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.

Shapeshifting, Valentine’s Day & Animal Drawing

Celtic Horses by Paula Kuitenbrouwer
Copyright Paula Kuitenbrouwer ‘Celtic Horses with Swans and Hares’.

(Nederlandse tekst onderaan)

There is a level of subtly in expressing shape-shifting in Celtic art that continues to fascinate me. We see the best shape-shifting Celtic art expressed in metal artwork. How much shape-shifting was expressed by Celtic shamans, artists and craftsman (probably brought together in one person) in wood and stone, we will never know as that is lost forever.

We often see faces in old trees and we see faces in, for instance, Avebury‘s megaliths. In their art, Celtic artists, challenge us to a much higher level of perception. What do we see? Wheels? Faces? Human or animal faces? Big eyes or heads of birds? Things seem pop up, in our consciousness, and disappear again, much like the Rabbit/Duck and Old Woman/Young Lady drawings that psychologist use to show how one can change his/her perception.

The question why Celtic art expressed shape-shifting fascinates me too. Bronze age Celtic craftsmen lived in a world full of spirits; sacred landscapes, monuments, and perhaps even every day tools. Ancestral and animal spirits dwelled everywhere. We have great difficulty understanding their world because we have dismissed spirits. Perhaps shape-shifting art was educational and instrumental to learn to perceive another realms? Or to express that we can see different realms simultaneously?

How many animals do you perceive in my drawing? There are six. I could easily push this drawing a bit further, but I like to use it as a Valentine gift for my husband. The banner will get the text ‘Vinculum Amoris’, the Bond of Love. I will print a few art cards with luxurious full colour inlays: with and without the text. Perhaps you like this art card but with your own text in the banner.

Don’t forget Valentine’s Day! Just spread a bit of love. It doesn’t has to be romantic love. Friendship is equally important. I suggest Mandarin Ducks for romantic love because these ducks symbolize love, and Celtic cards for friends.

Paula

Mandarin Ducks Cards

Mandarin Duck Cards by Paula Kuitenbrouwer

Mandarin Duck Embroidery

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Blue Celtic Art Card with Boars

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Celtic Art Card with Stag

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Celtic Art Card with Vinculum Amoris in the Banner   &

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Celtic Art Card with an empty banner for you to fill in

In Dutch:

Deze kaart is door Paula Kuitenbrouwer gemaakt, geïnspireerd door het volgen van een cursus aan Oxford Universiteit over Keltische kunst. In Keltische kunst veranderen dieren vaak qua vorm; dieren worden mensen, mensen worden dieren, vogels worden zoogdieren en omgekeerd. Zo zie je heel veel in één plaatje. Paula vond dat zeer inspirerend en heeft 6 dieren in haar tekening samengebracht. Iedereen ziet eerst de paarden. Maar daarna zien sommigen eerst de zwanen en anderen eerst de hazen. Zo zie je dat je van perspectief, van perceptie kunt veranderen zoals psychologen dat laten zien aan de hand van de welbekende Eend/Haas en Jonge Vrouw/Oude Vrouw tekening.
Deze kaart komt met een kleurrijke inleg waarop een tekst of brief geschreven kan worden. Deze kaart heeft een lege banner waarin u een naam of korte tekst kunt schrijven zoals ‘Liefde’ of ‘Beterschap’. Uitstekend geschikt cadeau voor paarden, dieren of Keltische kunst liefhebbers. Komt verpakt in plastic met een naamkaartje en een sluitzegel.
Paula Kuitenbrouwer is eigenaar van http://www.mindfuldrawing.com en is te vinden op Instagram als @mindfuldrawing. Ze leeft met haar man en dochter in Nederland.

Nowaki: Wind Blown Grass Motif

Adding my nature experience to a Sashiko Pattern 

 

Sashiko is a form of decorative reinforcement stitching from Japan that started out of practical need during the Edo era. Sashiko works with modern and traditional patterns. ‘Wind Blown Grass Motif, or Nowaki’, is one of my favourite patterns. Nowaki stands for a late autumn (fall) wind-storm in the countryside, or a typhoon, especially one that blows from the 210th to the 220th day of the year.  Sashiko’s Wind in Grass is a static and repetitive pattern, yet it charms. 

 

‘Nowaki’ or ‘Wind Blown Grass’ Sashiko Pattern

The last time that I enjoyed looking at the wind playing with grass was during my summer holiday. I was standing in front of a window of a holiday cottage and noticed how the wind was playing with an ochre coloured field. The light was so special because it cause waves of wind to colour the cereal field deep ochre with silvery patches. Swirling patterns kept me wondering whether the wind was sending me a message, an unidentified written message in the most elegant but quicksilver characters that were erased as soon as they were written in the tall grasses.   

 

I liked making a ‘Wind Playing with Grass’ display that is closer to my experience in which the wind was writing a message, playing with the grass. I remembered that I tried to ‘get’ the message that the wind was writing in the grass, but of course I couldn’t. Or maybe I could. I concluded that the wind wrote, with in silvery waves, ‘Happiness’ in all possible languages in that mesmerizing field of cereals.

 

Paula Kuitenbrouwer

Artist & Author  

‘Birds, Butterflies, Fish & Botany’

 

P.S.My booklet is at the moment less than 10 US Dollar. Be lucky and grab this low price! If you do, inform me, I will send you a lovely Mandarin Duck card.