Painting an Icon of a Contemporary Saint, written by Aidan Hart

8 04 2011

I wrote a piece a while ago about the creation of an icon of a contemporary saint. I learnt about this from directly from my teacher Aidan Hart. I can remember once when I was visiting him he had created just such and icon – of New Martyr Elizabeth: a member of the Russian royal family who was murdered by the Bolsheviks. I thought I would ask Aidan to describe how he created this icon. What follows is his reply. Note how he is very clear that he is not aiming for a photographic-like likeness, but rather an image that infuses her physical characteristics with those elements of the iconographic form that will reveal more fully the true person.

Aidan wrote as follows: Read the rest of this entry »


Can Man Read the Symbolic Book of Nature Today?

1 04 2011

Or Should We Just Rely on Our Gothic Forebears? I recently wrote about the quincunx and its relationship to the traditional image of Christ in Majesty showing with symbolic representation of the four evangelists, here. Frenchman Emile Male described how the understanding of how these four figures related to the evangelists in the 13th century (his book is called, The Gothic Image). Male is drawing on a commentary on Ezekiel by Rabanus Maurus, the 9thcentury Benedictine monk and bishop of Mainz in Germany, which, he says became the authoritative text for the later gothic period. Reading this is helpful in understanding the roots of this symbolism, but rather like an earlier discussion of the pelican and the peacock, not without a few difficulties also.

Male recounts it as follows: Read the rest of this entry »

The Quincunx – a Geometric Representation of Christ in Majesty

16 03 2011

One of my hopes for the cultural renewal is the revival of a Christian form of geometric patterned art. With this in mind I have done my best to study past work, and try to discern the principles that underlie its creation. I wrote about resources that help in this respect in a previous article, here.

If tasked with the design of an ornate sanctuary floor now, for example, how might one go about it? Read the rest of this entry »

The Brussels Academy of Icon Painting

5 03 2011

As a postscript to the article about the work of Irina Gorbunova-Lomax, a reader has sent me information about two more websites with more up-to-date work of hers on display. You can see them here and here. I was also contacted by an old friend of mine from Oxford, a Catholic, who is studying with her. As ever, I am delighted to receive this additional information from readers and, in turn, happy to pass it on to you. Originally from the Ukraine, Irina studied in Russia. She is married to an Englishman and lives in Brussels (she is not based in France as I first thought). She runs a 4-year, part-time course in icon painting (38 three-hour lessons over this period). She is an excellent teacher by all accounts and, I was told, she is respectful of the Catholic Faith and many Catholics are already learning with her. Read the rest of this entry »

Praying with the Cosmos – the Ancient Treasury of the Divine Office I

23 02 2011

An ancient beautiful prayer that leads us to joy, and opens us up to inspiration and creativity; part 1, part 2 here
The Divine Office (also called the Liturgy of the Hours), is one of the four pillars of the spiritual life of the new liturgical movement. This is the first in a regular series that highlight the riches of the the liturgy of the Church and how it is at the root of Western culture.

‘The Mass is a precious jewel and that jewel has its setting, which is the Divine Office. The Divine Office also has its setting, which is the cosmos.’ Read the rest of this entry »

Icons by Irina Gorbunova-Lomax

21 02 2011

Here are some icons by a Belgium-based Russian icon painter. She has and exquisite touch in the graceful flow of the line that conforms to the prototype and describes form beautifully. Also, she skillfully handles the delicate overlay of washes of colour retaining a freshness and giving the sense that they were produced by a sure, well-guided hand. Her gallery,here, has examples of works done on paper or parchment, some having the appearance of studies for other works. These particularly highlight her drawing ability. I have shown a few examples below.

Over the years I have been to many icon painting classes where people signed up because they felt that because icons are so highly stylised that the need for skilled drawing is less than in naturalistic styles Read the rest of this entry »

The Liturgical Life that will Create the Culture of Beauty

1 02 2011

My colleague at the New Liturgical Movement website, Shawn Tribe, has posted a simple but truly wonderful and inspiring article about what he calls the ‘pillars’ of a liturgical life.He describes not a theoretical discussion for experts in liturgy, but rather simple practices for parish and family. It is a spiritual life based upon the Mass, the Liturgy of the Hours and study of scripture, especially through lectio divina. This, in my opinion, is the basis for cultural renewal. Shawn’s article is a must read for anyone committed to the re-establishment of a culture of beauty in the West, especially those associated with the liturgical arts (and frankly for that matter everyone else too). This is the sort of practice of the Faith that has been called for by Popes (just to my knowledge) ever since Pius X at the end of the 19th century and right up to Pope Benedict XVI today. He emphasises particularly the importance of something so often neglected by lay people, the Liturgy of the Hours otherwise called the Divine Office. Read the rest of this entry »