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.

Hades – III – “Nox”

III – “Nox”

… in de Leeuwenkuil. Achtervolgd
Door het Genetisch Manifest.
Sinds onheuglijke tijden, sinds erbarmelijke tijden.
Sinds zij de stier berijden, bij mensenheugenis.
Waar zwarte monniken knielen tijdens de avondmis.
Zij aan zij neuriën in een woordloos a capella.
In het aanschijn van een goddeloos predella.

Ging hij er vandoor met haar. Onaangenaam getroffen.
Door de steunberen op zijn weg.
Het smalle pad, het bochtige pad, het rechte pad, oh … pad.
Langs graaiende armen van zondige querulanten.
Langs nissen vol enge predikanten.
Naar link! Naar links!
Te ver. Te ver uitgeweken.
Te dicht bij de gapende Afgrond van Ongenade.
Een kuil om snikkend in te vallen.

Transformatorhuis in oprichting.
Corpus Eriugena, eriogena, erogenia.
Plato’s norse blik maait als een lichtbundel,
Als een vlijmscherpe zeis, vastgehouden door een stevige vuurtoren
Door de vochtige duisternis en daar is zij,
Zoekend, zoals Daniël…


III – “Nox”

… in the lion’s den. Chased
By the Genetic Manifesto.
From times immemorial, from times miserable.
Since they ride the bull, from the dawn of time.
Where black monks kneel during evensong.
Humming side by side in a wordless a capella.
In the face of an ungodly predella.

He took off with her. Dismayed.
By the buttresses flying in his trajectory.
The narrow path, the sinuous path, the straight path, oh … path.
Along the groping arms of sinful trouble-makers.
Along recesses filled with creepy ministers.
To the left! To the left!
Too far. Swerved too far.
Too close to the gaping Abyss of Ignominy.
A pit to fall into, sobbing.

Distribution substation in statu nascendi.
Corpus Eriugena, eriogena, erogenia.
Plato’s surly gaze sweeps like a beam of light,
Like a razor-sharp scythe, held by a sturdy lighthouse
Through the damp darkness and there she is,
Searching, like Daniel…


Ok. I’m in the zone now. I’m running slighlty ahead of my schedule. But I have to, because the idea of having to create the illustrations accompanying the poems make me slightly anxious.

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.

‘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.

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.

Appearance of a Teacup

Painting of a teacup on a striped surface with abstract objects in the background. Eelco Bruinsma. Acrylic on canvas.
‘Appearance of a Teacup’. Acrylic on canvas, 35 x 35 cm. Eelco Bruinsma 2016

This painting stood around unfinished for years. Although I changed both my style and technique some time ago, I decided to give it the finishing elements it needed, by painting in the unfinished bits, and touching up the shadows. Wavering between abstract and realistic, this is a pivotal piece.

Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité

‘Liberté, egalité, fraternité.’ Still from our animation studio (Moonfrog Studio). Puppets Heleen, montage, me.
‘Liberté, egalité, fraternité.’ Still from our animation studio (Moonfrog Studio). Puppets Heleen, montage me.

Setup for a stop-motion animation.

‘Where our ancestors fly’ – inspired by the song ‘Special Place’ by Muted World

‘Where our forefathers fly’. Watercolour on Arches 185 gsm paper, 26 x 18 cm. © Eelco Bruinsma 2016
‘Where our ancestors fly’. © Eelco Bruinsma, watercolour on Arches 185 gsm paper, 26 x 18 cm

When I hear the song ‘Special Place’ by Muted World, sung by the beautiful voice of Jófríður Ákadóttir, it immediately sparks a chain of mental images that is difficult to control. Some music has this involuntary synesthetic effect. Muted World’s ‘Special Place’ has a hypnotic reference to the ancestors. The images that fill my thoughts are chains of vaguely tribal shapes, floating in a blue sky. Is it DNA, or is it a series of signs? I don’t know. I have just tried to quickly capture a fragment in watercolour, a fast, and versatile medium. I will dive in again soon and see whether there is more.