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 »

Two More Neo Coptic Icons by Dr Stephane Rene

29 01 2011

Further to the recent posting about a Coptic style Stella Maris icon, here are two more icons by Dr Stephane Rene in his ‘neo-Coptic’ style. They were sent to me by two people who read the previous article. St Joseph of the House of David and Mary Mother of the City are in St Joseph’s Catholic church, in Bunhill Row in the City of London. I remember this Church because it is just around the corner from the offices of the Catholic Herald, where I once worked. They come courtesy of a reader who brought them to my notice. So if you’re reading thank you Martin Pendergast, and to you Sr Jean for supplying the images. Read the rest of this entry »

Where can Catholics Go to Learn to Paint in the Naturalistic Tradition?

25 01 2011

If you are interested in the baroque, where do you go to learn to paint? In a past article I wrote about possible places to study the iconographic technique in depth. However, the baroque is also one of the three liturgical artistic traditions of the Church (the third is the gothic) and anyone who is serious about being an artist for the Church should consider whether they want to learn this form. One place to consider is Ingbretson Studio in Manchester, New Hampshire.

The ideal education would consist of the following: Read the rest of this entry »

Fra Angelico’s Theology of Light

27 08 2010

I thought I would do a short series (I intend three at this stage) of articles focussing on paintings by the gothic artists, looking at two of my favourites Fra Angelico and Duccio. Fra Angelico, the 15th century Florentine artist is normally considered late gothic in style. Duccio, from Siena, worked earlier, in the late 13th and early 14th centuries. Duccio’s work represents the more iconographic based style and Fra Angelic the more naturalistic. Looking at these two exemplars of early and late gothic art gives us a good sense of what characterises this tradition. Read the rest of this entry »

Aidan Hart’s Icons in Fresco

21 07 2010

When I was in my early thirties (quite late to be making these decisions) I made an earnest decision to try to learn icon painting. I telephoned the only icon painter I knew, someone whom I had met once about five years earlier. Since I had met him, Br Aidan had spent a number of years on Mt Athos and on returning to England had founded a hermitage, that of SS Anthony and Cuthbert in Shropshire, England. Read the rest of this entry »

Fra Angelico and the Gothic

5 07 2010

When I first decided that I’d like to try to paint in the service of the Church I decided I wanted to paint like Fra Angelic (or perhaps Duccio). I suppose you might as well aim high! Fra Angelico, who worked in the 15th century, had the balance of naturalism and idealism that appealed to me. It seemed just right for prayer. It’s just an anecdotal observation, but when I meet people who have the same outlook in regard to the liturgy and orthodoxy in the Church, it seems that invariably they feel the same about him; and John Paul II described him in his Letter to Artists as one whose painting is ‘an eloquent example of aesthetic contemplation sublimated in faith’. Read the rest of this entry »