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Author Topic: Introduction
John_Curran
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Tom, I've ordered a number of books on icons from the Interlibrary Loan System, so looking forward to reading and learning more. Thank you for the suggestions.

I will probably also take your advice on starting with an Archangel. I've done a few "studies", and eagerly anticipate writing my first icon.

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daniel
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I agree; but sins of the flesh are still sins, are they not?

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daniel

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John_Curran
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The greater sin is not the sin of the flesh, but the sin against Charity.
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daniel
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But John, it is not just a matter of proper technique or appropriate images. Iconography is a spiritual discipline, and the life of the iconographer must reflect the teachings of the Church. Earlier you asked if I thought only a saint can paint icons. No, but the iconographer should be an aspiring saint. At the least, he or she must be a repentant sinner, and it is the Church that defines sin. To claim that something that the Apostolic Churches have always deemed sinful is just a matter of "whom you love" is an act of hubris. And Christ calls us to love all, so it is not a matter of "love" but of disordered desire that you are talking about.
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John_Curran
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No, I said--- and meant--- "loves."

And I think the issue has become far off topic, and totally irrelevant, unless an iconographer begins to use inappropriate images in his work. But that would be true of any iconographer, should his work reflect anything improper.

Enough. I'll post more specific technique questions in the future, and hope no one finds occasion to promote his personal agendas at that time.

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daniel
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No, you are speaking about whom a person desires. I love my friends; there is nothing disordered about this. Indeed, we are called to love even our enemies. Eros is quite another thing.

This may seem to some like getting off the topic; this is an iconography forum, after all, and John came here with questions about technique. However, our age has seen too many examples of what can happen when technique is separated from the life and mind of the Church. The question we are discussing here is relevant in the extreme. Iconographers are called, and they are by this calling obliged to a certain spiritual and moral discipline. To set out to be an iconographer without attempting to live as a son or daughter of the Church is foolish.

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John_Curran
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Daniel, I am speaking of whom a person loves... not quite the same thing as marital infidelity or a violent temper.

Tom, thanks again for posting.

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daniel
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John-
I don't claim to speak for the Orthodox Church (I am Byzantine Catholic) nor the Forum, but if you can find a reputable Orthodox Christian who tells you homosexual activity is morally neutral, I'd like to see it. That homosexual activity is sinful is the unbroken tradition of the apostolic Churches.
As for God allowing an orientation that cannot be acted on, well personally I find marital fidelity difficult, but by the grace of God I am faithful to my wife. And I am burdened with a fierce temper. Were I to take that as a sign of what God wants for me I would probably have done a lot of damage. Other people are burdened with sexual attraction to children. Like the homosexual they did not choose this, but like the homosexual's- or any of our- temptations they must not be indulged.
As you state, there is no doubt mysterious grace at work in the particular disorders we are variously burdened with. But just because we have some disordered attraction does not, emphatically, mean that it is God's will that we indulge it. We live, after all, in a fallen world, and all is not as it should be, even within our souls. It is our task in this life to restore the blurry icon of the image of God within.

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daniel

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Tom
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Go beyond searching on line and just looking at icons to reading books like "Sacred Doorways: A Beginners guide to Icons" by Linette Martin, "Praying with Icons" by Jim Forrest, "The Image of Gad the Father" by Steven Bingham.

There are just so many books that will tell you the significance of what icons are and help you discern good from bad, right from wrong. While these books offer little in the "art" of icons and technique, they offer important insight into the why and where or icons. This helps open the mind to what icons are in their very essence and establish a foundation of knowledge that helps keep the iconographer on the path.

The best bet is to google Orthodox Books and start there in the Iocnography section. Bingham's book and Cavarnos' "Guide to Byzantine Iconography" 2 volumes are the best to start in my opinion.

Good luck. BTW....most mentors will start students with the Archangels. Painting the image of Christ is considered an advanced painting solely becasue of the subject.

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Tom

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John_Curran
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Dear Tom,

Thank you for your posting.

I have been reading as many books on iconography as possible, in addition to Peter Pearson's. I also have spent many hours researching icons on-line.

I have at present no mentor, but believe that when the student is ready, the teacher will appear, as the saying goes.

So, I am trying to learn as much as possible, while also practicing painting techniques.

I firmly believe that all is falling into place as it should...

I've read many of your postings here, and made numerous notes of the valuable information you've generously shared.

Best regards,

John

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John_Curran
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Daniel, I am not sure your ideas represent perfectly those of the Orthodox Church and of the Iconofile Forum.

Neither am I convinced that a person would be given an orientation just to carry it as a cross. There is some reason, some plan, although it may be presently unclear to us.

I believe that God has written His laws on men's hearts; He knows what is in our hearts!

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daniel
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Oh, and John: it isn't the orientation that is sinful. Same sex attraction is like any temptation, not a sin in itself. Sin exists only when willed.
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daniel
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Yes, John, that is right: no sinner who denies his sin, whatever the nature of the sin, should paint an icon. Only the repentant need apply.
And don't worry about the contention; we have had some spirited debates here in the past and it has always been cordial. But if you came here to learn we are only responding.

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daniel

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Tom
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Dear John:

I also own Pearson's book but I bought mostly out of curiosity. Its just one of many, many books I own on painting icons.

Peter painted a lot with the Antiochian Village in PA and at one time was regarded for his work. He slipped the track a bit with some of his imagery. It happens from time to time as iconographers tend to start thinking outside the box and adding some social message to their work in relevance to the times. This of course does not represent the thoughts of the Orthodox church and unfortunately leads the uninformed to adopt such images. Even the Orthodox will accept these images, after all if it looks like a duck and talks like a duck....


I myself have made several errors in judgement as I have painted such as putting wings on St. John the Baptist. Some of these images have become so common place that you have to go back centuries to discover the ancient truth. I leave it to learned folks like Jill to help guide me through the process as she possess the knowledge I lack in these matters. Also you must have close contact with the clergy (learned clergy) to really understand the significance of what you do.

So yes, Peter does a fine job of painting a style, don't put all your faith in him, expand your horizons, do your research, ask some one who knows before you paint. Look for other reference materials. I bought books from Greece on the net that were expensive and you had to know Greek to fill out the order form but they arrived in Omaha in 3 days! They are by far, the best learning books I have, very detailed, lots of illustrations and completely in Greek.

My mentor died last year, the monk Nathaniel (Memory Eternal!), but if you have a chance, go to a monastery where they paint and learn from the best including how to be still and prayfull. You will not soon forget the experience. This is where I learned to paint.

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John_Curran
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Daniel, I am just not clear on what you've written; it reads as if a gay person who believes his orientation to be sinful may write an icon, but a gay person who believes his orientation to be moral may not. Shouldn't it be the reverse, if the orientation matters at all? I don't follow why writing an icon, which is a path to the Lord, bringing the iconographer closer to God, should be denied anyone.

As to a couple of the more notorious iconographers (not Peter Pearson, by any means), I did some research of their works, and found myself shocked. I don't think there is ever any element of (heterosexual) eroticism in traditional icons, so I cannot grasp any reason to express homoerotic images other than for shock value. And at least one of the websites seems a bit more commercial in approach than might be seemly.

I am not at all sure this thread is appropriate, and would be happy to have the webmaster delete it if he sees fit. It was never my intention to go off on this tangent, I was really hoping to just introduce myself as a new member, and see what I might learn.

I've been studying the archives, and making notes of some valuable information not seen elsewhere. The site is a great resource, and I would like to remain, but do not wish to be seen as the cause of any contention.

Best regards,

John

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