“Frazione”

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.
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Petite Maison Bourgeoise

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“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.

Hommerage to J.A.A.J. of Dublin

Gouache drawing of colourful shapes and fragmented people by Eelco Bruinsma
“Hommerage to J.A.A.J. of Dublin, stream of consciousness” (© Eelco Bruinsma 2018 – gouache on 250 gsm watercolour paper)

Hommerage to J.A.A.J. of Dublin

Liechtenstein and Wittgenstein
Were all but umbered and saffroned
By mere kandleknights of everwhites
For all the wondrous globulisers to ignore.

And evangelically synecdochistic and stochasmic
Appeared a chance to disappear and dissipate
In multiple monoperplexing spectrometrics
Within two miles from Ramesses’ nihilistic Nilometer.

’t Was with great funferall that
A bottle of Craux Magnon
From the cellars of Faux Mignonne
Was decorkitated and capitulised.

With circumspect glossaries of
Dossaries and red-nosed rosaries
While the words of the good man
Were dissecticised with circumflex
Instrumechanics of hardened zinnober
While reciting spoonfuls of Amens.

(Eelco Bruinsma 2018)

My spell checker didn’t like this poem at all. I had to push cmd-z many times to roll back the autocorrected suggestions while typing the handwritten version. It is obviously a hommage to one of the greatest writers of the 20th century, James (Augustine Aloysius) Joyce (1882-1942). I started reading his works when still at school, ages ago, and never stopped.

Of course there have been many people that tried to imitate his layered language, some attempts are better than others. I do not pretend to compete with either of them. Finnegans Wake is one of the most musical works of literature that I know. When you hear the rare recordings of James Joyce reading a passage from the book, you will instantly know why.

This work is written to be read aloud. Try it with this poem too, with a rolling old-fashioned ‘r’. There is one word in the poem, which is directly cited from Finnegans Wake, perhaps one of the most central concepts in the work. Joyce adepts will immediately spot it, do you?

Still, looking at it, I am quite pleased with a few neologisms.

The image preceded the poem. While I was making the drawing a parallel process started in my head, which eventually became the poem. The illustration is a 29,7 x 42 cm gouache.

Veggie diner, a mid-century architectural caprice

Illustration in cartoon style of a modernist diner with vegetarian connotations.
“Atomic Age Veggie”. Eelco Bruinsma © 2018

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.

Deserted desert village

Cartoon of desert with buildings.
Deserted desert village. Eelco Bruinsma (MoonfrogStudio) 2018.

I cleaned up an old page header and made it larger. Although I prefer traditional media, this is done in Illustrator CC.

Happy Halloween

Happy Halloween. Gouache by Eelco Bruinsma, 2017. Halloween theme with text.
Happy Halloween. Gouache by Eelco Bruinsma, 2017

Pumpkins Galore

Pumpkins Galore!. By Eelco Bruinsma, watercolour, gouache, India Ink 2017
Pumpkins Galore!. By Eelco Bruinsma, watercolour, gouache, India Ink 2017. Pumpkins and other Halloween objects.

I simply had to make this. Every year I want to make some Halloween illustrations, but usually, I only think about it when there is only little time. Now I started just in time. It’s fairly rough, and loose because painted in between other jobs. Ink, gouache for the bottles, pumpkins and mushrooms, and watercolour for the sky. I also now discovered that these materials go well together. I think I have always been too strict, sticking to one technique, or material at the time. It’s a bit of an artist’s dogma I think.

‘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.

 

“Orvieto”

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.

Eau de Krelis, a visual rant

Eau de Krelis
Eau de Krelis

Sometimes I have these bouts of bad humor. Aaah, can’t help it. Must be the weather.