Completion.

As the secular year winds down, I find myself being caught up in the rush of making, baking, planning etc that seems obligatory these days. The chance to spend many hours painting and praying gives me respite and allows me to breathe: literally. I have now completed the last icon of this year, although I'm already drawing the next one and planning what supplies I need for the two after that. Next year, I will not be taking any last minute commissions to slot into my list I'm afraid. It's simply too stressful for me and my family. However, I still have some room, given my current work rate, … [Read more...]

Beneath the glitter

One of the big changes painters taught in the western tradition have to make is not looking at icons as a progression from light to dark, or top to bottom. I don't adhere strictly to the idea that we must begin with the darkest layer or proplasmos (which too often becomes a thick and impenetrable blanket of pigment) but I have learned to look past the highlights. It's tricky because our eyes are drawn to the light, the sparkles, the glitter, in all parts of our life. As an iconographer, we have to gaze past that and find the foundations, the simpler, solid tones our forms are built on. … [Read more...]

Glimpses

I wanted to share a few images of recent work. I take pictures quickly, as I work. We are homeschooling my daughter now so time now feels more precious and recording my work with a DSLR sometimes feels like too much distraction. Time seems to be focused and I like that. I always paint faces first. Even if I put in washes for garments, it seems to me the prayer is easier when I have company. As soon as the eyes are completed, I feel the support and company lacking in solitary work sometimes. Perhaps that's why I don't feel lonely? May the Nativity Fast help us prepare for the birth of … [Read more...]

Wisdom

I often wonder about the meaning of wisdom; I know that "the fear of The Lord" is the beginning of wisdom... But does that mean actual fear? Or what we would call respect? Or, perhaps, the acknowledgement that He is ineffably 'Other' - we have a God who cannot be confined or delineated in human terms - except that He chose to be. Understanding that miracle is, perhaps, the beginning of Wisdom. I am currently working hard on a family icon - I do love these. To be able to create something for a family to pray with is a great blessing. I hope to complete it this week, before summer break begins … [Read more...]

Daily joy: St Katherine of Alexandria

Just a post of joy: I suddenly looked at this icon today and felt huge, unbounded happiness that this is my vocation and I have found it when, God willing, I have time to enjoy it and keep improving. Many of my friends only discover iconography after retirement, when things like eyesight, arthritis and other physical problems can limit how long they paint for (although I add right now that I'm terribly short sighted and always paint without glasses!). Glory to God for all things, peace goodwill upon earth. … [Read more...]

When we have faces: St Katherine of Alexandria

Finally reached my favourite stage: meeting the Saint i am painting face to face. After a hiatus for school holidays, I had a whole day (!) to paint. As usual, life tries to intrude: chickens need feeding, cleaning, carpets need hoovering, washing piles up. All of it, apart from my feathered girls, has to wait. Sorry it's so blurred and fuzzy. I am nearly finished but a bit more balance is required. I hope, however, her face reflects that stillness & love that I hope to show in each icon. What do you think? … [Read more...]

Half Way: St Katherine of Alexandria

More than half way around the cycle of miniature icons: I adore this way of telling the stories of our saints. … [Read more...]

Sunday of Orthodoxy (1st Sunday in Lent)

As I can't be at church this morning to celebrate, I thought I would share this with you. Sunday of Orthodoxy - or why icons aren't an added extra. … [Read more...]

St Katherine: a life. Day 3 & 4.

I am getting used to the new scale. I'm astonished at how long it takes, how much expression can be captured in a tiny face. It is the first time I had to paint a Saint being tortured. I deliberately chose not to show pain because what I'm doing isn't illustration, or art. It's iconography, it's hagiography, it's theology. To show pain would be a distraction. The Saint is in a situation of great distress but she is shown being serene and not struggling. The top row of icons are complete: I tried a panorama picture, to give you a sense of how it sits together but it can't be displayed … [Read more...]

St Katherine: a life 2

Day 2: Saint Katherine is ordered to worship idols. I'm not convinced this scene is quite finished yet but my eyes were broken so I had to stop. Tomorrow I will try using the 'loup' or magnifying glasses my dad has let me (very carefully) borrow. Again, trying to get an expression into faces this size has been quite a challenge but at least I knew what to expect! I rather like the sorrowful soldier & outraged courtier - he looked rather too sweet for a while but we have sorted that! … [Read more...]