Researching Icons

I have more or less a question. I'm interested in learning as much as I can about Icons. Does anybody have suggested reading on the art where I might find in depth study? This might be a silly question with the internet available but I'm never successful with web searches, and I was thinking more along the lines of a source book.

The image above is a sketch I did a few days ago... I tried to make Our Lady more Marian than my last post.


Daniel Nichols said...

Back in October and November of 2007 there was a discussion about iconography here. Somewhere in the comboxes I left an exhaustive list of references on iconography.
If you can't find it I will compose another.

Anthony VanArsdale said...

Hey that's great! I'll look for it now... thanks!

rebecca said...

Hi Anthony,

Here are a few titles from my own library that have been an immense help to my understanding of iconography.

"A Brush with God", by Peter Pearson; Morehouse Publishing.

"The Technique of Icon Painting", by Guillem Ramos-Poqui; Morehouse Pub.

"The Mystical Language of Icons", by Solrunn Nes; Canterbury Press.

There are countless others, but these 3 have provided me with a good basic overview. One caveat - anyone who has begun their ascent into this ancient tradition will never be the same again. (I mean that in a most good way!)

I would also suggest you seek out someone who has written icons, to speak to them about the difference between iconography and Western sacred art styles. Be prepared to sit down for a while during this conversation, and open your heart and soul to this difference. My own mind was blown by it, and I had to examine my attachments to my own idea of beauty, vs. what the theology of iconography defines as beauty. It is nothing less than the perfection of God in line and color. I could on and on, but I wish you every joy as you explore icons...!

Daniel Nichols said...

A bit of warning re Peter Pearson: I actually learned a good bit from his book, A Brush with God, regarding technique. However, even if his icons are orthodox, if a bit cartoonish, he himself is an apostate, a Catholic who has become ordained in the Episcopal Church USA. His parish website features stories of the parish participating in a local gay pride celebration.
So, while there is much of worth in his book, know that he himself is hardly an Orthodox, or orthodox, Christian.

"The Technique of Icon Painting" is pretty good, but forget it if you think you can paint an icon using only this book; I tried it and failed miserably. Nothing can replace a teacher, including Pearson's book, which would have left me as confused as "The Technique".

And Anthony: any luck with the old comboxes?

Anthony VanArsdale said...

Thank you very much Rebecca! There was story in my family's Magnificat prayerbook about St. Bernadette. (You may have heard this already) Many devout people had sent the Saint statues and images of Mary, and because of her holiness and simplicity, she said she could not venerate an image that wasn't true to Our Lady's appearance. One day an Icon was sent to the monastery, and Bernadette, falling to her knees, exclaimed that the image looked like Mary... that touched me very much and I saw something in icons that I hadn't seen before

Thank you again Rebecca. :)

and thank you Daniel... I haven't had much luck with the comboxes... forgive me for my ignorance but is it in the old posts? that's where I looked

please keep me in your prayers :)

Kevin said...

Anthony, Daniel had posted the list for me in November. To save you the headache of trying to find it, here it is again....

The Meaning of Icons by L Oupensky; the authoritative work.
A History of Icon Painting by a group of Russian scholars, recently translated into English; a very beautiful and profusely illustrated book.
The Icon by Michel Quenot.
The Icon, Image of the Invisible by Egon Sendler
The History of the Russian Icon by Lucy Maxym
The Art of the Icon: a theology of beauty by Paul Evankimov.
The Mystical Language of Icons written and illustrated by Norweigan iconographer Solrunn Nes.
Transfiguration by Maria Muzj.
And Icons and Saints of the Eastern Orthodox Church by Alfredo Tagido; marred by its small size (ever study a 2"x 2" Last Judgement? Also by its uncritical acceptance of late Russian uncanonical depictions of the Trinity.

One thing I remember from my research on Icons is that Mary's hair is never shown. Her beauty transcends that of earthly ideas.

Daniel Nichols said...

Thanks, Kevin; apparently one can read the archives but not the comboxes...

It is true; in the East the Mother of God is always vieled.

Penhallow Street said...

Hi Anthony. I took an icon writing class two years ago. One book our teacher had for a sourcebook was The Icon Handbook: A Guide to Understanding Icons and the Liturgy Symbols and Practices of the Russian Orthodox Church by Coomler. If I remember correctly, it had line drawings for icons, but maybe someone else can verify this. Another wonderful book is Holy Image Hallowed Ground: the Sinai Icons exhibit at the Getty Museum. Atleier Saint Andre has a CD that they sell on the technique of painting icons--you can see examples on their website. I've left a link here too from Flicker that may interest you. http://www.flickr.com/photos/a_whistling_train/
A class is really helpful should you have the time. I'll be praying for you.

Anthony VanArsdale said...

Thank you everyone! This is great information to have... and I'm so glad to have met all of you here. I think there are a few instructors in the area who give lessons on Icons, but I will have to track them down, and make time for classes... I look forward to doing so

That's interesting about the hair of Our Lady... all these things I hope to learn

I was studying the work of Bouguereau when I had this idea. I want to update the post with a picture that hangs in my family room. It is Our Lady of Perpetual Help, although it doesn't strike me as being a traditional icon exactly, it is very old and very beautiful... it means a lot to our family

and thank you so much for the prayers! :)

Anonymous said...

if you are anywhere near Berkeley, California, the Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology has a ico
n writing class periodically...

laura la bibliotecaria