A Myanmar Angel

Hello! It is almost 2023!

Yes, it is time not only to say goodbye to 2022 but also say goodbye to Myanmar. I have delighted so much in this country and I was very excited to create its angel. It was so great having Christmas in the background too! I always feel angels are closer during this time.

I realized that the marionette that I made is an angel! They call it celestial being, but this is in other words an angel! I love that name of celestial being. I found many inspiring images for my angel, I will share a few:

Aren’t they beautiful? For me having known only the western representation of angels this was utterly refreshing! Loved the concept of flames instead of feathers… they do burn away evil after all… or transmute it, change it to good.

I used mostly the first and the last one with the conch shell. I liked the conch shell. I read that in Buddhism it represents the melodious voice of the Buddha. The conch is said to be one of the 8 auspicious symbols (known as the Ashtamangala). Even today in Tibet, it’s used for religious gatherings, as a musical instrument and a container to hold holy water during rituals. Devotees believe that blowing it can enhance the positive vibrations of the mind such as hope, optimism, willpower, and courage. (1)

I also liked the green in the angel’s dress, green seemed to be used a lot in their outfits.

As to what artist inspired the angel, it was none of the ones I researched about before ^ ^. It was someone I discovered after I had written that post. His artist name is Sein Myint or U Sein Myint (real name: Shwe Chi Doe) He was born in in the Sagaing Hills in Upper Myanmar near the city of Mandalay in 1945. He is an authority and very well rounded artist who has dedicated his life to learning about Myanmar culture and art. He is known for his tapestry work and his watercolors the most.

After completing high school, he continued his studies until he reached the final year at the Mandalay Arts and Science University majoring in Myanmar language and literature. As a student of the arts, Sein Myint apprenticed himself to well-known personalities in the world of Myanmar art such as Paw Oo Thet, U Win Pe and U Lu Tin.

He has had many hands on experience traveling to many rural villages in search of folk culture and customs giving him first-hand experience of how looms are set up, how peanuts are ground for oil, and much more. Around 1985, he became interested in the art and craft of traditional Myanmar tapestry and decided to pursue it as a medium of expression. (2)

In 1987, his water color painting titled “Irrawaddy River Scene” won a prize at the International UNICEF Painting Competition and Sein Myint donated his prize money to the UNICEF Children’s Fund. In 1989-1990, his tapestry embodying traditional Myanmar art was selected to grace the walls in the main chamber of the United Nations Headquarters building in New York City. In 1994, he was again awarded a prize for infusing folk art with creativity by the Myanmar Government. (3)

I really loved his work with watercolors. I loved how his characters seem to come into being from brush strokes… and immediately I could see a celestial being coming out of them! Here is some of his work:

Duet Dance. Cr. OK Gallery. Medium: watercolors
Zaw Gyi. Cr. OK Gallery. Medium: Watercolors
Beauty of Tradition (2). Cr. OK Gallery. Medium: Watercolors
Beauty of Tradition (10). Cr. OK Gallery. Medium: Acrylics.
Beauty of Tradition (18). Cr. OK Gallery. Medium: watercolors

Isn’t his work incredible?! I absolutely love it!!! I admire the experimental part his work and this letting go and seeing what happens with the brush. Here are some photos posted of him and his workshop. They come from Tripadvisor. He used to have a tour one could do of his workshop.

And here is Obama receiving one of his watercolors as a gift from the Myanmar’s Prime Minister back then.

If you want to see more of his workshop, it’s like a museum go HERE.

While doing my research for a Myanmar angel I learned about a really sad story. There is a beautiful young woman referred by this name “angel” well known in Myanmar. Her name was Kyal Sin, now known as Angel Kyal Sin, a 19 year old that died while protesting in the streets in opposition to the coup d’état staged by Min Aung Hlaing in early 2021.

On 3 March 2021, she participated in a protest in Mandalay wearing a black T-shirt emblazoned with Everything will be OK. She was in the front lines and was shot dead. Immediately she became a martyr and photographs of her wearing the T-shirt became iconic, a symbol of the pro-democracy youth in this country killed by its military government.

You can more about her HERE.

This is her wearing her iconic shirt before dying that day:

Cr. Medium

This is another of her beautiful face:

Cr. TRT World

I am the mother of a 19 year old so Kyal and my son stayed on my mind as I went through the process of creating this angel:

Drawing

When I want an image that is totally symmetrical like this angel, I usually draw one half and then I use tracing paper and reflect it to get the other half.

Then I gave more graphite to its outline, as I needed to cover it to paint the background. I then traced it into the paper (in a watercolor block) and used ‘frisket’ or slightly adhesive film to cut protect the area of the angel from the watercolor.

Coloring

Then I tried out two different color gradients for the background. I decided on the purple-blue as I wanted the feel of clouds in the bottom. I just lay a sheet of tracing paper on it and color:

Then I applied the watercolor background.

After it dried I traced the angel:

I applied the basic colors… then worked removing the paint and adding a darker color to give volume. You can see the difference in the highest wings (when comparing to the flatness of the rest of the yellow further down.)

Then I added gold. It was so beautiful to see it shine!

I used a pen in the dress to be able to get a lot of fine detail. I practiced a bit before doing it!

Being Bold ^ ^

The next part was a bit scary for me… as I thought the angel looked so beautiful already. Like a finished piece. But I really wanted to try letting go and experiment with the brush strokes in the clouds. I wanted to give it that Sein Myint touch! Here is what I got at the beginning:

I thought to myself…What have I done? In Charlie Brown fashion: I ruined it!!! It was too dark. It took away its peace! By the way, I used a coating of Matte Medium Acrylic paint to protect the angel. It basically creates a plastic transparent layer over it so the blue watercolor paint does not mix with the yellow or green watercolor below. But… I forgot the lotus flower! So notice how one looses the color there.

I decided to water it down…and make it lighter:

Yes it is better! I was able to salvage some of the lotus flower too. I realized that I had to do it as this angel could not be in a peaceful cloud background with all that is going on in Myanmar. Now the clouds look more like a storm… almost like an ocean where the angel is trying to bring peace. I added Kyal Sin’s shirt phrase “Everything will be OK.” Then the starry calm part at the top is hope, faith in that they will be a peaceful country for all of its people someday.

Here is a detail of the background’s texture! I love it!

Finally I added more stars and made sure the number below was 7 stars for good luck.

To the beautiful people of Myanmar, I wish all the best for your country. I dedicate this angel to the memory of the very courageous Angel: Kyal Sin and all the children that have died in this country because of civil unrest. May the angels protect them. You must believe it… Everything will be OK!

Thank you so much for coming along in this virtual trip! I wish you all a healthy, prosperous 2023!

Thank you dear angels!

Credits

(1) exoticindiaart. com

(2) OK Art Gallery Facebook Page

(3) OK Art Gallery Website

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