Writing Icons

I believe art is a gift from God, so as a steward of His gift, it is my responsibility to use it to His honor and glory.  Although not everything I do artistically is in the Christian genre, it does influence everything I create.  Even my home decor reflects my Christian views.

I've designed logos for church groups, art projects for Christian education, and have participated in various Church art benefits.  However, the form of religious artwork I enjoy the most is the writing of icons.  I believe there is a feeling of peace, reverence, and grace that can be experienced when writing icons, that cannot be equaled in any other way.  Around 4 years ago, I purchased the book titled A Brush With God, by Peter Pearson (See My Recommendations).  This book, as well as one by Guillem Ramos-Poquí, which is now out of print, have influenced my icons the most.  The first Icon I wrote, was one of St. Nicholas.  Later, I did the Mother of God and the Christ which are sitting on the desk picture above (See close-up to the right, as well).

These three icons would be considered to be in the "Contemporary Style," which is a blend of the traditional Greek and Russian styles.  They were all done on wood panels using acrylics instead of egg tempera.  The process is very systematic, and begins with prayers and readings about the lives of the icons depicted.  The next step is the drawing, followed by the embossing of it onto the wood.  Then, you proceed with various thin layers of paint which gradually give form to the icon.  Shading, highlighting and outlining are a very important part of the process too.  Once the figure is done, the golden halo is filled in carefully and outlined.  Finally, the icon is named and varnished. 

Although I've been experimenting with pastels, colored pencils, and watercolors in my art journals for a while, I had not done a stand alone piece with these types of materials.  This past summer, I decided to take a risk, and write an icon of Abraham using pastels on a piece of Fabriano paper.  As usual, I began by researching my subject and making sketches in my art journal.  The picture above shows the work in progress, and the picture below shows the end result.  The icon is my own interpretation of Abraham, based on my research.  The knife represents the one Abraham was going to use to sacrifice his Son Isaac.  I will post the finished piece later.

As you can see in the picture of my journal below, I am currently researching St. Stephen, the first martyr.  When I get it done, I may write another post to share it with you.  Are you working or have worked on any religious art work?  If so, please comment and leave a link to your pictures.

Then Jesus cried out, "Whoever believes in me does not believe in me only, but in the one who sent me.  The one who looks at me is seeing the one who sent me.  I have come into the world as a light, so that on one who believes in me should stay in darkness."
John 12:44-46


Father Abraham was selected to be in the Cathedral House Gallery of the Episcopal Diocese of West Texas, at Bishop Jones Center, 111 Torcido Road, San Antonio, TX. from November 18 through December 30, 2011. Opening night is on the 18th, from 6 to 8 PM. I'm so excited!
Joy Murray said…
Wonderful post! I think writing icons is such a beautiful way to pray and to honor our saints.