Advent

Dear Fellow Iconographers:

“Advent asks us to keep vigil for the Christ who comes to us anew in this season. It invites us to keep our face turned toward the horizon in hope. But Advent asks us also to open our hearts to the Christ who keeps vigil for us, the Christ who stands not on some distant horizon but, instead, is already with us, waiting for us to open our eyes to his presence that stays with us always.

As Advent begins, may you be blessed in your vigil: the one you keep, the one being kept for you. In that vigil, may you find your deepest welcome and know yourself at home. Peace.”

from “The Advent Door” by Jan Richardson.

The word Advent comes from the Latin, “Adventus” which means coming. It is the beginning of the Liturgical year and is a time of preparation, looking forward to the celebration of Christ’s birth.  As Iconographers, we rejoice in the implications of this time waiting, the coming of Christ, the Word made flesh.  Truly a symbol of Icons where we write the Image of Christ in remembrance of His HolyPresence and action upon us. During Advent we open our  hearts to His influence and love in joyous anticipation of a life filled with the fulness of His Spirit.

Christ Icon
Christ in Glory Icon written by Christine Hales

I love this Icon of Christ in Glory, especially at this time of year. The predominant colors of red, green and gold ochre are highly symbolic and offer a clarity and simplicity found especially in Advent.  Red and green are opposites and in Christ, both heaven and earth are united, within the context of gold, the color of God’s Presence and light.  The four Evangelists in the corners remind us of Christ’s birth as a fulfillment of both Old and New Testament Prophesies.

In the  two unfinished stages of the Annunciation Icon below, written by Jennifer Richard-Morrow, they graphically depict a sense of waiting, the form is visible, but the details are coming slowly, eventually creating a dynamic picture of a very exciting event in the life of Mary.

written by Jennifer Richard-Morrow
Annunciation Icon written by Jennifer Richard-Morrow-roskrish state.
Nearly finished Icon by Jennifer Richard-Morrow
Nearly finished Icon by Jennifer Richard-Morrow

In Advent, I think of Mary- her waiting.  Keeping her focus on God, her savior, prided a faith filled context within which the waiting became joyous.  Her whole being was trained through prayer  and family lo

Madonna and Child Iconve to honor God’s will and to rejoice that she was chosen for the difficult and perilous mission of being the mother of Jesus.  She believed God was doing great things for her.  God’s will, not her own. “Oh, how I praise the Lord, my savior.” Luke 1 :46.

I encourage you to meditate and reflect, with a Madonna Icon if possible. God has called each one of us.  May we wait with certainty and joy as his plan unfolds.

Brother Aidan, a Benedictine monk of the Holy Cross Monastery, has a weekly blog that this week begins a meditation on Advent and fasting. “Learning How to Fast”.  He talks about how important it is to allow ourselves to experience the feeling of emptiness.  We need to experience hunger in order to know what we are truly hungry for.

“Although Advent is not a penitential season, it is a season of waiting and watching, a season of expectation. Our Christmas celebration will be all the sweeter if we sit in the gathering darkness of winter and allow ourselves to long for the dawning of the light rather than turning on every lightbulb in the house in an effort to cast out the shadows. Let’s relearn how to fast. It will make our feast all the more joyous when it comes.”  Brother Aidan, Holy Cross Monastery

Mary Icon almost finished
Mary Icon almost finished

 

“For a true Iconographer, creation is the way of asceticism and prayer, that is, essentially, a monastic way.” Leonid Ouspensky; The Meaning Of Icons

Sending love and prayers this beautiful Advent Season.  May you experience the love of God and Mary especially this Christmas.

Christine

 

Icon Classes

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What is an American Iconographer?

What IS An American Iconographer?

Good question. When we speak of Greek Iconographers, or Romanian, or Russian, or English we immediately have a picture in our minds of what those “styles” look like.  Even the contemporary European and Eastern Iconographers, while experimenting with new ideas, are still working from the old style.  That old style consists of illustrative images, cartoonish almost, with a kind of light and form that differs from “natural” light and form, but it is varied in  interpretations.

America as a country is home to people of many different national origins, so our nationality is defined more by citizenship and allegiance than by ethnicity. After many years as a “melting pot” of different cultural ideas, America has come to have its own identity, even amongst diversity.

So what does an American style of Iconography look like?  Many American Iconographers I know have styles that are derived from the teachers they studied under. So much so, that one can see their Icons and immediately know whom they studied with.  In part this is due to the notion that copying is the approved way of making an Icon.

In my training, I was taught that we always use models for our Icons  created before the Renaissance and this is because after the Renaissance, the age of humanism dawned and people created art not to glorify God, but to glorify man’s achievements.  I was and am so grateful for this awareness, for it helped to break me free from the traditional art college training I had had and allowed me to see a more ancient, God centric approach to making art.

Entry into Jerusalem Icon
Entry Into Jerusalem Icon by Christine Hales

That being said, I do however, owe a lot to some of the really good art teachers available in the art world.One of those, Arthur Wesley Dow (1857-1922) said “Good drawing results from trained judgement, not from the making of facsimiles or maps.  Train the judgment and ability to draw grows naturally.” So this more experience based approach to drawing is what I use in creating my Icons.  I research, find models from before the Renaissance (or just at the turning point- a time when many painters were trained first as Iconographers), then spend time praying, reading relevant Holy Scripture, the saints’ biography, listening to sacred music, and enter into a prayerful creative experience with the Creator.  This last, being in a prayerful state is of the highest importance in the “writing” of an Icon.img_3107

That is the gift of the practice, it lifts us up out of our intellect into our creative selves, that discipline of getting past the chatter of the mind is facilitated by the practice of prayer and painting. (paraphrased from Tim Hawkesworth).

This being said, one would not wish to ignore the importance of Tradition in Icon writing.  “Since in its essence the Icon, like the word, is a liturgic art, it never served religion, but, like the word, has always been and is an integral part of religion, one of the instruments for the knowledge of God, one of the means of communion with Him.” Leonid Ouspensky, The Meaning of Icons.  It is not a question of either or, but both and.

Jesus, Peter, Icon
Icon by Dahlia Herring

I know that many of my students’ Icons are reflective of a deep relationship and personal experience with God.  An example of one student’s faith and desire to bring others into relationship with God, is Dahlia Herring’s Icon of Jesus pulling Peter from the water.  Another student, W. Michael Shirk, an Independent Catholic Priest, writes his Icons while praying constantly, and this is often reflected in attention to detail.

Icon, Joseph of Arimathea
Joseph of Arimathea Icon by W. Michael Shirk

When I wrote my Icon of the “Entry Into Jerusalem”, I was identifying with Jesus and thinking about the human aspect of what it’s like when one goes forward to one’s destiny.  His looking back seems so human, and his movement forward, Divine.  As an artist I gain strength and guidance from this moment, and I keep this Icon to remind me to pray for God’s will, not mine.

This country is so vast geographically, and there are many Iconographers in each of the 50 states.  I hope someday to have a list of all the American Iconographers and their contact details on this site, in order for people to contact them for commissions and classes.  I do get asked if I can recommend an Iconographer in different cities and hope to be able to serve as that kind of an association for Iconographers in the future.

Please contact me if you are an Iconographer, if you’d like to be listed on this site with a link to your website.

In prayer and blessing,

Christine Hales

www.newchristianicons.com      Icon writing retreats and classes    Christine Hales’ cv

Feast of Archangels

Dear Fellow Iconographers:

Blessed Feast of the Archangels, Michael, Raphael and Gabriel!

 

Pope Francis spoke about this feast day earlier this week: “We must be aware of their invisible presence,” – Pope Francis said – “Let us invoke them in prayer so that in every moment they remind us of the presence of God, and support us in the struggle against evil and guide us safely along the roads of our lives. We entrust to them ourselves, our dear ones, and those we hold in our hearts. Praise be to Jesus Christ.”

Archangel Michael by Christine Hales
Archangel Michael, Ready for Battle

Michael is the Patron saint : Against temptations; against powers of evil; artists; bakers; bankers; battle; boatmen; cemeteries; coopers; endangered children; dying; Emergency Medical Technicians; fencing; grocers; hatmakers; holy death; knights; mariners; mountaineers; paramedics; paratroopers; police officers; radiologists; sailors; the sick; security forces; soldiers; against storms at sea; swordsmiths; those in need of protection; Brussels, Belgium; Caltanissett, Sicily; Cornwall, England; Diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee Florida; England; Germany

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Archangel Michael by Christine Hales

His symbols are: Angel with wings; dressed in armour; lance and shield; scales; shown weighing souls; millstone; piercing dragon or devil; banner charged with a dove; symbolic colors orange or gold.

Gabriel is the patron Saint of: Ambassadors; broadcasting; childbirth; clergy; communications; diplomats; messengers; philatelists; postal workers; public relations; radio workers; secular clergy; stamp collectors; telecommunications; and Portugal.

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Archangel Gabriel by Christine Hales

His symbols are: Archangel; sceptre and lily; MR or AM shield; lantern; mirror; olive branch; scroll with words Ave Maria Gratia Plena; Resurrection trumpet; shield; spear; lily; symbolic colors, silver or blue.

Raphael is the Patron Saint of: The Blind; bodily ills; counselors; druggists; eye problems; guardian angels; happy meetings; healers; health inspectors; health technicians; love; lovers; mental illness; nurses; pharmacists; physicians; shepherds; against sickness; therapists; travellers; young people; young people leaving home for the first time.

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Archangel Raphael by Christine Hales

 

His symbols are: Staff; wallet and fish; staff and gourd; archangel; young man carrying a staff; young man carrying a fish; walking with Tobias; holding a bottle or flask; symbolic colors, gray or yellow.

In David Clayton’s “Way of Beauty “ Blog this month, he talks about Christian Symbols and whether we need to keep them or find new ones.  I think the symbol and it’s significance and meaning to the viewer are what give it it’s power and relevance.  When God gives us revelations, often it is in symbolic form.  So when we hear from God, and are able to grasp His thoughts on a deeper level with the help of symbols and Icons, we are able to enter more fully into the wisdom of our present circumstances and situations.

Icons are symbols of a world where holiness reins, eternal light shines forth, and the contradictions of this earthly world are resolved in the heavenly world of the Icon. God’s grace, His presence, His love, all flow constantly to those who are willing and able to receive it. …

Just to mention that the large Icons of Saint Kateri Tekakwitha and Isaac Jogues are almost finished. It has been a blessed experience working on them in my summer studio. And I am so happy God has blessed me with a winter studio in Hudson this year!  Exciting!

 

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To learn more about Icon classes and retreats that I am giving, please check my website.

Until next month,

May God bless you and keep you in His loving embrace.

Christine Hales

www.newchristianicons.com     www.christinehales.com

 

Stories of Saints and Icons

Dear Fellow Iconographers

Crucifixion Icon
Crucifixion Icon by Christine Hales

Have you ever wondered about the stories associated with Saints and Icons- how they have been carried down through the ages?  Joseph Campbell spoke in “The Power of the Myth” about how human beings have a thirst and hunger for stories that can help them understand and give significance and meaning to their experiences in present time.

The stories of St. Nicholas helping the poor, or St. Francis preaching to the birds, or the modern day story of the marine being saved by Saint Michael in the trenches in Korea in 1950, and so many more, are thoughts that keep us going when things are difficult.

Stories about Mary, her graceful obedience to God’s plan for her life and the many blessings that followed, and  Kateri Tekakwitha’s life of prayer and faith inspire us to stand  for God’s plans for our lives.  In Icon class we read recently about “obedience” and how that played out in the lives of some of the prophets.

These Icons, saints and stories add richness to the fabric of our lives. They lend strength and hope to our everyday lives.  If you know of any good books or reading materials that focus on  miracles and stories of saints, please share those in the comments section of this blog.  Winter is coming and a good reading list will be a help to us all!

Here is a link to the “Icons and Their Interpretation” blog that tells the lovely story of Saint Irene and Her apples.  I think you’ll enjoy it!

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St. Irene

Another interesting link I’d like to share is about a contemporary Byzantine graffiti artist Fikos in Athens, from an interview in “The Orthodox Arts Journal.

Fikos
Greek Graffitti Iconographer Fikos
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Hippocrates by Fikos

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s a link to a description of a new Icon class I will be teaching in Philmont, NY this fall on Thursday evenings beginning Sept 15, 6-9PM

Upcoming Classes and RETREATS:

Holy Cross Monastery, West Park, NY:

June 16-18, 2017 Introduction to Icon Writing Class

March 21 – Friday, March 24 Advanced Master Class in Icon Writing

St. James Episcopal Church, Madison Ave. NYC

June 9-11, 2017  Introduction to Icon Writing

ADVANCED ICON WRITING CLASS IN ALBANY  Westminster Presbyterian Church

Monday evenings 6-9PM  New students beginning Sept. 19.

Be blessed, my friends, and keep us in your prayers, as you are in ours.

Christine Hales                      Icon Website             Contemporary Paintings Website

Fikos
I Was Born to Love Not Hate by Fikos

 

Heat Wave and Icons!

Hello Fellow Iconographers and Greetings:

Christine at the High Line Garden in NYC
Christine at the High Line Garden in NYC

Polar Bear Zinnia in Christine's garden in Hudson Valley
Polar Bear Zinnia in Christine’s garden in Hudson Valley

The month of July has been consistently hot and so beautiful here in the Hudson Valley. Although temperatures usually reach 90 degrees+ each day, Icons are still being created and the Monday night class keeps working right on throughout all!  Here’s a photo of Carol MacNaughtons’ Saint Michael in the process of being olifa-ed.

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Also, now some works in progress photos for the Saint Kateri and Saint Isaac Jogues I am working on for the RCDA new Mausoleum.  I love working large!

The Monday Night Advanced Icon writing class will be accepting new students after Labor Day: September 12.  Please email if you would like to begin at that time. christine@newchristianicons.com

Also, Starting a 10 week Icon Writing Class in the Hudson, NY area, Thursday evenings, 6-9PM, September 15- December 1.  email if you’re interested in attending: christine@newchristianicons.com

THE VALUE OF ICONS IN THE POST MODERN WORLD

Icons are conveyors of holiness, sacredness, beauty and God’s love for mankind. Because Icons are vessels containing these attributes, they are essential in the continuing formation of our society and culture.  In a world seemingly gone mad, they are light filled and providers of God’s peace and love.

Icons that are created in an atmosphere of prayer to God, and with training in art principles and spiritual discipline cannot help but provide a spiritual compass to those viewing them.  This kind Icon becomes a visible testimony of God’s grace as it blesses the creator and the viewer.

” There is a deeper realization of God’s Presence available to us.  Through the coming of Christ and the Holy Spirit, God wishes to dwell within us in a new way: not in a mode of which we are largely unconscious, or as a kind spiritual atmosphere in which we simply live and move and have our being (Acts 17:28), but as a lover and a friend. (Song of Solomon 5:10). God wants His Presence to be consciously experienced by us.”

Above quote from the The Glenstal Book of Icons, Praying with the Glenstal Icons, Gregory Collins OSB.

To be consciously experienced, it is helpful to have holy images that serve as reminders and point the Way, even when our minds are engaged in worldly activities. It only takes a few seconds to shift our perspective to God’s perspective – truly the secret to a joy filled life!

Face of Christ Icon written by C.Hales
Face of Christ Icon written by C.Hales

One last thing worth mentioning:  I attended the Kremer Pigments workshop on “Grounds” a through workshop on materials, conditions, and possible variations, and I would recommend it highly the next time they teach it. Kremer Pigments regularly gives classes and workshops on making paints and provides a wonderful resource of technical, hands-on information.

That’s all for this month.  Enjoy the beautiful summer and please keep me in your prayers, as you are in mine.

Blessings,

Christine

www.newchristianicons.com        www.christinehales.com     www.kingdomartsministry.com

www.halesart.com

Formation and Training of Future Iconographers

altaarwestminsterwebDear Fellow Iconographers:

Following up on the blog from last month where I included the links to Iconographer Aidan Hart’s articles about Icon writing: “Introduction to Principles of Icon Training, and Principles of Icon Training Part 2 , another link has been recently published on a Russian website called mmekourdukova, which I also include here: “The Icon: Truth and Fables” by Irina Gorbunova.

Aidan Hart’s excellent articles attempt to define important principles in the training of future Iconographers, and I suggest reading each of these in order to form your own opinions, and discuss in class the important aspects of each article to your own Icon writing.  I think it’s important to keep an open mind and respect the calling of each person who has interest in Icons or creating Icons.  In the Russian( or Ukranian) article there is an element of mocking and sarcasm that I find detrimental to the humble and prayerful attitude necessary for Icon writing.  But please read, and add your own thoughts and comments._MG_8520

These two recent articles are only relevant because there are more people today interested and wanting to write Icons than in the previous century.  There can be many causes for that, but I like to think that as we explore our spirituality and gain a closer relationship to God, we need and want visual images that bring us fresh revelation of His love for mankind, his promises, His wisdom and faithfulness.  As we regularly bring these qualities of holiness to mind in our daily lives, we can then integrate them and share them with others around us.

It is often said that Icons are “windows” into the heavenly world.  When we look through those “windows” we see heaven, and are more able, as St. Paul advised ” to focus on whatever is good”.  Truly a challenge in todays world.

_MG_8554The other attractive aspect of Icon writing to me is that of “passing on” to the next generation all that I can offer in terms of living the Gospel message through Icon writing. Investing in the younger generation is a goal worthy of Icon writing in my opinion.  But how? How and what kind of  an Icon be created that will draw them in?  Good questions to ponder as we work on our Icons.

The recent Icon exhibition and pipe organ concert that I organized for the Albany, New York area at Westminster Presbyterian Church, was an experiment to see if contemporary New Yorkers would respond to Icons as art and vessels of God’s presence within the Byzantine context of worship with the five senses.  A lot of this was new information to some of the people, but familiar to others.  People came who simply wanted to see the Icons, and people came to hear composer and organist Al Fedak offer a phenomenal program of music played with a world class pipe organ.crucifixionwestminsterweb

I gave the introductory talk, introducing the concept of Byzantine worship, and Al Fedak explained the contemplative and meditative nature of the pieces he chose, and he also invited people to walk around, view and interact with the Icons.  My students and I who created the Icons were available during intermission and at the reception following to answer questions and help people understand more about what they were viewing.

It was truly  a memorable evening as we were lifted up and carried individually and collectively in worship on a Friday night in Albany amongst the community of saints! Icons on a mission!

Hope you all enjoy this beautiful summer, Happy Fourth of July!!

No Monday night Icon class on July 4!!

Please visit my website for information on upcoming Icon classes and retreats.

Have a blessed month,   _MG_8524

Christine Hales

Here’s a link to my Art/Icon Facebook page

and websites:  www.newchristianicons.com          www.christinehales.com     www.halesart.com

www.kingdomartsministry.com

 

 

 

 

 

The Joy of Sharing Icons

Hello Fellow Iconographers:

This month, on June 24 at 7PM, my advanced class of Icon writers and I will be sharing some of our newest Icons at a special organ concert by Al Fedak at the Westminster Presbyterian Church, 262 State Street, Albany. The concert is at 7PM and all are invited.  Free will donations will be accepted.

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I’m very excited about this opportunity to share our new work in the context of an amazing organ concert, and an added joy is the Icon Coloring Book the students are putting together for the concert and beyond. We are using our original Icon drawings and including a short description of that Icon.  Coloring books are so popular these days for adults and children. It’s a great way to center your thoughts for a few minutes and come up with something creative.  We are making the coloring book to be user friendly to all age groups and will be asking for a donation to help with printing costs. They will be amazing!

_MG_6523__So all of you former and present Iconography students – please come and bring a friend! We need to connect and share our joy of Icons together!

More local news: the Icon writing retreat at Holy Cross was really wonderful. Such a great group of people and a wonderful setting to learn and practice in. We were able to join in with the rhythm of daily prayer with the monks – heavenly!
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Here’s a video Michael made for us of that retreat:

One last thing: there are two rather long but important articles that I would like to share with you all about the correct schooling of Iconographers. These links are to The Orthodox Art Journal blog:

Introduction to Principles of Icon Training part 1

Principles of Icon Training Part 2  by Aidan Hart

For my part, the revelation I experienced when first exposed to Sacred icons was that they embodied the principles of good art.  In my art school training, those principles were not presented, although other important ones were.  I am interested in hearing what each of you thinkbirdsprint about the articles.

“We are pilgrims on a journey, and companions on the road.

We are here to help each other walk the mile and bear the load…

When we sing to God in heaven we shall find such harmony,

born of all we’ve known together, of Christ’s love and agony”

excerpted  from Celtic Daily Prayer, Northumbrian Community.

Peace, love and prayers,

Christine

Icon Writing as Quest

Dear Fellow Iconographers and Friends:

Last Chance for Introduction to Icon Writing Workshop at Holy Cross!

Mother’s Day weekend – May 6-8, at beautiful Holy Cross Monastery give yourself the gift of prayer and Icon writing!  A lot is packed into a weekend course that is designed for those who are too busy for a full 5 day retreat. You will learn how to paint using egg tempera and experience the prayerful serenity of the monastery.  Last chance to register: call the guesthouse at: 845-384-6660  ext. 3002

Here’s a short video Michael made of the Icon delivery:

So happy to have delivered the beautiful Icons to Graymoor Monastery for their Friary Chapel, exquisitely designed by award winning architect and sacred space planner, Richard S. Vosko.  Once in place, the simplicity of the Icon design worked wonderfully well with the overall design, fitting on each side of the alcove reserved for the altar. The icons are of Father Paul  Wattson, SA, and Mother Lurana White, SA, founders of Graymoor monastery in Garrison, NY.  Working on the two,  gessoed wood panels, eight feet by three feet each with gold leaf gilding, I experienced the spiritual challenge of praying, listening to God’s direction and understanding about these holy people.  As time went on, I came to listen only to Handel’s Messiah while working and to always start the painting day with Fr. Paul’s Daily Prayer:

“Lord God, You have prepared for those who love you such good things as surpass our understanding.

Pour into our hearts such love for You, that we, loving You in and above all things, may obtain Your promises which exceed all that we can desire.”

In TH White’s book, “The Once and Future King” , King Arthur commissions the Knights of the Roundtable to create a new world order- “Good over might”. Perhaps an International community of Iconographers will rise up to do the same in our contemporary world developing Icons that speak to the issues of our day.

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“The King” Acrylic Painting by Christine Hales c. 2016
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This is an Icon written by Christine Hales in 2010.

UPCOMING Events

Westminster Presbyterian Church Concert and Icon Exhibition  June 24

St. Luke’s Guild of Iconographers will exhibit our Icons during a concert with nationally known composer and pipe organist Alfred Fedak at Westminster Presbyterian Church, Albany, NY, on Friday, June 24.  Save the Date.

St. Gregory’s Episcopal Church Icon Exhibition Currently until June 1, I have ten Icons in an exhibition with Iconographer Ferris Cook at St. Gregory’s Episcopal Church, Woodstock, NY.  Quite an interesting contemporary take on Icons- worth seeing on a Sunday or by Appt.

ADVANCED Icon Writing Class every Monday 6-9PM at Westminster Presbyterian Church, Chestnut St. Entrance, Albany,NY. email to register: christine@newchristianicons.com

Prayers and Blessings, until next month,

Christine Hales

www.newchristianicons.com                    www.christinehales.com

www.kingdomartsministry.com

 

 

“Modern” Icons

Dear Friends and Fellow Iconographers:  IMG_8464 (1)

“Modern” Icons what a concept!  But in truth, that is what we are creating – Icons that are built upon the solid foundation of the past, but also informed with the spiritual transformative issues of our own time.

I also think that the Icon can be an agent of spiritual transformation, inducing restorative healing and re-integration regarding our relationship with God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. There are so many types and genres of Icons and each has a power to meet us half way taking us into closer union with God as we contemplate and enter into prayer.

I’d like to draw your attention to this article in the Orthodox Art Journal. It is an interview with highly educated Serbian Iconographer Todor Mitrovic, whose visual “style” is modern and interpretive. Here’s an excerpt from Mr. Mitrovic:

“As with all great art, Medieval icons are full of sophisticated messages and we can speak with them every day, and (exactly because of this) it is almost an insult to treat such depth as a surface to be copied. Old icons are copied because we recognize their depth, but if there is the possibility to learn the language they speak (instead of transcribing visual text we do not understand) it is irresponsible not to explore such a possibility. Learning this language should be our starting point: only when we use this language in creative ways (and it’s similar to the way a poet uses it while writing hymnography) can our icons become actual theology in color.

So finally, my answer to the initial question is: we cannot escape being contemporary in icon painting, but it is up to us to decide how to use our contemporary position. Are we going to use it as an artistic/technological process to hide our spiritual confusion, or are we going to use it as a way of an active Christian being in the world?”

And:  “I suggest a different option: If we want to do something evangelical with our Church art, then we need to learn the language of Medieval art and the language of contemporary art. We need to identify the achievements from the second and use them to inform the first. This is the only way the renovation of Medieval art can become the authentic pictorial language of the church, and not some archaeological or museum project, produced for experts or the elite and overlaid with the pious aroma of Medievalism.”

It is exciting that Iconographers around the world are grappling with the task of creating Holy and sacred Icons that speak to our modern times. I suggest you read the entire article, see the images, and also read the comments to get a grasp on the nature of this endeavor.

Here in Albany, the Saint Luke’s Guild of Iconography will be “spreading the joy of Icons” at Westminster Presbyterian Church on State Street, Albany for the May 6 First Friday Celebration, and also for Sat. June 4 at the First Presbyterian Church, Hudson, NY.   IMG_0995

Our regular Monday evening Icon writing class will meet every Monday except April 18, from 6-9PM.

I’ll be leading an “Introduction to Icon Writing Retreat” at Holy Cross Monastery, May 6-8.  Egg tempera and gold leaf gilding. Still time to register.

The two 8′ x 3′ Icons in egg tempera for Graymoor Monastery in Garrison, NY are now finished.  Here are some photos of the olifa process and the “drying tent”! photoIMG_1010

 

 

 

 

Be well, until next month, Blessings,

Christine Hales     www.newchristianaicons.com

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Meditation and Contemplation

Dear Fellow Iconographers:

How do we meditate and contemplate God through the Icons?  A good question now that at least more than half the world I live in here in upstate New York associates the word “meditation” with Eastern philosophy.

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But Icons have a long history of being used in contemplation and meditation, and we specialize in bringing the valuable truths of the past into our present time.  Mystical Eastern spirituality has as its aim for the Icons “to open the heart in contemplative prayer to the transforming vision of God’s Glory.” The Glenstal Book of Icons.

Carl Jung wrote extensively on the power of symbols on our unconscious minds.  Symbolic imagery in Icons helps to bypass our intellect and send a message straight to our hearts. For example, I can’t see an image of Mary and the Christ child without immediately identifying with the the Christ Child, and sensing what it was like to be mothered by the gentle, sweet Mary, or identifying with Mary and deeply experiencing what it was like to hold Christ in her arms and nurture him so that he could flourish.  Whenever I see that image I think of my newest painting or Icon and ask in prayer, how can I be Mary to my painting? How can I be the Christ child in Mary’s arms to my art work?  Each time, in contemplation and meditation new facets and ideas come as a result. Ideas I would not have had otherwise.Top Met Paintings Before 1860 04 Duccio di Buoninsegna Madonna and Child

“Through the symbolism of the icons, access is gained to the absolute otherness of God in the silent union of mystical prayer: one goes through the sense of sight to the one who is beyond all vision. The meditative work demanded in absorbing the imagery of the icons is essential if  prayer is to reach such a state beyond ideas, images, and acts- beyond the work of the head.  Only thus can the prayer we make with the body and the mind become a real “heart work”, a deep transforming union with God in love. The mystical traditions of Christianity, East and West, all teach that such prayer is the only source of inner peace and stability.  It is the pearl of great price, the treasure hidden in the field, of which the Gospel speaks. Matthew 13:44-46″  The Glenstal Book of Icons, Gregory Collins, OSB    IMG_1580

The Saint Luke’s Guild of Iconography will be sharing our newest Icons with outreaches to the community this spring and early summer. We will try to share the stories of each saint in our Icons as well as have dialogue with the public about prayer and meditation with the Icons.  The first two venues are planned to be: Westminster Presbyterian Church in Albany, 1st Presbyterian church in Hudson. We plan to create a traveling exhibition so if your church would like to host one, and perhaps hear a lecture on Icons, let me know.  “Never forget the joy of spreading Icons throughout the world”!

RECOMMENDED SOURCE FOR ICON MATERIALS:

Natural Pigments  is an excellent source of tempera materials, gold leaf, anything you need to make Icons- they probably have.  They also have a section called “articles” another page on their website that is full of useful materials information.

UPCOMNG ICON WRITING CLASSES:

Albany, New York Westminster Presbyterian Church, Chestnut St., Monday evenings 6-9PM. Class size is limited-email to ensure space.

Holy Cross Monastery, West Park, NY  May 6-8 Friday night, all day Saturday and Sunday afternoon, Introduction to Icon Writing.

Here is a video that my husband, Michael who most of you know, made recently about art and the Creator.. Hope you enjoy it!

Until next month, be blessed!

Christine