Tuesday, March 03, 2009

into the icon zone


from the first day: the Icon we are writing, The Virgin of the Passion; my work-table neighbor applying color; fresh daffodils from a fellow student's yard (a cup was on each table!); our instructor Teresa Harrison demonstrating brush strokes
I really knew nothing about Icons before yesterday. And though today I don't know a lot more I have learned this:
~Writing an icon is not unlike paint-by-numbers: you begin by tracing a pattern of the Icon and you paint/write within the lines.
~You start with the dark colors and work toward the light (think theology here).
~When applying paint you want to strive for a flat look. There is intent behind the two-dimensional look, so that the Icon serves as a window (like a pane of glass) through which you look seeking the divine.

Two of our class are from the orthodox tradition (one is second generation Serbian), one is Roman Catholic, three are Presbyterian, the rest Episcopalian. One student came from Florida, two others from South Carolina. There are two men, the rest are women.

We worked in silence, which is an amazing thing when 17 people are gathered and about a task. The silence is not about concentration, but about holiness. It was rather extraordinary.

This is very much a spiritual endeavor. One begin's with a prayer, and making the sign of the cross. I found myself at various points during the day repeating what is called the trisagion: "Holy God, Holy and Mighty, Holy Immortal One," and I threw in a response, "Have mercy on me," (this is Lent, after all). There were times when I couldn't manage the paint brush, and times when the paint glided precisely where it needed to be. It is exciting and humbling to watch the Icon take shape, and to have a hand (be the hand) that brings the features of Mary and Jesus into focus--she holding her child, he holding her hand and looking to the angels.

Today I know only that our work moves from the broad strokes of base color to the finer lines of detail. I can't wait.
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1 comment:

Jayne said...

That sounds so amazing Anne. What a gift to be able to be a part of something like this during Lent. XOXO

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