La Psychologie positive

Article for French Learning

Dave KobrenskiFrench, Articles Aug 14

In recent years, positive psychology research has produced a better understanding of what truly makes us happy as human beings. Amongst other things, a daily practice of gratitude has been shown to be instrumental in bringing about happiness in our daily lives. Article in French and English for language practice.

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La fonction de l’éducation

article for French learning

Dave KobrenskiFrench, Articles Aug 7

The below video and transcript comes from a French translation of the book Think on these things, by J. Krishnamurti, originally published in English. As well as being a profound and relevant discourse on the true function of education, I’m finding it to be a very helpful resource in my studies of French. Here, I’ve provided the French translation alongside the original English. Some grammar notes coming soon! Original source with more chapters here.

Read More 30 min read

Vivons nos rêves

Luciole @ TEDx Cannes

Dave KobrenskiInspiration, French, Articles Aug 5

A wonderful Ted Talk from Cannes in 2016 with French singer-songwriter Luciole that I’ve been using as part of my French studies. With French and English transcript.

Read More 19 min read

Colocks : Toujours Plus

Learning French with Music

Dave KobrenskiFrench Aug 4

Over the course of my French learning adventure, I’ve found that I progress much faster in assimilating new vocabulary and grammar when I immerse myself in, and surround myself by, content that interests me. That includes reading stuff in French that I’m passionate about anyway, watching interesting Ted Talks and other videos — and of course, listening to music. One of my favorite groups to listen to these days is Colocks — a talented reggae / roots / dub group from France. Not only do I dig the music and message, but I’m gleaning a whole lot of handy vocab in the process :) Below is their song Toujours Plus, with lyrics in French, an English translation, and some vocab notes for some of the words and phrases that were initially unfamiliar to me. Support this great group by buying their music and merch, and enjoy!

Read More 5 min read

Kamalengoni

The Youth Harp of Wassoulou

Dave KobrenskiFrench, Anthropology Aug 2

The kamalengoni is a type of harpe-luth played originally by the Bambara people of the Wassoulou region of Mali. Here is its fascinating story. (French and English)

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Kassa: the Harvest

Video with English translation

Dave KobrenskiFrench, Anthropology Aug 1

Video: For the Malinké people of Guinea, Kassa is the name of a family of rhythms and dances that accompany the work related to farming and harvest. The rhythms are played on the traditional djembe and dunun drums. Watch this video (with English translation) here.

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Dembadon II

the Djembefola

Dave KobrenskiArtwork Aug 26 2016

This drawing is part two of the Dembadon series. The Dembadon is a pre-marriage festival for the bride-to-be that is quite common in Conakry, Guinea, accompanied by much drumming, singing, and dance. The djembe is the drum played with bare hands that typically plays the “solos” that interact with and speak to the dancers. A djembefola is “one who makes the djembe speak.” Behind the djembe player in this drawing is also the dununba player. The djembes are always accompanied by three “dunun” drums (the bass drums played with a stick and that have a bell mounted on top). The dununba is the largest and deepest of the three dunun drums. This post is a part of my “Drawing on Culture: West Africa” series, made possible by support from my awesome patrons on Patreon! Learn more about how you can support my ongoing work here, with pledges as little as $1. Every amount helps greatly! Dembadon II: the Djembefola 19x24” pencil on bristol by Dave Kobrenski

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Drawing on Culture

Rediscovering my Muse in Africa

Dave KobrenskiArtwork Aug 12 2016

In 2001 I first ventured onto the African continent as a wide-eyed white kid from New Hampshire who had, by a series of strange twists of fate, become very much involved in the music and culture of sub-Saharan Africa. Little did I know that this would only be the beginning of a larger adventure…

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Dembadon I

the Sangbanfola

Dave KobrenskiArtwork Aug 10 2016

This drawing is part one of the Dembadon series. The Dembadon is a pre-marriage festival for the bride-to-be, and is quite common in Conakry, Guinea. The festival features much drumming, singing, and dance. At the Dembadon, the bride-to-be is honored, and it is a time for her to celebrate with friends and family, and, in some cases, say goodbye to them as she goes to start her new life with her new family. In this drawing (part one of a three-part series), I’ve depicted the sangban player at a Dembadon festival. “Sangban” is the name of middle of three drums in the set of dununs (bass drums), and sangbanfola means “one who makes the sangban speak” — and is a generally compliment to the abilities and competence of the player! In the capital city of Conakry, Dembadon festivals are an important part of how musicians earn an income playing traditional music. The musicians are fed before the event in a communal meal, and during the festivities, money is thrown to (or placed on!) the drummers and dancers, and is collected at the end of the festival to be split up equally by the musicians. Usually lasting several hours, the festivities are led by the exuberant singing of the griottes, accompanied by the full ensemble of drummers (djembe, dununba, sangban, and kenkeni drums). The music played during the Dembadon is usually in the family of Soli rhythms, but nowadays it is quite common to also hear rhythms in the dununba family — the dance of the strong men — and danced by everyone! This post is a part of my “Drawing on Culture: West Africa” series, made possible by support from my awesome patrons on Patreon! Learn more about how you can support my ongoing work here, with pledges as little as $1. Every amount helps greatly! Dembadon I: the Sangbanfola 19x24” pencil on bristol by Dave Kobrenski

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Dununba Dancer In Flight

New Artwork & Drawing Tutorial

Dave KobrenskiArtwork Jul 24 2016

In the Malinké tradition of West Africa, the Dununba is the “dance of the strong men”. In a grueling and exuberant festival that can often last throughout the day, the Dununba dancers display their physical prowess while accompanied by the traditional djembe and dunun drums. Here is the latest drawing from my series depicting Mandinka culture in West Africa: a dununba dancer hailing from the Kouroussa region of Guinea gets airborne! This post is a part of my “Visual Anthropology: West Africa” series, made possible by support from my awesome patrons on Patreon! Learn more about how you can support my ongoing work here, with pledges as little as $1. Every amount helps greatly! Dununba Dancer in Flight 19x24” pencil on bristol by Dave Kobrenski

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An Artistic Manifesto

Why Art Patronage is Important Again

Dave KobrenskiArticles Jul 12 2016

As an artist, I strive to make exceptional work that continuously pushes the boundaries of what I could do previously. With each artwork, I aim to raise the bar higher, and build upon both the successes and failures of the last. As my skills improve, the barriers to bringing into physical reality that which I see in my mind begin to disappear. As those barriers disappear I can take my art to whole new levels. That is what excites me. Excellence and Sustainability I have begun to see that it is only through a full-time, intensive practice of my art that I will be able to understand my true purpose and potential as an artist, and ultimately to honor the gifts of artistic talent I have been given — and share the result with the world. The goal of a full-time practice, then, is a pursuit of artistic excellence. I want to produce art that inspires and informs, stimulates the mind, and tells a story. I want to show you, the viewer, something about our world that maybe you wouldn’t otherwise have the chance to see or know about. I have artistic vision and I believe it can add something of cultural value to our world. I am dedicated to this.

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L’amitié (Friendship)

Drawing by Dave Kobrenski

Dave KobrenskiArtwork Jul 11 2016

“L’amitié est l’un des beaux cadeaux de la vie” — Friendship is one of the greatest gifts in life. Friendship is a universal thing. There’s something about visiting another culture, where the language and customs seem so different from your own, and seeing two friends walking together, hands interlocked and beaming with joy, to make you realize that we are all the same. I came across these young friends walking down one of the dusty paths in the village. Even though we did not speak the same language and had grown up an ocean apart, in some way I felt connected to them because I understood how friendship feels; it’s a feeling we can all experience and share. A real friend can make all your troubles seem small and the world feel brighter. “To be without a friend is to be poor indeed.” The people in this simple village have a great wealth of friendship and family. All the money and material possessions we have in the West pale in comparison. This post is a part of my “Visual Anthropology: West Africa” series, made possible by support from my awesome patrons on Patreon. Learn more about how you can support my ongoing work here! L’amitié (Friendship) 14x17” pencil on bristol by Dave Kobrenski

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Ibrahim

Pencil & graphite powder on bristol

Dave KobrenskiArtwork May 11 2016

As part of an ongoing series of portrait drawings that I began during my 2016 trip to Guinea, West Africa, I present to you the latest drawing in the series, titled: Ibrahim et son petit-fils, featuring a friend of mine from a village near Kouroussa. Ibrahim is a friend of mine from a small village in the Kouroussa region of Guinea. Something about him fascinated me. He had an aura of knowing something, or perhaps seeking to know something that was just beyond knowable. His eyes always held a faraway look, but also had a glimmer and a light. He’s lived quite the life, and told me many stories. He left the village when he was younger in search of work, and spent 15 years as a merchant marine, and saw the world…before returning home to the village to be with his family. He was worldly and kind; children always flocked to him. This post is a part of my “Visual Anthropology: West Africa” series, made possible by support from my awesome patrons on Patreon. Ibrahim et son petit-fils 14x17” pencil on bristol by Dave Kobrenski from my series depicting the people and culture of Guinea, West Africa

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La Griotte II

Drawing Process and Tutorial

Dave KobrenskiArtwork May 2 2016

For the Malinké, dancing plays a very important role. Music exists for dancing; in fact the word for song, donkilo, is made up of the root words don (dance) and kilo (to call), so could be loosely translated to “come dance.” The music calls both young and old to participate in a joyful and healthy act of expression and joy. Here, a griotte woman shows her joy for the music at one of the many festivals that take place throughout the year. The drawing below is 14x17” pencil and graphite powder on bristol board, and was a great opportunity to do a portrait study and attempt to capture the personality and joy of a woman dancing in a village in Guinea, West Africa. Below, I outline some thoughts and challenges I encountered along the way. I hope you enjoy and find this useful! This post is a part of my “Visual Anthropology: West Africa” series, made possible by support from my awesome patrons on Patreon. La Griotte II 14x17” pencil on bristol by Dave Kobrenski from my series depicting the people and culture of Guinea, West Africa

Read More 4 min read

Le Vieux Fermier

Drawing Process and Tutorial

Dave KobrenskiArtwork May 1 2016

In the villages in Guinea, much of daily life revolves around tasks related to subsistence farming. Rice, manioc, sweet potatoes, yams, and many other dietary staples are grown in the village. The work is hard, and it is not uncommon to see both young and old at work in the fields. Here, a man sorts through beans that will be sifted and then pounded with the mortar and pestle, and made into that evening’s stew… Le Vieux Fermier is 14x17” pencil and graphite powder on bristol board, and depicts a farmer in a village in the Kouroussa region of Guinea, not far from the Niger River. This drawing had many challenges, as you will see below. Enjoy! — DK This post is a part of my “Visual Anthropology: West Africa” series, made possible by support from my awesome patrons on Patreon. Le Vieux Fermier 14x17” pencil on bristol by Dave Kobrenski from my series depicting the people and culture of Guinea, West Africa

Read More 4 min read

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