Friday, June 26, 2015

Icon Workshop Number Nine


I just completed my ninth icon workshop led by Teresa Harrison.  And as usual, it was comprised of mostly middle-aged and elderly Americans from many Christian faith backgrounds. We met in the Great Hall of St. Paul's Cathedral, an Episcopal church in San Diego. 

Many thanks to Julie McMinn, Bob the janitor, and others who made it possible for us to work without worry about our surroundings.

Most of the first-timers in our class created the Theotokos (Virgin Mary with Jesus).

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[click any image in this blog to enlarge it]

while the other novices did the Good Shepherd icon. Here's my Good Shepherd, from my second workshop in November 2013. 

I decided that I would work on the icon of St. Martyr Catherine. Kim wanted to do it too.

In the last few days before the class felt I wasn't connecting with that icon and changed my icon to an ancient image of St. Paul. It turns out this was quite a dark image, but I continued on with it.

Each morning our classes started with an hour of devotions, prayers, eucharist and a circle time for discussion.

Most of the twenty-some members of our class were hard workers and well-behaved. But not all. I regret that one day "my" table got scolded for uttering too many useless words. 

Here we are, working away in the Great Hall.

Teresa sits opposite us so she can keep an eye on the slackers (or so she can help us).

My icon moved along at the established pace in her workshops. The main blocks of color on day one: 

the shading of garments on day two.

Day three involves adding skin color and light onto the Sankir background. I tried very hard to make my Paul look like the prototype (original) image.

Teresa demonstrated with a drawing and miming the process.

Kathy Clark, an experienced iconographer, worked on an icon of Jesus healing a blind man while struggling herself with a need for His healing. Kim worked on two icons at the same time, one for a couple celebrating their Fiftieth Anniversary.

The ladies at the other end of the room from us were hard at work on the face of the Virgin, then on her garments and their elaborate gold trimmings.

Teresa didn't make much headway on her icon (as usual) because she was constantly encouraging and assisting us.

Here's Christine smiling through her frustration at various parts of the process, such as painting in The Good Shepherd's staff.

On Day Four we apply 23-carat gold leaf. Here's St. Paul.

Special tables are set aside for gilding, varnishing, and other dangerous or sensitive work (such as eating).

Lynn gets a star award in my book, for creating a beautiful extra-large version of the Good Shepherd to give to her church near Phoenix.

It looks even better with the gold in place (which I failed to photograph).

Here we are in a last minute frenzy of work.

[Remember, you can click on any image in this blog for a larger view]

On Day Five we put on the lettering, pin-striping, final gold details, and a protective varnish.

In addition to advice, Teresa wields a fine brush and touches up the details that we can't see or can't manage to fix on our own.

At the final hour, 2 pm on Friday, we gathered in the chapel to dedicate our icons to Christ's service

This is always a special time in the process of creating an icon. Tears of joy and relief are mixed with apprehension that a still-damp icon will fall over on the altar cloth.

Alas, the workshop finally came to an end, and we parted with joy, exhaustion, and hard-won icons that should last for centuries in God's service.