Co-existence

Eh, well… nothing much to say here. A quickly colourwashed sketch on fairly thin paper from a sketch pad (it has gone a bit wobbly). I combined elements of an existing industrial site nearby with beach houses, and some beach houses turned into tombs (e.g. Père Lachaise, Paris), with some random assorted architectural forms.

I could, of course, assign it a deeper meaning, about industry, pollution, humanity, and sepulchral architecture turned into objects symbolizing leisure, or vice versa. But, to be absolutely honest. I had none of these thoughts, or associations, nope, none whatsoever.

Drawing “Co-existence”. Rotring Rapidograph and Rembrandt watercolour. Eelco Bruinsma, 2015
“Co-existence”. Rotring Rapidograph and Rembrandt watercolour. Eelco Bruinsma, 2015
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The Long Arm (watercolour)

A long arm, or a short sleeve. Watercolour on Hahnemühle watercolour paper.

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Long arm / lange arm. Aquarel op Hahnemühle papier. Eelco Bruinsma 2015

Mosque (acrylic on wooden panel)

An oldie. I made this piece in the nineties, but I still remember that I had the CD of the Kronos Quartet ‘Pieces Of Africa’ in my CD player, and I listened the piece with vocals by Hassan Hakmoun over and over. I was ‘in the zone’ (although that expression did not exist at the time) and used a photo that was printed in an old book by Henri de Monfreid as a source of inspiration.

I covered the panel with a number of layers of black paint which I coated with retouching varnish. And then I painted layers of acrylic paint in sections, interwoven with layers of varnish. With the opaque whites a sense of presence is achieved, while the layered ochres have the depth of glazed oil paint. It is one of my first experiments with acrylic paint. I found it quite difficult to adjust to it. Even now I have to go back to oils now and again, which, with COBRA water soluble paint is easier than ever. I don’t miss the smelly terpentine. I do think, however, that the COBRA tubes could be manufactured more carefully. The paint is fine, but the labels on the tubes peel away very quickly, which is unpleasant, cumbersome and gives it a cheap appearance despite its pro-price.

Acrylics are my paint of choice when I have not much time, and have to do a lot of other work in between painting sessions.

‘Mosque’, inspired by a photograph of Henri de Monfreid. Acrylic on wood panel. Mid 1990's. Eelco Bruinsma
‘Mosque’, inspired by a photograph of Henri de Monfreid. Acrylic on wood panel. Mid 1990’s. Eelco Bruinsma

Dreaming with ‘Polychromos’ artists’ colour pencils by Faber-Castell

Faber-Castell Polychromos artists’ colour pencils are much-praised by artists, illustrators, hobbyists, and creative people of every possible kind. And rightly so. The colour pencils by this respectable firm allow for a wide range of illustrating styles and techniques. People create the most wonderful works with the colour-intense pencils, form incredibly detailed, and realistic botanical drawings, to loose and abstract sketches, and everything in between. You can work precise, atmospheric, illustrative, bold, subtle, no matter what style, mood or temperament you have, the Polychromos will support you.

I knew the brand, but I discovered this type of pencil by chance, when I was looking for replacements for my much lamented Karisma Colour Pencils. The Karisma pencils were the darlings of many professional artists, illustrators and designers, and I bought a box long ago, which I anxiously hid from the kids when they were small, because nothing is worse than spoiling a Karisma pencil by dropping it on the floor. To my dismay I discovered that the Karisma pencil, with its characteristic oblique end, was discontinued by the manufacturer. Even now there is even a lively trade in second-hand Karisma sets.

Awake. Made with Polychromos colour pencils by Faber-Castell on Canson 'Manga' art paper. (By Eelco Bruinsma)
Awake. Made with Polychromos colour pencils by Faber-Castell and indian ink on Canson ‘Manga’ art paper. (© Bruinsma 2015.)

But even Karisma’s get shorter when you sharpen them. So I went out to look for a replacement. At the art store I was wavering between many well-known brands. But what do you do when there’s a discount? A lovely big box of Faber-Castell Polychromos Colour Pencils was on offer at a very interesting price. So I took it home and started sketching. First loosely, like the weathered guy below, or the mountain village, also below, then with more pressure, and more layers, like the drawing above. The colours are intense, but subtle. They very much approach my beloved early Renaissance fresco colours, like Giotto and Fra Angelico. If you apply more layers they become deep, and the surface gets waxy, and smooth. I have discovered however, that you should not overdo it. Too many layers, and the colours get flaky.

A rough character-sketch of a man. Polychromos colour pencils by Faber-Castell on fairly rough drawing paper. (Eelco Bruinsma, 2015)
A rough character-sketch of a man. Polychromos colour pencils by Faber-Castell on fairly rough drawing paper. (© Eelco Bruinsma, 2015)

I am not a naturalistic artist, or illustrator. I mostly work by following my train of thoughts, like daydreaming on paper or canvas. And I must say that the soft tones you can get suit my way of drawing and sketching perfectly. I haven’t had time to do a really elaborate and precise piece yet. But the next weeks around Xmas may just be the perfect time to remedy that.

Bergdorp - Mountain Village. Sketch with Polychromos colour pencils by Faber-Castell on Canson 'manga' paper. (Eelco Bruinsma 2015)
Bergdorp – Mountain Village. Sketch with Polychromos colour pencils by Faber-Castell on Canson ‘manga’ paper. (© Eelco Bruinsma 2015)

For me, fairly smooth paper is a perfect companion to the Polychromos. Canson ‘manga’ paper is a good example, but even a very smooth Bristol board can be excellent. Depending on your taste for structure, of course.

A Cultured Man

One of my favorite types of paper for drawing images that transcend the doodle-phase but must remain fresh and quick is Strathmore Toned Tan (See also ‘Another man of culture, with a cup of coffee’, or ‘Cultured man, sepia on Strathmore toned tan’).

The paper takes away the fear of the empty page. Excellent for the type of drawing that close resembles  a kind of ‘écriture automatique’.By just starting with a couple of shapes, and allowing associations to flow freely, you can quickly channel your thoughts, and focus them. Your hand just follows these thoughts and an image is born. With light color washes which can be as elaborate as you want, you can take the toned tan paper to darker hues, or, with covering white, or white pencil to highlights.

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Another Cultured Man, Eelco Bruinsma 2014-2015, ink on Strathmore Toned Tan (All rights reserved). Private Collection.

This is a mixed-medium piece. Strathmore paper, pencil, colored pencil (Faber Castell Polychromos), colored marker (Letraset), Rohrer & Klingner sepia ink.

Over the edge

One of my latest acrylic on paper paintings.

Over the edge, acrylic on paper, Eelco Bruinsma 2015
Over the edge, acrylic on paper, Eelco Bruinsma 2015 / all rights reserved

Rembrandt Acrylic paint (Talens) on Hahnemühle 350 g/sm Fineart Acryl paper. 23 x 42 cm. Intended as book illustration for my forthcoming book.

The somewhat coarse structure of the paper goes hand in hand with the excellent qualities of the Royal Talens ‘Rembrandt’ acrylic paint. The high pigment content can give you deep colors. I use a combination of highly diluted paint and loaded brushes. With layers of retouching varnish I get the deeper glowing effects that are commonly more characteristic of oil paint glazings.