Tag Archives: collage

Angel of Courage

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These angels just have a way of popping into my consciousness and then into reality.  When I learned a friend, who is also a former colleague and choir member, was facing serious health challenges, I decided to paint her an angel.

We had a heat spell and a few nights after I had the idea, it was too hot to sleep and I decided to start painting. I thought of my friend, K, and sat down at my craft table. I started with a collage and paint background and  outlined a generic face, then looked at some photos of K on my laptop.  But, in spite of seeing and confirming her red hair, I had a very clear vision of a Nordic blonde.

“No, red hair.” I thought to myself. I attempted a sketch of K’s hairstyle. Nope. That didn’t work. I tried sketching a whimsical style, piled up loops and curls. The image of swinging, pale blonde hair was too strong to ignore. I started to sketch and what you see here is the finished version. Clearly not a redhead.

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This shows the piece before I finished the background and added the mantra.

Once I opened myself up to the picture that seemed to be making itself known to me, or, I should say making herself known to me, this whole painting went together very quickly.  I collaged and painted for a few hours that first evening, then over the next few days I grabbed time before work when I could and also after dinner until she was done. I was very focused and in the flow.

That’s not to say every decision and every brushstroke was the right one from the start. I had a mantra in mind when I started, from a song I’d heard in our choir rehearsal. I looked up the lyric I could remember: “there is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.”  Leonard Cohen has that in a song, but the song I’d been learning was a different one.

It didn’t really  matter because a different song was playing in my head and is the one that ended up on the piece.

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I’d painted a kind of stormy background in the upper part of the painting, thinking about the crack and the light getting in. But it worked with this mantra as well.  The song continues: “Though the night is dark, and I am far from home. Thanks be to God, the morning light appears. The storm is passing over. The storm is passing over. The storm is passing over. Alleluia.”  I added some “morning light” to the upper right corner.

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My angel needed a halo. I started with a light blue circle behind her head. Nice but it wasn’t really doing it for me. Then I watched my weekly Kelly Rae Unscripted video and she created a beautiful collaged flower halo. I laid out some flowers and it was perfect.

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Gold paint inside the flower halo and a few sequins, gold dots and little hearts and she was done.

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I got a text from my friend a few days after I finished painting the angel. She very sweetly suggested if I needed a model for one of my angel paintings, she would be happy to be one.  I told her I had already completed a painting for her, but explained it didn’t look like her.  She was delighted and I made arrangements to go visit K in the hospital.

Before the visit, the painting is passed around at a choir rehearsal so everyone can infuse it with love and good wishes. My singing partner (we sing together for Threshold Choir clients every week), go to visit K and sing with her and to give her this blonde angel.  Our choir has a weekly singing report and this is what I wrote about our visit:

Family photos, colorful scarves, cards and (faux) flowers fill the shelves and drape over bed and chair. Books are stacked on the wide windowsill. The TV is showing beautiful, peaceful nature scenes, the large window embraces a view that includes Mt. Tam, two bridges and San Francisco, and essential oils scent the air. It is NOT your typical hospital room.

K is doing well, though her hair has started to fall out, her mood and spirits are positive and full of gratitude. We visit and sing and I give her the angel painting that was passed around and sung to at rehearsal. It is a  joyful, loving time, with brief visits from hospital staff, that K calls by name, and the gorgeous view outside punctuated with Blue Angels flying by, leaving hazy contrails in the sky.

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Thank you for your visit. Please feel free to share your comments.

 

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Be Kind

Yes, I’m back with another angel painting, my fifth. This one is a bit different than the ones I’ve done previously.

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She is my Angel of Wisdom. In the Spirit Wings e-course I’ve been taking, the artist used a technique of layering collage and paint and then using sandpaper to sand down some of the layers, giving the piece an aged look.  I decided that I wanted to paint an old, wise face.

I’d seen a fantastic photo of actress Olivia de Havilland at 98, taken by photographer Andy Gotts.  It is a beautiful, black and white portrait of a person who looks as if she has some great stories to tell.

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I’m still really new to painting faces and now I wanted to paint a more complicated face then the ones I’ve been painting.  This one has wrinkles!

These photos shows the progress: A rough sketch of the face, and developing the background, building up and sanding down layers of paper and paint. And then painting the face which goes through transitions when I struggled to get the shape of the head and the eyes right. Scroll through them to see the piece evolve.

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I was frustrated with the sanding process because the paper I used often just came off in a partial layer, revealing not a glimpse of the color and paint underneath, but instead the soft, white, boring middle of the paper. But I just layered on more paint and paper.  Here are some close ups of the layers.

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I worked and worked on her eyes, at one point layering gel medium over the canvas because I’d made such a mess. It created other challenges, but eventually I finished them. The lines, soft wrinkles, and the pearls all created challenges for me, and I spent a lot of time on this piece.

As for the mantra, this Angel of Wisdom has the most simple, basic message. Be Kind. That is the big one.  Be kind.  A friend and I were talking and he said “Be kind. Show up. Listen. Give hugs.” He believes these are the most simple principles to live by.  I too believe that these are all excellent life guides. I left off the last one, not that I don’t like hugs, but I thought the other three were appropriate in more situations.

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Anne Lamott has written about showing up, especially when we don’t know what else to do. I mention it in a previous post here.   Be kind. Show up. Listen. Thank you, j, for the conversation that provided me with the right mantra for my angel.

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Thank you all for showing up to read my post and listen to my words. I truly appreciate every visit.

 

 

 

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Love Respect Compassion

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I really struggled with this angel. I should have stopped and taken pictures while I was working on the painting, but I was too focused on the task at hand.

This is my 4th angel painting and the theme we were working on for this one, in the Spirit Wings online course, was Angel of Sacred Ordinariness.  I chose to use bits of envelopes and postage stamps in the background collage and the blue-patterned lining of security envelopes for her dress, because they are fairly ordinary items.

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And though a postage stamp on an envelope isn’t that extraordinary, a letter or card from a friend is pretty sacred and special . Several of the stamps I used are from mail sent by friends and one is from an old letter postmarked 1925 I found in a vintage and antiques shop.

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But what about the struggle, you may ask? Well, we were painting our angel faces on bare wood for the canvas or background. I found this very challenging and my angel’s face went through many iterations before I created something I was ok with.  The wood was much less forgiving than the gessoed canvases I’d first worked with. The original face had a shorter chin and longer nose and blonde hair.  She looked kind of snarky.

In fact, I was calling her the Snarky Angel for a little while, but I was able to soften her expression, lengthen her chin a little and shorten her nose a bit.  Now she looks more like she has something mischievous in mind.

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For this painting, I didn’t have a certain person in mind and I didn’t have a mantra when I started.  But this is what came to me when I was ready to add the words.  Barely any of the wood grain still shows in the painting. What you can see on the painting – the layers of color in her face (trying to improve on the proportion and expression) meant I covered the grain. But it does show around the words.

Thank you for your visit and for the lovely comments about this series of angel paintings.

 

 

 

 

 

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You Are Loved

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This angel painting came together pretty quickly. I had a person in mind while I worked on it, and I even had a tiny photo of my friend which I used for inspiration. I don’t think I’m a skilled enough artist to create a realistic portrait, but I tried to capture some characteristics of this person.

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I started with a collage background, using sheet music (she’s a singer) and lots of flowers. This was following another lesson in the Kelly Rae Roberts angel painting ecourse I’m taking, Spirit Wings.

In each project, we’ve learned about different mediums to create the face. For this one, we used Faber-Castell Gelatos but the set I purchased didn’t have quite the range of color I wanted, so I also used Pitt pens.

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I didn’t really get step-by-step photos, but here you can see the rough sketch of the face. I used a brown Stabilo All, which works on the kind of plastic surface of the dried gel medium covering the sheet music. It also blends in later when I added color to the face.

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Another layer of collage added more pink roses and other flowers. The words are lyrics from a song we sing in Threshold Choir.

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I had the honor of visiting my friend at home and presenting my painting to her. She was delighted. I could not have asked for a better response.

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Thank you for visiting, please come back again.

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Listen to My Heart Song

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I’ve started my second e-course by Kelly Rae Roberts; this one is called Spirit Wings. This was the first angel I painted and I did it during our vacation. Every evening at the B&B or motel, I would get out my carefully-packed bag of art supplies and spend half an hour or 45 minutes immersing myself in the process of creating. It was wonderful!

This uses the same combination of collage and painting that we did in the first course, Hello Soul, Hello Mantra, and once again my primary tools are my fingers, so I really get into it: ripping, smearing, scraping, and smoothing.

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I followed along and it felt like a little magic to do shading and come out with a face that looks like a face.

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I am imitating and following the style of the artist and teacher, Kelly Rae Roberts but I will start to explore and develop my own style.

As I worked on her swirly hairdo and rosy cheeks, I knew who I wanted to give the painting to: my friend, Irene. She and I sing in the Threshold Choir and the pair of us sing together for clients every Saturday, singing at bedsides in care facilities.

 

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Irene is a poet and songwriter and we sing some of her songs in the choir. I thought I would use one of her song. The lyrics are: “In the quiet of this moment, I am at peace, all is well.” But every single time I worked on the angel, this other song was in my head.

I know Irene loves angels and decided I’d better listen and use the words I was hearing.

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Irene loved the painting, and I was delighted to have the opportunity to see it on the wall of her apartment, a cozy place with many, many angels, and now home to one more.

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Thanks for stopping by.

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Believe in Yourself

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This blue mantra painting was created for my friend, Laura, as a birthday gift.  She has gone back to school and was feeling a little apprehensive about quitting her job.

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She is studying Chemistry so I wanted to include some things related to that and also to remind Laura that she really is amazing, marvelous, smart and funny. Especially funny. I love spending time with her because we usually find something to laugh about.

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I’m also continuing to love crafting these pieces. There are layers that don’t show in the finished painting but are still part of the process and the piece. I really enjoy getting my fingers into the paint and gel medium, smoothing pieces of paper, layering them over each other; scraps from a textbook pages, bits torn from inside of an envelope, and seeing what they will become.  It’s messy and I have to stop every so often to rub the dried goo off my fingers, but I love every minute of it.

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Believe in yourself. It’s a good mantra for me as I continue to play, explore and learn this combination of collage and painting. It’s a good mantra for Laura too.

Thank you for your visit.

 

 

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Hi, Beautiful

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Hi, Beautiful. Yes, you.

When I saw a t-shirt with beautiful written out this way:

BE

YOU

TIFUL

it really caught my eye. “Be you. You are beautiful.” That’s how I read it. Just be yourself. You are enough. And you are beautiful.

This is another mixed-media mantra piece that I made after watching the wonderful Kelly Rae Roberts e-course, Hello Soul, Hello Mixed-Media Mantras. Here it is in stages.

The first layer: red and orange paint scraped in thin layers over a canvas board with a plastic card. Pink paint daubed onto bubble wrap then smooshed on the canvas to make pink dots. I love using my fingers and other tools besides brushes to get the paint onto the canvas. It takes me back to finger-painting. Playing with the textures, feeling the paint on my fingers.

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Then collaged bits and pieces: yellow flower from an old book, “you’re amazing” from a lovely, handcrafted birthday card, sheet music, scraps torn from an old Farmer’s Almanac. Then a little more paint on top.

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About that handcrafted card; I love using special cards and mementos in my artwork. It feels as if I’m giving new life to the item instead of sticking it in a drawer, and it adds meaning to my finished piece.

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This photo isn’t the best, but it shows another stage of the piece. I used some more paint on and around the collaged pieces to blend them into a more cohesive background, including some nice drips. I love the richness of the red background and some of the paper I picked out looks too bright-white.

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Somewhere in this process, I decided to use this mantra for the painting and as soon as I did, I thought of my friend, Maria.

She is smart, funny and pretty much awesome. She is also raising two smart, funny, awesome daughters.  Oh, and did I mention beautiful? Yes, I believe that being smart and funny and awesome are all characteristics of being beautiful but Maria is also tall with a huge smile and pretty dark eyes. So, the whole enchilada.

I started to add things that made me think of her.

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She loves elephants. She is fabulous.

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She wears polka dots.

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Hey, beautiful. Thanks for stopping by. Yes, you.

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