Saturday, January 28, 2012

My little cherubs

Dahlgren Chapel's cherubs

In early December I visited a small chapel on a work-related errand. It was a cold and dreary afternoon, and my task required taking some exterior shots with my iPhone. I popped inside the chapel to check on something, and on my way out, I saw this small stained glass window in the vestibule.

I've been in this sweet little chapel many times before, and it has many large, beautiful, historically significant stained glass windows. But I don't think this is one of the notable ones, and I'd frankly never noticed it before. I think it's because it's small and right by the door, and when you're entering or exiting, you're focused on getting to your destination--either inside to a seat, or outside to the courtyard.

I think it was the light streaming in that caught me off-guard and made me take notice--more light then you would think possible on an overcast afternoon a few weeks before the winter solstice. And also the fact that I was in a hyper-observant state, snapping the photos of nearby fencing, and other things I wouldn't normally pay attention to.

So I find myself mesmerized by the image and I don't quote know why. The saturated colors. The quatrefoil shape. The body-less cherubs themselves--are they poignant, are they kitschy?--I can't make up my mind. Is the lower cherub perhaps a messenger bearing news to the head honcho cherub? And what are those leaves and berries? I am not schooled enough in either religious literature or artistic conventions and symbolism to decode any of this.

At the time I snapped the pic, I had recently blogged about color palettes, and I thought I might like to pull some colors from the window into a color palette.

I just recently got Adobe Photoshop Elements and have wasted the morning playing around with doing just that. All I can say is creating color palettes is much harder than it looks.

Behold my crude first attempt:

(Many thanks to Sally Anderson for pointing me to an excellent tutorial by Brandi that has both a video and written instructions for creating color palettes using Photoshop.)

I can see that there is an art to this--I would use the dropper to select the colors from the image that I wanted, but when the color grid came up, the selection never seemed to match the richness and complexity of the hue my eyes saw.

But to go back to the window itself:

I called this post "my little cherubs" because my daughter once had a middle school teacher who used to address his students that way. It was really a brilliant way to address young adolescents. They were old enough to get that it was sardonic, wink-wink. Were they old enough to understand that it was only half- mocking and had a kernel of tenderness to it that he wouldn't otherwise be able to express? The parents got it.

When I downloaded the photos from my phone to my computer and this pic flashed by on the screen, the phrase, which I haven't thought about in years, just popped into my head.

All I know is that this image speaks to me. I just can't understand what it's saying yet.

1 comment:

  1. First, thanks for the shout out! I really appreciate that. Second, wtg on the palette creation! I love that palette and it's so perfect with the cherubs! I loved reading your musings on this window and totally get that. When a piece of art captures me the way this has you, it's always a really good thing!


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