Andreja Brulc's Blog

Day 1 [16 March 2020]: COVID-19 Lockdown: First Day of No School/Happy Doodling/My nephew [an extract from the diary]

Posted in Covid-19/Lockdown Diary, Sketchbook by andrejabrulc on 16/03/2020

A doodle is when you’re making something intuitively and you’re not quite sure what it’s going to be, but you feel good about what it is you’re doing. – Jon Burgerman, The Art of Doodling

It is the first day of the lockdown. My 14-year-old nephew Luka said that he would never ever have expected his school to be totally closed due to something like ‘a’ virus — of course, he honestly added, and I do not blame him, that he often wished the school to have been shut for other (fun) reasons! I reminded him of our time during 10 days of the war for independence in June 1991, when our lives came to a total standstill, and, in particular, how badly university students, including myself, were effected as the conflict happened in the middle of the examination period! The exams were all postponed — but I told him that in that period 7 students (official statistics, as one will never forget that!) at the University of Ljubljana committed suicide due to this enormous extra external pressure that was put upon us. I know, a very morbid discussion with a teenager, but the comparison was the closest to what I imagined he has been going through now in his immediate environment — he took this onboard very well indeed as the war is part of his national history.

Children at that age are emotionally vulnerable as they are trying to fit in with their mates as searching for their place in society, but they need to be gradually prepared for such life disruptions, of which we have no control of, as they are bound to happen now even more often! Such disruptions can happen overnight as Brits have experienced with Brexit, as they can turn one’s life upside down. So adults ought to prepare kids now more how to learn to cope with stress, as they are bound to be more exposed to the news because of social media, then our generation ever was when we were growing up! One needs to remember that panic is stress and that stress leads to lowering one’s immune system, and, therefore, a bigger risk to fall prey to our common enemy: COVID-19!

At least we both agreed, even if not ideal, that now his friends can communicate via social media for free (not in our time) — and parents should NOT stop them from doing so, given the current situation as these are exceptional times! And that they can carry on with their school work conducted via long-distance learning, the practice of which is an experiment for many European countries and only the time will tell whether it works or not for that age group.

And — he departed as a happy boy, with a bag of 80 colour markers for his doodling plus fineliners, which arrived with my other art material from London last week JUST ON TIME! Who knows — in my case — when and how I will be able to return! The markers were going to be a present for his Confirmation at Easter, now cancelled, but I thought why not gift him prematurely as so much time now to keep his passion growing! He told me that he kept thinking about the markers ever since they arrived last Thursday! So, this made me very happy, too!

The time of social distancing may well prove to be the best time to think about one’s personal growth — the luxury most of us, adults, can not afford in our normal hectic lives — as one can concentrate on improving one’s existing skills or learn something new while keeping oneself occupied at home!

Happy doodling time for him! He has been doodling for a few years now, creating all sorts of weird robotic and fantastic characters – he loves the fantasy world of Hobbits and Harry Potter as well as science fiction world of Avengers to name a few. This time he has been following Instagram tutorials on how to use colour by markers. But it may now be sometime before he can get a Sketchbook delivered.

[PS: He received the Sketchbook a few days later – and has since sent me some examples of his doodling.]


Sketchbook / Book Cover Design

Posted in Illustrations, Sketchbook by andrejabrulc on 20/03/2013

The final artwork and some pages from my sketchbook done for a book cover – a collection of poetry in prose called Material, written by Andrej Brvar and to be published by Beletrina Academic Press (May 2013).

MaterialAs the title suggests, the collection is, in the author’s words, ‘a load of life material’ (‘totality of life’). The poet first de-constructs ‘his material’ in a witty, emotional, sceptical and ironical way in the form of various ‘cut-out’ fragments: aphorisms, impressions, genres, newspaper cuttings, diary notes, anecdotes, life paradoxes, interesting points from the world of science, commentaries on art, literature and history, etc. All fragments are then re-constructed as a kind of collage (‘cut-and-paste’). The theme of love, woman, ageing, death, memory, art, literature, history etc. are arranged as a cycle of four seasons.


I decided to focus the final artwork on the core theme – the love poetry – surrounded by fragments of other themes that span throughout the cover representing the four seasons (spring – birth – cherry tree flowers; summer – youth and joy of life – two figures; autumn – contemplation – tree; winter – death – footsteps in the snow). The starting point is the poem called Skozi mesto – the poet’s memory of his hometown (Maribor), past and present. The poem is a personal lament, on the one hand, for the ‘old times/things’ now lost, while, on the other hand, a sharp public comment on the ‘new times/things’ that changed the old city identity for a boring ‘every-city-looks-the-same’ look. The poet feels as if he is ‘expelled from the Garden of Eden’ (i.e. ‘his hometown’). This particular comparison gave me the idea of using the silhouette of Adam from Massacio’s fresco (1425) in the Brancacci Chapel (Santa Maria del Carmine, Florence) for the shape holding the hand-made lettering based on a small section of the poem. Adam’s raised hands show a gesture of shameful realisation that something is no longer kept in one’s possession! For Christians, Adam and Eve were not only the first lovers in the garden of earthly delights, but were also the first humans who realised upon their expulsion that, after having tasted the forbidden fruit, they were also mortal and condemned to ageing, decaying, and dying. So, to complement the composition, Eve had to be added to hold the quote for the book!


Although the poetry, in my opinion, does not have a specifically religious tone as a whole, the theme of death is universal. Also, although the love poetry is central to the collection, some poems at the end of the happy seasons (spring and summer) already express the passage of time (ageing and decaying of sensual body, separation and death) before even the cycle of the sad seasons begin. But, the tone of nostalgia – remembering and contemplating the beauty of old times and past loves – counterbalances the poetry (autumn and winter) and prepares our last journey more bearable. Just like the footsteps in the snow!


Sketchbook Project 2012: Stitches and Folds

Posted in Craft, Exhibitions, Projects, Sketchbook by andrejabrulc on 28/02/2012

I decided again this year to participate in the Sketchbook Project 2012, the main project out of many run by the Art House Co-op based at The Brooklyn Art Library in New York. This year nearly 20,000 of sketchbooks will be exhibited in 14 cities across North America, and for the first time this year, in London for contributors from Europe and in Melbourne if the artist resides in Australia.

For the details of the Project Overview, see the post about last year’s Fiction Sketchbook. The only difference between this and the fiction one is that with this project, you did not have to tell the story in text. You are free to develop your theme.

The theme I picked this time is Stitches and Folds. The entire sketchbook was folded and stitched. I folded the pages inwards, starting from the middle of the sketchbook, with the first two pages folded so that the outer edges met the gutter. I then folded each page, with the size of each fold decreasing in equal increments towards each end of the book. I then added various papers under each fold, stitching folds and papers together each time with a different kind of stitch and at a random pace, using threads varying in thickness and colour.

For images of all other pages of this Sketchbook Project, click Flickr. Here are some examples.

The tour starts in April, and we shall welcome the sketchbooks in London this October.

Brooklyn, NY
Apr 14–30
Brooklyn Art Library
103A N. 3rd St
Brooklyn, NY 11249
Chicago, IL
May 3–5
Hyde Park Art Center
5020 S. Cornell Avenue
Chicago, IL 60615
Portland, OR
May 11–13
The Cleaners at the Ace Hotel
1022 SW Stark St
Portland, OR
Vancouver, Canada
May 15–16
W2 Media Cafe
111 W Hastings St.
Vancouver, BC
Los Angeles, CA
May 24–26
2147 W. Sunset Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA
San Francisco Bay Area
Pop-Up Library
Greater Boston Area
Jul 6–8
25 Exchange Street
Lynn, MA
Portland, ME
Jul 11–14
SPACE Gallery
538 Congress Street
Portland, ME 04101
Toronto, Canada
Jul 18–22
The Gladstone Hotel
1214 Queen St. W
Toronto, ON
Philadelphia, PA
Aug 23–25
The Painted Bride
co-presented with InLiquid
230 Vine Street
Philadelphia, PA 19106
Atlanta, GA
Aug 29–Sep 1
MASS Collective
364 Nelson St. SW
Atlanta, GA
Austin, TX
Sep 8–16
Co-Lab Project Space
613 Allen St.
Austin, TX
London, England
Canada Water Library
co-presented with The Albany
and Southwark Council
21 Surrey Quays Rd.
London, SE16
Melbourne, Australia
Nov 10–21
NGV Studio
Federation Square
Russell & Flinders Sts

Fiction Sketchbook Project 2011: It must be …

Posted in Craft, Exhibitions, Projects, Sketchbook by andrejabrulc on 29/05/2011

The Cover

I participated in the Fiction Sketchbook Project 2011, which is one of many Sketchbook Projects run by the Art House Co-op (now called The Sketchbook Project) based at The Brooklyn Art Library. Since its inception in 2006, the Art House Co-op has initiated many international art projects and has brought together thousands of artists from all over the world.

The Project Overview

The Fiction Sketchbook Project is an opportunity to tell stories differently by fusing text and images. As a rule of thumb, the Art House Co-op recommends that you dedicate 51% of your sketchbook to words.

After one signs up to participate, Art House Co-op sends participants a Moleskin sketchbook (in this case, 5.25×8.25 inches). One can pick up the theme from a list of 40 themes, or choose to have the theme randomly assigned. However, once the theme is chosen, one is stuck with it! The themes are supposed to be a starting point, not a restriction. The theme I chose was It must be…

The Making

I decided from the start to treat my selected theme as if I was constructing a children’s picture book in the sketchbook. I wrote a simple narrative about four seasons seen through the eyes of a child. Each spread was, therefore, carefully worked out in advance on the basis that it was to contain a single sentence accompanied by the direct visual response.

As you are free to rebind the sketchbook, use a different paper, and do whatever you want to the front and back covers, I opted to rebind my sketchbook in a Coptic style binding using Fabriano Hot Press 90lb paper. This was an enormous fan as it was the first time I undertook such a process.

You can also use any medium as long as the book keeps to the same dimensions when closed. I used a mixed media combining illustration with photography, typography and traditional techniques, such as hand-printing, stitching, patchwork and crocheting, as well as and industrial materials, such as scrim tape.

Finally, as you are especially encouraged to write the text by hand, I chose to use a hand-written script type created a while ago in association with a book cover for Beletrina and have since used it in other occasions.

For all images of this Fiction Sketchbook, click Flickr. Here are some examples.





After travelling across the United States (see the venues below), the Fiction Project will enter into the Brooklyn Art Library’s narrative collection.

Brooklyn Art Library
103A N. 3rd St.
Brooklyn, NY 11211
(Open Tue–Sun: Noon–8pm, closed Mondays)
Sketchbook Project Tour
Jun 10–12, 2011
Form/Space Atelier
Seattle, WA
Jun 1618, 2011
Madrone Studios
San Francisco, CA
Jul 1417, 2011
Hyde Park Art Center
Chicago, IL
Jul 2931, 2011
Full Sail University
Winter Park, FL
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