Inspired by a museum visit

In the Asian department of Leiden’s Museum of Ethnology you find this decorated ceramic plate. It shows floral and geometrical patterns, as well as a garden and landscape. Blue and orange – complementary colours, are predominately used. There are four quarters and more areas filled with sceneries that stand on their own. Perhaps more artists worked on this ceramic plate because the decoration seems to show different styles. The blue chrysanthemums are close-up; the mountainous landscape adds depth. Studying the different elements and patterns one feels enchanted a long time.

ART AND CULTURE LOVING MUSEUM VISIT

There is always something in a museum that inspires. At least, that counts for me. Whether I visit an exhibition on shamans, a scientific department with preserved animals, an insectarium, planetarium, or aquarium, fine arts, or an anthropological exhibition, something will speak to me.

The interesting thing is that you have no idea beforehand which object, story or atmosphere, or even a part of a building, will grab your attention and fill you with inspiration. All you have to do is visit a museum and open up. Inspiration might be overwhelming when you stand in front of the eminently displayed Nike of Samothrace in Paris Louvre. Equally so, it can be kindled by an object as small as the Alfred Jewel in the Ashmolean, Oxford.  Sometimes inspiration is not presented through the storyline or ancient objects of an exhibition. It might be the museum building itself that emerges you in an Art Deco atmosphere and consequently inspires you.

HOW TO VISIT A MUSEUM FOR INSPIRATION?

There is something essential you have to do, or perhaps, do not. You should not refrain yourself from feeling happy to visit a museum instead, you should feel grateful for being able to enjoy a carefully curated exhibition. Yes, gratitude and excitement are perfect emotions that do not interfere with inspiration. But what does interfere with inspiration are pre-existing ideas of what you are going to gain from visiting a museum, a gallery or exhibition. Leave all expectations at home. Step into the Medieval mindset that inspiration comes from God or is whispered in your ears by angels. Museums often are quiet, mindful places that make a visitor susceptible to ‘hearing’ angels’ whispers or to feel touched by an object or the perfect execution of fine art skills by one of a well experienced or highly trained artisan or artist.

Even when you have visited many floors, enjoyed a lunch in the museum café, or sauntered through the museum shop, you might not have an idea what inspired you. The whispers might be very subtle and not easily detectable amidst the excitement to be confronted with art, excellence, or originality. But just before you are about to put on your coat ask yourself; ‘What spoke to me?’ or ‘Where in the museum should I have lingered longer?’

INSPIRATION STRUCK  

There…there you sensed inspiration. Something interesting or beautiful ‘spoke’ to you. It whispers in your mind; ‘Will you stay with me a bit longer next time?’

Inspiration is a beautiful thing. To me it isn’t a thought or a feeling. It is a whisper that can become rather loud once it has sunken into your soul. It has a timeless quality; some whispers stay for weeks, others ignite your artistic fires for years. See here how art inspires to art (making). How art lives on weeks, decades, years after those who practise highly developed artistic skills left behind their artwork. Art seems to be born from this never-ending stream of inspiration, enhanced and carried by those willing to learn skills and deep focus.

Paula Kuitenbrouwer

This Asian ceramic plate in Leiden’s Museum of Ethnology grabbed my attention and with much joy and interested it inspired me to draw two large mandarin duck compositions. Perhaps you can find the elements that inspired me in my mandarin duck paintings? (Click to enlarge the pictures)

Paula Kuitenbrouwer

at Etsy

at Instagram

Portfolio Paula Kuitenbrouwer

A website requires often changing its ‘theme’ (i.e. lay out) for security reasons. And thus, through the years I have given my website different themes. It is always nice to see a revamped website, but in case you do not opt for a more expensive theme, you lose information. I thought why not present my portfolio? Most of it must have fallen off my website due to implemented changes. I invite you to enjoy my artwork and please feel free to ask all sort of questions should you like to ask me something.
I have painted butterflies, birds, and tulips so often, I can paint them now without reference photos. Every time a butterfly, tulip, or birds comes alive on my drawing pad, I feel joy.
It is very rare for me sauntering through a park or through woodlands, enjoying a holiday outside my home town without feeling hugely inspired. Although I have done Celtic art projects, prehistoric studies, architectural drawings, and bookplate commissions, most of my drawings and paintings are observational records of memorable nature experiences.
Autumn is my most inspiring season. Those beautiful, deep, and spiritual ochre colours never fail to make me grab for my sketchbook.
Working on commissions and being in contact with customers is important to me. The interaction between a customer who has a wish lingering in his or her mind and me trying to grasp that wish and transform it in to a painting of drawing is a wonderful task.
Architectural drawings of monuments or prehistoric studies, every project results into more knowledge and more joy in drawing and painting.
Of all the different themes and projects I have done over the years, mandarin ducks and book plate commissions are the most regular. It is such a honour to be trusted to draw or paint a personalised book plate or living room painting with lovely mandarin ducks.
I have done a large floral triptych during the Sars-Cov-2 lockdown. It goes without saying that busying myself with large tulips, irises, and daffodils brought much joy in an otherwise scary and depressive time. See here: the power of art!
Book plates, mandarin ducks, sashiko decorations, a medieval Ex Libris, and an architectural freehand drawing. Express your wish and let me try to capture it on paper or canvas.
When I am not working on a commission, I busy myself with freehand drawing. I grab an old, art book and copy masterpieces of the past. Or I find Iron Age art objects in museums and try to crawl into the mind of its long dead maker. Or I design Christmas cards, greetings cards, textile prints, or study traditional or ancient geometric signs (Celtic, Iron Age, Japanese, Aboriginal, Saxon). I haven’t been a day without feeling inspired and I would need a few more lives with more time to be able to grow through art, to deepen my understanding of art, and to honour artists that have enriched our lives. Without Bach’s music, we wander in the dark. Without art we fail to communicate the meaning of life.

Paula Kuitenbrouwer

at Etsy

https://www.instagram.com/mindfuldrawing/?hl=en

Mandarin Ducks

Colourful mandarin duck watercolour paintings have been added to my Etsy shop.

The large composition consisting of an Asian landscape, a lotus pond, a turtle pond, and mandarin ducks was lovely to make. I felt inspired to make it after visiting the Volkenkundig Museum in Leiden, where I enjoyed the Asian department. As always, I was charmed by how Asian artist harmoniously combine natural and abstract representations of their surroundings.

Stay safe & take care.

Paula Kuitenbrouwer

At Etsy

Lovely Mandarin ducks resting in a lotus filled duck pond. In the front a traditional, Korean duck couple.

Mandarin Ducks (Aix galericulata) by Paula Kuitenbrouwer

In Asia Mandarin Ducks are symbols of loyalty and love. Mandarin ducks stay together for life, they symbolize devotion, fidelity and lifelong affection in the matters of the heart. 
Feel free to contact me for a mandarin drawing commission with a lotus, bamboo, with or without a background. Sitting together, swimming together, or resting together.
Etsy Mandarin Ducks Kader
Mandarin Duck Art Cards at Etsy or contact me directly via the contact form.

I love drawing and painting mandarin ducks. I am always pleasantly surprised how sweet they look no matter how I change their position or background. They look lovely when bobbing on the Great Wave off Kanagawa or when they rest on a riverbank. My most favourite, however, is the graphite drawing of my mandarin ducks resting on a river bank in a forest area. The sun is setting and birds fly over in the background.

Mandari Lotuspond Adjusted
Mandarin Ducks Swimming in a Lotus Pond.

I love working with colours but making a 19-century style graphite drawing that is full texture, detail and depth is a wonderful thing to do.

Monochromatic Mandarin ducks by  Paula Kuitenbrouwer
Monochromatic Mandarin Ducks. Ducks are resting on a forest surrounded riverbank at sunset. by Paula Kuitenbrouwer

Having said this, it always adds colour to my day when I can use my whole range of coloured pencils or Derwent watercolours to work on the drake’s outrageously colourful plumage. But take away all colours, like I did for the Albino mandarin ducks, you still find yourself in awe of  probably the cutest water-bird.

Paula Kuitenbrouwer

At Etsy (also for Mandarin duck Art Cards)

Here are the latest art cards of Resting Mandarin ducks.

Cute Mandarin ducks sitting together.

Here are the latest art cards of Mandarin ducks sitting side by side.

And here is a piece of Organic Canvas Cotton with my art print.

Here are cards, mini prints on recycled cardboard paper, that come with a colourful inlay.

Please, send me a contact form in case you have questions and inquiries.

Ik ben Nederlands, dus schrijf ook gerust in het Nederlands!

 

Two Mandarin Duck Couples

I like to show you two different mandarin duck drawings. In traditional Asian culture, mandarin ducks are believed to be lifelong couples, unlike other species of ducks. Hence they are regarded as a symbol of love, affection, and fidelity.

Mandarin ducks Lotus Pond warm.jpg
Mandarin Ducks in Lotus Pond copyright Paula Kuitenbrouwer

The first drawing is titled Matchmaking in Heaven. It shows a mandarin duck couple in a lotus pond. It is a softly rendered watercolour drawing. The pond is calm, lotus flowers are growing and so is the bond between this duck and drake deepening. The duck and drake have just decided to take a swim. They will look for food, synchronized as they are. They are life long partners and, like swans, will stay together. Lotus flowers are symbols of purity, enlightenment, self-regeneration and rebirth. In Asia, mandarin ducks represent love and loyalty. Seeing bonding ducks, seeing how synchronised they are, makes people long for a deep belonging, a deep bond between lovers. Love renews itself every day; it grows, it deepens and sometimes we need to stand still and take time to say ‘I love you’ to our beloved ones. Because, although we know it, expressing this during a day that is full of obligations, commitments, and ambitions is a good thing. Combining the Lotus symbol with the Mandarin ducks, this couple stays together to grow old and wise together. They feel reborn in their deepening love every season.

The other mandarin duck couple drawing has a longer story. I was about to add a new couple to my portfolio when I noticed the Fibonacci Sequence in one of my old sketches. I immediately set out to make a circular composition, adding two ducks shaped as in the well-know Fibonacci fashion. And after having done that successfully, I couldn’t stop and added parts of The Great Wave off Kanagawa by the Japanese artist Hokusai next to the mandarin ducks.

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Greate Wave.png

Now I had four Fibonacci elements in one drawing, as I recognized the Fibonacci sequence in Hokusai’s wave too. This mandarin duck couple, deeply in love with each other, is bathing in wild waters. In fact, they are so deeply bonded, they have no idea where they individually begin or end. They have become one in emotion and routine. They are also one with the waters they live in.

Fibonacci Sequence

The beautiful Hokusai wave, which could be interpreted as the pleasant and unpleasant high waves life throws at every couple, can’t separate them. They will stay together during their whole life; in high tide and low tide, in calm and difficult times, through day and night, till the end.

 

Drawing videos are on my Etsy homepage & Instagram.

Paula Kuitenbrouwer

This circular composition is available at Etsy. The original drawing of the ducks in the lotus pond is available here. Should you not like Etsy and you need cards or a commission or this original drawing, contact me freely and without obligation by using the contact form.

 

Forest Scene: Mandarin Ducks Resting on a River Bank

The mandarin ducks (Aix galericulata) have carefully chosen a place to rest. They seems to blend in with the dark background, thus if necessary, they will respond quickly by taking to the waters and thus escape predators. The river is calm, the forest is rich in sounds and smells, and all is well. The reflection of the lovely couple is visible in the calm water. Birds are flying over. 

The duck and drake have just decided to take a rest and have already positioned themselves on the bank. The duck is checking the left, the drake checks the right, if all feels safe they will soon tuck their bills into their wings and take a nap. After that they will look for food again, synchronized as they are. They are life long partners, like swans. In Asia mandarin ducks represent love and loyalty. On the photos of this drawing, you will notice a few wooden ducks. They are used, in Asia, like drawings, prints and paintings, to enhance feelings of love and loyalty in homes and rooms between couples. Seeing bonding ducks, seeing how synchronised they are, makes people long for a deep belonging, a deep bond between lovers.

This is a softly rendered graphite drawing. On my Etsy home page and Instagram you can watch a video of the making of this drawing. I have done many Mandarin duck commissions for homes, weddings, engagements, stationary, or meditation/sleeping rooms. Contact me should you have specific wishes regarding a mandarin duck drawing. Also, have a look at my shop where you will find mandarin duck mini-prints, cards, and full colour drawings. May I advise to have a full colour drawing of mandarin ducks in a monochromatic coloured room and a softly rendered graphite drawing in a colourful room?

Artist information: Derwent graphite H-series pencils on Arches hot press paper 31-41 cm. Winsor & Newton Varnish Spray.

Ornithological information: Although Mandarin ducks are Asian ducks, Dutch park and estate owners buy these ducks to add some bright colours to their duck ponds or castle moats. Mandarin ducks then need nesting facilities because in nature they breed inside tree cavities. They seem to do well in Dutch weather. I am very lucky to have spotted them nearby my home town. One thinks that they stand out splendidly, but I can assure you that even the very colourful drake often seems to blend in its surroundings perfectly.

Paula Kuitenbrouwer

@mindfulfdrawing on Instagram (video  link)

Etsy (for video watching scroll down till ‘About Paula Kuitenbrouwer’

www.mindfuldrawing.com

mindfuldrawing@gmail.com