I stopped doing local and regional projects recently. Instead, I now focus on writing articles and longer texts for clients in the world of art and culture. I accept commissions from private and institutional clients.
Writing for a general audience, I make existing knowledge accessible to the average reader. This typically requires some in-depth research, which is part of the fun.
One of the first products of my switch to cultural journalism is an article on the life-size anatomical model of a gorilla. The French firm of Dr Louis Auzoux created this elaborate model. Writing this article was a fascinating journey into the world of post-Enlightenment education in 19th century France.
The main innovation of doctor Auzoux was his idea to use separate parts for his model. The professor could take it apart and reassemble it during anatomy lectures. Auzoux created the anatomical model of a life-size man to replace dissections on dead bodies. This made anatomy lectures far less unpleasant and less dangerous for medical students.
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.
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.
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.
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.
… 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 …
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.
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.
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:
Recently I have written 5 new English haiku’s, starting in spring ending about now, in summer. The poems try to capture some very strong images I carry with me. Although these images are more a synthesis of memories, perceptions, and perhaps even made up reality, they could be real captured moments. Perhaps they are, captured distilled moments.
Sharp images float
On shallow oily water
Thick with summer heat
A leaf drops, nearby
Sparrows do not mind, but know
Summer wil soon end
Bald willows along the stream
As the leaf settles
A deafening resonance
Spring light cuts through dust
Dust settles lightly on wood
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.
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.