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

 

Shedding "light" on St Barbara – and another Iconography "How to"

The final steps on a byzantine icon – adding the lighter colors in the flesh”, “underlining” the facial features, adding even more light in the form of  pure white lines  marks the moment” when a portraits starts to become a saint, the highlight of the whole process.
 
Following the process in this  picture collage of St Barbara on the broken paddle – we follow the path to the light-  the essence in byzantine iconography,
Picture collage with the three final stages
In the first part of the pic the “second light” (the lighter flesh) is applied, near the eyes and nose- as well the blond highlights on the hair
In the second part – pure black in a very thin form , underlines the contour of the face, the pupils of the eye, eyelids and eyebrows, the nostrils and the corner of the lips- the expression.
 
 
Finally we have Psimythia- The pure white lines that are added on the forehead, over the eyebrows and under the eye on the nose and the tip  of the nose, the chin- the radiating pure light of a Saint-
 
Hope I ve “shed” some light on the process !
Danish St Barbara on the broken paddle

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


 

How to and Weddings – We call it simply boubouniera

It is tulle and cellophane and the little sweet treat of sugared almonds in. We call it boubouniera (bombonniere) and it is a happy, traditional treat for very happy moments like a wedding or a baptism.

 The sugared almonds/Jordan almonds/koufeta/confetti  have a symbolical meaning demonstrating the balance between life’s bitterness and hardship (almond) and its beauty and sweetness (sugar coat).

Wedding Bomboniere with satin bags and tulle inside

Koufeta are given to each guest in indivisible odd numbers (3,5,7). The more common are 3 (the Holy Triad) and 5.
So how can we make our own tulle and koufeta pouch?
 

 We may use:
1. A self-sealing cellophane bag for the little sugared almonds (I like them sealed and safe from germs 🙂
  1. 2 One layer of celophane cut in a square
3 3 layers of sow white hard tulle, cut square again
4 The ribbon of your choice
 
5 An exrra bag maybe of satin, burlap, lace or whatever material you choose 🙂
 
We put the three  layers of tulle and the cellophane one on top of the other, but in a way as if we wanted to create a “star” (a square, then a rhombus then a square..) cause you need the “edges” to come out when this is closed.
 
Tips: Additionally we want the tulle to be hard, from the ones that “stand”, the “hard” quality-  and the cellophane also to be the same, 
Always to order snow white tulle- Ecru or ivory tulle might look nice on desktop but, not that good in reality.
I usually order pre- cut Greek tulle. If you don’t find it in your location,- Α roll of hard tulle  can be easily and perfectly cut by two people  with a little attention and a professional dressmaking scissor.
You can see more ideas and options on my page : http://angelicon.indiemade.com/catalog/icon-favors-bombonniere

Tulle and lace for a baptism

  

Happy Creations and best wishes!

A look of compassion – Saint Dymphna of Gheel

Saint Dymphna religious icon

When applying color -in our technique- you actually get a certain number of “opportunities” to actually intervene in the facial expression- I usually tend to avoid pronounced or easily identifiable expressions in my icons (for several reasons), but some works seem to take a course of their own like in the case of Saint Dymphna of Gheel, the patron saint of people with mental ailments

In every color layer this delicate”sadness” of a Saint, bathed in light was evident. Sainthood is a “phenomenon” that I cannot actually comprehend (maybe that is why I chose this painting genre, so I could maybe catch a glimpse of this experience) but this was a quality I could somehow relate with- explaining it as empathy, compassion and unconditional love.

 
Looking again at the work, I am glad for the course it took.

Saint Mary and St Martha- Legends of Provence

It is believed that later in life Sts Martha and Mary, the sisters of Lazarus- reached the shores of Provence, where they lived until the end of their lives.

Sts Martha and Mary, the sisters of Lazarus
Saint Mary the Hermit

They stood true to what they always represented [(Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things: But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her. Luke 10:42]


Martha represented practice- Mary was theory- Martha was Vita Attiva and Mary Vita Contemplativa- Two life’s examples that influenced Christianity for the centuries to come- A perennial dilemma for the spiritual man, a theme of an actual and philosophical debate that lasted for centuries.




St Martha of Tarascon

Saint Mary chose the life of a hermit in  Sainte Baume – while saint Martha established and led a religious community in Tarascon. There are a whole series of legends in this regions connected with the two sisters and the mighty dragon of Tarascon and how they two have help people to be free of that menace.

The two  saints are pictured at this stage of life- St Mary dressed as a hermit, holding the cross with the inscription Sainte Baume (liberally translated in Greek as holy balm) and Martha as a religious leader holding some leaves of basil to sprinkle holy water onto  the faithful.

Martha and Mary of Bethany in their later life

 

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

Fearless- St Marina humbling evil

It is a rare event to see such fierce female Saint in icons- St Marina is at times (after a very popular legend) depicted with a hammer fearless and serene beating evil to the ground, humiliating him.

St Marina with the hammer beating the devil

A very popular Saint where in my region (in the Monastery in the village of Vonni, in Crete a great panygyri (religious feast)  is held for three days (15, 16 and 17 July in her day) and people from all over Crete are reaching there in a pilgrimage by foot. You may learn more about the monastery and the pilgrimage in : http://orthodoxcrete.com/en/places/monastery-of-st-marina-boni/

St Margaret of Antioch

 

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

 

Land of Holy- St John’s rock

A piece of rock, from my island Crete- a land of Saints and hermits- This rock  with the reddish color of soil was hiding the face of a Saint- St John the Forerunner with his characteristic messy hair and beard.


St John the Baptist

I love my land- A land of living history, where you can still find Holy men, hidden in its very rocks.

I added egg white on top to fix the red color of the soil. It was the same soil that made the base for “flesh” of the Baptist. Afterwards I ve   used variations of brown egg tempera to create the shadows on the face- ochre cinnabar and white, even plain white, for the highlights.

I finally added acrylics for the gold and a generous double layer of shellac to perfectly seal the colors.