Embracing, Saints Joachim and Anna

A heart -shaped slice of birch wood-  and the haloes of Sts Joachim and Anne merged as to form an actual heart after their embrace.
A very pious couple and a couple that loved each other dearly for many – many years. Our sources (mostly the Protoevangellion of James, a text that belongs in the Apocrypha ) tell us that both were especially tormented for being childless so,  St Anna at the news that she was with child: “…saw Joachim coming, and she ran and hung upon his neck…”

That is exactly the moment that this icon pictures, being a study from an older work made by an unknown master from of the 16th century, found in Sofia.

The use of a very bold, almost “explosive” red on the garments of Hannah, and the lines of the painting were ideal  in communicating  all this unexpected joy, all this energy gathered after countless years of longing and show it in this icon.

The Myrrhbearer or a contemporary painting of a Myrrh-bearing woman

Contemporary icon of the Myrrh-bearing woman

I consider female saints an essential part of my work, a theme that I very much like working on and exploring their imaging. In orthodox tradition there is a basic core of 7 women  that are called the Myrrh-bearers. The Myrrh-bearing women (Sts Mary Magdalene, Mary and Martha of Bethany, Mary of Klopas, Ioanna, Salome Susanna and many more)  were following and were disciples of the Lord, and stood by His side all times, in situations of peril even when all others have abandoned every effort and hope.

The “Myroforos” egg tempera on wood

 This icon of the “Myroforos”was an opportunity for me for an experimentation that I hope it paid out. So I drew inspiration from personal images and created this “saint” with modern clothes and a sober grey background, the background of the crucifixion.

A painting of a young woman, not knowing with her head, only with her heart, loving and not knowing, walking to the grave of the Lord in the darkest night.

The icon was hand painted, with several layers of egg tempera, on a canvas that was wrinkled attached on a wooden panel, and then covered on edges with a special plant dye that gives the icon an antique patina. Finally the icon was sealed with traditional wax varnish (or keronefto in Greek made with turpentine and wax) something that makes the light colours even more brighter

Versions of St Mary Magdalene


Shades of Mythical- Erotokritos

A medieval Cretan hero, Erotokritos still sung and loved by nowadays Cretans everywhere in the world. Here is the part of the story where the Hero, fights on his horse (like another favorite character of mine, St George)

Erotokritos riding his horse like St George

I used a canvas panel tinly applied with gesso, much rougher than my usual ones, and I used very thin egg tempera in shades of blue and vermilion and highlights of gold; I wanted to give something “fictional/ mythical on this painting, like the legend Rotokritos is.

Erotokritos in the company of Saints and warriors


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/

Talking with brushes

It was an olive tree branch in our field, Dimitris asked if I could paint on it. It was treated with gesso and then and the shape of this woman, emerged

Fleeing mama. in olive wood

A mama holding her Child in her back, running away fleeing from war. I hope my work has more to say than I do, in words. To say how I feel, about this mama and all mothers and all people that abandon their homes for safety, for freedom, for peace…

A painting with egg tempera on gesso

The painting was executed with tempera. shellac and finally resin varnish was added- You can see its size in relation with my (small) hands

You can see more in: https://www.etsy.com/listing/258351760/fleeing-from-war-ooak-painting-in-olive?ref=shop_home_active_5

Preparing for the photoshoot

St Nikitas bed time stories

A bed time story told by my great grandma Evangellia about St Nikitas, part of the Cretan legends and tales she used to love. I ‘ve finally found it-written in http://www.explorecrete.com/crete-west/EN-Frangokastello-Basilicas.html, exactly as she used to tell it to us and I quote it here:

St Nicetas or Holy Martyr Nikitas the Goth by angelicon

“Once upon a time, there was a wedding at Frangokastello. As soon as it was over, the bride took the tablecloths away to wash them in a spring between two rocks. As she was washing them, a ship suddenly appeared offshore. The Franks on board saw the beautiful maiden and decided to carry her off as a gift to their king. They kidnapped her at night and no-one saw them.

They took the girl to the king’s palace. One day the king saw her crying and asked her what was wrong. She sighed and said, “Today is the feast of the Cross tomorrow is the feast of St Nikitas and there is a great festival in Frangokastello, my home.”
The king laughed ironically and told her, “If the Cross has grace and Nikitas might, it’s home you will go this very same night.”

The next day at Frangokastello, the priest went to the church to say mass because it was the dawn of the feast of St Nikitas. When he unlocked the church door he saw a girl inside and was frightened. He lit a candle and approached her, and saw the  girl whose wedding he had officiated at a year earlier. He asked her, “What are you doing here, my child?”

The girl told him the whole story. The legend says that St Nikitas himself brought her back on his horse. There has always been a great festival at the church of St Nikitas at Frangokastello ever since.

St Nicetas at Frangokastelo, Sfakja from http://www.orthodoxcrete.com

You can see more pictures of this beautiful church in http://orthodoxcrete.com/en/places/st-nicetas-frangokastelo/

Romance is a thing Medieval!


Against the common belief that in Medieval Period, Europe’s main occupation was “groveling in the mud” Middle ages was a fascinating period and a the “incubation tube” for many of the so called modern  Western ideas (source http://thewestologist.com/2014/02/05/the-misunderstood-middle-ages/),

Medieval Lovers- inspired by the  illuminated Manuscript of Codex Manesse

For example the idea of Romantic love.  “Romances”  were  the medieval stories of courtly love sung all over the continent, by the troubadours. In their poems,  passionate love tales with lovers has won an equal place with the epic warrior sagas. Emotion was abundant and for the first time, women that were portrayed in them were given an exalted an almost “goddess like” status.

Lovers hugging in an egg tempera on canvas painting- Inspired Again by the illuminated manuscript of Codex Manesse

Romances was the genre that gave birth  to later trend of Romanticism and, there we are, ready to hear another version of those tales in yet another romantic movie!