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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I am setting up my studio. My inspirational cabinet shows some of the treasures that I found on the beach, woods, or meadows. On display are my precious deer skull, an ox horn (bought), a sheep horn from Manx (Isle of Man), an unknown horn, shells, Killiney beach stones, fossilized wood (gift), grey washed beach wood, and bits of old iron.
I found that rusty part of a vehicle on a farmer’s track in the Wicklow Mountains (🇮🇪) and decided to, very appropriately, use it as a frame for Raffaello Sanzio’s Putto holding Vulcan’s tools. Vulcan is also known as Hephaestus, the Greek god of blacksmiths.
Also on display is my ‘cave painting’ art print with the Venus of Willendorf and the Lionman. Did you know the Lionman (Löwenmensch) isn’t per-se male? The name Lionman is a word contraction of Lion & Human. I wrote an essay on prehistoric hand stencils, which you will be able to find here. ‘Dead’ treasures can still be beautiful and some clearly haven’t lost their quality to inspire. Without being Gothic, I think that much inspirational energy seems to be stored in nature treasures. Drawing inspiration from nature doesn’t always have to come from flowers or fluttery butterflies. Do you agree?
N.B. After having taken a long Sabbatical with my Etsy for studying at Oxford Department of Continuing Education, I yet have to update my shop. However, the good news is, my shop is online again. Should you like to purchase my booklet, art prints or original drawings, please contact me. By Christmas, I will have my shop neatly organized again.
I will keep you posted on a very pretty Mid-Winter, Yule, or Christmas drawing that I have in mind. I might turn it into a card too, like my Celtic Wild Boar card. You can watch the process of designing my Celtic Boar card here.
P.S. To my loyal online art friends, I am very sorry for having neglected your updates. I just moved the last box out of our apartment. My studio is coming along pretty well. You haven’t fallen from my radar. I am just still very busy with getting settled. I am longing very much for routine and returning to drawing and painting, and staying in touch with you all.
My Tufted Duck series is growing steadily. One more to go for having six.
Every duck shows different stitches.
A few months ago, I bought The Embroidery Stitch Bible by Betty Barnden. Leafing through it propelled me back to Junior School, art-class. I could see myself, as a young girl, working on a Needle Sampler. I still remember it! It was a pretty one with many different stitches, numbers, puppets, and floral designs.
It is fun to get acquainted with different stitches again. I also feel that textile crafting is good for the brain and a fun thing to do. It keeps my hands busy and my mind creative. It does demand concentration but in a pleasant way.
Textile crafting certainly has the same effect as meditation.
After finishing an embroidery hoop, there is some tidying up and reorganizing to do. And after that, I like to study which different embroidery arts exits. I am very smitten with Japanese and Chinese ‘silk’ embroidery but also I am impressed by Crewel designs. Most likely, I will end up creating eclectic pieces, being so widely inspired.
Last year, I drew all Feng Shui’s elements. To help you remembering my drawings, I add a small compilation of my work.
My 5 large, circular, artistic compositions that are now decorating one wall of our living room. I wrote a booklet about this creative process named ‘Feng Shui, A Creative Approach‘. After I had framed my Five Elements, I felt that this project was too inspiring to bring to a close. With our rooms already carefully evaluated on a harmonious representing of the Five Elements, I still wasn’t ready to leave this subject behind me. I printed small prints of my drawings and gave them to various friends. Sybille, a long and very creative art-friend delighted me with framing these mini-prints. (Click here to see her display of the mini-prints). For myself I printed my drawings on fabric, using Spoonflower. I framed the fabric prints with hoops. Somehow, they were begging for more creativity. I gave in eagerly, of course, and looked for nice embellishments to add to the hoop. Thus, I created an engaging hoop-sized display of Water, Fire, Wood, Earth & Metal.
For Feng Shui’s Wood- element, I added a wooden button and a small wooden stick. I added a metal coin, a beautiful one to the fabric showing my Metal-element interpretation. This coin was in 2017 design for the Isle of Man £1 coin features two birds – a Falcon and a Raven. These birds are symbolically associated with the Island and feature on the Coat of Arms.
Adding an embellishment for Feng Shui’s Fire-element offered a challenge. Yes, of course, I could set my hoop alight but that would result in a very short-lived representation! It took me some time to find a solution. Ashes, perhaps? No, ashes are represented by Earth’s element. Artificial flames? No thanks, too kitsch. In the end, I opted for adding Red Dragon Beads, Dragons breathing fire and these beads showing interesting carvings. I attached them to a loose string, causing some movement. After all, fire is in constant motion, unless water that be still. Equally, I faced difficulties with adding a truthful water-element as an embellishment. After all, I can’t have a soaked and dripping piece of artwork hanging on my wall, but the dripping inspired me. Thus, I added watery looking, droplets decoratively to the hoop. Earth…what to do with Earth? Rubbing in my artwork in with dirty soil? No, of course. It seems better to add Feng Shui’s jewellery for the Earth element with terra-cotta coloured gemstones. All in all, this project resulted into an interesting and engaging display of Feng Shui’s element, artistically approached.
Have you ever wrapped your creative mind around Feng shui’s elements? As I hold a MA degree in Philosophy, I am interested to dive deeper into creatively expressing elements. Feng Shui covers 5 elements, but ancient philosophers wrote about more elements: Air and Aether. Air & Aether certainly pose a near impossible artistic challenge! I will keep you posted.