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   &

celtichorses empty banner hare swan

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.

On my Desk

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?

Paula Kuitenbrouwer

Artist & Author

‘Birds, Butterflies, Fish & Botany’

at Etsy

Mandarin Duck Cards & Studio Candy

img_4848I lived some months near a duck pond in Ireland and that increased my appreciation for these capable birds. Yes, capable. We tend to think ducks are hilarious and silly, like geese, but ducks are threefold capable; they can fly long distances, dive deep, and can spend days on water. Mandarin ducks are perhaps the most loved ducks because they symbolize friendship, loyalty, and love. You send a Mandarin Duck card to somebody to invite or celebrate a long-lasting friendship, loyalty or love. Mandarin duck drawings and prints are my best selling items of my Etsy shop. It is a nice to make art that celebrates love and friendship.

Paula Kuitenbrouwer

Artist, Author & Expat

‘Birds, Butterflies, Fish & Botany’

P.S. The cards come with a full coloured inlay, a seal sticker, and on its backside a decent sticker that says my name and website.

P.S. I promised eye-candy? Here is a corner of my studio. It was easy to set up. Not so easy is setting up a studio exhibition of my drawings as there are too many and I prefer to keep them safely stored in my portfolio case. So, if you like to see my work, pop over to my Etsy shop or browse through my website. I remember deleting a fast amount of my work after discovering copies on other sites, still this website shows that I love to capture Nature’s beauty, mainly birds, butterflies, koi fish & botany.

 

Feng Shui Hoop Display

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Five Elements Creatively Approached

Last year, I drew all Feng Shui’s elements. To help you remembering my drawings, I add a small compilation of my work.

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Paula’s Feng Shui’s interpretations, showing its Water, Wood, Metal, Fire & Earth element. Copyrighted.

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.

feng shui elements (All)
Feng Shui 5 Elements, Creatively Approached by Paula Kuitenbrouwer at http://www.mindfuldrawing.com. Copyright Paula Kuitenbrouwer 2018.

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.

Paula Kuitenbrouwer

Artist, Author & Expat

‘Birds, Butterflies, Fish & Botany’

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

Prehistoric Hands Invite and Confirm Communication with the Dead, by Paula Kuitenbrouwer

Positive hand-prints are stenciled with red ocher;

white hand images are achieved by adding pigments around a hand

I like to present an idea about prehistoric positive and negative hand-prints that are found all over the world and dating from circa 40.000 to 1.000 BCE. I read a message into the difference of red and white hand-prints. The message, to my understanding, is that both hand-prints testify of successful communication with deceased souls. Why I have come to this thesis, I will explain.

I.

There is research stating that prehistoric peoples believed that the soul of the dead lived on in rock or stone reliefs. If this sounds strange, think of modern examples that resonate with this belief: we have the venerated Wailing Wall, we touch stone tombs, crosses, statutes, and monuments or lay flowers at the foot of them showing our respect.

Thinking that the soul of the dead lived on in stone isn’t hard to imagine as stone is everlasting (apart from some eroding) and impenetrable. The ever-lasting and impenetrable quality of stone symbolizes death; people are away for ever and out of reach. But are they? Not to prehistoric peoples who lived in their world full animal, nature or ancestral spirits. For communication with the deceased, the living sought their ancestral spirits in special places; deep in caves, high on mountains or hills.

We do the same. We visit graveyards, throw flowers in bodies of water, send our prayers to heaven. Or we hold close memorabilia, things prehistoric people didn’t have. Imagine being without memorabilia to hold close in times of grief. Imagine how important it was for prehistoric people to communicate with the dead; to ask for their advice and wisdom. Or to invite them back into the world of living, which was an obvious thing to do as prehistoric people lived with the spirits of their dead, they were dwelling in their house, in their lakes or on nearby hilltops. Inviting back family members or tribal leaders who had stood out and were important or even regarded irreplaceable, isn’t a huge mind-stretch when one assumes his or her spirit is lingering nearby and shamans could journey to the spirit world to communicate with these valuable and beloved tribal members.

II.

There are many different interpretations of the functions of cave hand stencils. They are seen as ancient fingerprint identifications; ‘I have been here in this cave’. Or as traffic signs, informing us about the location of fertile hunting grounds, or they were handshakes (one tribe is greeting another tribe). In any case, hand-prints were serving a form of communication. The most remarkable fact about prehistoric hand stencils to me, for me observed as an artist, is that they come as positive and negative prints, creating red and white hand images.

Making red and white hand images requires a different technique, which, to me, shows two different communications are expressed; the message of light-against-dark hand-prints versus dark-against-light hand prints.

From here, we could assume that the hand-prints that were red, were the hand-prints of the living expressed with red ocher being the colour of blood and thus of the living. The white hand-prints are the hand-prints that expressing and representing the deceased. They are white because being dead is being bloodless, pale or white.

A cave that shows hand-prints, both reddish and whitish, holds a message to visitors that this is a sacred place, a ‘thin’ place, a penetrable place where communication with the spirit world is possible and successful. Supportive of this thesis is that a few speleologists (Chauvet cave, France) felt ‘spirits of long ago’ after discovering a prehistoric cave.

On some cave paintings many hand-prints are found, illogically applied, some easy within reach, others not so easy to apply. It seems like that prehistoric people were trying to locate the thinnest place of the walls, that, as a thin veil or membrane, was hanging as a semi-permeable divide between the world of the living and the dead, allowing communication with the dead. As a doctor feels a patient, as an artist feels a canvas, as a blind person feels a face, so prehistoric people felt a wall, trying to make contact and marking their hands as red, as from the living. Where they felt contact with spirits, with the deceased, they set white hand-prints to mark communication was established. Should they return to the depths of a cave, they could use the marks on the wall.

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III

We know that hand-prints were often applied by women (Professor Dean Snow of Pennsylvania State University) but certainly not all of them as there are also hand-prints of both genders and of all ages. Still, it is important to know that most were female hand-prints. What is the extra value of women over men? Let me be succinct and point out to reproduction. Only within a woman’s body reproduction can take place and a soul can descend into a fertile womb. This quality of a woman had her, more than others, touch prehistoric cave walls inviting a spirit back into her womb. Again, I like to point out how prehistoric caves resemble human flesh, with their stalagmites and stalactites resembling membranes, male and female genitals.

To enter Earth’s womb made prehistoric people set of long and laborious journeys into dark and dangerous deep caves. Then, arriving there, in a womb like interior, performing or reacting a conception ritually (and perhaps not only ritually as the cave of Laussel suggests), but more importantly spiritually by communicating with the dead must have been a consolatory and a rewarding ritual when, a few months later, a baby was welcomed to the community. Communications with the dead might have been assisted through shamanic rituals, enhanced by the illusions the visual stimulating cave paintings created, and by the intake of paint pigments, which might have been used as psychedelic drugs.

Perhaps shamans or psychedelic drugs weren’t even needed. Imagine changing stages of consciousness by dwelling for a longer time deep in a cave that is completely dark and still, in a cave that isn’t affected by the outside world. No rain, no wind, no thunder, no light other than that of torches and ear deafening silence. Imagine the smell of smoke and a sense of being inside a living organism that shows its fleshy interior. This was the strange world where the dead lived as it was cold and dark, yet it looked alive and organic too. Here you were as close to the dead as possible and here communication with the dead should be able to take place.

A combination of a wish to communicate with the deceased, alternating stages of consciousness, and the belief that the dead were dwelling behind these fleshy walls, inside an organism in which you had descended too, here contact with the dead was possible. Although the deceased lived in stone, these fleshy coloured walls, seemed to move and pulsate under the lights of torches, and these walls didn’t look impenetrable.

It was a matter of finding the thinnest spot, but touching, by feeling the wall. And thus, the thinnest curve in a rock that allowed communications were touched with red hand prints. And if prehistoric cave dwellers felt communicating with a deceased family or tribal member was answered, a white hand print, was added with a white hand stencil signature.

A supporting idea for white hand prints marking established contact with the dead, is to be found the hardship a small community suffered by crawling into a deep cave, a seriously dangerous and laborious task, a task that was only worth to be undertaken if it served a cause worth its hardship and danger. Bringing back a wise dead family or tribal member would fit such cause. Not only as a remedy against overwhelming sense of loss, also to regain wisdom, elementary knowledge or status to a tribe.

What can be brought up against my idea? Many things, like that some hand prints were from men and children. However, it isn’t hard to imagine a grief-stricken child in need for communication with a lost parent being helped by other tribal members or their shaman. Refuting my idea by stating that if white hands represented the dead touching and answering to the call, these hands should have been mirrored, fails as one can’t touch a stone wall from within. But one can use different coloured hand-prints.

CONCLUSION

Putting a few aspects together; hand prints serving communication, prehistoric people thinking that their ancestors lived on in the world of rock, most hand prints were applied by women, supports an idea that pregnant women were assisted by their tribe or community to enter a cave, touch the ancestral world in order to communicate with a deceased soul to invite them back into the realm of the living. Red hand prints were left on cave-walls as to testify people attempted to contact deceased tribal members, white hand images were added as a sign communicating with the dead had taken place.

Hand images have emerged around the world over a period of some 40,000 years. Any symbol, be it a hand or a circle, can represent a multiplicity of meanings and motives or change in their meaning related to rituals, sacred rites or ceremonies. I have highlighted only my idea. There are many ideas and theories.

Paula Kuitenbrouwer

Artist/Writer/Philosophy M.A.

N.B. Inevitably I am, as a lay person, simplifying and generalizing archaeological research. I hold a degree in Philosophy, studied ‘Religion and Rituals in Prehistory’ at Oxford Department of Continuing Education, and have read many books on prehistoric art. My essay is presenting an idea, unpretentiously, and it welcomes criticism.

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 circular compositions, that are printed on high quality art paper with light-fast 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 http://www.mindfuldrawing.com and can be found on Instagram as @mindfuldrawing.

Liliya’s Booklet Review

Liliya wrote:

Review? Feedback? No. Just my feelings about a booklet of a truly inspired artist Paula Kuitenbrouwer: ‘Birds, Butterflies, Fish & Botany; the Beautiful Natural World’.
We don’t buy a piece of paper with artistically combined lines into a beautiful image on it. We buy emotions, feelings, hours of doubts, mistakes, learning, experience, philosophy, etc.. To me it seems a privilege to sneak into an artist’s laboratory and participate in creating process at least by watching it. It’s something that I was always doing at my dad’s photo laboratory— watching photos being born. It’s a huge mystery that takes you away and transfers into its magic world.
This feeling I got while reading Paula’s book. Every single explanation: a concept of composition, colours, shapes, personal stories that served as canvases for the future paintings; deep philosophy behind each element; and kindness, overwhelming inner balance and piece of the author that I felt while reading had simply gave me a therapeutic effect. To add up: short, clear, nothing to add, nothing to take away, just “THE BEAUTIFUL NATURAL WORLD”.

Thank you Liliya!

Paula

booklet

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 at Etsy

Artist, Author & Expat

Instagram @mindfuldrawing

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