Saint Luke’s Guild of Iconography

Hello Fellow Iconographers:

Such a beautiful summer.  God’s creation is never so felt and experienced as in the beautiful summer months and upstate NY has been in a sweet weather pattern for most of august with beautiful sunny warm days.

Our Saint Luke’s Gild is comprised of eight students, several of whom have studied Icon writing with for several years. The emphasis that I bring to the sacred art of Icon writing is that of color theory, fine art , and sacred geometry principles in composition.  The work of the guild members is unique and interesting, bringing both the spiritual qualities of prayer and sacred reading in an integrated approach to the creation of an icon with good fine art principles as well. _MG_3831

The Guild has a Facebook page: We are an ecumenical community of artists and artisans who are committed to making art that is reflective of a deep Spirituality and Faith in God. We do this primarily through the practice of writing Christian icons and studying the historical background and hymnody, and lectio divina relationships within the visual imagery of iconography. We believe in the didactic value of icons and engage with prayer as part of our painting practice and have exhibitions of our work in order to engage our community with God’s presence and action of His Holy Spirit at work in our Icons.

This month I wanted to mention one of the guild members: Jennifer Richard-Morrow, who is a fine artist, specializing in pastels, oils and icons. She is a long time member of Saint Vincent’s Church in Albany where she serves as a member of the funeral ministry, helping with the funeral services, particularly with elderly people who have no relatives or few friends left.pastels 023

Jennifer has also had a lifelong interest in local New York history and has worked as an historical interpreter for the State at upstate Historic Houses and museums. She is currently on staff at Thomas Cole House in Catskill. Her Icon of Kateri Tekakwitha is one of the most historically accurate ones in existence today.

Richard-Marrow_fnl_downsizedJennifer and the other Iconographers and members of the Guild live a life of prayer and service to their local churches and  communities.

On September 14, we will be moving the location of our Icon writing class to Westminster Presbyterian Church on State Street in Albany, NY. We meet on Monday evenings and it is recommended that interested people take an introduction to Icon Writing class with Christine before starting the Monday evening class.

UPCOMING INTRODUCTION TO ICON WRITING CLASSES

St. James Episcopal Church   Fri evening, 6:00 – 9PM, Saturday, 9-5PM -Sunday, 1:30-5:00PM  October 16-18th  Cost $215 includes materials and lunch Saturday.  Email Grace Beecham to register: gbeecham@stjames.org or christine@newchristianicons.com._MG_3841

INTERESTING ARTICLE ABOUT GREEK ICONOGRAPHY

The following excerpt is taken from The Orthodox Arts Journal blog, and I include this because internationally many of us Iconographers have a similar approach – that of bringing forward the good from the past, but not slavishly copying. The task of creating a fully authentic 21st Century Icon is before us.

“Kontoglou and the rest of the 30’s generation where not turning to the past out of conservativism, but as a step to redefine the path of Greek art.

He was interested in reviving the orthodox aesthetic that had been heavily compromised by Western naturalistic ways of expression. In this aspect he was a real revolutionary; he managed to overturn the established church painting norms of the time (which was heavily influenced by the so-called ‘Munich painters’) by letting in, a “strong breeze from the east”. It was much later in his career, I believe, that his teachings were over-systematized. This led many of his followers to a stagnant and uninspiring way of painting icons based on mere copying with lack of artistic personality.”

Another Greek Iconographer in this article is Spyros Papaloukas who has another interesting approach to the creation of an authentic contemporary Icon, and here again, I quote from the blog :

Spyros Papaloukas saw in Byzantine art elements that were critical to the modern art movement and in many cases realized that solutions to artistic problems posed by his contemporaries were to be found in Byzantium. In several cases these gave him the answers to formal problems that were vital to painters of his time. Flatness and the adherence to the two-dimensional character of a painting, the possibility of the coexistence of multiple view points, the vital part that color played as an expressive and not merely descriptive element – all these were characteristics that modern painting shared with Byzantine art. This has been noticed even by modern painters whose art had no obvious religious focus such as Malevich and the other Russian avant-gardes, or like Henri Matisse. Matisse made a statement very much in accordance to Papaloukas, about 20 years later, in 1947, when he confronted for the first time Byzantine icons on his trip to Russia: “It was before the icons in Moscow, that this art touched me and I understood Byzantine painting. You surrender yourself that much better when you see your efforts confirmed by such an ancient tradition. It helps you jump the ditch.”  You can read the entire blog and see the color illustrations here.

These ideas and issues help us here in America to join with our international counterparts in thinking and praying our way to what God is asking us to do with His Icons today.  st lukeprint

Thank you all for reading, and we ask your prayers for us in this work.

Many blessings,
Christine Simoneau Hales

www.newchristianicons.com

www.christinehales.com

Exciting Pentecost Icon Dedication

Hello Fellow Iconographers and Friends:

Last Sunday, in Pentecost, the beautiful eight Icon panels for St. Vincent’s Church in Albany, NY, were unveiled and dedicated.  It was a glorious celebration as they were warmly and enthusiastically welcomed into St. Vincent’s Church! Father Richard Vosco reminded us that as we are looking at the Icons, they are looking back at us! This invitation to draw near to God is a striking quality of Icons._MG_3841

“Gradually the Icon will re-educate us, correcting any inclination we may have to think of God as harsh or distant (Psalm 103:8).  It will call to mind his loving kindness and infinite humility.  We should ask, like the monks and mystics of the East, that a ray of uncreated light-God’s transfiguring grace-may shine in the darkness of our hearts. Then a spring of compassion will rise up in us to flow out to all who are in need.”  The Glenstall Book of Icons, Gregory Collins, OSB

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Certainly the Saints depicted in the Icons speak to a life of compassion for the poor and downtrodden: Saint Vincent de Paul, Louise de Marillac, Dorothy Day, Elizabeth Ann Seton, Kateri Tekakwitha, Pope John XXIII, Saint Francis, and Rose of Lima. It was an honor and a  privilege to work on the Icons for a church like Saint Vincent’s who’s motto is “radical hospitality” and unity.  The scale of the 48 x 36″ Icons fit perfectly in the arched alcove and worked with the placement of the altar in the center of the worship space to convey the feeling that we were worshipping with “the communion of saints”. Betsy Rowe-Manning, church administrator, created a beautiful sheer gold veil that was pulled down during the worship, allowing for a clear view of all the Icons for the first time. Breathtaking moment! I was blessed to have my son, daughter-in-law and granddaughter in attendance, along with Iconographer friends from the St. Luke’s Guild present. Special thanks to Thomas Nelson for his expert installation of the Icons!

This coming week – June1-5, I will be taking a course with Russian Iconographers from St. Petersburg, Philip and Olga Davydov, held at the Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington DC. They have a unique style and vision which is well informed since Philip learned Iconography from his father, a  Russian Orthodox priest.

Here are scontemporary_icon_of_holy_mandylion fresco_mural_mother_of_god_in_altar_apseome quotes from their website that give me the impression that theirs is an evolving genuine sacred art, working to create a contemporary visual language for today’s Iconography: Sacred Murals.com

“One can say that Philip and Olga typify a new generation in icon-painting in the sense that they relate to a new stage of its development.”

” they have developed their original style, while upholding strict canon rules and deep tradition. In the modern Orthodox art these qualities often do not blend. ”

saint_john_the_divine_fresco_in_altar_apse“Meanwhile, modern copies attain neither the depth of spirituality, nor the artistic quality of the ancient monuments. The period of replicas has been exhausted; nevertheless some iconographers persist in cloning old masterpieces.”

The “New generation icon painters proved to be more creative and free. Even though young artists were mastering traditional icon-painting technology, following the canons, and referring to the ancient samples, they nevertheless have quickly realized that copying, once useful at the time of studies, prevented them from creating a genuine sacred image. Based on a centuries-old tradition, it must express today’s faith and acquire a language of its own. ”

Don’t Forget the upcoming Introduction to Icon Writing Retreat on June 12-14 in Hillsdale, NY.  The total cost, including lunch,, snacks, and materials is $215.00. Friday night, all day Saturday and Sunday afternoon schedule. We have a limited amount of lodging available from the Christian Community church so reserve now. Email:Christine@newchristianicons.com   72040c31c54a5fd74d8d44b2675e79ac

This month’s featured Iconographer is Veronica Royal, a fellow Iconographer I met in Washington DC.  She works primarily in acrylics and travels widely with her writer husband, Robert Royal while at the same time maintaining a popular weekly Icon writing workshop on Saturday mornings.

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Veronica is sponsoring Romanian Iconographer Daniel Necula, June 22-27. His Iconographic style incorporates both the Greek and the Russian styles. She agrees that teaching Iconography is a big responsibility and can only be done through prayer and incorporating all the Canons so that people can read the Icons correctly. That is especially important when creating prototypes for new Icons. Studying with Iconographers from Russia, Greece and Europe, is one way of maintaining an Iconographic practice that allows for creativity and honoring the traditions.  Her website is:  Royal Icon Studio in Annandale, VA.  Veronica is part of the worldwide Iconographic renaissance, maintaining a studio in the Washington DC area.ea3a3e4745f331ac96cef816fa641f90

 

 

Bless you all, please keep my work in prayer, as I do yours! One of Dorothy Day’s mottos was “Work and Pray”!  I second that!

Blessings,      Christine

 www.newchristianicons.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

 

Make More Happen

Dear Friends:                       popefrancisweb

I saw the above title on an advertising circular and thought it to be a good slogan for artists!  Put simply, just do it!  In the artist Way group that’s been meeting at my home, the idea of inner resistance comes up a lot, and it’s very interesting to observe what happens when we get past some of our resistance!

I was able to reconnect with my ballet training and start to feel that old excitement again-only to realize that movement is an important element in my painting. It’s what makes the difference for me! Hadn’t really thought about it before, but now it’s something I can consciously include and it makes me happy!

ezekielwebSpeaking of happy, here’s a book I’m reading that I highly recommend: “Joy Starts Here, The Transformation zone” by Wilder, Khouri, Coursey, and Sutton. It talks about a life model for sustainable joy and bringing joy to low-joy areas.  It’s wonderful!  We’ve talked in our Iconography class about the Rule of St. Benedict and it’s application to successful community formation. The joy book is equally a necessary building block to fruitful community formation.  The students in my class have formed the St.Luke’s Guild of Iconography and are exploring mission, values, and identity as a guild.  We have a FB page https://www.facebook.com/pages/St-Lukes-Guild-of-Iconography/1412750012275793  that you are welcome to “like”, and see what we are up to!     StBenedictweb

Another recommendation for you: Orthodox Arts Journal blog post on Iconographer Fr. Zenon.  He’s a fascinating and controversial Iconographer whose style is both traditional and innovative and one that I personally appreciate.

Here are a couple of snapshots of the work-in progress for Saint Vincent’s Church in albany, NY. There will be eight large icon panels, of Saint Vincent, Dorothy Day, Louise deMarrilac,  Rose of Lima, Francis, Kateri, Elizabeth Ann Seton, and John XXIII.

Saturday, November 22 at Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church in Albany, NY I will be giving a workshop on “Joy and Prophetic Art”.  Starts about 12:00 noon and all are welcome.

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photo 5Sunday, November 23  I will be speaking at Christian Community Church, Hillsdale, NY on “Concerning the Spiritual in Art”. This will complete the month long exhibition of my pairings and Icons there. The talk  begins at 11:45 and all are welcome. I’ll be teaching a ten week Icon Writing Class there starting Jan. 15, 6-9pm. Email me to sign up: chales@halesart.com

Soon, my website : www.newchristianicons.com will have a new look!  Hopefully it will be finished in about two weeks.  after that, this blog will also have a new format!   I welcome suggestions :).

Blessings and Peace,  Christine

(All artwork in this post is by Christine Hales, and  copyright protected. Feel free to contact me for reproduction rights.)

August News

Greetings Fellow Iconographers:   1932216_686372508136394_3658146590349146209_n

August has been filled with amazing weather, good friends and lots of house repairs!  Storm damage added to the list so it’s been challenging keeping to the teaching and painting schedule that is my regular studio practice but it’s been working out – with a little help from my friends.

Here are some Icon Classes that are ongoing or coming up that I am teaching – all egg tempera:   Here’s a photo of last Saturday’s class in Philmont

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  • Monday evenings 6-9pm Our Savior’s Lutheran Church, Albany, NY next class is Sept. 1 . We will celebrate  Labor Day – anyone know of an appropriate patron saint of Labor Day 🙂 ?  The class meets every Monday night in September and October, except October 20.
  • Thursday evenings 6-9PM  Cathedral of all Saints, Albany, NY meets August14, 21, Sept 4,11,18,25 and Oct. 2
  • Icon Healing Retreat, Saratoga, Sept 5&6 Fully subscribed  October 25 &26 some openings  available. Email  Catherine Lanci for a brochure and application: nurselanci@hotmail.com
  • Tuesday Evenings 6-9pm , Introduction to Icon Writing -5 weeks, Arts Center of the Capital Region, Troy, NY.

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A photo from the opening reception for my landscape paintings  at Beauregard Fine Arts was fun and well attended- contact Kathy Donnelly for purchase information on the paintings.

WHERE DO THE ICONS GO?

Some of my students have their icons go to some very lovely people and places- here are some examples: Dahlia Herring’s Theotokos-Hodigitria is at St. Francis Catholic Church, Albany and her Teresa of Jesus Icon is at the Mount Carmel Convent in Maryland.  Michael Shirk’s Holy Father Augustine Icon is with the Augustinians of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Philadelphia, PA and Jennifer Richard-Morrow’s Elouisa Madonna is in a private collection.

Michael Shirk, one of the Albany Icon students is a gifted musician and also editor. He has created an English Book of Votives and several other prayer books that are available on Rene Villate Press.

I leave you with a quote from a painting I am working on this next week. It is from the book of Joshua 1:7  “Be strong and very courageous.  Obey all the laws Moses gave you.  Do not turn away from them, and you will be successful in everything that you do.”       May God bless you and the World with His peace and love.

Christine Hales

www.newchristianicons.com       www.kingdomartsministry.com

www.christinehales.com      British Association of Iconographers

 

April is Holy Fool Month!

According to Mathew Woodley, who wrote “Holy Fools” , the main qualification of a Holy Fool is following Jesus with reckless abandon.  “Only a fool would attempt to change the world with a simple message of love and peace…” St. John Chrysostom.

photo copy 15 Saint Anthony’s ability to apply spiritual discipline was so extreme as to manifest in  victory even over the demons!  He demonstrated that , according to poet Kathleen Norris, asceticism is “a radical way of knowing who, what, and where you are in defiance of those powerful forces in society…that aim to make us forget..”.   (Holy Fools, Woodley).  I think that icon writing, as a form of spiritual discipline, helps us on that path of spiritual discernment and asceticism, a confidence in who we are in Christ, that brings us closer to “a heart overflowing with the inexpressible delight of love.”

The Icon Talk at Saint Gregory’s Episcopal Church was well received and the exhibition is a lovely collection of 32 beautiful icons, different stylistically, but all radiating the same holiness and beauty.  Worth seeing if you can get to Woodstock on a Sunday morning.

Coming up in Woodstock:  WAAM  April 26, 4PM.  “Concerning the Spiritual in Art”  I’ll give a talk connecting Icons with Matisse, Chagall, Kandinsky and the Blue Rider School and speculate on how that plays out in the New Renaissance in Iconography today. Free and open to all.

Woodstock Icon Writing Class:  Mondays, 1-4 PM Beginning June 2; See my website for more details on Icon Writing Classes

 

This Saturday is the opening Reception for this faces exhibition I curated and partnered with Columbia County Arts Council and Columbia County Chamber of Commerce to present some great art and we will hear from some talented writers who will share their readings on April 12, too. Free and part of Hudson’ below 3rd Dine Arts Celebration – Come and See!

Faces announcement low res 72dpi

 

Here is the most recent video with Sister Vassa:  All Iconography students will gain important information – a must see!    It is well done and humorous.

Coffee with Sister Vassa Ep 24, ( Week 5 of Lent)

 

Here is a link to a beautiful art/faces video.    Really a treat to watch!   stlukeweb

I’m unveiling my newest, favorite icon at the opening reception and it shall remain a mystery until this Saturday!  I’ll include it next month for those who can’t make the Hudson show.  This one of Saint Luke is also a recent one.

The Vatican is apparently digitizing 41 million pages of  ancient manuscripts: click here for more information on that one.

NEWSWORTHY

Art News article in the April, 2014,  issue: “Icons on the Barricades” by Konstantin Akinsha refers specifically to Kyiv anti government clashes where artists created various forms of interactive art to participate in the protest.  Interesting that they would use the word “Icon” in the title, but they were referring more to contemporary artists. However, there have been Orthodox priests carrying icons on the battle front too.  Food for thought.

One last note:  David Clayton’s Blog :The Way of Beauty” has an interesting post on naturalism in sacred art.  Worth reading to clarify that important issue.

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Blessings and prayers to you all. Please keep our School of Iconography and Saint Luke’s Guild of Iconographers in your prayers as you are in ours!

Prayerfully,

Christine Simoneau Hales

www.iconwritingclasses.com

www.christinehales.com

www.newchristianicons.com