26 January 2015

Christ Pantokrator

Christ Pantokrator. 34x34"Acrylic on canvas.

This is the finished large icon of Christ Pantokrator for the ceiling of a small private chapel. I painted this with the ancient membrane technique described in yesterday's post. For the icon (especially the drawing), I drew inspiration from all eras and places: the ancient Sinai icon, Daphni (which I saw firsthand in Greece in 2012), Chora, St. Clement of Ohrid, and contemporary icon painters Tom Athanasios Clark, Father Zenon Theodore, Aidan Hart, and George and John Kopsidas.

I'm thrilled with the subtle colors in Christ's face and the almost-translucent red/blue tunic. been moving  The rainbow (described around Christ's heavenly throne in Revelation 4:3) was quite a feat of geometry and patience. This icon is on canvas, waiting to be installed on the ceiling. I'll post another photo in a few weeks after installation. I love working on a larger scale!

25 January 2015

Saint Vincent of Lerins

Sanctus Vincentius Lerinensis (Saint Vincent of Lerins). 8x10" Acrylic and gold leaf on panel.

Recently I've been working with the "membrane" technique, an ancient technique beginning with an under-painting, a translucent mid-tone, then pushing colors both dark and light. I have enjoyed the rich warm/cool contrast achieved with this technique, and I find myself painting more, well, painterly: limiting my color selection (I used only five pigments total in this icon), and mixing colors fluidly on a palette, rather than mixing one color/step at a time. The more common "proplasmos" method (beginning dark and moving toward light) has been the exclusive method for almost 500 years. Russian master painter Archimandrite Zenon Theodore resurrected the membrane technique in the 1980s after studying medieval manuscripts and ancient icons. He believes that the membrane method predates the proplasmos. He and his students have been popularizing the technique in the last 30 years. Stay tuned for more icons using this technique!

Last week, I completed an icon of Saint Vincent of Lerins for a parish in Georgia, USA, using this membrane technique. The patron wanted the name and scroll in Latin, most appropriate for this venerable western father of Christian Orthodoxy. St. Vincent was a leading theologian of the Church in the 5th century, and is celebrated for his definition of the Orthodox faith in a time plagued with errors and heresies: "Quod ubique, quod semper, quod ab omnibus, creditum est." Or in English, "That which has been believed everywhere, always, by all people." His defense of the traditions of the Fathers and his condemnation of innovation and novelty in the Church are as appropriate today as they were in his time.