St John of Damascus: an icon & iconographer in progress.

One of the questions I’ve been asked in the last couple of weeks is: “wait, you’re going on a course/retreat? aren’t you able to, you know, just paint an icon already?”

There are two answers and the short one is “Yes I am and yes I can” but that wouldn’t really explain what I’m doing or be worth sharing with you.

The second answer is Yes: My journey and ongoing growth as an iconographer means that I will never stop learning, changing, developing, praying for the life that means the icons are not simply copies or reproductions of images. Yes: I can paint icons already! No matter what saint a person needs an icon of, I can develop the icon that is right for that person’s needs and situation and with God’s help, produce an icon of that saint or situation which will support their prayers or commemorate the occasion they are celebrating. It may even be a memorial icon, given in memory of a person who has passed on, so that their church has a permanent presence of that person and their saint. All of these situations are possible.

Most of us need time to focus on our vocation and that is what my retreat has been. It was a wonderful chance to meet new friends, to reconnect with Aidan, to walk among the woods and listen to astonishing numbers of birds. I come back slightly dazed at the pace of life in the city and knowing that in the long term, I need more peace and focus to allow my prayers and icons to grow. I also really, really loved the chance to help budding iconographers who had perhaps not even attempted an icon before. That was very special and I will, God willing, be teaching soon. I’m not sure where – there are a few retreat houses in Scotland but I need to investigate them more – or perhaps further south. I do think that for most people the ability to immerse themselves in the subject is a great help to begin with. I’d love to know where you would like to study! Do let me know below.

The icon of St John is almost completed – I will post a blog with just photographs tomorrow as a taster – and it will be available in the shop probably next week. If you would like to be in with a chance of owning it, add your name to my newsletter list and subscribers will get notification 24 hours before the listing goes live and 48 hours before I add it to the blog and facebook/twitter…