Monday, November 12, 2007

The Prodigal Son - Class #2

Today was our second iconography class. To begin this second session, Fr. John Magram from The Russian Orthodox Church and Skete of the Resurrection of Christ in Fridley (a Twin Cities suburb) joined us and presented a brief but insightful discussion of the parable ofthe Prodigal Son.

We also looked at a few other iconic depictions of this parable. The icon that our class is writing presents only portion of the whole parable. The portion we are writing is simply the embrace of the forgiving father and the repentant son.

Today we painted the base coats on the garment of the father - 2 colors: green and red. I've noticed that some colors cover more easily than others. The green covered in just 2 coats - the red has 3 coats of paint and, as you can see here, looks like it could use about 3 more coats. Here's my progress after today:



(Seems after close scrutiny, now that the background has completely dried, I see that I could use an additional coat or two on the sky also.)

I mentioned in a note to a friend today the difference in emphases in even just this little snippet of the parable. It speaks to some in different ways than others, it seems. As I read about and considered this portion of the parable (the embrace of the father and the son), I felt more drawn to consider the figure of the son - who "came to himself" - to an understanding of who he really was and who he was meant to be, to an understanding of his need to be in relationship with the father, and to knowledge of what it would take to mend the relationship he had broken. And the son's realization that he had no choice but to mend this relationship in order to live.

Others in the class were drawn to consider more the figure of the father. For them it was less about repentance and more about the father's desire to welcome and reconcile with the son, noting that the father had watched and waited for the son ("But while he was yet at a distance, his father saw him and had compassion").

It is, of course, both about repentance and reconciliation, but it was just interesting for me which elements and characters in the parable speak the clearest to different people.

Our homework for the next class: repaint all painted surfaces until they are completely opaque, and put a light (transparent) coat of paint on faces and all exposed skin. This will be done with a sienna (a darker brown color). In an upcoming class, the faces will be built up with lighter colored layers of paint, adding lighter layers in different places and then the facial features themselves.

The seminary is on Thanksgiving break next Monday and so there won't be class session for us - but I have plenty to do in the meantime with this work on the icon and also additional assigned reading.

4 comments:

Dixie said...

I have enjoyed your posts on your iconography class. My priest is an iconographer. He studied in Greece. Imagine...an American melting pot mut converting to Orthodoxy, going through seminary and moving to Greece for six years with his family! I love to learn of the theology expressed by the icons.

The prodigal is an extremely rich parable...you are on to something...if we are honest we can see ourselves in both sons at differing times.

Your posts have me thinking. I'd like to put together some things on the prodigal if I could find the time. I want to check some of my previous instruction with the fathers to make certain they are not novel understandings. Alas...that won't be any time soon. Life is so busy this time of year!

Keep up the good work. I enjoy your reflections very much! And a blessed Nativity Fast to you.

Anonymous said...

It's coming along nicely, C!

-dash

-C said...

Thank you, Dash.
(Perhaps not insignificant is the thought that I am personally coming along, too).

Mimi said...

Wow, it is looking gorgeous! My continued prayers as you continue to write.