Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Work in Progress by Paula Kuitenbrouwer

I have studied some Dutch Golden Age painters in the past, and Rachel Ruysch (1664-1750) was one of my favourite painters. She painted so beautifully, and she also had ten children! It bemuses me how one can paint so exquisitely and have ten children (therefore a minimum of ten pregnancies). One may assume that she died a tragic and premature death, but she did not. Her dated works establish that she painted from the age of 15 until she was 83. When it came to her household, though, she had help, because she could afford it.
But I am not planning on writing about my role model. I want to point out that Dutch floral paintings in the Golden Age are an illusion. When we buy lush bouquets at the supermarket, we have little to no knowledge about the plants; we don't know when they bloom and where they come from. We care a little about seasonable vegetables and fruits, but we don't know where flowers come from. Golden Age floral painters studied flowers by making meticulous sketches and writing down which colours they needed.
Rachel Ruysch.png 

Upon designing a large floral bouquet, they needed to check their notebooks and sketchbooks. This way, they put together flowers that do not bloom at the same time, and they also added seasonal butterflies or insects, therefore showing spring, summer, and autumn in one painting. Nowadays it is easy to consult a book or check a reference photo, and then put together flowers from all over the world, flowers that never bloom together at the same time. The difference between the Golden Age and now is that we fly in vegetables, fruits, and flowers, and that isn't good for our carbon footprint. Golden Age painters created prosperous bouquets, not with the help of cargo trucks, cameras, cool cells, or air-planes, but with their own notes and sketches. They were true Sketchers in Nature

Paula Kuitenbrouwer

Monday, July 15, 2019

Journal - Purple Cone Flowers -- Lin Frye - North Carolina


Journal - Purple Cone Flowers - A splash and splatter approach to the flower in my garden

Friday, July 12, 2019

Parco della Mandria, Venaria Reale, Turin, Italy

A week end  in a historic park , funded by the former Royal family for raising cattle and horses ,

and as a hunting ground. The first sketch was on a partly covered morning,  the second in a shining afternoon, under lime trees and on the wrong side of the paper! 

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Journal - Greenfield Park, Wilmington, NC - Lin Frye


Journal - Cape Fear Sketchers - Greenfield Park - Despite rain in Southport, wind, sun, clouds in Wilmington, a fine group of sketchers met at Greenfield Park this morning to paint - FUN!

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

William Morris Inspired Botanical Drawing

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Weaving plant branches and being inspired by William Morris


I have been working on the successor of ‘Praising Plants‘, ‘Ode to All Oak Trees‘ and ‘Sophisticated Succulents‘ by returning to William Morris

For years, William Morris didn’t appeal that much to me because I was under the influence of Dutch Baroque floral painters. They, as no one else, could create depth and a feeling as if you were looking at a real bouquet. They positioned their composition in such way that a large flower vases, filled with many different seasonal flowers, would stand proudly on show and you could -in your mind- walk around it. You would admire not only the flowers but also water-drops and insect that rested on big and small petals. But, of course, you were looking at an illusion. Dutch floral painters studied flowers, one by one, made sketches on them, and then set up a composition as if all flowers were all in bloom at the exact same time, which is never the case in nature. A wonderful illusion; a much admired illusion. 

Willem van Aelst (1627 – 1683)


William Morris looked one-dimensional compared to these baroque painters, yet, I learned to see that, compared to many modern flower designs, Morris certainly isn’t one-dimensional. He may not create as much depth as I would like to see, but he weaves flower stems, creating a feeling as if you are in nature, looking at bushes, trees, and flower beds. Some flowers are near, some further away. William Morris educates and inspired us with his design, botanical knowledge, and colourful palette. 

Using V&A cards to study William Morris motifs
Morris scatters and extends broad leaf foliage, flowers, and sometimes animals for the purpose of creating a repetitive, yet not too repetitive, design. There is a difference in what we expect from wall-paper, a painting, or a mural. We expect a mural to trick us like Harry Potter on Platform 9 ¾ : we like to run into the world that is suggested by a mural. Wall-paper, on the other hand, aims at supporting the design and décor of a room. Wall-paper must suggest less depth than a mural or painting, but more than a brick wall, by for instance weaving the stems of flowers and using the technique of foreshortening. Morris does exactly that however not overly.

On my painters easel: 'Abundant Acanthus’ (copyright Paula Kuitenbrouwer)
I have drawn this large graphite drawing with so much pleasure although that I grew dizzy of the swirling botanical patterns. But isn’t elegance worth a bit of suffering, isn't it?

(I feel the need to apologise for the quality of the photo. The photo looks sharp on my computer but blur on Blogger. There is a larger and sharper photo at Etsy or my blog).

Paula Kuitenbrouwer   

Artist info: Arches paper & Derwent H2 to H7. Acanthus grows in Dutch gardens. I haven't found it growing outside (botanical) gardens.

Tuesday, July 2, 2019



After ‘Praising Plants’ followed ‘Ode to All Oak Trees’. Allow me now to present ‘Sophisticated Succulents’. This softly rendered graphite drawing shows Living Stones, Echeverias, and String of Pearls succulents, plus many more. Of course, setting up this composition made me buy a few more succulents which was part of the joy of drawing this ‘desert garden’. 
Initially, I liked to add the title ‘Sophisticated Succulents’ in classical, elegant letters but then I thought no. Succulents aren’t elegant. They are cute but basic, strong and bulky. They spend all their lives surviving harsh conditions. Thus, I added a letter type that resembles their shape; basic, cute, bulky, as if full with stored water. I am always amazed and delighted how much thinking goes into a square inch of a detailed drawing. 
Succulents grow in the Netherlands indoors. You can put them outside during the summer, but I prefer them indoors for keeping dry and happy. I lost succulents to root rot, which happens when their soil doesn't dry out enough. 

What is your most inspiring succulent related place? A desert? A shop? Mine is the Desert Garden of the Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna.

Paula Kuitenbrouwer

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Journal - Gladioli - Splash and Splatter - Lin Frye, North Carolina


My neighbor's Glads are quickly fading  I thought I would try to capture them using a splash and splatter approach ....