Saturday, December 6, 2008

Jesus Christ

Christ is depicted with his right hand raised in blessing. In his left hand, the Gospel Book. His nimbus bears within it a Cross and the Greek letters for the words for "He Who Is." His cloak is blue, to symbolize His humanity which he put on in His Incarnation, and His tunic is red, to represent His divinity - that He always was in eternity.
Text source

Here's an icon painted by an impulsive painter.

Wanting to paint an icon of Christ, I scoured the internet and various books to find the right prototype. Of course there were literally thousands out there. I found one which I thought would be the perfect prototype, printed it, painted it, and now I cannot find the source.

It seems that the icons of Christ the Lifegiver, Christ the Lightgiver, and Christ the Teacher are all very similar. In fact, as I looked to see just which of these my prototype actually is, I found that all three icons, based upon the Pantocrator icon, share the same characteristics: right hand raised in blessing, nimbus with the symbolic Greek letters for "He Who Is," the red and blue garments. I suspected the difference was in whether the Gospel Book in his hand was open or closed. Yet this was not the case, either, as I found images of icons of all three with both open and closed books.

As I looked online for the title of this particular icon, I noticed that someone else had the same question - how does one tell the difference? The answer on the site I visited was that the icon always says which it is, Lightgiver, Lifegiver, Teacher. Looking again at my prototype, I noticed that it simply says "ICXC," - Jesus Christ.

This icon, along with the icons of St. Thomas and St. Peter the Aleut, will be blessed tomorrow morning at church.

7 comments:

Emily H. said...

Wow, -C, you've been busy. I didn't realized that the icons you posted in the two previous posts were by your hand. They're very good!

I would love to try painting an icon but there is a time and a place for everything. (I suppose I could go ahead and try it, since you noted that there were also Lutherans in your icon classes - but I just think that's odd... To me there's a difference in writing an icon for use in spiritual devotion and painting one for decorative purposes.)

-C said...

Thank you for your kind words, Emily.

You know, there is a time and place for everything, and you will know when the time is right. Classes are hard to come by even here in a large city - and most of them are so expensive that they'd put us in the poorhouse pronto (which sometimes I think might be sort of good for us at least for awhile!). The class I took at Luther Seminary last year was, comparatively speaking, pretty reasonably priced (yet when I registered for it, our understanding was that this class would be my combined birthday, wedding anniversary, and Christmas present!)

"(I suppose I could go ahead and try it, since you noted that there were also Lutherans in your icon classes - but I just think that's odd... To me there's a difference in writing an icon for use in spiritual devotion and painting one for decorative purposes.)"

Yes, in fact, the instructor and me were the only people in our class who weren't Lutheran. And while mention was made of icons as a spiritual tool, it was certainly downplayed in this class - and I found that fairly disappointing. But I think the instructor was trying to be sensitive to general protestant suspicions about the veneration of icons (not yours, obviously! - They weren't my suspicions when I was a Lutheran either).

BUT - it was a very valuable class in that it taught me important basics of the art - and it served to stimulate my interest in working on it (which is spiritually edifying in itself).

If I could find another local class, and the money to pay for it, i'd sign up in a heartbeat! One will come along - but until then, I'll practice.

Emily H. said...

Oh, I didn't know it was that expensive! Then again I would hate to see it taught wholesale and the detrimental effects that it would have on the art.

-C said...

There was a weeklong class offered this past month at the local OCA cathedral which cost about $3000, I think. But this was a master's class.

Emily H. said...

$3,000!!! Well, that's just a *little* out of our budget!

OCA cathedral... I wonder if that's the big church that we see when we drive through St.Paul on our way to Duluth. Either that or it's a Catholic cathedral.

Anyways, we ought to just call each other. This conversation would have gone a lot faster that stringing out comments! :D

-C said...

My class at Luther was only $250 (still alot for us).

The OCA cathedral, St. Mary's, is in NE MPls. The cathedral in St. Paul is - the St. Paul Cathedral - Roman Catholic: http://www.cathedralsaintpaul.org/

St. Paul Cathedral is stunningly beautiful inside! Sometime when you come through, you must plan to stop and go inside for a look. (arrange to call me next time you go to Duluth - I'll come over and walk through with you!! It's quite close by where I live).

Emily H. said...

Email me (it's in my blog profile) and we'll exchange information. Every time we drive through there I think of you. It would be nice to meet sometime.