Artist as Priest

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Greetings:

In his blog, “Way of Beauty”, David Clayton, Pontifex University, posted recently an article on “Artist as Priest”.   He makes the connection that both the  priest, in ministering the sacraments, and the artist, in creating beauty,  make visible the invisible Kingdom of God.

“The role of the artist is to present new revelations of the divine, to show the beauty of the world, lit by the grace of God to a people who have become blind to it. The artist presents transcendent truths in a form that can be seen and comprehended by all. He also shows us the spiritual world in such a way that we can grasp its meaning and impact on our lives, if not its actual appearance.”

Deacon Lawrence,  a deacon in Sacramento, CA, in a related blog post, Artist as Teacher, says that the artist teaches through his art.  “The work of the artist reflects the splendor of God, brings hope and joy to His people, and lifts hearts and minds to His Divine.”

In both of these blog posts, the writer is speaking about artists, and that would include Iconographers, but would also include artists who create religious art.

On the topic of correct behavior and training specifically for Iconographers there are two other posts to consider.

Aidan Hart and Irina Gannota

British Iconographer Aidan Hart has written an article for Orthodoxy in Dialogue, “Icons and Culture: Transformation or Appropriation ?”.  In his article, Aidan states that healthy Iconography is Pentecostal because it declares eternal truths in the language of its viewers. He reminds us that Iconographers today have a difficult task that requires both discernment and creativity.

Aidan goes on to say that, “our postmodern society puts iconography in an even more challenging situation than the early Church, for we are exposed to a plethora of images on a scale like no other culture before us.”

This article is informative and very useful to those who are beginners or continuing to learn Icon writing.  It covers the important aspects of authenticity and sacredness and shows historical documentation that allows the reader to see and understand the nuanced world of Icon writing today.

The second article, Iconography as Byzantine Portraiture,  was written by Irina Gannota in response to Aidan Hart’s article and also published on the Orthodoxy in Dialogue website.  Irina states that Iconography could be thought of as a style of medieval painting and should be taught as such at Iconography schools.

Both of these articles help to flesh out some of the disturbing elements that can infiltrate Icon writing, and they help to bring into our awareness the need to carefully consider our methods and motives in Icon writing.908772004bc1f594ddc030f68da73373

Theoria

We know that in the Old Testament, God assigns specific jobs and roles to people who are artists and artisans.  In Exodus 36, God calls His artists and craftsmen to design and make craft work, and to pass on their skill and spirit by teaching, Exodus 36:1-2.   Teaching is a gift of the Spirit, 1 Corinthians 12:28.

The Greek word, “theoria”, means intelligent contemplation and encompasses the process of understanding Scripture.  It is a gift of the presence and activity of the  Holy Spirit.  The early Church fathers perceived a depth of meaning when reading and meditating on the Holy Scriptures that we can only approximate today.  But it is this very depth that is indicative of the Iconographic vision and perspective.

One can deduce then, the importance of Biblical study and interpretation in the light of Icon writing and training.  In this way, Icon writing becomes a form of lectio divina, sometimes referred to as “visio divina”.Transfiguration, Rublev, ca 1405, The Kremlin, Moscow

The Lifestyle of an Iconographer

Symbolical realism in the Icon that is based on spiritual experience and vision needs its link to Tradition and meaning in order to flourish.  It is not an easy thing to manifest this perspective.  It takes discipline, being rooted in a  life giving Church that nurtures an ongoing relationship with God, good spiritual directors, good art/Icon writing training, and quality fellowship with other believers.

Until next month,

Be blessed and a blessing,

Christine Hales

Icon Website    Fine Art Website

 

 

 

 

 

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

Travels to the UK and Italy

Hello Fellow Iconographers:photo 1

The Beginning of September was the start of our trip to the UK for a family wedding in Leeds, but we were able to make a detour to Shropshire and interview Aidan Hart, Iconographer and author of the book we use in Icon writing class: “Techniques of Icon and Wall Painting”,  for Yale University Radio.

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I was so happy that Aidan could make time for us, and upon leaving he said that he had just completed a large Icon for a church in Leeds! We were in Leeds at Michael’s sister’s home about 15 minutes when we realized that church was a fifteen minute walk- so off we all went. The icons were beautiful, and Father Michael of St. Urban’s invited us to come the following morning to his other church, also in Leeds,  to see another Aidan Hart Icon. Once there, we were amazed to see the 16′ fresco of the Transfiguration that Aidan had recently completed – in ten days according to Fr. Michael. It is the largest commissioned fresco since the Reformation, he told us.

Here’s the interview:    photophoto 2

 

Our next travels took us to Venice to see the Biennale and the wonders of the Byzantine Cathedral of San Marco.  I’ll be giving a gallery talk this Saturday, Sept 26, 6-8pm at the McDaris Gallery on Warren St. Hudson that will touch on the Biennale and Byzantine art.  (You’re all welcome to attend!).

 

From Venice, we got to Rome, where we stayed at a convent within walking distance of the Vatican-our destination! God blessed me with achieving my heart’s desire to give Pope _MG_0831 (1)Francis the portrait I had done of him! At breakfast, the nun suggested that I might give my portrait of the Pope to him if the guards would help me. By God’s grace, we met a friendly Italian music composer at breakfast who offered to walk with us to the Vatican. after Mass, he began asking the guards around the Vatican if I could give my portrait to the Pope. He pleaded eloquently, in Italian, to seven sets of guards! Finally I was able to write a note to accompany my gift and the last guard _MG_0218 (1)promised that he would personally deliver it to the Pope the next morning! I was the happiest I could be! We had such a wonderful trip but that was the highlight for me. Seeing the Sistine Chapel again and the architecture in St. Peter’s Basilica, too, impressed me with a sense of excellence that can only be experienced in that place.photo 2photo 3

So, back to earth, the Albany advanced Icon writing class has changed venue and is now held on Monday nights 6-9PM at Westminster Presbyterian Church, 262 State St., Albany, NY.

Also coming up is the Introduction to Icon Writing Retreat at St. James Church on Madison Ave, in NYC, Oct 16-18. Registration is still open, email Grace Beecham at: GBeacham@stjames.org to register.

A Few Notes of Interest:photo 3

Stephan Rene will be lecturing at the Prince’s School of Traditional Arts on Coptic Iconography.

British Association of Iconographers will have its annual members exhibition October 14-16 at St. Saviour’s Church, St. George’s Square, London.

Until next month, be blessed,

+ Christine

“”A full reward will be given thee of the Lord God of Israel, under whose wings thou art come to trust.” Ruth 2:12

www.newchristianicons.com

Icons-Evolving As A Message for the Twenty-First Century

Dear Friends and Fellow Iconographers:

It is an exciting time to be writing Icons.  The inspiration of Andrei Rublev writing the great “Holy Spirit” Icon as a symbol for trinity-webunity – a unity that was so needed in his country at that time, is applicable to us all today.  What are the Icons our culture NEEDS?  What are the issues that need to be addressed in prayer and how can we make timeless images that can help to focus the prayer of a nation?

After attending the icon Workshop held at Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington DC, led by Philip Davydov, I am inspired even more to explore this idea of an American Iconography.  In light of the recent events in Charleston, SC. I feel an urgency to address the needs of our country in prayer and Sacred Imagery.

Dutch Sheets: “I have great hope for America because the depth of a fall never determines God’s ability to restore. I’m not afraid of the powerful strongholds because size and strength are completely irrelevant when measuring His ability to deliver. And I’m not intimidated because statistical odds, whether of success or failure, cease to be relevant when God is involved. His limitless ability negates the very concept of “odds,” and trumps all other winning hands.”

Just a short time before the Charleston shooting, a conference on painting Sacred icons the twenty-first Century was held, also in Charleston.

Here is a link to the “Living Tradition” Symposium organized by the Orthodox Arts Journal in Charleston, South Carolina.  The ideas expressed are interesting ones to thoughtfully consider. It’s my opinion that it would have been good to have some American women Iconographers as well as some of the talented Romanian and other InternationaI Iconographers present to represent their views as well.

In a recent article in The New Liturgical Movement, noted  Iconographer Aidan Hart wrote an article entitled “Diversity within Iconography – An Artistic Pentecost”. Here is an excerpt:

But where does the mean lie between unspiritual innovation on the one hand and mere duplication on the other? Genuine variety in liturgical art occurs when the iconographer unites spiritual vision with artistic ability – energized with courage and the blessing of God. Vision without artistic ability produces pious daubs. Not every saint can paint icons. Although icons are more than art, but they are not less than art.”

This is a blessed time to have such great artists and Iconographers working together to create an authentic sacred art for the twenty-first century.  I feel called to encourage community amongst iconographers, accepting our differences and celebrating our shared strengths. Very much like Pentecost, we can all receive the Holy Spirit but God will give each of us a language that can speak to our countries.photo 4

Locally, one of my students, and a member of the St. Luke’s Iconography Guild, Dahlia Herring, has transformed her contemplative approach to Iconography into action:

“A Refugee Art Exhibit- Resettling In Albany”

Through art work and written stories, the children from some of the most war-torn countries on earth, including Burma, Iraq and Afghanistan, express what it means to leave everything familiar and start a brand new life in the United States. These young artists eloquently and directly voice their hopes and disappointments, their fears and joys as the begin their new lives and education in Albany. The exhibit will be in the City Hall Rotunda until June 30th. You can find pictures of the Open House for this exhibit on FaceBook at https://www.facebook.com/USCRI.Albany. A Refugee Art Exhibit: Resettling in Albany was organized by the Capital Region Refugee Roundtable (co-chaired by Dahlia Herring) and the Albany Office of the US Committee for Refugees and Immigrants.

Also Local News:  Albany Icon Writing Classes Monday nights  June 22, NO CLASS June 29, . For July, Classes July 6,13, 27 ( No Class July 20.)

Also NOTE:  Another member of the St. Luke’s Iconography Guild discovered a pigment company in California that has good pigments at a reasonable cost. Worth looking into!  Agulis Pigments :agulisfarm@live.com

Look forward to hearing from you and have a blessed summer.

Christine

www.newchristianicons.com

www.christinehales.com

www.kingdomartsministry.com 

New Beginnings

Hello Friends and Iconographers:

Celebrating the end of a long cold winter by starting new Icons! I’m hoping to get started on my Saint Brigit, one of the most remarkable Irish Saints of the fifth Century,  by the first of May.  Brigit saw God in nature and was said to have believed the dew, particularly in the month of May,photo was holy and cleansing.

I’ve finished a Christ”Not Made with Human Hands” Icon that will be in an exhibition of my landscapes at the Chatham Bookstore, opening May 8.

_MG_2146 (1)We’re hoping the eight large – 4’x3′ Icons for Saint Vincent dePaul’s Church in Albany will be installed on Pentecost, May 24 this year.  I will send out an invite when it is finalized.

 

FEATURED ICONOGRAPHER  

Each month in this blog, I hope to feature an Iconographer and his/her work, so that we can become familiar with the depth and breadth of Iconography as it is being practiced today. This month’s featured iconographer is Peter Pearson, the author of “A Brush With God: An Icon Workbook”.  I always love seeing his recent Icons- truly  beautiful expressions of his life in prayer and community.

 

vladimir doc 3From Peter:      “For the last 45 years, Byzantine icons have been a passion and driving force in my life. I love looking at them, studying them, praying with them, and painting them. Even now, after all this time, I’m pretty sure I’ve only scratched the surface. Rather than seeing icons as some lost and tragically frozen art form, I see them as a dynamically evolving part of the Christian witness through the ages. They have been a part of my contemplative practice, especially in the painting. That’s the place where I dissolve and there is only the brush stroke and the prayer. Through the icons I paint, the books I have written, and the classes I teach, I get to share this amazing adventure with others and I love it.joseph finished
As an iconographer who uses contemporary materials (acrylic paints), I am often challenged to defend my practice and that’s a bit exhausting. The witness of the centuries testifies to the fact that in every age, iconographers have used many different media to created these holy images. For me, as well as for many others, the point is prayer and not what the paint is made of. Like one of my teachers, Phil Zimmerman always says: “You can make a religion out of anything, including eggs.” I prefer not to and it’s working for me.” 

4 revised (2)For information on his workshops and full bio visit Peter ‘s website : peterpearsonicons.com.

Just a passing news note: My FB friend Dylan Hartley posted that he and Aidan Hart are in Rome visiting the Pope in honor of an Icon Aidan did for him.  Praise God!  I’m so excited for them!

And lastly, I’m offering a weekend Introduction to Icon Writing retreat :

INTRODUCTION TO ICON WRITING June 12-14
Dates: June 12-14 Christian Community, 10 Green River Lane, Hillsdale, NY 12529
We will be writing the Saint Michael Icon in the Russian/Byzantine tradition with egg tempera and gold leaf gilding. We will be painting Archangel Michael.   Weekend Retreat: Starting Friday night 6-9PM, Saturday 9am to 5pm and Sunday 1-5PM Mid morning and mid afternoon break, lunch provided, It will be fast paced, with demonstrations and individual teaching instruction. Cost : $215.00 Includes meals and materials. To register email: Christine@newchristianicons.com, or chales@halesart.com.

“Those who have cleansed the eye of their soul and are capable of seeing beautiful things make the visible become a springboard for the contemplation of the spiritual”  Gregory of Nyssa

Blessings and love,

Christine

www.newchristianicons.com

www.christinehales.com

www.kingdomartsministry.com

 

Cold, Snow, and St. Patrick competition!

Hello from the frozen North!

Sitting out another snowstorm, I’m reading the life of Francis of Assisi. One of the nicest things about writing Icons is studying the Saints and their livesphoto 6, trying to understand the qualities they had that caused them to shine God’s light to those around them.

One of the most lovable traits Francis had was his love for all creation, because all creatures are a gift from God. He preached to the birds, he loved animals, but he did not like ants! He felt they worked too hard and their endless activity was a sign of greed.  Hmmmmm. 🙂

We’ve been praying the St. Francis prayer in my Icon classes and workshops, increasing our prayers for world peace. Another nice thing about writing Icons in small groups is praying together and growing closer to each other as a result.

My intention for this Art/Icon blog is to share the work I’m doing, and the work of my students and other Iconographers as well as serving as a resource of useful and interesting art/Icon links.  I do want to say that the Icon Writing Retreat at Saint James’ Church in NYC was so beautiful. What a beautiful church and such great people – I miss them already!

So, here are some good links to view:SL-34-2014-2-2-204

Metropolitan Museum of Art: Winchester Bible- beautiful medieval Bible only on view until March 8.

Modern Orthodox Icon Painting-a website from Russia with lots of good info.

Aidan Hart Newsletter: Great Britain Iconographer

Natural Pigments: An excellent source of Iconography supplies

Art/21 newsletter: Interesting contemporary art news.

Museum of Contemporary Religious Art -where we need to have an Icon exhibit!

Iconographer Veronica Royal is offering an Icon Writing Workshop in the VA area June 22-27. Contact her for  more details: veronicaroyal@cox.net

Some my Icons are currently on display at Saint Vincent’s Church in Albany, Saint Gregory’s Episcopal Church in Woodstock, and Elijah Slocum in Hudson New York. I will have a painting in an exhibition in Hudson at the CCCA gallery and several more at the Red Raven Gallery in Lancaster, PA, and Beauregard Fine Art in Rumson NJ.st patrick

Who was Saint Patrick? What was the compelling spiritual essence of his story in ancient Ireland? How does he matter to you in your spiritual life?  The winning comment will receive one of my new Icon pendants that sell for $20.00,  as a reward! Email me by March 15 with your answers!

ang rnd

Have a blessed month and I’ll write again when there’s more news!

Blessings and love,

Christine

www.christinehales.com

www.newchristianicons.com