© Edensings, 2016
These icons are not my creations. And, in another sense, they are. The creating of them is a collaboration, through the centuries, with other iconographers, who have carried on the holy language of painting scripture. This collaboration can be likened to how we respond to recipes. If you and I were given a chocolate cake recipe, the end result would be similar in general but also have differences. That is how the Holy Spirit works in the “writing” of His word into the icon. God works uniquely in each Holy image. Painting or “writing” icons was an artistic journey for me to begin with. Five years of formal art education in my hometown of Ottawa Canada and a lifetime of searching different avenues of creativity had left me feeling bewildered about ever finding my true art expression. Although each project I completed added valuable experience, none of the styles or subjects ever gave me the creative joy and peace I was longing for. Only when I was at an extremely low point in my life did God introduce me to a woman who was leading an icon group weekly at her Church. Even though I didn’t understand or even like icons, I reasoned with myself that I had tried so many other art forms, why not try this too? Then, unexpectedly, my artistic journey merged with my spiritual one. Much of my classical art training got politely placed aside by the instructor. I was in foreign land where painting was not only painting but “writing” God’s word into image. Icon means image in Greek. In iconography, perspective is reversed and light comes from within the subject instead of shining on it! I was intrigued to discover the art form was not about MY personal creativity but rather one of surrender to an ancient language that would, if I listened to the Holy Spirit, encourage and strengthen me in my spiritual journey. A year after I started, I became frustrated with trying to be obedient to so many rules and wondered if icons might after all be graven images. However, when I stopped the work for awhile, a desire to keep learning their language burned inside me. I finally understood and accepted that to be an iconographer is a calling. There is deep joy in answering the call. In this age of high tech and instant images, most people can’t comprehend the slow methodical process of icon painting. It is a form of prayer, contemplation, and fasting from worldly art. The Word becomes image and quietly speaks to listening hearts. Holy icons are considered aids to prayer as photos are an aid to remember loved ones. We may even kiss a photo of a loved one to show our reverence. If effect, we are not just looking AT the photo, but BEYOND it to the person we are remembering So while some doubters of the value of iconography say that people pray TO and therefore worship them. Now I understand that instead of praying TO the icons, believers are praying THROUGH the icon “window into Heaven” to the spiritual realm. I no longer wonder if icons are graven images. Now I see them as images of God’s Grace! While I have worked on them, they have worked on me, taken me places I never would have imagined, and I see them now as visual journals of my spiritual travels. I encourage you to participate in this journey, encountering the icon in a new way, and share your experience with others.