Posted in Art, Beauty, Essay, Paula Kuitenbrouwer, Spiritual Practice

Empty Space as an Aesthetic Significance

I’ve read an intriguing quote in Japanese Women Don’t Get Old or Fat by Naomi Moriyama;

‘The importance of ‘empty’ space in the presentation of Japanese cuisine can scarcely be exaggerated. Receptacles are never filled to the brim, but are left with a certain margin of emptiness- emptiness of an aesthetic significance comparable to that in a Zen ink painting‘.

(Chef Masaru Yammamoto).

Considering the importance of empty space is what I do when I draw or paint. Often an empty space is needed to guide the viewer to the place that needs his attention. Other times, empty space is filled with suspense. Because empty space can create guidance, tension and calm contemplation, it is full of possibility.

Isn’t possibility what emptiness is? The emptiness or absence of sound means a bird can fill it with its song. Emptiness as possibility works in compositions exactly the same. An empty place can be filled in or left open.

It is important to notice what exists in an empty space. If I paint a bird on the left side of my drawing looking at the right, what is the bird looking at? The empty space isn’t empty at all. It is full of possibilities. Is the bird looking at a mate? Or a prowling cat? Not filling up an empty space often works well; it adds more possibility, tension or imagination to a painting. Other times a large empty space is too dominating or too much a void, in that case, doing something with it is better. It is a place that offers calm contemplation, leave it open.

If you are a home educator, don’t teach you child that the whole page or canvas needs to be filled in. (The only reason why you should offer an art assignment in which nobody is allowed to leave the class room before his paper is completely covered, is when your students need to overcome shyness, self restrained, or inhibition).

If you are a creative therapist or an understanding friend, sit down with your client or friend, and analyse his doodle or drawing by asking what is going on in its empty space. Talk, investigate, and dream together. You will be surprised how many possibilities or interpretations will emerge.

If you are a parent and your young child is proudly showing you a painting, play with your child. Ask what is going on with the objects that are drawn, and what is happening within the empty space. Then built a story on what the child tells you. Your child will charm and entertain you with pure child fantasies. Empty spaces are full possibilities.

You thought empty space is boring or shows a lack of imagination? Or a bad composition? Certainly not always, often quite the opposite.

Returning to the book on Japanese food; I always dread the moment when I have to stop drawing in order to prepare a dinner. From now on, I will plan to continue my mindful meditation by bringing aesthetic principles into my kitchen.

– Paula Kuitenbrouwer

© 2013, essay and photographs and artwork (above and below), Paula Kuitenbrouwer, All rights reserved

birdcardsPAULA KUITENBROUWER ~ is a regular contributor to Into the Bardo and a Dutch nature artist living in The Netherlands and sharing her work with us on her blog, Mindful Drawing and on her website.   In addition to art, Paula’s main interest is philosophy. She studied at the University of Utrecht and Amsterdam. She has lived in Eastern Europe and in Asia. Paula says that in Korea, “my family lived next to a Buddhist temple. In the early morning we would hear the monks chanting. During my hours of sauntering with my daughter through the beautiful temple gardens, I felt a blissful happiness that I try to capture in my drawings.” Paula sometimes teaches children’s art classes. She lives with her husband and daughter and close to her father. You can view her portfolio of mindful drawings HERE.

Posted in Bardo News, General Interest

BARDO NEWS: Terri Stewart breaking-down barriers to youth opportunity; Liliana Negoi’s birthday and book; a forward look at Spring and Poetry Month

terriIn what is probably our most exciting news this month: TERRI STEWART (http://beguineagain.com)TESTIFIED BEFORE THE WASHINGTON STATE CONGRESS in February for HB 1651 – the YOUTH OPPORTUNITIES ACT. This act would make non-violent youth records confidential. It is very important for our youth to have as much opportunity as possible and with 1 in 3 African-American young and 1 in 4 Euro-American young men affected by incarceration, we are crippling our young men before they even get a chance in life, saddling them with records that deny them housing, education, and jobs. A resounding success: HB 1651 has passed the house unanimously (on Valentine’s Day!) and is traveling through the senate. For more of Terri’s work with incarcerated youth, see the Youth Chaplaincy Coalition http://youthchaplaincycoalition.wordpress.com/.

Additionally, send all your positive karma, prayers, and energy to Terri from February 27 – March 1 as she travels – once again – with the Board of Ordained Ministry as they continue to get to know her and her work. Let them see the gifts she brings!

AND LATE BREAKING NEWS: Tomorrow Terri is speaking before the Washington State Senate Subcommittee on Human Resources and Corrections.

product_thumbnail-5.phpOn February 10 LILIANA NEGOI (http://summaryofmysoul.wordpress.com/ and http://curcubeeinalbsinegru.wordpress.com/) DECIDED TO CELEBRATE HER BIRTHDAY IN A MORE PARTICULAR MANNER, by releasing for free reading a novel that she finished writing last year. Solo Chess is the story of an online affair between Karina and Asheq, weaved from love and passion and obsessions, proving eventually that there can be a reality beyond reality and that our lives can always be the image of a Matryoshka doll. Solo Chess can be read HERE,  or you can read and download it from Scribd   HERE, and just in case anyone would like it in printed version, there is always the option of getting it from Lulu HERE, but there one has to pay for the printing and binding services provided by the publisher. These being said, Liliana would be glad to hear your opinions about the book. 🙂

Warmest wishes to Lily on her birthday and best wishes for literary success with her newest effort. Here is “Happy Birthday” in the various styles of Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Chopin, Liszt, Dvorak, and Stravinsky offered in celebration.

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Guest writer T.J. Therein (http://tjtherien.wordpress.com/) has also published his book, Liars, Hypocrites & the Development of Human Emotion, which is available through Smashwords https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/397819.

430564_3240554249063_1337353112_n-1DR. NIAMH CLUNE (Plum Tree Books) SPEAKS FOR BABCOCK INTERNATIONAL TO SURREY SCHOOL TEACHERS ON SCIENCE THROUGH LITERACY.

These days, the aim of education is to speak across curricula, and this is something that fills me with passion. We all learn differently. And although I am not a scientist ~ rather an educational psychotherapist specialising in learning through the imagination, my knowing is science-filled, as in any serious research, Epistemology and Methodology (two glorious words) share the love.” MORE

Dr. Clune is CEO of Plum Tree Books, a partner of The Bardo Group.

800px-Container_garden_on_front_porchLOOKING TOWARD SPRING ~ OUR MOST QUOTABLE QUOTE ACKNOWLEDGEMENT goes to contributing writer and artist, Paula Kutenbrouwer (Mindful Drawing):

I see it like this: If you want to change the world, start with yourself and gradually this change enters the world, becomes more manifest, and spreads. It is the same thing with gardening. If you care about your environment, pesticide-free food or biodiversity, start gardening and create, small as it is, a new world for you, your birds, butterflies and bugs. Every act of kindness helps; every square meter of extra green helps.” Paula Kutenbrouwer

Visit Paula’s post on starting a small City Pot Garden (container garden) and view her lovely drawings and photographs link http://mindfuldrawing.com/2014/02/12/starting-small-city-pot-gardening/.

In line with Paula’s KIND IDEALS, we introduce a new blogger and a young friend of The Bardo Group, Jamaican (now living in Taiwan), Owen Alanzo Hogarth II (The Land of the Blubeegan http://blubeegan.com/). Owen posts essays and videos about living simply, crafting practical products in an EARTH GENTLE WAY and on kindly vegan-style consumption http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Veganism. He also advocates for raw foods and eats a vegan diet that is 50% raw. In this way food quality is not compromised, allergens are bypassed, less particulate matter is spewed into the air, fewer fuels are used … and NO ANIMALS ARE HARMED. His ideals are real. His footprint is modest.

We also invite you to visit our Canadian friend ChrisBkm (Dancing on Bever Ponds http://chrisbim.wordpress.com/). Chris shares EXQUISITE NATURE PHOTOGRAPHY, ART AND POETRY on his blog. He says, “I believe we are shaped by our environments, that life is fascinating and that spending time here is quite a gift.”

NPM_Poster2014_SmallPageViewCOME SPRING AND APRIL WE LOOK FORWARD TO POETRY MONTH, a national event in the U.S. and one that The Bardo Group will celebrate as an international event in line with its focus and philosophy.

This annual celebration of poetry was introduced in 1996 by the Academy of American Poets as a way to increase awareness and appreciation of poetry in the United States. In 1999 Canada joined in the celebration. U.S. President Bill Clinton called it, ” “a welcome opportunity to celebrate not only the unsurpassed body of literature produced by our poets in the past, but also the vitality and diversity of voices reflected in the works of today’s American poets. . . . Their creativity and wealth of language enrich our culture and inspire a new generation of Americans to learn the power of reading and writing at its best.”

Poets.org (the website of the American Academy of Poets) has its button up for you to share on your blogs should you care to do so. They quote this year from Walt Whitman’s Song of Myself.

“Missing me one place search another
I stop somewhere waiting for you.”

You can request a free copy of the 2014 poster for your home or office HERE.

Victoria C. Slotto (Fiction, Poetry and Writing Prompts) hosts WRITER’S FOURTH WEDNESDAY this Wednesday at 7 p.m. Mister Linky will be open for you to link in your poetry, fiction or non-fiction related to the prompt. It will stay open for thirty-seven hours. Victoria will visit you and comment.

Join us on at our Facebook page, THE BARDO GROUP.

Our apologies that not all the links in this report are embedded. WordPress seems to have a hitch in its get-along this evening and there were problems with embedding. One way or another though, the proper links are here for your convenience.

– The Bardo Group

photo credit ~ container garden via Wikipedia by Shakespeare under CC-BY-SA-3.0

Posted in Art, Meditation, Paula Kuitenbrouwer, Spiritual Practice

Mindfulness in the 1600s

the work of Paula Kuitenbrouwer, a reblog of one of Paula’s Sonnetagsfreude – or Sunday Happiness – posts, which are an initiative of Maria at Kreativeberg.  …Enjoy!

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A Kid’s Herb Book by Lesley Tierra for my daughter, and for me The Practice of The Presence of God by Brother Lawrence.

Sunday Happiness* is about finding time to read. Our society slows down; we all get some time for reflection.

My daughter explores the mysterious world of herbs with this magical, herbal workbook. It is about making your own healing potions, secret remedies, and magical salves.

My book is about mindful meditation.
Brother Lawrence, a monk in the 1600s, promised himself he would live day and night, in good and bad times, in God. He spent many years practising the presence of God in his life. His key to this practice was that he strove to be consciously aware of God’s presence at all times, which seems a perfect synonymy of (Christian) mindfulness.
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To me it means that with everything I do, I ask myself if I’m acting in the best consciousness and ethical conscientiousness. With means, I need to be aware and practice self-discipline, carefulness, and thoroughness. It is very easy to wander away from awareness and thoroughness, like with any meditation. If this happens, I bring myself back into the presence of God. It is a wonderful meditation, but not an easy one. Having said that, the more you do this, the longer the stretches of time of being in God, or being mindful, do occur.
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I started to read this tiny book months ago, and I do return to it often, because Brother Lawrence’s promise still inspires. To purposefully enjoy God’s presence, or mindfulness, in your life, is like opening up to small miracles. Pouring tea becomes a meditation and so does watering the flowers on the balcony. It is still a bit hard to feel the presence of God while paying bills (and all others worldly and bureaucratic chores ), but to stay mindful, to stay open for the presence of God non stop is what it is about. And when I succeed, I feel a happy appreciation for the smallest things in life.

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Rembrandt’s master work of his son, Titus van Rijn, in a monk’s habit

Is this book only for Christians? Not at all. I recommend it to all people who are interested in the spiritual life. It is about mindfulness in the 1600s.

Thich Nhat Hanh says, in one of his many books that I’ve read, that if you need the address of God, he will give it to you; it is Here and Now. Brother Lawrence would probably have said: God’s address is being in the presence of God.

Namaste,
Paula

© 2013, essay and photographs/artwork (below), Paula Kuitenbrouwer, All rights reserved

birdcardsPAULA KUITENBROUWER ~ is a regular contributor to Into the Bardo and a Dutch nature artist living in The Netherlands and sharing her work with us on her blog, Mindful Drawing and on her website.   In addition to art, Paula’s main interest is philosophy. She studied at the University of Utrecht and Amsterdam. She has lived in Eastern Europe and in Asia. Paula says that in Korea, “my family lived next to a Buddhist temple. In the early morning we would hear the monks chanting. During my hours of sauntering with my daughter through the beautiful temple gardens, I felt a blissful happiness that I try to capture in my drawings.” Paula sometimes teaches children’s art classes. She lives with her husband and daughter and close to her father. You can view her portfolio of mindful drawings HERE.

Posted in Contributing Writer, Paula Kuitenbrouwer

Mindful Drawing to Me

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the work of Paula Kuitenbrouwer

Many of us know what mindfulness is, but what is mindfully drawing? How can a beginner start with mindfully drawing?

In ‘The Zen of Seeing, seeing/drawing as meditation’, Frederick Franck describes drawing as ‘The Way of Seeing’, as a way of meditation, a way of getting into intimate touch with the visible world around us, and through it…with ourselves’.

That is how I view mindfully drawing too. But there is more. In ‘The Zen of Seeing’, Franck is not concerned about the end product. I am, but I don’t feel this concern is impeding my drawing meditation. I carefully prepare my drawing session by laying out all the tools. I think long about what I want, and I pay attention to the composition. I also do research, because I like to know what I am drawing. When I draw a bird, I study that bird in real as well as with the helps of books. When I draw a flower, I have it seen in nature or it is right before me on my table. I read about the flower, and I like to study and know its Latin name. The same counts for bugs: I do not draw any bug I haven’t seen or studied. I need a connection of seeing and knowing my object. Only then I can picture my object in a habitat, a scene, and give it a proper background and let my drawing tell a (short) story that is accurate.

Click on the drawing to see it enlarged.

Mindfully drawing is an active meditation. It keeps my hands busy but it brings a calm mind. That is because when I draw, I open my eye and my inward eye. My eyes study the objects and my emerging drawing. I am never hurried. Ask me anything during my blissful moments of mindfully drawing and you will get a peaceful and kind answer.

Click on this photograph to see the drawing in progress.

My portfolio of mindful drawings is HERE.

Here are some of my fine arts drawings made into cards.

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– Paula Kuitenbrouwer

© 2013, essay, artwork and photographs, Paula Kuitenbrouwer, All rights reserved

birdcardsPAULA KUITENBROUWER ~ is a Dutch nature artist living The Netherlands and sharing her work with us on her blog, Mindful Drawing and on her website.   In addition to art, Paula’s main interest is philosophy. She studied at the University of Utrecht and Amsterdam. She has lived in Eastern Europe and in Asia. Paula says that in Korea, “my family lived next to a Buddhist temple. In the early morning we would hear the monks chanting. During my hours of sauntering with my daughter through the beautiful temple gardens, I felt a blissful happiness that I try to capture in my drawings.” Paula sometimes teaches children’s art classes. She lives with her husband and daughter and close to her father. She has designed some special cards and gifts for Father’s Day HERE.

Posted in Essay

THE LOVE FOR (OLD) BOOKS

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Some of my old books. Photo by Paula Kuitenbrouwer

THE LOVE OF (OLD) BOOKS

by

Paula Kuitenbrouwer (Mindful Drawing)

Reblogged here with Paula’s permission. 

A few days ago, I read in a newspaper about a Dutch politician questioning the future existence of libraries. Kindle was mentioned as well as the Internet, so why have libraries? I stopped reading the article because there is only so much flap-doodle one can stomach. One might hope that our politician will start reading T.S. Eliot and stumbles upon Eliot’s quote: ‘The very existence of libraries afford the best evidence that we may yet have hope for the future of man’.

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Imagine a few philistines standing in front of the burning library of Alexandria, in estimate 48 BC, indifferently saying to each other; ‘A well…who cares?’ I care, and that is what I commented at Jamie Dedes’ discussion Times Change on The Writer by Day.

You could object and point out that we can store all books digitally, something that wasn’t possible in ancient times. That isn’t a very convincing argument to me, because at ancient and medieval times copies were produced too, in order to preserve knowledge and to make knowledge widely available. The problem, to me, is that digital copies are clean and sterile presentations. They do not enchant, hold no smell, sensation nor touchable illustrations. Many of us need to experience these qualities hands-on.

I also love painting old books. Books offer a wonderful theme, showing off a collection that represents a specific time, a layer of the society, telling a story about the writer, reader, and publisher.

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Jan Davidz de Heem (1606-1683/84), Still-life with Books

A painting like this communicates ‘Look that my books’, and ‘Look what I read and store in my head’. See the ink-pot and feather-pen, stating; ‘I write too’ or ‘I’m a scholar’.

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Detail oil painting Paula Kuitenbrouwer

Do you also like the little extra treasures old books sometimes offer? They can be underlined sentences that ones held significant meaning to the former owner of the book. Or they can be a handwritten old name on a pretty Ex Libris.

A few year ago I bought an old book. At home a small calendar of my year of birth dropped out (now how amazing is that?), showing a year long list of -to my generation- forgotten saints as well as a moon calendar.

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The Saint and Moon Calendar of my birth-year.

Last, have a look at this beauty: an old Dutch book on Percival, with the name of the former owner in the right upper corner in ink. The Art-Nouveau illustration, in relief gold, offers enough reason to buy the book. There is even a treat inside: a small, printed prayer card, showing St. Martin by Michelina da Besozzo, 1410.

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Will we ever enjoy a relief print, golden illustration on a Kindle? If we ‘open’ our E-reader, will we ever experience a pleasurable surprise of a little wink or glimpse back in time, falling out? I’m afraid not. Books provide us with all sort of inspiration; we therefore need old books, stored in libraries (and available in second hand bookshops).

© 2012, essay/photos/artwork, Paula Kuitenbrouwer, All rights reserved

Posted in Essay, Guest Writer

Our dear artist-friend, Paula Kuitenbrouwer, shares her thoughts on homesickness and being at home wherever you are. Be sure to link through to her site and enjoy her “Mindful Drawing.” J.D.