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Traditional Folk Art

Art while travelling

While most people have just only upped and left on their summer vacations this year, I have been AND come back! Back to hot and dusty Kuwait and to my studio.

Anyway, this post is not about painting while travelling – its about the art I deliberately try to see while travelling or sometimes, serendipitously bump into.

Many years ago, while on a trip to Amsterdam in the Netherlands, my dear husband, knowing my passion for decorative painting and especially the folk art of various European origins, planned a trip to Hindeloopen.

The Dutch town of Hindeloopen is one of eleven cities in Friesland and is a quaint little place with lots of wooden bridges over tiny canals. It was pretty as a picture and simply lovely to walk around in.

Bridge over a small canal A canal view in Hindeloopen

Every now and then you will end up in a narrow street and then suddenly you are confronted with a beautiful canal view, a monument to remind you of the glorious past of Hindeloopen, someone’s lovely garden, a painted door or a whole street of shops with wondrous displays of traditional art also called Hindeloopen.
 Sign outside Harmen Zweed's Hindeloopen shop

THAT was why hubby brought me here.

The hindeloopen form of folk art originated with the Maritime community of Hindeloopen. During bad weather when there was no fish to sell, fishermen and sailors alike took to painting to pass the time and make some money. Through trade with their neighbours in Norway, especially, Hindeloopen sailors would bring home painted artefacts in other traditional styles such as the Baroque style of Norwegian Rosemaling. Over time, these “imported” traditional art pieces influenced the development of the Hindeloopen community’s own painting style into what we see today.

A beautiful painted Hindeloopen door 
The town of Hindeloopen is a haven for the traditional folk artist – there is a large number of studios of very talented Hindeloopen artists and for the souvenir collection a warehouse of painted objects in the hindeloopen style!

We discovered that, traditionally, it was the men of the village who painted while the women and wives ran the business. The lady we met, Jenny, was very conversant in the art although it was not her but her husband who painted.

Jenny Zweed pointing out the details on her husband's work

She explained that there were ten colours traditionally used in the traditional Hindeloopen style of painting. And there were at least two different ways of painting the highlights which created different looks of the final painting. The predominant floral motifs were the Dog Rose, Star Flower and Carnation. Tulips were also quite common.

Two ways of painting Hindeloopen highlights 
I bought a lovely tray painted by the meister Harmen Zweed himself. What I really wanted was the tilt-top table…but it wasn’t practical as I had to take it back to Kuwait by plane!

Harmen Zweed tray which I bought

Before saying goodbye to Hindeloopen, we visited the Hindeloopen museum to find out more about its painting heritage. The Museum Hidde Nijland Foundation was located in the Town Hall (circa 1683) and housed an enthralling collection of colourful tines, bowls, and cupboards, furniture and even staircases for wall-beds, dating back to the 17th and 18th Century. There was a whole blue and white wall with floral and bird motifs. I was mesmerised by the detail and  passionate handiwork of the artist. No photos though as photography was prohibited. :-(

The Hindeloopen Museum

I personally love painting in the Hindeloopen style and I think its a painting technique that stretches you to develop and perfect your comma strokes. Its one of those techniques that, after painting a few pieces, your comma strokes seem to come out effortlessly!

Simple Hindeloopen on Malaysian clogs

Repetitive two-tone Hindeloopen

I’m really glad hubby arranged that trip to Hindeloopen. Not only did I get to see the little historic town, and enjoy its scenic beauty, I also learnt first-hand about its origins and saw the original work of its talented artists. It was truly memorable!

Tulip Day

I never knew but it seems that the 13th of May is Tulip Day! So I shall remember to wish everyone a Happy Tulip Day every 13th May from now :-)

Tulip motifs are fairly common in the world of decorative painting and you can find them in the traditional folk art of Hindeloopen, Bauernmalerei, Rosemaling, and even Zhostovo as well as in the contemporary style of decorative painting.

Stylised tulips I painted on a Rosemaling plaque

Multi-loaded tulips in the style of Bauernmalerei 

It is said that…

…the tulip is one of the world’s most easily recognized and loved flowers. The meanings of tulips coupled with the immediately identifiable shape of their colorful blooms make them a comfortable flower choice. They are not too elegant, too romantic, too big, too small, or too bright; the tulip is always just right.

The meaning of tulips is generally perfect love. Like many flowers, different colors of tulips also often carry their own significance. Red tulips are most strongly associated with true love, while purple symbolizes royalty. The meaning of yellow tulips has evolved somewhat, from once representing hopeless love to now being a common expression for cheerful thoughts and sunshine. White tulips are used to claim worthiness or to send a message of forgiveness. Variegated tulips, once among the most popular varieties due to their striking color patterns, represent beautiful eyes.

By coincidence I just finished a tulips class painted in the contemporary style. It was the second project for another student of mine from Egypt. But it wasn’t red, purple, yellow or white tulips!

It was pink.

Pink tulips bouquet 

In traditional folk art the stylised tulips would for the most part be painted with a round brush and the technique used would be strokework. These contemporary tulips were painted using a filbert brush which allows us to blend the strokes and achieve the soft colours and a variegated look of a tulip.

We had a lot of fun painting these lovely spring flowers..Happy Tulip Day!

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