Tuesday 8 February 2011

The Angel with no name...

Sometimes I will embark on a painting where the process is a journey that begins in the land of consciousness, but will then lead me into some unconscious territory. I will stumble around, not knowing quite where I am, but still have some faith that if I carry on I will eventually come to a familiar place and begin to get my bearings. Even when I do think I know where I am, I might turn around and find that from another viewpoint, the land is not so familiar, there are undiscovered rocks and paths and I am then faced with indecision, Which way shall I go? So I will focus my attention on the compass which is nestled within my heart and follow its arrow which leads me down a rocky path to a place that feels like home . And even when I have declared my journey complete I might still reflect on those mysterious lands, what lies beneath those rocks  and where those unfamiliar paths might have taken me.

And so I come to describe the process of my latest painting - a fusion of the ethereal and earthly.

 This painting had its primitive beginnings as a surreal idea to create a landscape, where the familiar tors and standing stones of Dartmoor, were figures, birds and other moorland dwellers.  I found though, that this alone did not have a strong enough premise for me to start from and I needed to develop a view point, encompass an emotion and a story. I wanted to convey the exposing nature of the moors and how the tors act like places of refuge from elemental forces.  As I began to mark out the naked stone figure with her offering of a place of safety, I found also that the shapes of angel wings would offer a strong dynamic composition and in turn a whole new premise and layer of symbolism.

An early stage of marking out a rough composition with pastel and laying down some earthy tones.

At this point I introduced it my mum, artist Marja Lee Kruijt. This brought in an interesting and new perspective on the painting, as she interpreted it very differently to me, through her visionary eyes and with her own personal language. I realised that because of its mystical quality it was a very subjective work.

The painting at its final stage.
Having reached a stage where I am brave enough to step away from it say 'its done', I now come face to face with a recurring problem of mine - that of naming the painting which has just been born. Often with my more personal paintings I struggle to come up with a title and cringe at my attempts. I am usually reluctant to give them a name unless I feel it adds something to the painting and often I find my efforts don’t.  So this time I have decided not to even try to think of a title and am offering out to all of you wonderful wordsmiths to have a go. If you feel inclined I would be very interested to hear what the granite angels  say and mean to you and, in your own language, will be grateful for suggestions for a title.  I only ask that if one of your suggestions resonates with me, you grant me permission to use it - should a title be demanded at some future time.

 She listens out for her name on the high winds ...





  1. Fabulous Virginia ! I often think that if you can explain your art - apply reason and logic to it, then you have not gone deep enough.

  2. as soon as i saw the painting, i thought of icarus... the broken wings... the angel's worried expression... her need to protect her newest charge having 'let' icarus fall...
    i read this quote from joan miro today: 'i start from something considered dead and arrive at a world. and when i put a title on it, it becomes even more alive' - no wonder title's are tricky :)

  3. "But who shields the angels?"

    (What a lovely painting!)

  4. Oh, amazing... I didn't even see the tiny figure shielded by the angel until I clicked through to the bigger version. The bird on the stone wings ... Ach! So many layers.

    There's also something profoundly upsetting to me about wings embedded in earth -- seems so antithetical to their purpose and potential. But then here they are, protecting -- and they might be rising out of the earth as much as they are trapped and embedded in it.

    "Grounded" comes to mind as a title, for the fact that it can be both negative and positive -- that you can be grounded and centred, or grounded in a way that is restrictive. Other thoughts...

    - Stiff as a feather, light as a stone
    - Your secret is safe
    - Fly away home

    That's all I've got for now, but I suspect this will haunt me the rest of the day! I hope you find its title soon, and that it resonates beautifully.

  5. What a beautiful, moving painting.
    And thank you for sharing your journey/process.

  6. So beautiful! I recently bought your 'Frog Princess' for my daughters, what a gorgeous book. Below is my little contribution to the name problem. Oddly, I often have the opposite problem...a name pops into my head, then I have to wait for the painting (or poem or song or whatever) it's going to turn into to arrive!

    I was not made for the restless winds
    Stone backs to gravity must bow
    Build a cathedral from my bones
    And stone feathers will learn to soar.

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