Angel Wings II

Angels’ wings … how do they look like? Why do they resemble birds’ wings? How are angels’ wings expressed in art (and by me?) Can we paint the wonders of the mystical realm in various creative ways?

Paula Kuitenbrouwer 2023
Paula Kuitenbrouwer, artist te Utrecht, Netherlands

This is part II of my Angels’ Wing Project. For part I, follow the link.

More on my Angels’ Wing Project. I like to show you a few postcards and pictures that have inspired me whilst I was drawing eight angels’ wings. (They are in Angels’ Wings Part I). Let me start with the small angel in the painting by Pieter de Grebber (ca. 1635-1640).

Angel Wing Project

The small (swan) wing is perfectly positioned in the upper left corner of the painting. The perfect wing (anatomically and composition-wise) seems to naturally attach to the shoulder blade of the angel. I find it interesting how a bird element or a spiritual element is attached to the mundane human body. It is not surprising that the shoulder blade is used to attach a wing; aren’t the ‘naturally’ looking a bit wing-like?


Next: Angel Gabriel announcing the birth of Jesus. His wings are fully unfolded to help the viewer to identify him as an angel. Gabriel’s wings are large and very white, almost radiant. Do you see that divine stream radiating into Maria’s head? Enlarge the picture and you will see baby Jesus diving into Maria’s head (symbolizing a virgin birth). Do you also notice the Holy Spirit symbolized as a dove in the same divine stream of golden light? Now have a look at the two angels looking from heaven (architecturally expressed as a balcony). These angels have red wings. This is all highly symbolic. Red is a colour closer to humans than white as red is the colour of our blood. I wrote more extensively on this painting in another essay which is named Painting the Unpaintable.

What I always find so lovely of these paintings is that the painter most likely used family members as models. Look how closely Maria and Angel Gabriel resemble each-other. I would bet on a brother and sister modelling for this painting.


The postcard with the angel inspired me to use soft red-pink-orange-yellow colours. Look at the lovely blushed red cheeks of the angel and the movement of her hair! And her compassionate look with a sweet teardrop running over her blushed cheek. It must be hard to see people suffering and hurting each other. The wings in the background have lovely ocher and red colours.

I decided to dress up my angel wing with tulips in the colour palette of the postcard. My small card (3-4 inches/ 10-7 cm) is for supporting somebody, sending well wishes, for somebody in need for a floral bouquet (but you are unable to send it). Or just creative nourishment for a sweet soul.


Most wings artists have attached to human models representing angels are swan wings. The size of wings in fine art paintings is irrelevant; there is no need for a perfect ratio of wing size to body weight because angels are regarded as weightless. Still artists seem to allude to a perfect ratio: large angels have full grown wings (3/4 of their body size) and cherubs have small wings, often fluffy.

Angels also do not seem to use their wings, like birds do. While the ‘human’ part of the angel is static (standing still), the wings are ‘in flight’, open and depicted as grand as possible. Having no need to follow the laws of aerodynamics or being truthful to ornithological anatomy, angels’ wings allow artists endless freedom. Also, colour-wise.

Archangel Michael is often portrayed with white wings but also with wings in four colours: red, blue, green, and yellow. I have subtly added these colours to my large angel wing. His wings are always large to symbolize his triumph over evil. The original drawing is 30 by 40 cm. The smaller art prints are 7-10cm or 3-4 inches.

More will follow.

With love,

Paula Kuitenbrouwer

My angel wing cards are available at my Etsy (shop).

Video’s and photos are also at Instagram.

Paula Kuitenbrouwer holds an MA degree in Philosophy and she is the owner of Her pen and pencils are always fighting for her attention nevertheless they are best friends; Paula likes her art to be brainy and her essays to be artistic. Feel free to contact Paula for commissions.

Angel Wing Project Overview
Paula Kuitenbrouwer’s Angels’ Wings at Etsy

Two Mandarin Duck Couples

I like to show you two different mandarin duck drawings. In traditional Asian culture, mandarin ducks are believed to be lifelong couples, unlike other species of ducks. Hence they are regarded as a symbol of love, affection, and fidelity.

Mandarin ducks Lotus Pond warm.jpg
Mandarin Ducks in Lotus Pond copyright Paula Kuitenbrouwer

The first drawing is titled Matchmaking in Heaven. It shows a mandarin duck couple in a lotus pond. It is a softly rendered watercolour drawing. The pond is calm, lotus flowers are growing and so is the bond between this duck and drake deepening. The duck and drake have just decided to take a swim. They will look for food, synchronized as they are. They are life long partners and, like swans, will stay together. Lotus flowers are symbols of purity, enlightenment, self-regeneration and rebirth. In Asia, mandarin ducks represent love and loyalty. Seeing bonding ducks, seeing how synchronised they are, makes people long for a deep belonging, a deep bond between lovers. Love renews itself every day; it grows, it deepens and sometimes we need to stand still and take time to say ‘I love you’ to our beloved ones. Because, although we know it, expressing this during a day that is full of obligations, commitments, and ambitions is a good thing. Combining the Lotus symbol with the Mandarin ducks, this couple stays together to grow old and wise together. They feel reborn in their deepening love every season.

The other mandarin duck couple drawing has a longer story. I was about to add a new couple to my portfolio when I noticed the Fibonacci Sequence in one of my old sketches. I immediately set out to make a circular composition, adding two ducks shaped as in the well-know Fibonacci fashion. And after having done that successfully, I couldn’t stop and added parts of The Great Wave off Kanagawa by the Japanese artist Hokusai next to the mandarin ducks.


Greate Wave.png

Now I had four Fibonacci elements in one drawing, as I recognized the Fibonacci sequence in Hokusai’s wave too. This mandarin duck couple, deeply in love with each other, is bathing in wild waters. In fact, they are so deeply bonded, they have no idea where they individually begin or end. They have become one in emotion and routine. They are also one with the waters they live in.

Fibonacci Sequence

The beautiful Hokusai wave, which could be interpreted as the pleasant and unpleasant high waves life throws at every couple, can’t separate them. They will stay together during their whole life; in high tide and low tide, in calm and difficult times, through day and night, till the end.

More Mandarin ducks are at my Etsy homepage & Instagram.

Paula Kuitenbrouwer

Postage Stamp Design



Recently, I learned that you can buy online postage stamps. It is very handy but such ‘post stamp’ appears to be a Sudoku code that you have to pen down in the upper right corner of an envelope. Handy but disappointing, especially when you enjoy receiving a neatly handwritten envelope with an exotic postage stamp. As with so much digitization nowadays, this step is met with a return to pre-computer behaviour, like note booking, calligraphy, and snail-mail, I decided to return to using post stamps too. I bought a bag of old, hobby postage stamps that are used by Hobonichi journalling or notebook designing, and added them next to the postage codes. Somehow that didn’t do the job. And so, I set out to design a post stamp that shows a lovely nature scene, elegance, and spaciousness.


Two swans, in love, show their synchronized ‘dance’ in their lotus filled pond. A dragonfly seems to agree with their display of love. I have added a thin frame and the typical postal stamp milled edge, plus Art decor lettering.

P.S. Dutch Post offers the possibility to designs your own stamps by uploading your design. Within a week your professional printed postal stamps are delivered at home. Most customers upload photos, but a personalized piece of art is every bit charming.

Paula Kuitenbrouwer

Paula holds an MA degree in Philosophy and she is the owner of Her pen and pencils are always fighting for her attention nevertheless they are best friends; Paula likes her art to be brainy and her essays to be artistic.

The Post Stamp at Etsy

Paula’s Etsy shop