What is important is creativity, not only copying a given image faithfully. Diversity and authenticity truly matters.
Formula of my classes is based not on performing copies, but on virtually creating an icon inspired by a particular template. The only element which we actually duplicate is the layout. Final strokes, decorating, color combinations and tonal effects are customizable, leaving room for conveying individual authenticity, diversity and expression of personal aesthetic tastes. That is the exact reason why every icon made during my course is different. Each of them reflects not only acquired knowledge and artistic skills’ level, but also tastes, sensitivity and mindset. Anyone who completed my course is one and undeniable author of his/her icon. As a guiding person I go to extra lengths to provide useful suggestions, to show and explain, point direction, encourage individual exploration instead of quitting and asking for quick fixes.I genuinely care about keeping the process and final outcome as authentic as possible.
Painting an icon combines hand, heart and mind labor.
We always start working on an icon with drawing exercises that apart from improving manual skills can help students to get into the state of deep focus, harmony and inner peace. Every stage of painting an icon is a kind of meditation or prayer. It starts with careful preparation of a board which is later followed by attentive drawing, gilding, and finally painting… We are trying to deeply analyze each step, understand it, in order to recreate the process fully independently. As we work with colors we must pay great attention to technology, because it is equally important to fluency in drawing and composition. Only proper assimilation of these skills can bring a unique effect and true satisfaction.
Participating in the icon-painting course can be an extraordinary adventure and a spiritual experience at the same time. It is a flow-inducing time spent in silence, amongst people who appreciate beauty. Through the means of art students can grasp the richness of orthodox iconography, religious art history and receive an opportunity to dwell on the spiritual life – related topic with their peers.
We continually try to discover, develop and highlight our talents working on our weaknesses simultaneously.
Personally, as a teacher, I experience my classes as a highly stimulating activity that consistently poses new challenges on my development path providing an immeasurable amount of satisfaction on many levels. Sharing knowledge and experience with others requires profound research on each topic. All students have different, often subconsciously stored skills. Sometimes it’s exquisite sense of color, uncanny precision, caring for details, easiness in finding unique solutions, drawing skills fluency, deep understanding of form… These are assets which I notice, recognize and help to develop.The shortcomings – they need more attention, but thanks to a bit of will and self-discipline great results can be achieved. The exploration of one’s flaws is also an intrinsic means for further development, oftentimes a one that later down the road becomes a turning point for one’s progress.
Every step of the painting process shapes one’s personal features and spiritual qualities. This is the reason why icon painting can be perceived as a path to self-mastery. Course graduation has always been a great surprise for all members. It is the culmination of their long-term commitment and effort, accompanied by satisfaction after diligently executed work, appreciation of the final result and emotional affection. I heartily encourage you to try it yourself, it might occur that this would be the beginning of an unforgettable journey…
Continuation and new topics
For students who completed a beginners’ course, a further learning program is provided. It is an intermediate course which builds up on the top of skills learnt in the basic course.
We are going to focus on icons within different ranges of topics, difficulty level, gradually introducing new techniques and artistic issues. Each of the topics is designed by me specifically, I create my own compositions based on the ancient icons. The participants receive a set of drawing schemes that helps in understanding and executing particular parts of jointly selected icons. Over the previous years my students created icons of Mother of God, Christ Good Shepherd, Saint Francis of Assisi, Archangel Michael, and the original image of Jesus Christ as Man of Sorrows inspired by renaissance artist’s Bellini painting.