I have never been trained and schooled in the canons the Byzantine church set forth as doctrine, but I do love God with my whole heart, mind and soul and sincerely desire to convey that experience to others through using this marvelous paint.
I have cringed at many thoughts as the paint stumbles and spring from the brush. I am a rebel icon painter and un-orthodox but not without tremendous respect for what they have taught me. All the while I know I only want to love God and I find Him most through Icons. A student once asked me, “What is the most difficult part of painting an icon”; quickly I replied “forgiving myself.”
The iconographer paints with traditional egg tempera; egg yolk + water mixed with million year old stone, ground into a fine dust called ‘earth pigments’. Egg yolk represents the raw potential for life and the earth pigment represent eternity, mixed together to create divine image.
The idea of painting with eggs and pigment is one thing, but using it to portray divine sacred image – this is quite another. The process itself begs the question; where is the divine experienced, through the mind, through the hand or through the image? In my case, it is as if it is through all three.
“The Word become Flesh and walked among us”
This tiny statement explains the dynamic involved in painting icons. Every time I touch the brush to the board, and stand back after it has been completed I am amazed what has happened. The simplicity of million year old dirt becoming image is supernatural. After twenty years of painting with egg tempera I still cannot grasp how pushing around small particles of earth can be organized by my hand to create such extra-ordinary figures.
Iconography is a tradition without a ceiling.
Early egg tempera painters tried exploring the mind of God through prayer and expressed their encounter through image. They took the invisible and made it visible. They gave us the signs and symbols for real presence; their images descend into our hearts and make us yearn for more contact with the divine.
I have taught many classes and watched people have amazing experiences with this medium and its figures; somehow they speak when you’re painting and when you’re done they speak again.
At times I feel like a slave, driven by some unidentifiable obsession to bring about an icon which speaks of how much I love the paint.The natural world is balm to my soul, so to paint with million year old dirt, the book of Genesis becomes quite real.
God’s first thoughts made water and dry land, the mind of God becomes what we can see and touch.
I want to be part of that era even today and create art which speaks of limitless mystery.
Humanity took an enormous leap with these early artists. Standing before an Icon which has lasted 1,000 years, I can see the human prototype. Who sees me when I look at an icon, can I ever get that still, or where is the edge of time? Humanity has been documenting itself for five thousand years without rest, on every continent, in very language and in a huge variety of mediums and image. Icons painted in egg tempera are a testament to an era where a vision of the divine occurred.
Icon’ is derived from the Greek word ‘eikon’ meaning ‘image’. The image of Christ has been confirmed by the church as a testament to the incarnation and offers us a window to know God, through which we enter into communion with him. Iconography is a life style, you paint enough of them and you see the world as an icon and everyone in it. Seek God within and know his presence intimately everywhere in creation and know the image of Christ, is God in you.
next class offered August 17 to 22