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

 

Intercessory Prayer and Painting

_MG_6742__Intercessory prayer is the act of praying on behalf of others. One can pray for one’s family, friends, the poor, World Peace, for a nation, while painting or writing Icons. Stories of Brother Laurence praying in the Monastery kitchen while peeling potatoes show us a humble and dedicated way to focus our prayers while engaging in other activities. When we are able to do this, we begin to be able to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17) as Paul exhorts us.  I always love the moments in Icon writing class when you can almost hear the prayers in the beautiful silence of students working on their icons._MG_6651__

 

Phillip Schwartz and I visited the Clark Museum in August- eager to see the new photo copy 3renovation.  It was the perfect day to see it -warm sunny expanses of green rolling hills met the shallow reflecting pools in front of the modern addition. From inside viewing the Ancient Ritual Vessels from the Shanghai Museum it was a great contrast of inside-outside, nature-interior modern spaces and old versus new.  Phillip and I are in the same “Artist Way” group, exploring the spiritual discipline of writing morning pages every day along with other exercises to help focus our creative practices.

I lead the first Healing Icon Retreat in Saratoga Springs on Sept 6&7, now another one is scheduled for October 25&26.  _MG_6516__We have a waiting list for a possible one in November, so email if you’re interested.  It was an amazing weekend. Held in the beautiful Saratoga Springs home of Catherine Lanci, we had twelve students who eagerly encountered icon writing for the first time. Egg tempera and gold leaf gilding were demonstrated and each person left with their own individual icon of Archangel Raphael. Catherine and her husband John are gourmet cooks and we had lunch and dinner in the garden. Couldn’t have been better!  _MG_6623___MG_6745__

 

 

 

 

Visit the website:www.iconwritingclasses.com for updated information on icon writing classes. The Arts Center in Troy will be the location of the next introduction to Icon Writing course, starting October 28 and will run for 5 Tuesday evenings, 6-9PM. Give them a call to sign up!_MG_6523__

Last winter I heard a talk sponsored by the Catholic Artist’s Society by David Clayton called “The Way of Beauty” It was a fascinating talk and I thought pertained particularly to classical artists and iconographers. He has now created an interesting online course that I’ve been asked to review.  I hope to have that for you by the next blog.

COMING UP: At the Christian Community Church gallery in Hillsdale starting September 27 I will have an exhibition of some of my favorite Icons and landscapes. I will be giving a talk soon and will email the date.

The Beauregard Fine Arts exhibition is still up – visit if you can.

Kindest regards

Christine

PS Don’t forget to sign up to receive this blog for free.

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

Lent and March!

Hello Fellow Art Lovers and Iconographers:

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This month we’ve not seen an end to snow storms but have Lent with Easter to look forward to.  Saint Gregory’s Episcopal Church in Woodstock, New York started Lent off with a beautiful icon exhibition curated by Hattie Ilse.  It will be on view in the church until after Easter, with an April 6 special program after the service (12:30).  I’ll be giving a talk on Icons and the other Iconographers will meet and greet all those who come and stay for refreshments.

I wanted to share this link to  “Coffee with Sister Vanessa” – a fun yet informative video series. This one is for Lent and talks about iconoclasm.

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Coffee with Sister Vanessa

Also a link here to The Museum of Russian Icons in Clinton Massachusetts. They have ongoing classes and workshops.

I’m curating an exhibition inHudson,New York that opens March 27 with an Artists’s Reception on April 12 from 5-8PM.  It’s a beautiful show with “Faces” in widely different styles by four women artists.  I will have my two newest favorite icons in it!  Secret- you have to come see it to see what they are!Faces announcement low res 72dpi

Also wanted to share an amazing talk given by the former Archbishop of Canterbury – given the day after his resignation.  This talk goes into the theology behind icons in a way that is as thoughtful and insightful as you would expect.  “Idols, Images, and Icons” by Dr. Rowan Williams.

Want to mention a couple of open calls for artists local to the Hudson Valley area: Saint Luke’s Episcopal Church, Catskill NY, from my friend Madeline Behrman: First Annual Thomas Cole Weekend, May 10 & 11- Application Deadline April 21.       Spencertown Academy Open Call for artwork  Deadline July 15, Exhibition to be in the fall.  Any questions feel free to ask me.     IMG_4306

I have a new icon writing class starting in Troy at the Arts Center of the Capital Region on March 20, Thursdays 1-4PM.  Still a couple of spaces available!

Until next time,be well and send in your links, or comments that you’d like to share.

Blessings,

Christine

www.newchristianicons.com

January Icon News and Links

Sign up For Free Monthly Icon Blogs!    photo copy

The nice thing about writing icons is that whether it is “January Freeze” or “January Thaw”, you can usually manage things to be able to write icons for a few hours a day!

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My new “Christ” icon study has accompanied my prayers over the last two weeks in the area of inner healing.  Particularly  the idea that Christ came to FORGIVE us of our sins. That call for us also to forgive has been part of the prayer journey for this icon.  I really love it!  It’s almost finished now.

“The degree to which art has a liturgical quality is in direct ratio to the spiritual freedom of the artist.” from The Meaning of Icons by Leonid Ouspensky

I think that making twenty first century icons has to incorporate the Traditions of the Church as well as spiritual freedom.  Andrey Rublev in the Fifteenth Century being able to occupy that place of Spiritual freedom, training,  and artistic skill points toward what we aspire to today.     photo copy 6

The icon class I teach in New York is a spiritual and artistic container for the students and myself to grow in relationship to each other, God, and the icons.  It’s an honor to be able to serve such a courageous group of people.

The Art Center in Troy, New York is hosting a student/faculty exhibition of our icons later this month. Here’s the description and you are invited!

Contemporary Icon
January 31 – March 2, 2014 | Faculty Student Gallery
Reception: Friday, January 31, 5-9PM at Troy Night Out | Artist Demonstration at 6:30PM

              image001Master iconographer and faculty member, Christine Simoneau Hales will exhibit her icon paintings along with selected pieces from her past students.  Icon writing is a traditional method of painting that dates back to the ancient Byzantine era of using egg tempera, rare natural pigments and gold leaf gilding to create beautiful works of art. Hales takes the step-by-step method of classical painting and infuses it with contemporary inspirations all while keeping with the spiritual subjects found in these works on panel.

I came across the website that offers short introductory art and business classes that looks very good.  Here’s the  link:     Skillshare

Also a link for icon boards that I use and like: St. John’s Workshop.

One last quote from Ouspensky and The Meaning of Icons book to leave you with:

“For a true iconographer, creation is the way of asceticism  and prayer, that is, essentially, a monastic way.”

TO see a gallery of my completed icons visit my website, New Christian Icons. 

 

Blessings,

Christine Simoneau Hales