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Gesso applied


etched and

gold leaf  applied













One of many

layers of light


and colors






Finished icon



“ICON” means “image” in Greek, and is the word used in Genesis 1:27: “So god created humankind in His image, in the image of God He created them.”  As an image, the icon is not simply a reflection of someone, but conveys to you something of that very person.  Like the sacraments, icons have both a physical and mystical nature.  They serve as intermediaries.


As the sacraments in their tangible reality of water, wine, bread, reveal the potential for holiness in all of creation, so also do icons.  An icon is made of a wood panel covered with many layers of gesso - a white covering made of talc, marble dust and animal glue.  This white ground is sanded perfectly smooth, and presents the blank slate of endless possibility, and of silent waiting.  To become real the possibilities must narrow, so a drawing is done on the white board, and is etched into the surface of the board with a sharp tool.  This reminds us that the image of God is etched into us, and that we are “marked as Christ’s own forever”.  Then gold leaf is applied over a clay ground, reminding us that we (the clay, humus) were created capable of showing forth God’s glory (the gold).  After this the painting begins.  It is done in layers, working from the darkest foundational colors to the very lightest, with alternating layers of light (highlights) and color.  As layer upon layer of light is added, a face emerges from the darkness.  In both form and content an icon is a parable of hope, and faith in the redeeming love of our God.


As a visual expression of God’s love and transforming power, icons are a call to conversion, to the acceptance of the fact that heaven is real, God is real and yearns to meet us face to face.


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