I had visions of Hieronymus Bosch when I read the phrase for this week’s Illustration Friday, but as I’m preparing to have my second baby in approximately 34 days I’m afraid I don’t have time or energy for anything quite that ambitious this weekend. My next thought was of my toddler pretending to make snow angels on the carpet, waving his arms and legs happily saying “snow, snow”, but instead I thought I’d share the story of two paintings.
Very often painting has been a way for me to exorcise personal demons. It can make for good art therapy, and for either some very good or very bad work. But every now and then I have found inspiration in other sources: Way back in art school I would often make my christmas gifts to save money. One December I sat down to dash off a small study in oil based on a romantic image by nineteeth century Canadian artist Paul Peel of a young girl cooling her feet in a stream. At the last minute I added wings and made her an angel. It wasn’t bad for a shameless knock-off made with love for a family member. (I’m sorry to say I don’t have a digital scan to share the image with you). However, it was something that someone said –a passing comment after looking at it– that sparked another painting. My first thought was, “That remark deserves a painting in and of itself.” I filed inspiration away in a notebook, and several years later painted the piece below with the quote “’But,’ he said, ‘ you do know, don’t you, that all angels are men?’” running down the side of the painting.
“All angels…”, Oil on Canvas; © Jennifer Pohl
This piece ended up on the cover of a book of poetry, and I experienced other interesting reactions. One well-meaning gallery owner sent me a pleasant letter requesting a series of angel paintings of a very specific size to fill what a friend joked were her “bad frames.” Not always being the most savy business woman, and being very busy working on another show at the time, I didn’t know what to make of the request or how to respond. You see, as a general rule, whatever I paint has to come from a sincere place. Ironically enough, now that I have started to explore egg tempera (a decade later), iconographic and religious imagery is one of my chief sources of inspiration.