Sunday, February 27, 2005

Rules for the Icon Painter

An acquaintance of mine is an icon painter. For those who may not be familiar with icons, they are stylized representations of saints that are both beautiful works of art and objects of veneration in the Greek Orthodox (Christian) Church. My acquaintance gave a seminar at Leeds Church and shared with us “Rules for the Icon Painter.” I have given copies to the designers who work at the New Media Center and have them posted over my desk where I often read them before I begin work, especially on my book.

Before starting work, make the sign of the cross; pray in silence and pardon your enemies.

  1. Work with care on every detail of your icon, as if you were working in front of the Lord, himself.
  2. During work, pray in order to strengthen yourself physically and spiritually; avoid, above all, useless words and keep silence.
  3. Pray in particular to the saint whose face you are painting. Keep your mind from distractions and the saint will be close to you.
  4. When you have to choose a color, stretch out your hand interiorly to the Lord and ask His counsel.
  5. Do not be jealous of your neighbor’s work. His success is your success too.
  6. When your icon is finished, thank God that His mercy has granted you the grace to paint the holy images.
  7. Have your icon blessed by putting it on the altar. Be the first to pray before it, before giving it to others.
  8. Have your icon blessed by putting it on the altar. Be the first to pray before it, before giving it to others.
  9. Never forget the joy of spreading icons in the world, the joy of the work or icon-painting, the joy of being in union with the saint whose face you are painting.

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