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:
Often when I look at architecture and architectural drawings, I have an almost synesthetic perception of music. Not a real melody, but a sense of musical rhythm, somewhere deep inside me. Of course the structure of a piece of music is often referred to as its ‘architecture’, so the association between these two arts is not really uncommon. This inspired me to create this image of an apartment building with the facade removed. The visual elements in the interior, and the structural elements of the building are like a colourful musical notation with nested patterns, repetition, and silence.
Playing with some colour themes I created over the years, I drew this architectural folly with a mix of expressionist and atomic-age elements. And why not celebrate vegetarianism at the same time? At Moonfrog Studio we’re green.
If you like it, or if you want to have a stylish vegetarian statement on your wall, this one is for sale too in our recently opened Etsy shop. It comes in two sizes, 300 x 300 mm (11,81 x 11,81 inch), or 500 x 500 mm (19,68 x 19,68 inch). It comes on nice silk-finish paper in a tube with optional gift-wrapping and dedication, or message. All prints are numbered and hand-signed, because I will only print 50.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.