Deconstructing Angels

     It’s a large canvas, too tall to stand upright in the backroom of the basement. The acrylic paint has been built up over a number of years and the layers have had more than enough time to cure into a state of perpetuity. The original intent was a study of light and dark in an attempted ode to Caravaggio. No cherubic Raphaelite angels grace this plane. Like tormented saints the ravaged faces of the divine and human intermix in a supplication to the father above. Angels’ wings, feathers black smoke sooted, cradle the fallen as voices tear away into unseen winds and eyes search the heavens for solace. An avenging angel, a comforting angel, a guardian angel, an angel of death; here they are all the same. Brilliant blossoms of flaming petals open to lave in heated waves that rise up to harry the stricken.

      I have carried this painting or perhaps it has carried me through some decidedly difficult periods in my life. The large canvas was a rare expense and as such I approached it with some trepidation. It doesn’t pay to be too precious with this type of thing and soon enough I found myself embroiled in the form and substance of my subject and medium. As my days became chaotic the canvas followed suit. Hours were built up in layers of tears and uncertainly, blind corridors that led nowhere, glorious moments of revelation, grueling backtracking and the light of discovering and learning.

     The play of flames upon an arched back, the tendons stretched in an angel’s out flung arm, the soft white neck vulnerable and bare and the circle of grace…all these tell a two sided story. The interpretation of art is always a personal thing, the story told will be coloured by the experiences of the viewer. Anyone seeing this particular painting might comment on its biblical theme or its period treatment of light. That is the package it wears. Only I see bones underneath. Like all my paintings, whatever the apparent topic, it is a self portrait. In the manner of Dorian Grey’s secret canvas it carries my face and the toll of a difficult period and lessons dearly bought. Despite what it seems on the surface, the bones are there for me to see.

     Bones are the problem now. The time has come to let it go. It will never be complete in the traditional sense of the word. Like a loyal dog that has overstayed its time the cold sting of the needle is the only release.  I did toy with the idea of a funeral pyre but only briefly. The canvas had been much too expensive and I am much too thrifty to waste it just for the thrill of the gesture. If performance art was still my milieu, I might, but my college days are far behind me. Sanding and a good coat of gesso seemed the best solution and now I find myself deconstructing angels.

     As each layer turns to dust under the palm sander the clock turns back. A shadow there leaked from that moment. This knot of flame and the short hard strokes of the brush burst from another. Each feather is a memory, a lesson painfully learned or a step gladly taken. Though the sander smoothes the surface and the gesso erases the pigment the bleached bones will remain. The canvas will become something new. Layer upon layer the paint will build up until a different story, which is really still the same old story with small variations, is told again. The hand will trace the patterns while the eye judges the shades of light and dark and the balance of the composition. Inside where the bones have come home to roost, familiar enough to be forgiven but too sharp to be forgotten, I will pass the time deconstructing angels.  

 

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22 thoughts on “Deconstructing Angels

  1. Oh how I know what you are feeling . Any form of release is the same I think . I have burned pieces that I dislike although I feel for them because they were spawned from my hands. I have taken older pieces and either refinished or re-turned them for a look of the day .

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  2. I recycled a large canvas one time. I bought it at a thrift store – then when the granddaughter came for a visit, we painted a huge chili pepper on it.  It\’s the focal point in my kitchen.
     

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  3. God I love the way you write!!! You make evrything/anything a poetic symphony to the ears…….(I hate you)  JUST KIDDING!!!
     
     
     
     
    M~

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  4. @Toad
    Choices, choices eh Toad?!
    As for your favour…if I was right about what you wanted you should see a couple of items in a photo album called Toad Collaboration. Let me know if you need something simpler or if those can help.
    =)

     
    @Brenda
    mmmmm Sounds yummy ;P
     
    @Melissa
    Life is poetry…especially when you\’re in love…right ENGAGED GIRL lol =D

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  5. Hey, Lorna! I know I haven\’t been in awhile, the excuse though, is simple…foggy brain! It\’s getting a bit too cluttered in there and it is about time for a clean out! Is there such a thing as a cranium enema?
     
    I do enjoy reading your musings though!
     
    Take care, Poopdeck!

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  6. Your writing continues to amaze me–
     
    not to sound ignorant if you\’ve said – but have you published? or tried to?
     
    and yes, Old photos–I am going to get those photos of people I don\’t know and make up their stories,  just thought of that just now!

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  7. What a beautiful piece of writing & understand completely the journey you are expressing here.Thank you so much for your visit & helpful ilnformation. Look forward to following up, best wishes, Winsome

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  8.  
    As always, you humble me. (And now you\’re traveling to Rose\’s space to do so! Stinker!)
     
    Someday, when I feel worthy enough, I will commission you to do a big painting for me. You are remarkably artistic with words; I can only imagine what your paintings must inspire.
     
    I prefer bold colors and no animals, if you please. (I\’m just telling you these things now so that when you become a big famous arty-something, I can tell people, "Oh, Lorna? Yeah, I know her. I  was once telling her  what to do! My, how times have changed."
     
    Thanks, my friend.
     

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  9.  
    Sorry, but totally off-topic: Jacob has a new post tonight; I wanted you to know how much I appreciated seeing your comments there throughout his…ahem…incarceration.
     
    Oh, and Silly Boy! He thought you were talking about treatment when you mentioned Prison Lite. I don\’t have the heart to tell him it\’s here that\’s tough. (Or, apparently, it\’s not as bad as I\’ve been thinking. Little Devil! What\’s he been sneaking around doing, that he doesn\’t think this is such a bad place to be?!?)
     
    Thanks again for your kindnesses.

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  10. @Poopdeck
    Cranium enema? If there is I hope they don\’t offer it on Parliament Hill because you\’d need more than hip waders to slog through that stuff 😉
     
    @Kathryn
    That is a great idea. My sister is the keeper of all our old photos. I should see if I can wrest them away from her. ;P
     
    @EZ
    I enjoyed my visit as well. It\’s always nice to take a little blog walk!
     
    @Holly
    Little cryptic today? lol
     
    @Winsome
    No problem. I subscribe to the newsletter myself and I really enjoy it.
     
    @Kay the Pomegranate Pirate
    Dearest Kay if you\’re going to insist on telling me what to do I must tell you that the line forms to the right and there are many in front of you. It sounds like you need a big chili pepper painting like Brenda\’s. That could be fun   ;D
    I did drop by Jacob\’s site and he seems so sad. I hope he\’s okay =/
    You guys hang in there!
     
    @Patresa
    I\’ll second that thought!
    Thanks,
    Lorna
     

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  11. *Has popped over after reading your comment on Jacob\’s site*
     
    I\’m really not sure what would not let you go there. I actually removed some of the stuff I had. The only things I have up right now is my song and photo book. But the song shouldn\’t be causing it since I\’ve had music on there before and you\’ve made it. Therefore that leaves the evil little photo book which has been all newfangled and redone. I\’ll try moving it off the main page for a couple days and see if you can make it then. If not leave a message on Kay or Jacob\’s site and hopefully I\’ll see it.
     
     

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  12. beautiful.  painful.  once again, in awe of you.. please tell me you write novels, i want to buy them by the armful and spend an entire week off lost in volumes of your words..
     
    Julie
    oh yeah i can comment now 😉 FIXED!
     
     

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  13. *cough* Yes…of course I moved things around and that\’s how you were able to make it there. I most certainly was not idiotic and forgot to move things around upon leaving the comment here saying I would.
     
    But let us just forget that little fact. And yes, I am no longer surprised when our prof manages to slip up on things. This is the same man who routinely attributes reactions proceeding to the recently uncovered scientific theory of "black magic". Sometimes I wonder why I\’m paying to be here.
     
     

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  14.  
    Hello? Are you OK? You haven\’t been overcome as a result of inhaling paint fumes (which were reactivated by your whirling sander), have you?
     
    We parents worry, you know, young lady.

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  15. @Jules
    lol
    No novels Julie though I can talk up a storm when inspired (and I\’m not stopped ;P). I\’m glad you got your "technical stuff" worked out.
    =)
     
    @Jonathan
    Well if you didn\’t move anything around I have no explanation for my sudden ability to return to your site. Maybe the Spaces gremlins got something right for once.
    In regards to your professor and his "black magic" theory are you sure he\’s just not a Star Wars aficionado and he was referring to the Lucas "dark side"? ;P
     
    @Holly
    Well there you are and legible as well! I think that everyone had a bit of adjusting to do with all the new stuff. Have a good week!
     
    @Pomegranate Kay
    I am alive up here in the frigid north. The swells are just a little heavier than usual…life\’s like that sometimes.
    Thanks for asking.
    🙂
     
     
      

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  16. Beautiful!! I miss having time to paint. I paint ceramics every Thursday, but it\’s not the same. I don\’t even have room in this house to set up my drafting table. I have a big eisle now and I\’ve never even tried it. I know that I have to fit it in if I want, but there\’s already so many things to try and "fit in". Painting is not a priority right now. Maybe in a new house or in a few years. Ciao

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