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.

‘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.

Artificial dwelling mound #2 (terp)

Illustratie van terp bij hoog water - illustration of dwelling mound at high tide
Artificial dwelling mound #2 (terp). Watercolour on paper. © Eelco Bruinsma 2016-2017

This illustration, or rather impression, is created with black ink from Liquitex and watercolour on smooth all-purpose art paper (Paint-On by Clairefontaine, 250 gsm).

It was done fairly quickly and loosely to match the style of the educational website in which it appears. I always use Rembrandt watercolour paint by Royal Talens. Rembrandt watercolour has a wide range of vibrant, very high quality, and lightfast, colours. There are of course other very good brands, but I have decided to be chauvinistic, and loyally stick with this high-quality Dutch brand.

The nave

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

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).


Eh, well… nothing much to say here. A quickly colourwashed sketch on fairly thin paper from a sketch pad (it has gone a bit wobbly). I combined elements of an existing industrial site nearby with beach houses, and some beach houses turned into tombs (e.g. Père Lachaise, Paris), with some random assorted architectural forms.

I could, of course, assign it a deeper meaning, about industry, pollution, humanity, and sepulchral architecture turned into objects symbolizing leisure, or vice versa. But, to be absolutely honest. I had none of these thoughts, or associations, nope, none whatsoever.

Drawing “Co-existence”. Rotring Rapidograph and Rembrandt watercolour. Eelco Bruinsma, 2015
“Co-existence”. Rotring Rapidograph and Rembrandt watercolour. Eelco Bruinsma, 2015

A Cultured Man

One of my favorite types of paper for drawing images that transcend the doodle-phase but must remain fresh and quick is Strathmore Toned Tan (See also ‘Another man of culture, with a cup of coffee’, or ‘Cultured man, sepia on Strathmore toned tan’).

The paper takes away the fear of the empty page. Excellent for the type of drawing that close resembles  a kind of ‘écriture automatique’.By just starting with a couple of shapes, and allowing associations to flow freely, you can quickly channel your thoughts, and focus them. Your hand just follows these thoughts and an image is born. With light color washes which can be as elaborate as you want, you can take the toned tan paper to darker hues, or, with covering white, or white pencil to highlights.

Another Cultured Man, Eelco Bruinsma 2014-2015, ink on Strathmore Toned Tan (All rights reserved). Private Collection.

This is a mixed-medium piece. Strathmore paper, pencil, colored pencil (Faber Castell Polychromos), colored marker (Letraset), Rohrer & Klingner sepia ink.

Cultured man, sepia on Strathmore toned tan

cultured man by Eelco Bruinsma
Cultured man. Sepia on toned paper. Eelco Bruinsma 2014


Recently I visited the supplier of artists’ material in town and noticed a small sketchbook by the well-known Strathmore brand. It contains toned paper (toned tan, to be precise) but in stead of the expected roughness, it felt remarkably smooth.  I usually work on Bristol board, because I like a clean line, so decided to give it a go. With a bottle of  Rohrer & Klingner sepia drawing ink (‘Zeichentusche’) to complete the purchase I headed home and started a first sketch.

The pen slides over the paper with only the slightest resistance. The pencilled sketch lines erase very well, while the white heightening pencil gets just enough grip to leave a subtle white to set if off enough. Nice! The paper doesn’t wrinkle, even when using gouache. I also tried artists’ markers, and while they bled through a bit, the lines stayed nicely confined to the areas I wanted to tone.

(Edit. I gave the drawing to my neighbour, and friend Willem, who liked the drawing. It’s in good and appreciative hands, and I still have a good digital copy.)

And what a plethora of artists’ materials on the Strathmore website: http://www.strathmoreartist.com

Not to forget Rohrer & Klingner: http://www.rohrer-klingner.de/