Spring Icons 2017

Hello Fellow Iconographers:

Icon coloring book
Kindergarten Icon coloring book

This month, sharing Icons with kindergarten children in Boston was a special joy – I used pages from the Icon coloring book that they could “paint” and I demonstrated making egg tempera- they loved trying it!

Also was blessed to lead an Introduction to Icon writing workshop in Miami and Morningstar Renewal Center, directed by Sue de Ferrari. Many of the participants were students of Sue’s in a unique Spiritual Direction Training program through St. Thomas University. It was a blessed workshop in so many ways, including a Good Friday Stations of the Cross prayer walk, using my Stations Icons.

Stations of the Cross Icons
Stations the Cross Icons

The weekly Albany Icon writing class is up and running again. To view class times and schedules got to www.iconwritingclasses.com.Icon Class in Miami

In teaching Icon workshops and classes,, and particularly in giving talks about Icons to a more general audience, I realize how important it is to explain the difference between an Icon and a religious painting. I think that issue warrants more thought and explanation amongst the Icon writing community. When we consider the history of Icons, and the development of Icon writing particularly from the eighth century forward, there seems to be a development that begins to decline in levels of artistic and spiritual quality particularly in the seventeenth through nineteenth centuries.

Religious Paintings vs Icons

Madonna and Child Icon
Madonna & Child Icon by Christine Hales

We can see that in the elongation of forms, the more naturalistic rendering of people and objects, and in the gradual loss of that flatness of spatial relationships. What begins to happen is that the “heavenly world” that world that operates not on the same laws as earth, but instead, the miraculous space that God inhabits.

Raphael
Raphael

I believe that most of us Iconographers are aware of this and the importance of not copying Icons from the Renaissance forward is part of that understanding. Does anyone know of more clearly articulated articles or books that define this difference between “good Icons” and ones that are considered “corrupted”? I think it would be useful for the Iconographic community to consider various ideas and opinions on this subject, so please email or forward relevant writings on the topic and I will try to continue to post regarding this notion of “what makes a Good Icon?”. Below is an in depth video that is interesting and informative.

“God in all that is most living and incarnate in Him, is not far away from us. altogether apart from the world we see, touch, hear, smell and taste about us. Rather he awaits us every instant in our action, in our work of the moment… he is at the tip of my pen, my brush, my needle- of my heart and of my thought.”  Teilhard de Chardin

Blessings and prayers until next month

Christine Hales

Icon Classes Website     Icon Website    Christine’s Paintings

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Icon Writing Instruction

Dear Friends and Fellow Iconographers:  400px-CodexAureusCanterburyFolios9v10r

Icon Writing is experiencing a revival in the last twenty years.  To learn Icon writing, one usually needs to study with a Russian or Greek Iconographer who usually gives one or two, 5 day workshops a year.  Most of my Iconographer friends here in the USA have learned in this way and learning the culture of the Byzantine and Greek  eras has provided a valuable perspective on our own times.

I think it is more ideal for an Iconographer to be able to teach consistently over several years on a regular basis, thereby helping individual students to progress in their individual painting skills and spiritual and historical understanding. The five day workshops are good, but a consistent practice and study with supervision is also needed.Unknown

For example, it was through learning Icon writing that I learned of a different pictorial and spiritual perspective from the one I had learned in art college.  I was then able to examine the Renaissance perspective that has led to the present era of humanism and veneration of science over belief in God.  It was very exciting to discover this through the language of pictures! And helpful in my painting too!

Now I realize that in addition to studying the plastic arts of picture making, it is also important to research and define what an “American School of Iconography” will look like. What are the unique and highly valued characteristics of Americans that we can bring to the field of visual language creation for the twenty-first century that makes our faith in God visible?  Big question!  I’m hoping to hear ideas from some of you as this is an ongoing exploration to clearly define what we as Americans bring to the field.

Certainly an ecumenisicm would be an important part of this, as well as a highly inventive and creative approach to image making. I think also, in addition to the traditional Liturgical role Icons have held in the Church, we are also looking to embrace an Evangelical approach, bringing and making accessible Icons to the unchurched by exhibiting them outside churches.  So many people in our world need God’s Presence and they are just not ready to walk into a “church” to experience it.  In this way, the Icons can be used to embrace the challenge of our time to grow our faith and bring it to our communities.

This is a process and I think an important step in it is to thoroughly understand  Illuminated manuscripts, Psalters,  and create a kind of summary of early medieval and Christian Iconography in this context.Wga_12c_illuminated_manuscripts_Mary_Magdalen_announcing_the_resurrection

The Advanced Icon Writing Class in Albany has spent all of last year with a focus on Color theory as it relates specifically to the Icons. Color theory and symbolism are also important parts of Icon writing and full of variations and developments through the evolution of practice over time. Different eras and cultures assign importance to colors and color mixing – or not mixing, and it’s important to understand the reasons, benefits, and drawbacks to each system.

This year I hope to teach more 5 day Icon Writing workshops which will be Introduction to Icon Writing classes, and also to continue with the advanced group and hold exhibitions of mine and their work throughout the year. Their work is quite exceptional and they are moving to an ever deeper understanding of what an Icon is, and where the power of prayer can be applied in the process.

station1

Here is a list of Icon Writing Classes I will be teaching this spring – hope to see some of you there!

ALBANY- WESTMINISTER PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH, 362 Chestnut Street, Albany, NY  Mondays 6-9PM   email: christine@newchristianicons.com if you are planning to attend, space is limited.  $35.00 per class (Minimum 5 classes)

Arts Center of the Capital Region, 265 River St., Troy, NY, Thursday Evenings 6-9PM, March 8- April 5.   Member $175 plus $45 materials fee, Non member  $195.00 plus $45 materials fee

Holy Cross Monastery,  Introduction to Icon Writing, Friday 6-9pm, Sat 9am-5pm, Sunday 1-5PM, May 6-8.  Cost: $275.00    deposit $80.00

Note: The images above are from: 1. Early Anglo-Saxon manuscript illumination, 2. Christ in Majesty, illuminated manuscript, 3.  Mary Magdalen announcing the Resurrection to the Apostles, St. Albans Psalter, 4.My Station One of the Fourteen Stations.  IMG_1266

I frequently give talks on “What is an Icon”, to churches and interested groups. There is no fee, except for transportation expenses. I recently gave a talk at Church of the Redeemer in Sarasota Florida that was very well attended and received. The people there showed a marked interest in Icons. Their symbol is the Pelican – and they have a beautiful Icon above their altar of Christ the Redeemer.IMG_1269

I look forward to seeing each of you again sometime. Stay in touch and let me know how your Icons are doing!

All the Best, Christine

Christine Hales, Iconographer

www.newchristianicons.com

www.christinehales.com

My husband’s and my ministry blog:     www.kingdomartsministry.com