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.
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.
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.
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.
Gold paint inside the flower halo and a few sequins, gold dots and little hearts and she was done.
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.
Thank you for your visit. Please feel free to share your comments.