“Angel Play”, series of four paintings came about in the last days of winter.  Beginning on Valentine’s Day, the return of the Red winged blackbird bachelors coming to roost overnight in the bamboo, with ever increasing numbers each evening. If I tune into the present moment, that’s about as prominent a sign of the times as we have here on Sunwise Farm and Sanctuary. One of the reasons I left a lot of white space, was to acknowledge those last days, even as there were many signs of spring.

The other factor was being inspired by John O’Donohue’s book “Four Elements”. The section that caught my eye first was “Air”, specifically the chapter “Air and the Invisible”. This was because of my value of seeing below the surface appearance of things and interest in the subtle dimensions of reality.

His Celtic spirituality and Irishness speaks to me deeply. Because he is so grounded in landscape, it is easy to take flight into ancestral knowing about the wee folk, the Faerie and elementals. What touched me even more is what he wrote about angels. I immediately embraced my lifelong love of my guardian angel, though like he said, I often forget the protection I have intuited and benefited from since early days in this world. I asked mine to guide my hand while painting lightheartedly.

The first step on the large sheet of Rives was to write out paragraphs from that chapter that resonated with my soul, impressing his words on my mind and paper. Since I was writing without spaces, or stopping, I’m going to type some of John O’Donohue’s words here, though with patience, they can be read on the art. I encourage you to buy “Four Elements: Reflections on Nature”. Hear his words with his beautiful brogue of a voice.

“Angel Play 1”

"Angel Play 1", detail by Kathleen O'Brien

“Angel Play 1”, detail by Kathleen O’Brien

On “Angel Play 1”: “Spirits, ghosts and fairies were one’s hidden neighbors. Now the fields as well as the imagination are growing ever more empty and poor. If this era survives itself and does not either blow up the earth or poison it totally, I feel sure that there will be a massive return to belief in the invisible world. In the future there will be the ability to tune into the spirit of a particular area and sense spiritually what that place has seen and experienced in its time”

“Angel Play 2”

"Angel Play 2", detail by Kathleen O'Brien

“Angel Play 2”, detail by Kathleen O’Brien

On “Angel Play 2”: “One of the saddest losses that has come from disbelief in the invisible world is the loss of the angels. Angels are our secret companions on our journey through this world. When we were sent to earth there was a special angel chosen to accompany our every step, breath, thought and feeling; this is your guardian angel. Right next to you, as near as your skin, is your guardian angel. Your angel has special responsibility for your life, watching over you and keeping a circle of light around your life lest any negative power take you over or damage you in any way. Though you probably never think of your angel, your angel can never stop thinking of you and never leaves your side for even one second.

Your angel is ancient, as old as eternity itself. Thus, your angel has a memory which is older than the earth itself. Your angel was there when the great Spirit began to dream of creating you. So no one, not even you, know you as well as your angel does. Your angel is aware of the secret life that sleeps in your soul and watches over all your possibilities’.”

“Angel Play 3”

"Angel Play 3", detail by Kathleen O'Brien

“Angel Play 3”, detail by Kathleen O’Brien

On “Angel Play 3”: “Artists cold never create without the inspiration which the angel brings. The angel watches over that secret threshold where the shy invisible comes into visible form. Any art which lacks inspiration is ultimately dray and mechanical. Something inspired has the surprise, vitality and warmth of the eternal within it.

Angels are playful and light. They are often depicted as playing musical instruments. There is none of the deadness, seriousness or narrowness which affects so much religion and which has nothing to do with the eternal, but everything to do with the fears and competitiveness of the ego. Angels are particularly present around young children. A baby is not just a miniature adult. A baby is a creature who is just fresh from eternity. It takes a new baby a few years to get used to this mortal world. In their spirits, babies are still in the eternal world. That is why in Conamara when a baby looks into the middle distance and smiles, people often say: Tá sí ag caint leis na h-aingil –she is talking to the angels. A nice way to send light and love to some for away from you is to ask your angel to bring it.”

“Angel Play 4”

"Angel Play 4", detail by Kathleen O'Brien

“Angel Play 4”, detail by Kathleen O’Brien

On “Angel Play 4”: “Without your even knowing it, your angel is always are work for you. You can sense this, if you think for a moment of the thresholds in your life. You know how often a feeling would come over you that you should contact an old friend, or someone you had not see for a while. You do this and you find that they really need you, that it is a bad time for the person, or whatever. Or some someone could come into your mind, you think about them and the next thing, you get a letter, a phone call or a visit from that person.”

“The invisible world is very close to the unknown. The unknown is our closet companion. We do not even know from where our next thought will come. We do not know from where we have come. Our origin is in the unknown. Our future is also unknown. All thinking and spirituality is the attempt to take the anonymity out of the unknown, to turn it to invitation, welcome and possibility.”

I hope you gain lightness and play from these words and my art. You might notice a few differences in this series. For the first time I have used wet strength tissue paper for collage and a new 3 primary colors palette; Imidazolone yellow, rose madder, and Windsor blue. See them for the first time at the Spring Into Art Open Studio, April 23, to celebrate Earth Day.