Blue for human, red for divine

Icon of Theophaneia – that is literally translated as the appearance of God – a multi-person, multi meaning religious theme – The symbolism of the icon -the simultaneous apparition of the Holy Triad- , the dual nature of the Incarnate God- is obvious here, even in the colours used (red for divine, blue for human) .

An icon that bears the promise of the new beginning:  the blessings of the waters, where all nature is purified and ready to start anew- Amidst the Jordan river our Lord;submerging in it as a prelude to his ministry passion and death- rising from water as a promise of his Resurrection.

The promise of the passion is also present: The axe beside the Baptist, talking about his death, the chiton (hypokamison) that the angel holds bearing the colour of humanity (blue) and crosses on.

theophaneia epiphany the baptism of the lord 20-01-18 13-09-010
The baptism of our Lord, egg-tempera on plywood 28×36 cm

Christian symbols – Painting the parable of the lost sheep

I was always interested in the symbolism of the first Christians – that is why I always wanted to paint the figure of the Good Shepherd, but not as the usual imaging of our Lord, as we do in byzantine iconography today, but as a young men as it was in the paintings in catacombs.

The Good Shepherd painted in a slice of an olive wood branch

A slice cut from an old olive branch that was left to to dry for a couple of years so to reveal a part of the Parable of the Lost Sheep: “…Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost./ Συγχάρητέ μοι ὅτι εὗρον τὸ πρόβατόν μου τὸ ἀπολωλός…” [Luke 15:6 KJV]

First drawing on olive wood covered with gesso

The painting was created with egg tempera. On top of the colors shellac (goma- laca) and a final layer of “keronefto” a mixture of wax and turpentine was used to permanently seal the colors.

As tradition demands a full “sensory” experience while participating in the worship -“Keronefto” is meant to invoke the sense of smell apart from the other more obvious senses of sight and touch- and open the way to the awakening of the heart- but that is what I think painting is all about…

A view fro m the top parable of the Lost Sheep


 

Remember me- St Dismas the Good Thief

The good or penitent thief on the cross- or otherwise known (from the apocrypha gospels) as Dismas or Demas

The Good Thief – St Dismas in repurposed construction wood
The first Saint of the church and one that is rarely depicted mostly in church frescoes, as the one who first enters the gates of heaven [“…And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise…” (Luke 23:43)]., as the one that follows dating from the 13th century in the Church of Panagia Kera in Kritsa
Scenes of the Second Coming -Photo of George Mamakis- from http://new.ims.forth.gr/
  

Recently, I discovered that the first church was to build in his name, and for a gentle cause- for more visit : http://o-nekros.blogspot.gr/2014/01/o.html

A plant of the King and his Cross- Sweet Basil and orthodox worship

An old tradition says that basil was the plant that grew on Golgotha (Calvary Hill) hill on the spot were the Holy Cross was discovered- And it was this plant revealed to St Helena the Holy relic. And that was -they say- the reason why this sweet smelling plant took the name Basil-Vasilikos in Greek- meaning the plant of the King- The plant that showed the cross of the “King of Glory” – “Ho Basileus tes Doxes” (OBΤΔΞ) the traditional orthodox inscription on top of the Holy Cross.

Crucifixion of Christ – King of Glory

The Basil leaves are replacing the randistron (the orthodox aspergil) and sprinkle the holy water on occasions such as the blessing (agiasmos), the Great Feast of Theofaneia when all waters are blessed and  the certainly the Feast of Holy Cross where branches of basil are given to the faithful to commemorate the event of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross.

This day in Church is chanted:  O Lord save Thy people, And bless Thine inheritance…. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GwIKl1s68eU

 

A note for the icon of Christ in the Underworld- Anastasis

The icon of Resurrection or Anastasis

The representation of Christ in the Underworld, or a version of the “Harrowing of Hell” as it is usually named in western Christianity. A very powerful image that shows the  Lord, in his Glory, standing over the abyss of the underworld, pulling Adam and Eve (the mankind) out, saving them from death

In this post- I ‘d like to share the commentary of a customer about this theme. In this icon…:

 “…Christ appears to greet, welcome, reclaim, restore, renew, transport, and enliven the whole human family, one by one. With what gentleness and openheartedness he stands there — the bridge that spans the gaps.”

It brings in mind… “… An excerpt of an ancient homily, found in the Office of Readings for Holy Saturday:

The “Harrowing of Hell” reproduction on canvas

I am your God, who for your sake have become your son.

Out of love for you and for your descendants I now by my own authority command all who are held in bondage to come forth, all who are in darkness to be enlightened, all who are sleeping to arise.
I order you, O sleeper to awake. I did not create you to be held a prisoner in hell. Rise from the dead, for I am the life of the dead.
Rise up, work of my hands, you who were created in my image. Rise, let us leave this place, for you are in me and I am in you. Together we form only one person and we cannot be separated.

… Rise, let us leave this place. The enemy led you out of the earthly paradise. I will not restore you to that paradise, but I will enthrone you in heaven… the kingdom of heaven has been prepared for you from all eternity.”

Touch me Not, an approach of Mi mou aptou or Noli me Tangere icon

Noli me tangere icon – 13×18 cm egg tempera on wood
Jesus said unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.”(John 20:17)
 
The “Cretan” version of the “Mi mou aptou”, or Noli me tangere icon- The influence of this school (the Cretan School of iconography that flourished in my home town, Iraklion from 1400-1600) is evident in the bright colors chosen for the image and the long flowing hair of St Mary MagdaleneFor me it was a challenge to paint such a small version of the icon, to show all these mixed feelings in a beautiful woman with uncovered head – Plus my interpretation of the icon is that her head was uncovered as a sign of her grief and mourning.
 
The text written in Greek is “Mi mou aptou- (Touch me Not) ICXC and St Mary Magdalene and one more word: Rabboni, the single word that is uttered By St Mary, the moment she recognizes her Teacher.
 
Another version of Touch me Not orthodox icon

 
Finally, if you want to learn more about this unique orthodox icon you surely have to read a great article on its history and origins: https://iconreader.wordpress.com/2011/10/23/touch-me-not-from-west-to-east/

Unconventional St Mary of Bethany – but what was it like to do something for Christ?

St Mary of Bethany (her feast day is today June 4th) anointing Jesus feet with expensive nard perfume. Judas objected to her extravagance, but Jesus defended her action saying:

 “The truth is, wherever the Gospel is proclaimed, she will be remembered for what she has done for me. John in 12:3

Saint Mary of Bethany original painting in Egg tempera by angelicon

As a friend says: “that is that every act of love, no matter how small– matters–for eternity–even things other people may dismiss (like the apostles did with Mary)” . An act that spreads and expands like the ripples in the surface of the water in this painting of mine. A painting to remember always her act and to wonder- What was it like to do something for Christ?



What is it like to do something for Christ?- St Mary of Bethany

Spring poppies and blood

Red poppies, a sight very characteristic of springtime in Greece. You can even see poppies climbing the rocks just beside the ancient marbles in Athens beneath the hill of Acropolis

Red spring Poppies -Watercolor by Eka

Beautiful red dots that are scattered like gems among the fields of wheat in Crete. A blessing for farmers they were symbolizing the dots of blood of the young god Adonis for ancient Greeks,

Poppies in an olive field- Pastel in dark canson by Eka

or the former white flowers that were permanently dyed red -as we Cretans hold- by the blood of Christ on his way to the cross, becoming a symbol of spring and a symbol of hope.

The world of St Gregory the Theologian, byzantine book art

I find medieval art, and most of all the paintings found in old manuscripts, fascinating- After all, they are miniatures in paper created with a great amount of detail and craftsmanship.

St Gregory the Theologian

I ve imitated a representation such as this from an old byzantine manuscript,  using a hard white cardboard specially treated with glue and gesso to be hard and steady in order to be able to hang on the wall.

The icon represents the world of Saint Gregory of Nazianzus, with Christ the Savior and Mother Mary. St Gregory’s life’s work was tremendous and cannot praised better that in the hymns of the Church – I quote here the translation of his Apolytikion from orthodxwiki.org:

The Saint is otherwise known as St Gregory of Nazianzus

“…The pastoral flute of your theology conquered the trumpets of orators.
For it called upon the depths of the Spirit
and you were enriched with the beauty of words.
Intercede to Christ our God,
O Father Gregory, that our souls may be saved…”

An icon for Christmas- Nativity of Christ- A traditional byzantine interpretation

The Nativity of Christ; here the basic “figures of the story are all present: Christ Child in the manger, the little animals, Mother Mary looking at the worried St Josef, the Angels and the three kings bearing gifts.

The little shepherd playing a flute, nature rejoices, and the women (Salome) that are washing baby Jesus
Saint Josef sitting perplexed and the temptation

And on top the star of Bethlehem shining bright and the angels singing :

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men! 

Merry Xmas to you all!!!