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.
I found some clippings of mistletoe on the estate of Oostbroek, a small Dutch estate in the centre of the province of Utrecht. As Valentine’s Day is approaching mistletoe is harvested and on sale in Dutch flower shops. Mistletoe is traditionally related to love; ‘Kissing under the Mistletoe’ and hanging it above your bed on the 14th of February for inviting your true love to appear in a dream. The belief of dreaming about your true love due to being close to a plant, holds three interesting elements. Firstly; plants have powers, although that is a bit of a no-brainer as we love to drink our coffee and tea, use herbs for cooking, and take them as medicine. Secondly, mistletoe is a powerful plant. In anthroposophy it is used for its anti-cancer properties. Maybe that was known long ago too as it is believed that druids harvested mistletoe ritually, with a golden sickle, for blessing their livestock (writings of Pliny the Elder)). Mistletoe, a hemi-parasitic plant, that grew on oaks (sacred to the Celts) was preferred. The last element that is hidden in Valentine-Mistletoe traditions is about dreaming and truths being communicated through dreams. Although we dismiss dreams as nonsense nowadays, in the past dreams were evaluated for truths and inspiration. It was a matter of separating the wheat from the chaff and for that there were wise elders to consult. Coming across mistletoe is special. It seems to say: ‘I am defying winter’. Even a sceptic can not ignore a spring coloured plant growing in a greyish midwinter landscape.
I am advised not to send my Vinculum Amoris (‘Bond of Love’ Horses with Swans and Hares cards) or Valentine’s cards as Valentine’s gifts outside the EU because they won’t make it before Valentine’s Day. My Vinculum Amoris and Valentine’s cards & embroidery are at at Etsy. Of course, my Vinculum Amoris Horses and Mandarin ducks keep their symbolism and meaning despite passing the Valentine’s Day deadline because they are about love, friendship, and loyalty. One might hope love stays on our minds the other 364 days of the year.
My booklet ‘Birds, Butterflies, Fish & Botany’ is very low in price at the moment on Amazon.co.uk. Seize the opportunity! You won’t regret buying this booklet with 13 of my drawings and texts. My art friend Sybille recommends it especially for those who need to stay home due to being ill as my booklet takes the reader outside admiring Birds, Butterflies, Fish & Botany.
The same counts for a book made by my art friend Judy Barends. She recently published a lovely book with her watercolour artwork. Thematically there isn’t much difference between Judy and my work, as we both find great pleasure in drawing and painting Nature’s treasures. However, when inspired, Judy grabs for her watercolours, and I open by box with my coloured pencils or oil paints. Judy’s text are poetic and mine are more like stories; both our booklets are observational nature journals. For Judy’s book, go to her website.
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?