Iconographers must have a library or collection of good books from around the world to use as reference. The library is essential in the timeless reproduction of the icon. Ancient Icons are not available to us in the United States or in many other countries. Making a copy of a good icon is almost an impossible task, without a good experienced teacher, to pass down the true language, practice and vision of the art of icon painting. Having a good book collection on icons to reference from is the icon painters constant companion in the studio. We have to rely on books to make replicas of the images. The usage of books, combined with icon lessons, will help to remove the layers of paint, showing us how the icon is painted. One must see the icon in life to have a true vision of what the icon represents. Travel for many could be an impossible task, some painters may never visit other countries that host the old masterpieces. In reality we will never have all the famous icon collections at our finger tips, relying on books is the only way.
There are many ways to get good books. Start with reliable book dealers that offer books with good prototypes for the icon painter. There are many used book dealers or even trade vendors that may have good quality books. While shopping for books on icons always look for clear, clean, and crisp reproductive quality. Look for text that will help clearly describe the icons epoch, cultural region, and name. Good quality books come from Greece, Russia. These are predominantly Orthodox countries. Some of Christianity’s most historically important and beautiful icons are kept, preserved and protected by monasteries, churches, and museums in these countries, among others. Like icons, books find their way into our hands. There are icon books in the most unlikely places, keep your eyes open for the next good one.
Iconography is a practice, knowledge is part of that practice. In the art of iconography we must know what we are looking at; that means constant research. Books filled with pictures of icon paintings and are like having masterpieces on hand. Training the eye to see the icons language expressed in color and brush is essential to the work. With books icons will become more visible, transparent, and, you will begin to recognize hidden nuances in the different cultural styles throughout history. Icons will become less mysterious, the imagined hidden meaning will become more of a reality. The icons vision will become familiar, full, and clear with books.