and gentle the Christ icon would be a perfect representation, a memorial of my Father. I wanting no more than the support of my Mother and Fathers parish as well as my iconography teachers. I began commencement of the icon. I was determined to make it happen, its value was immeasurable and to me, it has been the most important work of my life. A symbolic parallel of what is to come had brought me through a winding journey of grief, I in some intuitive state was prepared. Here I give you a brief look into my experience.
Having no formal education in art, I began writing icons in 1996 at a local monastery. I was a seeker of truth and at that time Orthodox icons became an interesting, and intriguing subject. I began instruction with a Gnostic/Orthodox school of iconology. At first, I felt foolish, the lectures conveyed an esoteric tone or intended sense of perplexity, my thoughts; ”Where have I been”? I tried to keep time in my notes but, this odyssey made me feel as if I missed the class trip into space. I thought, “OK, well we do live on a planet and we are in orbit”. I had never before been to a seminary or studied theology, yet It’s perplexity sent me into a state of confusion. The lecture continued, as we touched on the topic of Anthropos which can be defined as Son of Man or Greek for human, Man or Woman, and Cosmos which defines the realm of the Heavens, The Universe or Space. I started to breathe.
Leaving that school behind I met a group of icon painters who were very skilled and even renowned. They taught me everything about the art of iconography and I’m am grateful. I felt an unseen, slight, and underlining current saying; you’ll never be great. I overlooked it because greatness was not really my goal, it was so much more, it was to understand, know, help, extend, reach, develop, share, advance, and grow. I had the world to explore with my new ability. I will never be great but, I will be of Gods appointment.
Them hath he filled with wisdom of heart, to work all manner of work, of the engraver, and of the cunning workman, and of the embroiderer, in blue, and in purple, in scarlet, and in fine linen, and of the weaver, [even] of them that do any work, and of those that devise cunning work. ~ Exodus 35:35 KJV
I will never be held back, iconography reaches into the cosmos and is a vision of reality. I am ready to be ready. My perspective of the work is what grounds me into Christ. Suppression, watching everyone else grow, is a condition that can only lead to pain. I send love, appreciation and move into the work with joy.
This icon was not the first icon I painted without teacher behind me but, it seemed to be the one that sent me to the next level in my work. Painting an icon in egg tempera is never easy. Good teachers, putting in time, building stamina, gaining skills, the reality is this, God becomes the foundation I stand upon.
I began the work immediately drawing the prototype, gold leaf, then trimming, as this icon became my central focus, I deeply mourned the man who was my hero, my love, my person, my Father. Tears rolled down my eyes when I thought; I would never see him again. This gave me more reason to paint an image of the Christ for everyone to see in his memory. Iconography is a living art and icons are the windows to heaven. I could meet my Father in the icon because the icon represents life in heaven.
The distinct correlation between Christ and my Father always fascinated me, they were both Carpenters. Jesus adopted by his Father, my Father adopted me, this brought comfort. I listened to the author and musician David Teems beautiful CD “Mourning” while I painted the icon of Christ. The compositions of his music to the word and Psalms revealed the rawness of pain in me. While exploring such great loss, through prayer, I painted and a profound healing took place. I painted the blue color on the robes of Christ, it reminded me of my Father eyes, blue like the sky, royal as The Christ, and the paint became my medicine.
There have been many accounts where Icons have been known to speak, as I lay down the layers of crystalline paint with the sable cat tongue brush, a revelation came to me. This is what I heard while I painted; The Creator of worlds lives in you!! and That icon is not going anywhere.
And indeed the icon remains it did not go anywhere, the Priest of the parish where my parents attended rejected the icon. I never heard from him again after many attempts. It hangs on my living room wall with three icons of Mary I have painted. After a year I had posted a photo of the icon to my Facebook wall, a Priest who had no idea why I painted this icon left a comment on my page post that said; “Perhaps one day it will be a miracle-working icon, you never know.” It was the most profound message, I wept and felt that was true.
My Father is in Heaven