‘Automatic’ India ink drawing #2

I know that the term ‘automatic’ in conjunction with writing and drawing conjures up the Surrealists and psychoanalysis. I have always been interested in the process because I am a fan of the Surrealists and Dada. Many years ago a tried to write poetry in this fashion, but I lost most of the results. And, of course, I like all things ‘Automattic’, because WordPress blogs are what the web is all about.

Recently (see my previous post) I rediscovered the charm of automatic creation. Using a very basic graphic design tool: an ink pen that can only be used to draw lines along a ruler.  I exhibited the results in September 2016 during an art event. In fact, I created them on the evening before the opening, because most of my oil and acrylic paintings were not finished in time. People were charmed by the freshness and lack of finish of the drawings. Some of them I coloured with pencil (Faber-Castell Polychromos), and some I coloured with watercolour.

The inspiration for the drawings originates in Italy, and more specifically a journey from Le Marche to Lazio, and Umbria. The drawings are ‘inspired’ by the landscapes and villages, not literal copies, they are concatenations of shapes that popped up during these automatic drawing sessions. The pen, the unstoppable flow of ink, are the main protagonists of these drawings. These pens are created to draw straight lines of even thickness, they are totally unsuitable for fine drawing. But they are great to invent things as you go an to discover the things your mind throws at you.

My mental world is the world of pre-Socratic philosophy, myth, and eternal landscapes, which is also reflected in these drawings. Are they art?

Central corridor of ‘Voorheen de 5 Platanen’ with the 4 drawings.


The pen.
Automatic drawing #3
Automatic drawing #4, “Bagnoregio and Cività”.
Automatic drawing #5.




A free impression based on a visit to Orvieto last summer. In September 2016 I made a series of very quick sketches using India ink and a very old pen used for technical ruler drawing. The pen has a screw that governs the flow of ink. They were normally used for technical drawings, frames etc. I inherited this one from my father, who used it as a typography student.

The ink flows out, and you can’t do much to control it. So you have to move very fast, and preferably without a pause, because when you stop you will get a blob of ink. No time to plan, no time to think, just go. A perfect way to create a series of spontaneous drawings with flaws and all.

'Orvieto'. Indian Ink on grey paper. Eelco Bruinsma 2017.
‘Orvieto’. India Ink on grey paper. Eelco Bruinsma 2017.

I used very rough blueish grey sketching paper that I bought years ago and can’t find anywhere anymore.

A series of 4 is now framed and forms a perfect match to the colours of the panelling in the main corridor of the wonderful B&B (or better, D&D = ‘dining & dreaming’: Voorheen de 5 Platanen) of nearby friends.

Sea level

Drawing of a ship reflected as a church in the water by Eelco Bruinsma
“Sea level”, pencil on paper. Eelco Bruinsma 2016

Inspired by Italian villages and the sea that surrounded me in August, I spent as much time as I could with my little Hahnemühle travel sketch book and a technical pencil. Re-inventing my impressions.

Addition (19 september 2016)

Just for fun I uploaded this drawing into Adobe Color CC to see which color theme this web application would automatically distill from the limited palette. I called it – quite originally – “Graphite Pencil”. I like it, the software has chosen a balanced distribution of greys.


The nave

Pen drawing of church on ship
“The Nave”, pen & ink on bamboo paper. Eelco Bruinsma 2016

They left

Photo of abandoned public swimming pool
Aquasanta Terme, abandoned swimming pool. Eelco Bruinsma 2016

I was somehow struck by the location, the colours, the strong horizontals, and the abandoned functionalism of the place. Aquasanta Terme (Le Marche, Italy) is an old town with a thermal spa situated in a deep valley. Sulfuric sources stream through the station and end up in the river that meanders through the canyon. The swimming pool is at the higher end of the town, and is accompanied by a slightly dystopian parking area.

Although the thermal spa is still in use, it has abandoned area’s too. Squeezed against the rock, this old building.

Aquasanta Terme, abandoned spa building. Eelco Bruinsma, August 2016
Aquasanta Terme, abandoned spa building. Eelco Bruinsma, August 2016

‘Ancestral Message’

'Ancestral Message', watercolour on Mulberry paper. Eelco Bruinsma 2016
‘Ancestral Message’, watercolour on Mulberry paper. Ca. 80 x 63 cm. Eelco Bruinsma 2016

This watercolour was a real pain to create. The Mulberry paper is mainly used for printing techniques like etching, and doesn’t like India ink and watercolour. When applying watercolour the water is sucked right out of the brush, and the rough surface resists a nice even brushstroke. But I wanted to approach ancient, and predominantly non-Western techniques, like the tree-bark paintings that originates in some South-Sea areas.

Although the painting refers to South-Sea visual- and narrative motives, it also contains references to African (Chi Wara) antilope masks, DNA strings, architectural remnants of past cultures and ancient Northern European runes. It’s a memory chart of cultural history, a theme that I have started to explore again recently.

Three Brethren

Three giants quietly doing their thing – Eelco Bruinsma, Saturday July 9th, 2016

The architect’s sketch

Drawing. Architectural elements. Watercolor and sepia ink. Eelco Bruinsma 2015.
Architectural elements. Watercolor and sepia ink. Eelco Bruinsma 2015.

Prep drawing for a larger piece in acrylic. This sketch is as washed pen and ink drawing. A very light sepia ink by Rohrer & Klingner was used in combination with Rembrandt watercolor paint on watercolor paper (I can’t remember the brand).


The coast of Upper Normandy is rich. Rich in natural beauty and in natural history. Rich in tradition. Rich in fossils, architecture, colours (mainly greys). But it is also rich in eerie, and slightly distopic places (see my previous post). A few kilometers south of Cape Antifer (somehow this name sounds like something from a Belgian comic strip), a view from a smelly and dangerous pebble beach reveals the oil containers of the Bruneval petrol port and repository.

Petrol port and repository. Photo Eelco Bruinsma, 2015
Petrol port and repository. Photo Eelco Bruinsma, 2015

Copenhagen in many shades of grey

In the process of a long, cumbersome and boring process of arranging, rearranging, organising and safely storing all photographs a few black and whites caught my eyes. All greying has been done in Adobe Lightroom CC 2014, which has some useful black & white presets.

Copenhagen, entry to the tropical conservatory. Botanical garden. © Eelco Bruinsma 2015
Copenhagen, entry to the tropical conservatory. Botanical garden. © Eelco Bruinsma 2015

The entry to the tropical conservatory (serre chaude) is a real beauty, as is the building itself. Wonderful cast iron spiral staircases lead up to a circular iron walkway. Climbing also means a significant rise in temperature and humidity, so glasses and lenses will steam up as one rises.

Copenhagen. Aloe Vera (?). Botanical garden. © Eelco Bruinsma 2015
Copenhagen. Aloe Vera (?). Botanical garden. © Eelco Bruinsma 2015

I imagine that this is an Aloe Vera, but I’m no botanist, so it could be anything. Fact is that the combination with classically shaped vase is wonderful.

Copenhagen, close harmony. Photo © Eelco Bruinsma 2015. Cruis ships in Copenhagen harbor.
Copenhagen, close harmony. Photo © Eelco Bruinsma 2015

Seeing these cruise ships in the distance gives a strange sense of symmetry, although there is none. And also a sense of rythm and tension.

Copenhagen, Holmen. Old buildings.
Copenhagen, Strandgade. Photo © Eelco Bruinsma 2013-2015

Well … this is a great area. Hopefully the new bridge won’t spoil it by allowing the area to be flooded with loutish tourists coming from Nyhavn.