What do you tell him?
I wasn't sure.
I'm in a sort of practice period iconographically-speaking. I'm between classes at the moment, wanting to paint, to improve technique and to - well - get better at it. And so I've been spending some time painting icons. YoungerSon, who has always been rather artistic, has lurked about alot while I'm painting, asking all sorts of questions. Some time ago, he asked if he could paint one, too. I initially hemmed and hawed a bit and tried to put him off, uncertain just how all that works for kids (I'm still trying to figure out how all that works for grownups!)
So, not getting a clear answer from me, he plowed ahead and began to search for a prototype (he'd already picked the saint he wanted to paint). So I figured it was time to either give him the go ahead or put the kibosh on it for the time being. I sent an email to my priest, and explained that YoungerSon has been nagging me to paint an icon, and I asked him if it was OK for me to share what I know and allow him a chance to try it here at home with me, until an appropriate class comes up for him.
My request was met with enthusiastic support from our priest, and so we jumped right in. He is learning much from this experience! (So am I!) I worried initially that he would become very frustrated very quickly and just bag it - but he seems to be more persistent in this endeavor than in his other artistic ventures (where when he doesn't like where a drawing is going he simply throws it away and starts over - or not). He is struggling a bit to get his hand and brush to duplicate what he sees in the prototype, but he's sticking with it.
When I initially contacted my priest for a go-ahead, he suggested that I also contact the iconographer who painted most of the iconography in our church, who is a friend of his and a friend of our parish, to see if he had any advice about how to approach iconography with an inquisitive 11-year old.
"Let him paint, paint, paint. This should be done with joy and enthusiasm. When questions come, answer honestly and clearly.
This advice goes for you and me too, and for all of us children dabbling out our attempts to paint the divine. If a spark is glowing in an 11 year old, don't hinder the Holy Spirit from blowing on it."
Wonderful advice for YoungerSon, and also for me.
Sunday, November 9, 2008
What do you tell him?