Petite Maison Bourgeoise

“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.

Architecture is Music

Image of appartement building with all interiors visible.
“Architecture is Music”. Eelco Bruinsma 2018.

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.

The image is available as an art print in our Etsy shop.

It comes signed and numbered in a limited edition of 50, in sizes A3 (297 x 420 mm / 11,7 x 16,5 inch) and A2 (420 x 594 mm / 16,5 x 23,4 inch).

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.

‘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.


Catching spirits in a box

Woman taking selfie on terrace in Paris
Catching spirits in a box. {Louvre, Paris} EB 2014

Sorting and storing my photo’s I came across this one, which I had already forgotten all about. Having an afternoon off after an exhausting meeting a few years ago, I strolled with my daughter through Paris while we reflected on the cult of the Self(ie).

We went for a coffee in what is probably the worst café in the world, Café Marly, just a stone’s throw from the Louvre. While we waited a very long time for the obnoxious, arrogant and very slow waiter to bring us a cold cappuccino which was brewn from a mixture of sewage and water taken from the industrial port of Le Havre, we observed the ritual of the selfie in all its manifestations. Which was nice.

Our mood was not in the least affected by the bad coffee, and the abysmal hospitality at Café Marly; we shrugged it off, and continued our wanderings through the town.

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

‘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).

Museumsdorf Cloppenburg, a golden window on the past

A short visit to the German town of Cloppenburg (Niedersachsen / Lower Saxony) and the quite interesting Museumsdorf (museum village) this past week, coincided with the first pleasant day of this year’s spring. The spring sun flooded the place with remarkably clear and warm light, gaining strength during the afternoon, but not enough to drown everything in stark contrasts. Yet it kept the temperature high enough to take off one’s coat. Nice.

The open air museum is mainly devoted to a historically faithful representation of life and work in the German countryside. The buildings are not reconstructions, but, according to the information provided on small text-shields, rebuilt originals that haven been moved from elsewhere. It’s mostly farms, but there are also other buildings, like a bakery, a church, a small school, a pottery and some other auxiliary buildings. The village has three historical windmills of different types.

Leisurely strolling trough the buildings and along the paths one can take in the past and occasionally discover something or learn something new. The museum village is not overly educational, but, when you want to dive deeper into the material and immaterial heritage of the region, there is plenty of information available.


I liked the casual look of the whole ‘ensemble’, as if the people had left their places, but could return soon. Still, something was missing. Although it is called ‘village’, it does’t have all the elements that make a village tick, it is a rather large cluster of farms really, houses that would normally probably be more distant from each other. But there is still enough room there to fill in the blanks.

On several occasions I took my camera out, but only to make a few quick snapshots; I’d left the tripod in the car. The light and the geometry were the elements that struck me most. Golden light penetrated the often somber buildings, while squared windows and squared ‘Fachwerk’ (half-timbered construction) dominated the architecture. Nice elements for a thematic approach.

The first image is taken from a very formal, or rich farmhouse, that now serves as a permanent exhibition area. It shows the half-timbered school, and elements of a formal garden. The different glass-panes give a checkered window on the past.

Window with garden
Window on the past

The second photograph is a reference to our own good old Dutch masters, especially Vermeer, who had the uncanny ability to light a scene as if there were a real source of light inside the painting.

Oblique light streams through the checkered window
Oblique light streams through the checkered window

The third image is a large room, darkened by an open fireplace, lit by the afternoon sun.

Large room in farmstead
Large room in farmstead

The image below struck me as being exceptionally poetic. I don’t know why.

Pond with fowl shelter and reflections
Pond with fowl shelter and reflections

More rectangles than in a Mondrian painting

Window and wall, half-timbered construction (Fachwerk)
Window and wall, half-timbered construction (Fachwerk)

Many doorways have ornamental, symbolic, or heraldic elements.

Ornamental door, with more squares
Ornamental door, with more squares

The smithy, interestingly cluttered, and therefore very picturesque. Which also gives us a nice insight in the display principles that are at the basis of this museum.


If you’re passing this part of Germany you should give it a try. There’s a lot of parking space, and with nice weather it’s an afternoon well spent.

Website of the museum: