Drapery

Proof that I have not, yet, fallen off the edge of the world! I am enjoying this more than I should perhaps, because I am studying the original by Panselinos to really understand it. Layers in drapery can easily become solid and flat or we can lose our sense of the form beneath the fabric: resist the temptation to ignore basic rules of drawing, especially when painting something complicated! I will share this with you again when it is completed. In the meantime, please let me know if you have any questions :) … [Read more...]

Transfiguration: metamorphosis and change

  Wishing you all a joyous Feast of the Transfiguration, albeit one day late. This year I have kept the blog in hibernation for a few reasons, not least that any time I have outside of teaching and homekeeping has been used preparing icons. However, we have made the decision to send our daughter to a local school that we believe will fit her needs better than staying home, at least for the moment. Being an only child can be lonely, especially if your mother tends to be rather solitary! So next week we begin the adventure of school and I have been given a space above our church to … [Read more...]

New Year, New Icons

I am delighted to be back at work, after a break from both painting and teaching my daughter. Over the Christmas and Theophany break, I thought long and hard about how to continue in my work while also being a 'good enough' mother, wife, teacher, member of the Church, here in Edinburgh. I almost considered no longer painting, I will be honest, as it is not a question of sitting down for half an hour and pootling about with a paint brush. I have read articles, both inspiring and dispiriting, on the future of iconography within our Faith. At the Orthodox Arts Journal Fr Silouan pointed out the … [Read more...]

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...]

With every breath I will praise The Lord

One of the great joys we have is singing. It doesn't matter whether you can sing in tune (unless of course you want to sing with others) as long as you can raise your voice now and again. I often listen to psalms & other hymns as I paint. St Augustine said : "For he that singeth praise, not only praiseth, but only praiseth with gladness: he that singeth praise, not only singeth, but also loveth him of whom he singeth. In praise, there is the speaking forth of one confessing; in singing, the affection of one loving." (St. Augustine, Commentary on Psalm 73, 1) Which has been paraphrased … [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...]

The Feast of the Annunciation: my soul doth magnify The Lord

Today we celebrate the Annunciation or ευανγελισμος - 'Evangelismos' of the Most Holy Lady, The Theotokos and Ever Virgin Mary. This is one of my favourite icons: the Theotokos is peaceful, attentive & agrees readily to God's Holy Will. Let us be the same! http://orthodoxwiki.org/Annunciation … [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...]