Drawing on Black Friday II

Another juxtaposition of elements drawn from African art and abstract, or technomorph shapes.

“Ancestors”. India ink (Royal Talens), Rohrer & Klingner’s “Ceres Schwarz” on Hahnemühle paper. Eelco Bruinsma 2018

I relinquished the precision of drawing and designing on the Mac, although I sometimes still use Illustrator CC to create graphic work when it requires dry precision. But, for my own free stuff I just have fallen in love again with the imperfections of hand-painted, or hand-drawn lines. The way ink never quite dries evenly. Having no technology between the process that is going on in your imagination and the medium is ultimate freedom.

And, taking a few steps back, I also notice that I slowly float away from representation with each drawing or painting I make. Recognisable elements are becoming signs, or chiffres.


Drawing on Black Friday

Well, I suppose it is because it’s Friday and the word ‘black’ is ubiquitous that this design has no colour. India ink, and Rohrer & Klingner’s “Ceres Black”, with pen, and brush on 130 gsm Hahnemühle paper. Although this paper is made for acrylic, I noticed that it is excellent for ink drawings too.

Design for a Christmas card – 23-11-2018 – Eelco Bruinsma

I now use a mix of Escoda brushes, and the home brand of my art supply store Van Beek. I must say the the Van Beek Kolinex brushes, synthetic watercolour brushes, are just as good. They have fine strands that hold up to a bit of pressure. Suited for my fast and furious drawing and inking technique.

Tip: have a look at Fishink blog

Sometimes others do what you would like to do. And they do it so well that, in stead of trying to compete with them, it’s better to give them the credits and point people to their work. There is this blogger, Craig, who has created the “Fishink” blog, which is packed with nice stories about artists; illustrators in particular. There is the odd piece of ceramics now and them, or a peek in a gallery, or art fair, but mostly it is about visual artists.

His articles are concise, and well written. They contain the information you need, without being bloated, or pedantic. His posts are packed with images. Often he refers to a publisher, like in his recent article about Edward Bawden, where he refers to the precious Mainstone Press.

For me Craig’s blog is a regular source of inspiration, and his extensive list of links to artists and online resources is a real treasure trove. It must take a lot of time and research to build such a great collection of stories, and references. So, if you love art, especially the art of illustration, don’t hesitate, but go over to Fishink and enjoy.

Craig’s charming work at www.fishink.co.uk (reproduced with permission)

And yes, before I forget. Craig is an illustrator/designer too. I really like his funny colourful quirky style. If you’re interested, see for yourself.


Kleine gedaantes
Doorkruisen de avondmist
Mystieke muizen


Small appearances
Traverse the evening fog
Mystic mice

(Note: in translation the 5 – 7 – 5 syllable pattern of the haiku is lost)

Hades IV – “Orpheus”

IV – “Orpheus”

… Near the lipopotamus in the po, po, Potomacmac.
Or was it? Was it on the Po. Po. Po. Basin?
Ham and cheese. Cheese and Ham. A blow
With a huge hammer. Everyone gets a bit.
His slice, her glass. Where?
Not on this plain of crime and fog.
This paltry plain of crime and fog.
He came from Didone, from Dodona, and was dud.
He stottered from the ladder. Our Tom Mastaba.
We called him ‘Mastaba Tom’.
He polished his lyre until it shone.

Sad, sadder is the weather. Where is Livia?
It doesn’t matter, for we celebrate a sacriment.
A sacred condiment. A ship launch in an army tent.
Where are the Ostrogoths? Ravenna?
We celebrate it, every year, on September 14th, right under Theodora’s nose.
Has she come here? Was she here? Has Theodora seen her?

Did she see the wafer-thin sheets of alabaster?
Stone windows, translucent. She must have seen it!
From the depths of Persephone, but
She looked, in vain, for an exit …


Original Dutch version:


IV – “Orfeus”

… Bij de lipopotamus in de po, po, Potomacmac.
Of was het op de Po. Po. Po. Vlakte?
Ham en kaas. Kaas en ham. Een klap
Met de grote hamer. Ieder krijgt z’n brok.
Z’n plak, haar glas. Waar?
Niet op deze vlakte van mist en nevel.
De barre vlakte van misdaad en nevel.
Hij kwam van Didone, van Dodona, en was dud.
Hij stuiterde van de ladder. Onze Tom Mastaba.
We noemden hem ‘Mastaba Tom.’
Die zijn lier poetste tot hij glom.

Triest, triester is het weer. Waar is Livia?
Het geeft niet, want we vieren een sacriment.
Een heilig condiment. Een tewaterlating in een legertent.
Waar zijn de Ostrogoten? Ravenna?
We vieren het op 14 september, ieder jaar, voor de neus van Theodora.
Is zij hier naartoe gekomen? Was zij hier. Heeft Theodora haar gezien?

Zag zij de flinterdunne plaatjes van gepolijst albast?
Stenen ramen, lichtdoorlatend. Zij zag het! Vast!
Vanuit de diepten van Persephone, maar,
Tevergeefs zocht zij een uitgang …


Painting of imaginary historic architecture on mountaintop, Italy. Titel Frazione.
“Frazione”, by Eelco Bruinsma. Oil on panel. 50 x 62 cm. © 2018

In the summer of 2016 I travelled with my family through the Italy from east (Le Marche) to west (Umbria). On that particular trip I preferred the company of my small sketchbook, (Hahnemühle, not Moleskine), to my camera, which only sporadically left its bag. In Le Marche we rented a wonderful historic water-mill. The villages and ‘frazione’ – small communities consisting of only a few houses – were exquisitely authentic. Only a week after we spent a wonderful week there, the area was hit by a devastating earthquake.

In Umbria tourism and recent economic prosperity has left its mark, resulting in a style of building that appeals to a certain category of people with money to spend on real estate, but a taste that was mainly formed by Italian popular TV. Expensive, no doubt, but cheap and tacky. Luckily enough there are plenty of small towns and villages that are relatively unaffected by Berlusconi-induced tastelessness. Civita di Bagnoregio is one of these very pleasant places. The small town, perched on a high rock is well-known and loved by tourists, and a visit is certainly rewarding.

From the terrace of the house we rented in the volcanic valley not far from Civita, I could see the old town, high on its weathered volcanic rock. Inspired by that enchanting view I filled my sketchbook, not by copying what I saw, but by drawing from my imagination, inspired by what I had seen moments before; sometimes floating into near abstraction, sometimes staying closer to reality.

Together these images evolved into a number of juxtaposed sketches which form the point of departure for a series of oil paintings. These are only loosely based on the reality on the ground. With the components of these sketches, supplemented by mental images of colour and atmosphere, and influenced by my background as art-historian with a predeliction for medieval and early renaissance art. The murals of Ambrogio Lorenzetti in the Palazzo Pubblico in Siena are among my all-time favorite works of art. Size, perspective and technical perfection are still less important than atmosphere, meaning and symbolism. In my own work the same apparent disregard for linear perspective is a recurring feature.

But in colouring and style I always draw from another rich source, which is my love for the masters of the European comic strips, or ‘bande dessinée’, in particular André Franquin, his fellow artist Jidéhem, and Edgar Pierre Jacobs.

Somewhere in between, between the serious art of Ambrogio Lorenzetti and the tongue-in-cheek virtuosity of André Franquin is another one of my heroes, Jean-Michel Folon, another Belgian artist. His simple, but evocative lines, shapes and colours, never fail to move me.

Therefore my works can never be regarded as ‘serious’. Although deep down, they are, very serious. But that is for another post.

Page of my Hahnemühle sketchbook.
Page of my Hahnemühle sketchbook. Abstraction and realism combined. Eelco Bruinsma © 2016-2018

All images are copyright by me. If you would like to use them, or want to have better copies, please contact me by leaving a comment.

Page from my Hahnemühle sketchbook. Both sketches made it into paintings.
Page from my Hahnemühle sketchbook. Both sketches made it into paintings. The righthand church is now part of this particular painting. Eelco Bruinsma © 2016-2018

A canvas print is now for sale in the Etsy shop of Moonfrog Studio.

A perfect match to your stylish apartment.

Petite Maison Bourgeoise

“Constructions Françaises. Petite Maison Bourgeoise”. Redrawn by Eelco Bruinsma. © 2018.

A while ago I posted some images from a portfolio of French architectural drawings that I bought at an auction. Today I post the first of a series of re-illustrations based on these drawings. I re-imagined them, well, actually I am still working on the series, to be able to create a flexible series of art prints that can be reproduced digitally on high quality art paper with archival inks. Working on every detail of these images, which are lithographs, makes me appreciate the tremenous skills of the reproduction artists that created them.

Stone lithography in the 19th and early 20th century was as important to all kinds of commercial imagery as DTP and digital design is now. I once wrote a small book on the collection of sigar-box labels that were printed in the south of the Netherlands during the first half of the 20th century. There was a plethora of designs to choose from. Only a few survived as commercial brands. Lithography was the preferred medium. The artisans were creating subtle images and wonderful colours by putting tiny little dots on the lithographic stones rom the Sollnhofer quarries – by hand. They were real virtuoso’s.

These French architectural images were part of a large portfolio of housing types. From small labourer’s cottages to stately city mansions for affluent people, from hunting lodge to architect’s practice, everything was pre-imagined. Driving throug semi-rural and semi-urban areas of France, one can still encounter many of these charming buildings.

The art-print is available in Moonfrog Studio’s Etsy shop. It will be printed on high-quality paper, sent in a tube, and is available in 3 sizes:

  • 30 x 30 cm / 11,81 x 11,81 inch
  • 50 x 50 cm / 19,68 x 19,68 inch
  • 60 x 60 cm / 23,62 x 23,62 inch.

Hades – III – “Nox”

III – “Nox”

… in de Leeuwenkuil. Achtervolgd
Door het Genetisch Manifest.
Sinds onheuglijke tijden, sinds erbarmelijke tijden.
Sinds zij de stier berijden, bij mensenheugenis.
Waar zwarte monniken knielen tijdens de avondmis.
Zij aan zij neuriën in een woordloos a capella.
In het aanschijn van een goddeloos predella.

Ging hij er vandoor met haar. Onaangenaam getroffen.
Door de steunberen op zijn weg.
Het smalle pad, het bochtige pad, het rechte pad, oh … pad.
Langs graaiende armen van zondige querulanten.
Langs nissen vol enge predikanten.
Naar link! Naar links!
Te ver. Te ver uitgeweken.
Te dicht bij de gapende Afgrond van Ongenade.
Een kuil om snikkend in te vallen.

Transformatorhuis in oprichting.
Corpus Eriugena, eriogena, erogenia.
Plato’s norse blik maait als een lichtbundel,
Als een vlijmscherpe zeis, vastgehouden door een stevige vuurtoren
Door de vochtige duisternis en daar is zij,
Zoekend, zoals Daniël…


III – “Nox”

… in the lion’s den. Chased
By the Genetic Manifesto.
From times immemorial, from times miserable.
Since they ride the bull, from the dawn of time.
Where black monks kneel during evensong.
Humming side by side in a wordless a capella.
In the face of an ungodly predella.

He took off with her. Dismayed.
By the buttresses flying in his trajectory.
The narrow path, the sinuous path, the straight path, oh … path.
Along the groping arms of sinful trouble-makers.
Along recesses filled with creepy ministers.
To the left! To the left!
Too far. Swerved too far.
Too close to the gaping Abyss of Ignominy.
A pit to fall into, sobbing.

Distribution substation in statu nascendi.
Corpus Eriugena, eriogena, erogenia.
Plato’s surly gaze sweeps like a beam of light,
Like a razor-sharp scythe, held by a sturdy lighthouse
Through the damp darkness and there she is,
Searching, like Daniel…


Ok. I’m in the zone now. I’m running slighlty ahead of my schedule. But I have to, because the idea of having to create the illustrations accompanying the poems make me slightly anxious.

Hades II – “Styx”

II – “Styx”

… pathogeen neolithicum, van begin tot eind.
Van uitgang tot ingang.
In een omgekeerde viscositeit. Een vicieuze regurgitatie.
Van een cumplementair complement. Peristilium Pterodactyli.

Wat!? Een dagboek van het Annum Pestilentium.
Verdwenen, verseucht, verkramt! Versuchs doch mal.
Nee. Ik ben dokter Drudd. Dokter Jan Drudd.
Mij krijgen ze niet, mijn masker gaat niet af.

Hoofddeksel, mag ik uw hoofd… uw hoofddeksel?
Nog niet. Want, wie staat daar heupwiegend voor het raam?
Wie is Anna Pestilentia? Eerlijk zeggen.
Verdwenen, verseucht, verkramt! Versuchs noch mal.

Fluvius aestatis, Fluvius nocturnus. Feste feste!!
Want ook de dwergen zijn klein begonnen.
Dat zei de hertog onlangs nog, hij zei het zelf.
Is het alweer zo lang geleden? Hoe lang geleden is het?

Bij de gapende ingang, de geeuwende uitgang.
We stonden aan de rand van de groeve bij Memphis.
Een gietijzeren spiltrap met sierlijke ornamenten.
De diepte in. De diepte in.
Oh steenkolos, hoe sleept men u voort?
En waar zijn de stieren gebleven?
Hij heeft haar niet meegenomen,
Want zij dwaalt door het…



II – Styx

… pathogenic neolithicum, from start to finish.
From exit to entrance.
In a reversed viscosity. A viscous regurgitation
Of a cumplementary complement. Peristilium Pterodactili.

What!? A journal of the Annum Pestilentium.
Lost, verseucht, verkramt! Versuchs doch mal.
No. I’m Dr. Drudd. Dr. John Drudd.
They won’t get me, my mask will not drop.

Hat, can I have your head … your hat?
Not yet. For, who is that person, swaying at the window?
Who is Anna Pestilentia? Be honest.
Gone, verseucht, verkramt! Versuchs doch mal.

Fluvius aestatis, Fluvius nocturnus. Feste feste!!
For the dwarfs have started small too.
The duke said it himself, not that long ago.
Is is that long? How long is it?

At the gaping entrance, the yawning entrance.
We stood at the edge of the pit, near Memphis.
Cast-iron helical stairs with elegant ornaments.
Into the depths, into the depths.
O, colossus of stone, how does one drag you on?
And where are the bulls? Where have they gone?
He did not take her with him,
Because she wanders through the …


*Comment: Well, I didn’t translate some German sentences, because they were not translated in the Dutch poem either.
‘Verseucht’ means ‘poisoned’ by something sick, or dirty.
‘verkramt’ is southern German for ‘lost’.
‘Versuchs doch mal’ can be translated as: ‘Just try it’, ‘have a go at it’.
‘Feste feste’, i think means ‘quick quick’. It comes from Werner Herzog’s movie “Auch die Zwerge haben klein angefangen”.

I’m not going to explain everything, because it might spoil the treasure hunt later on.