette. What does colour do to you? To me the large sepia version feels warmer and fills me with human warmth. Due to the predominately terracotta colours, this drawing feel earthly. The smaller faded version overall makes a more ethereal impression. It makes me think more of the woman, who has lived and died and is fading in time, providing me with a sense of impermanence.  For a room that needs human warmth, I would opt for the larger version. For a place for meditation or contemplation, I would choose the faded one.

What about you?


Instagram @mindfuldrawing


Stag beetle, Lucanus cervus

Postcard Stag Beetle by Albrecht Dürer (1505), drawing by Paula Kuitenbrouwer

Stag beetles live in some places in Belgium and the Netherlands, but they are hard to find these days. They seem to belong to the past, to the time of Albrecht Dürer. However, in the east of the Netherlands, in an area that I know well, there are two places designed for Stag beetles to lay eggs in rotting and fungi covered oak wood. They are ‘Stag beetle nurseries’ or ‘Stag beetle log piles’, in Dutch they are referred to as ‘Hertenstoven‘. By offering the few living Stag beetles nurseries, conversationalists hope to save stag beetles from extinction.

Have you ever seen a Stag beetle? Do they live in your area?

Paula Kuitenbrouwer

Artist, Author & Expat

@mindfuldrawing on Instagram

Celadon Ceramics, Dutch Tulips, Designed Cards, and Wooden Cardettes

South Korean Celadon Ceramic Flower Pot

Fabric Dutch Tulips

Custom made Flower Bouquet Card

Self-made Wooden Cardette

Copyright Paula Kuitenbrouwer

Paula Kuitenbrouwer

Artist, Author & Expat

@mindfuldrawing on Instagram