Sacred Geometry II

Greetings Fellow Iconographers:       images

When we open our eyes to see the sacred geometry inherent not only in nature, but also in Iconographic composition we enter into the world of sacred symbolic language.  The Byzantine culture understood that it is essential to understand and use abstract symbolic representation.  The primary reason is that we are depicting God’s universe, that heavenly realm that operates differently from our humanistic, materialistic world.  We want to  convey this God centered point of view in Icons and the best way to do that is to understand and implement sacred geometry within our compositions.

Shapes and Patterns        images-2

Identifying shapes and patterns helps us understand principles of symmetry, balance, and motion within the Icon. When we cooperate with and work in agreement with universal principles handed down through the centuries, we can participate in creating a universal visual language that can speak the truth of God, the Bible, and the Gospels, bringing our everyday lives into this sense of harmony and cooperation.

Simple Geometric Constructs

Blessed Pauli Murray Icon by Peter Antonci
Blessed Pauli Murray Icon by Peter Antonci

A simple geometric composition for single figure Icons is the triangle which is set upon a plinth.  By measuring the height and width of the Icon composition, finding the vertical and horizontal axis, and drawing the diagonals from each corner of the base to the central axis point at the top of the composition, one can create an Icon using sacred geometry.

In the recent Sacred Geometry Icon Retreat at Holy Cross Monastery in West Park, NY, students used this method for the construction of their Saint Francis Icon.

Olifa of Saint Francis Icon
Olifa of Saint Francis Icon

One of the most famous Icons using sacred geometry is the Rublev Holy Trinity Icon.  With this drawing, you can see the figures are arranged in relationship to the circle and contained within the square.  The circle is the symbol of unity, and God, in that it has no beginning and no end, but is energy in eternal motion. Rublev had been asked by Saint Sergius of Radoneh to create an Icon of unity and harmony which the community could pray with.  This now famous Icon was lost to the world until the early 1900’s when a resurgence of interest in Russian Icons caused an art restorer to clean the centuries of black soot and dirt from the icon, revealing a true masterpiece.    dee63ca17b15d01e89cffa4fa7aec172

May 9-12, 2019  Sacred Geometry retreat

Sacred Geometry is a foundational concept for Iconographers who wish to paint in the Byzantine Tradition.  The next Sacred Geometry Retreat at Holy Cross Monastery, West Park, NY, will be May 9-12, 2019.

New Icon Book

“Eyes of Fire, How Icons Saved my Life as an Artist” by Christine Simoneau Hales is an in-depth study on the evolution of religious arts and iconography, this book is about spiritual strength, timeless artistry , and groundbreaking personal transformation achieved through experiencing Icons. The power of religious images is  well documented in this book, as well as their influence on contemporary art.  There is an appendix containing valuable information to creating sacred art for the twenty-first century.

"Eyes of Fire" Book by Christine Hales
“Eyes of Fire” Book by Christine Hales

This book will be available on Amazon and a Kindle version will be available for a short period of time at no cost during the book launch in early October .  Email to receive a link for the free Kindle book (available during the book launch in early October only).

Blessings and prayers until next month,

Christine

Icon website

 

Principles of Iconography: Sacred Geometry

Dear Fellow Iconographers:

This month I want to focus on one of the important (to me) principles of Iconography: Sacred Geometry.  I think that as Iconography evolves into a twenty-first century authentic expression of spirituality for our time, one of the principles and traditions that is important to bring forward is that of incorporating principles of sacred geometry in our composition and colors.

What is Sacred Geometry?  

It has its roots in the study of the mathematical principles in nature, i.e. the hexagonal cells created by honeybees, the chambered nautilus, are just a few examples. This reflects the belief that God created the universe according to a geometric plan. Geometric rations are often used in architecture as can be evidenced in the works of Leonardo DaVinci, and Michelangelo.  It’s interesting that back in 500BC, Pythagoras discovered that an oscillating string stopped halfway along its length produces an octave relative to the string’s length, while a ratio of 2:3 produces a perfect fifth and 3:4 produces a perfect fourth. The belief was that using these harmonic rations gave music and art powers of healing that could harmonize the person experiencing them.christinglory

How does this  manifest in Icon writing?  

Composition, figure placement, relative scape and body proportions all benefit by having the principles of sacred geometry as the underlying structure. In a simple portrait Icon, the triangle is the basic geometric compositional structure. It produces a feeling of centeredness, grounding and balance. In order to avoid a static appearance, the face is usually a 3/4 view, or slightly turned.

George Kordis, in his book “Icon As Communion “ addresses the issue of stations and gives excellent examples of how to additional incorporate directional flow outwards toward the viewer. George Kordis also speaks of how a composition is purified and refined when the compositional elements are arranged symmetrically around the vertical axis, and this can produce dynamic balance. There is a sense of unity and energy that radiates out towards the viewer when these compositional elements are observed.BaptismofJesus18

I think one of the very best sources for clarification of sacred geometry in the Icon is Egon Sendler’s “The Icon, Images the Invisible”.  He provides an analysis of many classic Icons as examples of geometric structures for composition and explains how to use right angles to obtain the four points of a square as well as explaining the cross, grid and circle compositions of festal Icons.

The two images above: Christ in Glory and Baptism of Jesus were both written in egg tempera by myself and are based on sacred geometry principles handed down through the centuries.  You can see clearly the vertical axis in the Baptism Icon as well as the slightly turned faces.  The symbol center top is that of God the Father, the radiating gold rays symbolize the Holy Spirit, so that, symbolically, the vertical axis is the Unity of the Trinity.

I hope this provides material for thought and helps to create understanding as a community of Iconographers, of what principles are and are not important to retain in our work. To each his own, and I look forward to hearing your comments.

Blessings and prayers,

Christine

www.newchristiancicons.com

www.christinehales.com

www.kingdomartsministry.com