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?
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).
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.
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 mindfuldrawing.com. 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 Wings II
- Angels’ Wings
- Visiting Lebuïnus’s Well (Deventer, Netherlands)
- Order your Mandarin Duck Art Card (frame-able)
- Why Should you Write a Spiritual Resume (Curriculum Vitae)?