One definition of angel is God’s thoughts passing to man. What a concept! At college, in a required philosophy course, I floundered from day one so experience taught me that contemplation of the ethereal, while intriguing, might not be my forte. Everyday knowledge has put these spiritual beings as seraphim, cherubim, archangels and angels and research on the internet credited Medieval Angelology (what a great term) for these categories. I found beautiful paintings of all types of angels on old Christmas cards and stacked them in categories (with cherubs my favorite) and graphic art styles. I believe that you never truly see a thing until required to draw or paint it. At the cemetery the marble, winged grave markers I’d previously seen only in passing took on new importance. I viewed them from all sides paying attention for the first time to their gestures, facial expressions, settings, ornamentation, and props/accouterments. It was clear that the craftspeople who made them were sending profound messages through their sculpture.
Tackling my painting challenge, I figured that if angels are spiritual and immortal, I should paint them transparent, diaphanous, and the very embodiment of will-o-the-wisp. Picking up a brush and working from diluted puddles of color, I let intuition and my subconscious guide me. I laid down pastel human silhouettes with simply coiffed heads. I added haloes and wings in shades of pale blue, pink and gold. They then required facial expressions exuding peace and serenity. Confidence growing, I added embellishments to the robes and tied it all together with a background of sky blue laced with wisps of white to represent clouds. It was fun to tackle a new subject and I began to devise ways to teach the lesson to people in upcoming classes with participants who feel less than confident doing figures. It was freeing to realize that since there are no rules as to how angels should look that each and every way of depicting them is valid and represents creativity at its purest. References to angels in Christmas music flitted through my mind so using a delicate brush I finished by adding calligraphic notations into my art (master)piece.
Jot in your journal some angel-related words: celestial, heavenly, ethereal, elysian divine, good, virtuous, pure, spiritual, exquisite and lovely. It’s fun, if only for the time it takes to write a few paragraphs in your journal to escape worldly responsibility by becoming engrossed in an unfamiliar topic, to be open to an interesting but unknown theme. What better than the Christmas season to study, write, sketch and/or paint those lofty, if amorphous beings, angels. It’s almost like entertaining angels unaware.