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Author Topic: Icons and Iconographers' spiritual state  (Read 3818 times) Average Rating: 0
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« on: May 08, 2007, 09:41:34 PM »

The iconographer at the Kelseyville monastery of St. Gregory of Sinai is one of the best in the world though, doing egg tempera and real frescoes (in my church - OCA).  He and my priest's wife both studied under Leonid Oespensky before he died.

Forgive me friend, but I think we need to take a deeper look at this. 

I'm not an Iconography expert by any stretch of the imagination, so if i'm wrong on this please let me know.  Nevertheless, I have understood Iconography as a reflection of what the Iconographer is and his "spiritual state" in general. 

If these Icons are being done by a Schismatic, isn't this potentially dangerous?  Maybe I live in a dream world where only pious orthodox iconogrophers exist, but shouldn't we have standards (at least canonical ones)? 
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« Reply #1 on: May 08, 2007, 09:48:33 PM »

Forgive me friend, but I think we need to take a deeper look at this. 

I'm not an Iconography expert by any stretch of the imagination, so if i'm wrong on this please let me know.  Nevertheless, I have understood Iconography as a reflection of what the Iconographer is and his "spiritual state" in general. 

If these Icons are being done by a Schismatic, isn't this potentially dangerous?  Maybe I live in a dream world where only pious orthodox iconogrophers exist, but shouldn't we have standards (at least canonical ones)? 

An icon is an icon in my opinion. How can an image of a saint be dangerous?  To suggest so would seem to be thinking in magical terms (in the true sense of magic).  At the same time, if the icon is done in an uncanonical style such as Robert Lentz's icons, then well...that is a different story.
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« Reply #2 on: May 08, 2007, 09:54:15 PM »

I am probobly one of the staunches defenders against so called "pietism" but there was a story that I heard which led me to this idea which I posted above. 

There was a holy elder who visited in-laws in Athens.  When he came into their house they wanted to show them a beautiful Icon which was done for their family by a local Iconographer.  When the Elder saw the Icon he screamed in horror and began yelling at the family for having such a thing in their house. 

When they asked him why, he only told them that the Iconographer was an evil man who cared nothing about God and smoke and drank heavily.  SO the family went to go see the Iconographer, pretending like they wanted another commissioned Icon.  The wife of the Iconographer sent them to the basement of their house, where the family saw the Iconographer sprawled on a couch, watching soccer and surrounded by beer bottles, smoking and painting an Icon all at the same time. 

The point of the story was that you can tell in an Icon the state of the person who wrote it.  I'm not saying that because they are evil, the Icon is evil.  This would be heresy much like thinking that Communion is invalid b/c the priest is crazy. 

My point was that we have to be careful about the Icons we buy because they DO have an impact on us if we are not careful and buy something which can have a negative affect on us.

Maybe even this is verging on the heresy mentioned above though...now that I think about it.   
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« Reply #3 on: May 08, 2007, 09:55:25 PM »

Forgive me friend, but I think we need to take a deeper look at this. 

I'm not an Iconography expert by any stretch of the imagination, so if i'm wrong on this please let me know.  Nevertheless, I have understood Iconography as a reflection of what the Iconographer is and his "spiritual state" in general. 

If these Icons are being done by a Schismatic, isn't this potentially dangerous?  Maybe I live in a dream world where only pious orthodox iconogrophers exist, but shouldn't we have standards (at least canonical ones)? 

While your point isn't entirely w/o merit, by your same view, then no one should buy all those texts they (HTM) sell or the icon cards they sell.

As to the iconographer I'm talking about (I'll you guys figure it out), when someone can manufacture another world class iconographer that explain theological defficiencies from his compared to those of my priest's Matushka (who have always been in the OCA), then I'll CONSIDER listening to this arguement.  Btw, a few of the matushka's are in the iconostasis at Elevation of the Holy Cross in Sacramento and Fr. Tryphon on Vashon Island has requested she write them for a new iconostasis for his monastery.  
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« Reply #4 on: May 08, 2007, 09:58:39 PM »

While your point isn't entirely w/o merit, by your same view, then no one should buy all those texts they (HTM) sell or the icon cards they sell.

Not a bad idea/conclusion.  Wink Grin
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« Reply #5 on: May 08, 2007, 10:17:56 PM »

Forgive me friend, but I think we need to take a deeper look at this. 

I'm not an Iconography expert by any stretch of the imagination, so if i'm wrong on this please let me know.  Nevertheless, I have understood Iconography as a reflection of what the Iconographer is and his "spiritual state" in general. 

If these Icons are being done by a Schismatic, isn't this potentially dangerous?  Maybe I live in a dream world where only pious orthodox iconogrophers exist, but shouldn't we have standards (at least canonical ones)? 
The idea that the sanctifying grace of a sacrament is directly dependent on the personal piety of the minister was condemned as one of the heresies of the Donatists, I believe.  How much more so is this true with icons, IMO.  God can bless even an icon written by a schismatic and make it a "window into heaven."
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« Reply #6 on: May 08, 2007, 10:38:27 PM »

Forgive me friend, but I think we need to take a deeper look at this. 

I'm not an Iconography expert by any stretch of the imagination, so if i'm wrong on this please let me know.  Nevertheless, I have understood Iconography as a reflection of what the Iconographer is and his "spiritual state" in general. 

If these Icons are being done by a Schismatic, isn't this potentially dangerous?  Maybe I live in a dream world where only pious orthodox iconogrophers exist, but shouldn't we have standards (at least canonical ones)? 

Personally, I really do not know how far I would go, but I do think there is something to the thought that an icon also reflects he who wrote it.  I'm personally remembering how one Russian saint, I think it was Elder Antony of Optina, was able to tell that some icons and prayers given to him were written not by Orthodox, but by Eastern Rite Catholics.  I also remember some other priest once speaking of how a building previously lived in by neo-Pagans led to demonic assults of the new Christian owners, until it was sanctified.  It's not the same as an icon, but it does say something.  And if these the case, then I can definitly see how a poor spiritual state could have some effect on an icon.  I, myself, would just be careful on how far I took this idea.

Edit: Speaking of demonic, it seems that this is my demonic post.
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« Reply #7 on: May 08, 2007, 10:44:50 PM »

I seem to remember that John of Shanghai and San Francisco would use everything from paper prints, to icons that I think were technically heretical (e.g., icons depicting God the Father... a type of icon that some Greek Old Calendarists decided to cause a schism over, I believe). Isn't there such a thing as "baptizing" an icon when it is left on the altar and then blessed, just like the early Christians "baptized" pagan celebrations for Church use? I mean, if you are very strict about this stuff, if you don't know the origin of an icon, aren't you always going to doubt it's authenticity (or whatever word would be best)?

EDIT -- The point of my last statement is, if you don't personally know an iconographer on very intimate terms, how could you ever pray before an icon? Who knows what the person who made it is like? Wouldn't this be an issue of faith in God's power to cleanse and sanctify something?
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« Reply #8 on: May 09, 2007, 08:01:19 AM »

In the Serbian church the blessing of Icons is a huge deal.  Actually in the Greek tradition it is kind of a bigger deal, you have to leave the Icon in the altar for 40 days!  In the Serbian church the priest takes the Icon and places it on the altar and reads prayes of blessing over it. 

However, then we get into the idea that the object is not holy in and of itself.  I mean, it still is an Icon...isn't it? 

Should we get into the semantics of what an Icon is?  If its written by a heretic, does it make it an Icon or just a painting that looks like an Icon? 

Iconographic styles were used for secular art in the Byzantine Empire, does that make those myrals windows into heaven?
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« Reply #9 on: May 09, 2007, 10:58:16 AM »

I once attended a icon workshop where there were 8 students. One of the students was a matushka with a  very  fervent desire to paint Icons but alas not a great deal of talent.  Two of the students were professional artists (I later discovered that one was agnostic and the other an athiest) who wanted to learn the art of painting icons so they could "cash in on the new icon market" and make money.  The other students were  there to learn more about iconography and to paint them on occassion as a hobby.

The master iconographer, who had suffered the Gulag of the Soviet system, taught iconography as if it were a prayer rule---each stroke of the brush was to have a prayer said ( usually the Jesus prayer, but he did show others that could be used). he spoke of the importance of fasting when one  painted icons, a regular prayer life, confession etc. he stated that when one  commissioned and icon, he was not just getting the  physical painting but also the spiritual gift of the prayers that were said  with the painting of it.  The icon he said was already hallowed because of the prayer, the blessing by the priest dedicates it for use by the person who looks into that window of heaven.

At the end of the class, he gave a small reception for the students in which their icons were seen by the public for the first time.It became apparrent very quickly that a crowd of people were drawn to one particular icon. It was not the physically most beautiful and competent correct painting of the icon (that was done by the two professional painters) but rather a small simple icon done by the matushka.  When I asked the people why they were attracted to that particular icon, their response was "it is holy", "it speaks to my soul", "it is truely like looking into heaven when I stand before it, I want to pray". Such is the power of the righteous and holy person who paints and icon.

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« Reply #10 on: May 09, 2007, 01:05:13 PM »

Well, I'll let you guys do your own research and make your own decisions on whether to buy from this iconographer.  I think it is a much different situation though then Thomas's atheist/agnostic example.

Btw, some ByzCath group called "Iconophile" regularly holds icon workshops in our hall.  Our Matushka doesn't really involve herself even though she lives 50 feet away and is vastly superior to the instructor.
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« Reply #11 on: May 09, 2007, 04:15:37 PM »

That's a beautiful story, Thomas, thank you for sharing it.

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The master iconographer, who had suffered the Gulag of the Soviet system, taught iconography as if it were a prayer rule---each stroke of the brush was to have a prayer said ( usually the Jesus prayer, but he did show others that could be used). he spoke of the importance of fasting when one  painted icons, a regular prayer life, confession etc. he stated that when one  commissioned and icon, he was not just getting the  physical painting but also the spiritual gift of the prayers that were said  with the painting of it.  The icon he said was already hallowed because of the prayer, the blessing by the priest dedicates it for use by the person who looks into that window of heaven.

This also reminds me (while I was walking through Riverdale no less Smiley ) of the Jewish practice when writing the Torah.  It should be said aloud when writing the letters as the Torah is meant to be prayed and the act of making a copy should also be a prayer.  I know I messed up big time on the terminology, but you get the idea.
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« Reply #12 on: May 10, 2007, 12:53:09 PM »

At the same time, I think we need to be helped by our theological perspective here.  The issue is that these are images of God, whether or not they speak to us.  they are all holy because of their character of being Icons. 

Like I said earlier though, what is an Icon?  If its just a picture then whatever, but if it is a medium for us to speak to the saint to intercede on our behalf, and the Icon is not doing that but rather bringing us into dispair and gloom, etc.  then is it really an Icon? 

I think further research needs to be done on this topic...anyone got the time for it??  Wink Grin
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« Reply #13 on: May 11, 2007, 04:32:30 PM »

Mosaics would fit into this category too I assume, not just frescoes.

Ones mental state does have an effect on an icon, as it would with any painting or work of art. The subconscience choice of colors and blending can easily identify the way a person is thinking at the time.

I hardly think one has to be Orthodox, though. I saw an Orthodox Church a few weeks ago where the whole interior was one giant mosaic (took 40 years to finish), but were constructed in Italy and shipped over; I didn't start coughing up charcoal when I saw them.   Cheesy

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« Reply #14 on: May 11, 2007, 05:16:39 PM »

I saw an Orthodox Church a few weeks ago where the whole interior was one giant mosaic (took 40 years to finish), but were constructed in Italy and shipped over; I didn't start coughing up charcoal when I saw them.   Cheesy



Well that is easy enough to address...  us Italians are the best.   Cheesy Wink

Was the mosaic you are talking about done by Sirio Tonelli and his artisans?  His mosaics and icons are absolutely incredible.
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« Reply #15 on: May 12, 2007, 06:09:19 AM »

They didn't elaborate as to the specifics at the tour, but it was done by a group of monks in northwestern Italy.
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« Reply #16 on: February 12, 2011, 08:21:32 PM »

I know this is a very old post - but I'm in the middle of a crux in some ways and was wondering if maybe we could continue this conversation of the iconographer's responsibility toward spirituality.  I was approached by my priest as possibly learning how to write icons.  I was thrilled to be asked, as I sculpt and draw and would love to paint.  But in the seriousness of the 'office' . . . I'm not sure I'm even close to being someone who is worthy. . .my life has been quite the payton's place. 

What is or should be the standard of living for someone who writes icons? 

Thanks!
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« Reply #17 on: February 12, 2011, 08:23:39 PM »

What is or should be the standard of living for someone who writes icons? 

Shouldn't it be the same as for any Christian?
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« Reply #18 on: February 12, 2011, 09:04:54 PM »

I know this is a very old post - but I'm in the middle of a crux in some ways and was wondering if maybe we could continue this conversation of the iconographer's responsibility toward spirituality.  I was approached by my priest as possibly learning how to write icons.  I was thrilled to be asked, as I sculpt and draw and would love to paint.  But in the seriousness of the 'office' . . . I'm not sure I'm even close to being someone who is worthy. . .my life has been quite the payton's place. 

What is or should be the standard of living for someone who writes icons? 

Thanks!

I think if your priest think's you're spiritual enough to do it, that should be enough, and if you have qualms with it, take it up with him.  he's supposed to be your spiritual leader.  if you think you're lacking, he should know.  that's probably the best way to do it. 
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« Reply #19 on: February 12, 2011, 09:39:54 PM »

What is or should be the standard of living for someone who writes icons?  

Shouldn't it be the same as for any Christian?

Well, if that were the case, then Deacons, Priests, Bishops and any other office would not have the standards they are held do prior to being chosen.  While (if I were a man) I can now partake in the sacraments and belong to the church, I would never hold to the standard of becoming a Deacon - having been married more than once.
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« Reply #20 on: February 12, 2011, 09:44:46 PM »

I know this is a very old post - but I'm in the middle of a crux in some ways and was wondering if maybe we could continue this conversation of the iconographer's responsibility toward spirituality.  I was approached by my priest as possibly learning how to write icons.  I was thrilled to be asked, as I sculpt and draw and would love to paint.  But in the seriousness of the 'office' . . . I'm not sure I'm even close to being someone who is worthy. . .my life has been quite the payton's place. 

What is or should be the standard of living for someone who writes icons? 

Thanks!

I think if your priest think's you're spiritual enough to do it, that should be enough, and if you have qualms with it, take it up with him.  he's supposed to be your spiritual leader.  if you think you're lacking, he should know.  that's probably the best way to do it. 

Thanks!
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« Reply #21 on: February 13, 2011, 08:22:58 PM »

Here is my humble opinion, for what it's worth, from three years of writing icons, which I know isn't very long.  Anyone can pick up a brush and paint an icon, even a good one. As I understand, it must be "written" as the Truth, be canonical, and be Light-bearing. Icons are "prayed into the wood". Some icons are more "veiled" than others, in that technically, they may not be as good as they could be, but are still icons, once they are "chrismated" with oil (olifa), blessed by the priest, and spend a liturgy or up to 40 days on the altar.

 As to the iconographer, does that person have the blessing of His teacher, priest, or bishop or is he/she just doing it because they think they can? Has that person's teacher been blessed to do it? There is a succession here. I personally could never write a sacred icon for someone in exchange for payment without such a blessing to do so, no matter how "good" they may look or how many people ask me for them. I feel the iconographer must submit to the Church.
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« Reply #22 on: February 13, 2011, 09:01:29 PM »

Quote
As to the iconographer, does that person have the blessing of His teacher, priest, or bishop or is he/she just doing it because they think they can? Has that person's teacher been blessed to do it? There is a succession here. I personally could never write a sacred icon for someone in exchange for payment without such a blessing to do so, no matter how "good" they may look or how many people ask me for them. I feel the iconographer must submit to the Church.

Hear hear!! I greatly lament the recent surge in interest in painting icons simply because it's the trendy thing to do, another arrow in one's artistic quiver, with little comprehension of the difference between true iconography which is in service and fidelity to the Church, and conventional "religious art". It is simple enough to teach someone the practical, artistic elements of painting an icon. However, all too often these days, a sense of what is NOT an icon is neglected in this tuition. Painting religious themes in an abstracted, geometric style is not enough for an image to be called an icon. Over the years, I have posted extensively online, and conducted talks on iconography, including on uncanonical images, whether painted by Orthodox or non-Orthodox artists. The following is recent feedback from a practising iconographer:

We have been down this path before and it always leads the same place. A lack of humilty and obedience. Originally iconography was a monastic endeavor. It was supposed to be a vocation in the church. You were supposed to give up other forms of expression solely for iconography. Few have done that. Lately it has become a sideshow to one's art career and inner expression. Just a hobby to be taken up without much thought.

Look at the cashing in on painting classes everywhere. $700+ to teach non-Orthodox how to paint the sacred imagery. But without exposure to Liturgy and the other church services every week, they pervert the images and make their own statements as if they had the authority. The arguments of "Why can't I?" and "How dare you tell me what to paint?" ring in the ears. "We are not going to bend our knee to any authority as we are in charge of our own salvation. We have stacks of books that tell us so". It's sad, and so telling about our society and path.

The saddest part is that we quietly accept these perversions as versions of the truth. The uninformed and uninspired current Orthodox accept false images and display them unknowingly. We open our mouths and speak with authority without the ancient knowledge to support us. We walk in error and repeat that error many times over. Thank God for the few voices in the wilderness like you who might be heard through the fog. We need so many more of your kind.
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« Reply #23 on: February 13, 2011, 09:32:24 PM »

Well said, LBK! I've been an artist all my life. I have lost the desire to do any other painting, besides iconography. The rest seems so vain and pointless. I've never cared for shows and ribbons and making money from it. How pure iconography is, and should be! I've had to unlearn all I've learned in my art training to take this up as it's totally different, and should be. I do cringe when I see other artists take a few icon classes then declare themselves experts. I'm sorry if I offend anyone and know there will be disagreement. I only wish for those who do that to stop and think, and maybe pray before continuing...
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« Reply #24 on: February 13, 2011, 10:09:18 PM »

Here is my humble opinion, for what it's worth, from three years of writing icons, which I know isn't very long.  Anyone can pick up a brush and paint an icon, even a good one. As I understand, it must be "written" as the Truth, be canonical, and be Light-bearing. Icons are "prayed into the wood". Some icons are more "veiled" than others, in that technically, they may not be as good as they could be, but are still icons, once they are "chrismated" with oil (olifa), blessed by the priest, and spend a liturgy or up to 40 days on the altar.

 As to the iconographer, does that person have the blessing of His teacher, priest, or bishop or is he/she just doing it because they think they can? Has that person's teacher been blessed to do it? There is a succession here. I personally could never write a sacred icon for someone in exchange for payment without such a blessing to do so, no matter how "good" they may look or how many people ask me for them. I feel the iconographer must submit to the Church.

Thank you!  This is so helpful!  Yes, I agree, totally.
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« Reply #25 on: February 13, 2011, 10:23:44 PM »

Myrrhbear and LBK - with your words in mind - and thank you - this is what I thought iconography was about. . .I do not want to produce 'art' I want to offer . . .prayer. . .for the lack of a better . . . thought/word combination.  

I had a long talk with the wife of my priest today concerning this - as  was/am concerned that I offer to this the correct attitude and heart . . .and life. . .if this is what I'm being called to do.  My past is no representation of it.  I'm newly illumined.  I never was much of a painter as it was too 'fast' for me.  I sculpted because sculpting (with clay) is very meditative and a very very slow thoughtful careful process.  She said that writing icons is the same - very slow, very meditative and prayerful. . . so I'm thinking about it - and will trust my Lord Christ Jesus to show me the way to go in it.  I have my priest's blessing as he asked me if I would consider writing icons.  Continuing with his blessing is incredibly important to me.  

I don't want to second guess the Lord, either.  Heh. . .though I think it's quite . .. humorous that I've wanted all my life to be a 'writer' (meaning literary) and here my priest asks me to 'write' icons.  . . . **laughing** He's so good.  

I have no aspirations for a resume or a career. (In life101 I'm rather content becoming a grandmommy and loving my family at this age - career-wise.)
I want to serve.  If He will bless someone by this, then I'd be so blessed by that.  
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« Reply #26 on: February 13, 2011, 11:03:40 PM »

Writing an icon is a serious undertaking. God will bless the icon either way, but the iconographer who writes in an unworthy manner risks condemnation.
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« Reply #27 on: February 13, 2011, 11:09:30 PM »

Writing an icon is a serious undertaking. God will bless the icon either way, but the iconographer who writes in an unworthy manner risks condemnation.

Yes. . .very serious.  The more I spend time with the hand written icons I have (gifted to me from my sponsor) the more I know how blessed they are. . .and I hope/pray/beg that if this is where He wants me to go. . .that I will not defile His blessing. . .

He's so very good to me. . .much much more so than I deserve. . .
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« Reply #28 on: February 13, 2011, 11:51:43 PM »

I feel the need to add to this discussion, considering some of the comments made about the non-orthodox learning to write icons.

Be careful - and be kind.  I am non Orthodox and I am learning to write icons.  I am not one of those seeking to spend a lot of money to add to my artistic resume, nor I am learning to write them because it is 'fashionable' - who says that anyway?  I had never even considered writing one until I read a lovely book about praying with them last year while staying with my sister in England.  No-one I know does it here in the bible belt...(smile)....

I am a prayerful Roman Catholic - seeking to expand my spiritual life.  Have you guys ever considered that God may be working in the lives of those who want to learn about these beautiful windows to glory?  Yes, it is expensive - but it is also holy and prayerful and I assure you I take it just as seriously as I am capable of doing.  I can't submit to the Orthodox church yet - even though I am inquiring about it - but I can humbly submit to God as I labor as best I can with the Monk who I study with.

I sound a bit defensive.....and I think I am - as sometimes Orthodoxy can come across somewhat elitist to me as I read through all these different threads.  I ignore it most of the time - but since icon writing and praying for my icons to be worthy of veneration is what got me here....I am going to speak up!



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« Reply #29 on: February 13, 2011, 11:58:24 PM »

What is or should be the standard of living for someone who writes icons?  

Shouldn't it be the same as for any Christian?

Well, if that were the case, then Deacons, Priests, Bishops and any other office would not have the standards they are held do prior to being chosen.  While (if I were a man) I can now partake in the sacraments and belong to the church, I would never hold to the standard of becoming a Deacon - having been married more than once.

It appears that ozgeorge was misinterpreted out of context.  Most iconographers actually fast and pray before starting on an icon which are examples (but not the only examples) of the Orthodox praxis (practice) required to write an icon which illustrates the Orthodox faith.   Smiley
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« Reply #30 on: February 14, 2011, 12:18:56 AM »

I feel the need to add to this discussion, considering some of the comments made about the non-orthodox learning to write icons.

Be careful - and be kind.  I am non Orthodox and I am learning to write icons.  I am not one of those seeking to spend a lot of money to add to my artistic resume, nor I am learning to write them because it is 'fashionable' - who says that anyway?  I had never even considered writing one until I read a lovely book about praying with them last year while staying with my sister in England.  No-one I know does it here in the bible belt...(smile)....

I am a prayerful Roman Catholic - seeking to expand my spiritual life.  Have you guys ever considered that God may be working in the lives of those who want to learn about these beautiful windows to glory?  Yes, it is expensive - but it is also holy and prayerful and I assure you I take it just as seriously as I am capable of doing.  I can't submit to the Orthodox church yet - even though I am inquiring about it - but I can humbly submit to God as I labor as best I can with the Monk who I study with.

I sound a bit defensive.....and I think I am - as sometimes Orthodoxy can come across somewhat elitist to me as I read through all these different threads.  I ignore it most of the time - but since icon writing and praying for my icons to be worthy of veneration is what got me here....I am going to speak up!

Gypsy, it is not folks like you to whom my post was directed. I have all too much experience of those who do indeed take up iconography, and for various reasons, produce images which might look like icons, but, through their content and intention, are anything but. It is indeed possible for a non-Orthodox person to paint icons which are perfectly canonical in content and form, which an Orthodox priest will happily bless on the altar of his church.

However, there comes a point where the differences in Orthodox liturgical and doctrinal traditions will conflict with a non-Orthodox person's own religious tradition. This is a subtle, but immensely important consideration that many a budding iconographer might not be aware of. I am in no way discouraging you (or any other non-Orthodox person) from seeking to paint icons. But, if you are taught well, soon enough you will encounter this dilemma.

So much of what I know about iconography comes from keeping my eyes and ears open during church services - not just the Divine Liturgy, but at other services, most importantly Vespers and Matins. Absorbing oneself in the hymnography of the Church, as well as the lives of the saints to be portrayed is of the utmost importance in gaining discernment in what should be painted on an icon. Non-Orthodox folks are, of course, always welcome to attend Orthodox services, but, if one is sincere about painting good and proper icons, one ultimately has to believe what the Church teaches, to be able to honestly express the Church's teachings through the medium of iconography.

I personally know several people whose foray into painting icons has led them into baptism/chrismation into the Orthodox Church. One notable example was a long-serving Anglican priest, along with his family.
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« Reply #31 on: February 14, 2011, 04:17:33 AM »

I feel the need to add to this discussion, considering some of the comments made about the non-orthodox learning to write icons.

Be careful - and be kind.  I am non Orthodox and I am learning to write icons.  I am not one of those seeking to spend a lot of money to add to my artistic resume, nor I am learning to write them because it is 'fashionable' - who says that anyway?  I had never even considered writing one until I read a lovely book about praying with them last year while staying with my sister in England.  No-one I know does it here in the bible belt...(smile)....

I am a prayerful Roman Catholic - seeking to expand my spiritual life.  Have you guys ever considered that God may be working in the lives of those who want to learn about these beautiful windows to glory?  Yes, it is expensive - but it is also holy and prayerful and I assure you I take it just as seriously as I am capable of doing.  I can't submit to the Orthodox church yet - even though I am inquiring about it - but I can humbly submit to God as I labor as best I can with the Monk who I study with.

I sound a bit defensive.....and I think I am - as sometimes Orthodoxy can come across somewhat elitist to me as I read through all these different threads.  I ignore it most of the time - but since icon writing and praying for my icons to be worthy of veneration is what got me here....I am going to speak up!

Gypsy, it is not folks like you to whom my post was directed. I have all too much experience of those who do indeed take up iconography, and for various reasons, produce images which might look like icons, but, through their content and intention, are anything but. It is indeed possible for a non-Orthodox person to paint icons which are perfectly canonical in content and form, which an Orthodox priest will happily bless on the altar of his church.

However, there comes a point where the differences in Orthodox liturgical and doctrinal traditions will conflict with a non-Orthodox person's own religious tradition. This is a subtle, but immensely important consideration that many a budding iconographer might not be aware of. I am in no way discouraging you (or any other non-Orthodox person) from seeking to paint icons. But, if you are taught well, soon enough you will encounter this dilemma.

So much of what I know about iconography comes from keeping my eyes and ears open during church services - not just the Divine Liturgy, but at other services, most importantly Vespers and Matins. Absorbing oneself in the hymnography of the Church, as well as the lives of the saints to be portrayed is of the utmost importance in gaining discernment in what should be painted on an icon. Non-Orthodox folks are, of course, always welcome to attend Orthodox services, but, if one is sincere about painting good and proper icons, one ultimately has to believe what the Church teaches, to be able to honestly express the Church's teachings through the medium of iconography.

I personally know several people whose foray into painting icons has led them into baptism/chrismation into the Orthodox Church. One notable example was a long-serving Anglican priest, along with his family.

yes. also intent is very important.  we run into many situations for example with perhaps people from Eritrian descent who become "god-parents" at a baptism but do not ever intend to be in an EO church. So what do you do?  Isn't the argument that they shouldn't  be god-parents?  their intent isn't to be what the pretend to be.  Honestly, this is the crux of my whole question for this thread.  Is intent a part of it?  are you being honest by painting an icon and not being orthodox, or canonical, etc.?  I think the above is a good response, but there are other facets to be explored
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« Reply #32 on: February 14, 2011, 07:23:25 AM »

What is or should be the standard of living for someone who writes icons?  

Shouldn't it be the same as for any Christian?

Well, if that were the case, then Deacons, Priests, Bishops and any other office would not have the standards they are held do prior to being chosen.  While (if I were a man) I can now partake in the sacraments and belong to the church, I would never hold to the standard of becoming a Deacon - having been married more than once.

It appears that ozgeorge was misinterpreted out of context.  Most iconographers actually fast and pray before starting on an icon which are examples (but not the only examples) of the Orthodox praxis (practice) required to write an icon which illustrates the Orthodox faith.   Smiley

Yes, my mistake, I apologize.  I answered according to what I (poorly communicated) what I was meaning instead of what in context ozgeorge answered. 

I was inquiring if there was a standard of living prior to entering - as I have read in more than one place that this is considered an 'office' and not to be taken lightly.  A good example would be the standard a priest applies to . . .though I know this is not the same.  So, I'm . . .still a little unclear, but I'm thinking that the actual context of what ozgeorge wrote (please correct me if I am wrong) is that there is no particular standard other than the standard for all Christians?   I'm not sure. . .I'm confused.  Any additional clarification would greatly help.
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« Reply #33 on: February 14, 2011, 07:53:17 AM »

What is or should be the standard of living for someone who writes icons?  

Shouldn't it be the same as for any Christian?

Well, if that were the case, then Deacons, Priests, Bishops and any other office would not have the standards they are held do prior to being chosen.  While (if I were a man) I can now partake in the sacraments and belong to the church, I would never hold to the standard of becoming a Deacon - having been married more than once.

It appears that ozgeorge was misinterpreted out of context.  Most iconographers actually fast and pray before starting on an icon which are examples (but not the only examples) of the Orthodox praxis (practice) required to write an icon which illustrates the Orthodox faith.   Smiley

Yes, my mistake, I apologize.  I answered according to what I (poorly communicated) what I was meaning instead of what in context ozgeorge answered. 
That's OK. But you owe me an Icon.  Wink
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« Reply #34 on: February 14, 2011, 08:07:41 AM »

What is or should be the standard of living for someone who writes icons?  

Shouldn't it be the same as for any Christian?

Well, if that were the case, then Deacons, Priests, Bishops and any other office would not have the standards they are held do prior to being chosen.  While (if I were a man) I can now partake in the sacraments and belong to the church, I would never hold to the standard of becoming a Deacon - having been married more than once.

It appears that ozgeorge was misinterpreted out of context.  Most iconographers actually fast and pray before starting on an icon which are examples (but not the only examples) of the Orthodox praxis (practice) required to write an icon which illustrates the Orthodox faith.   Smiley

Yes, my mistake, I apologize.  I answered according to what I (poorly communicated) what I was meaning instead of what in context ozgeorge answered. 
That's OK. But you owe me an Icon.  Wink

**Grins**

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« Reply #35 on: February 14, 2011, 11:20:06 PM »

What is or should be the standard of living for someone who writes icons?  

Shouldn't it be the same as for any Christian?

Well, if that were the case, then Deacons, Priests, Bishops and any other office would not have the standards they are held do prior to being chosen.  While (if I were a man) I can now partake in the sacraments and belong to the church, I would never hold to the standard of becoming a Deacon - having been married more than once.

It appears that ozgeorge was misinterpreted out of context.  Most iconographers actually fast and pray before starting on an icon which are examples (but not the only examples) of the Orthodox praxis (practice) required to write an icon which illustrates the Orthodox faith.   Smiley

Yes, my mistake, I apologize.  I answered according to what I (poorly communicated) what I was meaning instead of what in context ozgeorge answered. 

I was inquiring if there was a standard of living prior to entering - as I have read in more than one place that this is considered an 'office' and not to be taken lightly.

There is no canonical "office" of iconographer as there are orders of Clergy.  Some iconographers are Saints - St. Luke being the first example and writing the first icon is only one of his numerous accomplishments as a Saint.

A good example would be the standard a priest applies to . . .though I know this is not the same.  So, I'm . . .still a little unclear, but I'm thinking that the actual context of what ozgeorge wrote (please correct me if I am wrong) is that there is no particular standard other than the standard for all Orthodox Christians?   I'm not sure. . .I'm confused.  Any additional clarification would greatly help.

One word was added to the bolded text to make a distinction between Orthodox Christians and all other Christians.   Smiley   

An iconographer is not a "different" Orthodox Christian from you or me or ozgeorge or your Priest/Hierarch.  An iconographer has a charism (gift) which is different from the "talent" illustrated by modern artists.  That is the best clarification I can give for starters....
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« Reply #36 on: February 14, 2011, 11:23:45 PM »

Ah, Thank you SolEX01 - this is incredibly helpful - this you were very clear (heh. . . I need to take clarity lessons from you!  Grin )

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« Reply #37 on: February 14, 2011, 11:32:23 PM »

Ah, Thank you SolEX01 - this is incredibly helpful - this you were very clear (heh. . . I need to take clarity lessons from you!  Grin )

Thank You.  Smiley  You caught me on a clear minded day....    angel
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« Reply #38 on: February 17, 2011, 12:25:33 PM »

I recently came across this thread and found it very interesting.  One point I did want to mention though is concerning icons painted by schismatics.  To be clear, there are obviously varying degrees of schism: Catholicism is a very old schism, as is Non-Chalcedonianism, etc.  The "schismatics" I am referring to are those who have recently left our jurisdictions (there are many such examples associated with the jurisdiction to which I belong that have "split" in the last few years).  These schisms have been very, very painful, often ripping parishes apart, tearing families apart, etc.  It is very unfortunate that so many have left and we who have not left are eagerly hoping and praying for their return, which, at present, seems rather unlikely.

The connection to iconography revolves around one central idea: should we financially support those in schism if, by doing so, we are essentially entrenching the schism and giving those who have left us the "means" to survive outside the canonical church?  I am certainly not asking a question regarding the "validity" of their icons, for example, only mentioning that, for those of us who consider them to be in schism, isn't financially supporting them by buying their products, icons, etc. effectively guaranteeing that the schism will be prolonged?  If so, is it morally acceptable to support them in this way?

This is a question I often think about and, consequently, I try to buy from suppliers (or commission icons from iconographers), who I know to be members of the Orthodox Church struggling to live a life of piety.

"That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me."
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Those are my two kopecks Smiley
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