How I came to paint icons – Part 3

. . . ten years ago, I was very happy with my life.

The Kazan Mother of God, the third icon I painted.

I completed a unit of chaplaincy education and had a plan for the future. I would take a four-year program called “Education for Ministry”. It would give me a formal background in scripture, church history, and theology. It would help me as I took more advanced units of chaplaincy training.

Unfortunately, I took a detour I hadn’t planned. My pastor knew that my return to chaplaincy training was four years off. He asked me to take on another project, one I knew I didn’t have the skills for.

A year of Dark Nights of the Soul

Some people think that all leadership skills are the same. That if you can lead in one situation, you can lead anywhere. This is not true. I have leadership skills that blossom in one area but die on the vine in others. My failure haunted me. I had excruciating memories of people who threw a gauntlet down against my progress. It might have happened to anyone taking the leadership job, but it happened to me. And stayed with me for a long time.

I had to find an antidote.  And I had a strong feeling that it had to be spiritual.  Finally, I thought about icons and how to create them.

I found a site by Betsy Porter, an artist in San Francisco who paints icons and her site had instructions about painting icons. However, Betsy Porter paints in Egg Tempera, which is paint you create yourself. As I read what she did, I knew I could never do it. When I am unsure of myself, I would spend all my time worrying that I hadn't got the paint formulas right. Then somewhere she mentioned that some iconographers paint in acrylic – a medium I had a little experience in.

I searched the web and found a summer workshop at a seminary in Pennsylvania for a week, from Monday through Friday.
The workshop was wonderful, even though I was still in a highly emotional state.  It came across to the instructor as perfectionism.  However, I needed that steady concentration on something other than myself.  And I wanted to learn.  The image at the head of the previous post was the primary icon the class painted.  A second icon was optional.  It was the Kazan Mother of God, shown at the top of this post.  I didn’t finish it at the workshop but at home.  Then I worked on The fourth day of creation, on the first post in this series.

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