Most of us would agree that writing an icon in a group setting, like a workshop, takes all of the "labor" out of it (for the student that is). Your boards are ready, paints are mixed, most supplies are in place and you are part of a community.
To complete one on your own and mostly in silence is a different way. There's no immediate feedback and, as a favorite iconographer explained to me, this the time to "free yourself". I guess what he meant is that we need to allow room for God to work through us.
Advantageously, completion can be planned for weeks instead of the six days (which is a typical student workshop time frame). What you have learned in a classroom setting is then applied and perfected independently. This is truly a lifelong process with lots of trial and error. Below is my latest commission. It looks deceptively simple however, faces are never too easy. Read at the very bottom of this blog about "biblical amethyst", the selected background color.
General history of this icon (click on reading to enlarge):
It is important, at least for me, not to rush a project to completion. That is when mistakes happen. And repairing can lead to more blunders.
If you are interested in writing icons, it is often because God wants you to grow spiritually closer to Him through the effort. If I could suggest one thing, that would be to take your time when working on an icon. As noted above, it doesn't need to be completed in six days. That's a workshop need but not something required when you are on your own. Give it some prayerful time each day but don't rush it. Enjoy the company of the subject(s) being created and strive to learn more about them and listen and see through the eyes of the Creator of All. Try not to make your sacred art space into a secular production line.
Be thoughtful and recall that "any beauty we create is glorifying to God, our creator". Then do your best!
God says, “In the hearts of all who are skillful, I have put skill". Exodus 31.
I found this biblical meditation on God and art inspiring. Maybe you will too.
Great Doxology - 3rd Tone
Megali Doxologia - Tritos Ihos
Amethyst - The Final Foundational Stone
The Color of a Royal Priesthood
The color purple has long symbolized Royalty. The dictionary defines purple as “any color having components of both red and blue” and as a “symbol of royalty or high office.” Purple's elite status stems from the rarity and cost of the dye originally used to produce it. The earliest archaeological evidence for the origins of purple dyes points to the ancient land of Canaan.
The twelfth and final foundational stone is the Amethyst, a deep purple or violet stone, the only gem of this color. Amethyst is a purple variety of quartz (SiO2) and owes its violet color to irradiation of trivalent iron impurities (Fe3+) and the presence of large trace elements. It is the most precious member of the quartz family. The hardness of the mineral is the same as quartz (Mohs 7) and thus it is suitable for use in jewelry.
The Amethyst is also found in the Breastplate of the High Priest, the third stone in the third row. It represents Issachar by birth order and Benjamin by the order of the camp. For the Apostles, it has been linked to Andrew and also to Matthew because of its fiery aspect.
In the Old Testament, the Hebrew word is "achlamah" meaning the precious stone now known as Amethyst. It is thought to have derived from the root "chalam," meaning to dream, and thus the Amethyst is sometimes referred to as the "dream-stone." The Greek word "amethystos," used in the New Testament, means "not drunken" and thus the Amethyst was thought to ward off drunkenness. Leonardo Da Vinci wrote that Amethyst was able to dissipate evil thoughts and quicken the intelligence.
Amethyst signifies the heart of the lowly that die with Christ. It represents those who pray for their enemies and their persecutors. It is worn by Roman Catholic Bishops as a symbol of trust, piety, humility, sincerity and spiritual wisdom. Moses described it as a symbol of the Spirit of God in the official robes of the High Priest of the Jews.
As the last foundation of the New Jerusalem, it is only proper that this stone symbolize the royal nature of the King that will rule and reign forever!
1 Peter 2:9 (NIV) - But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light.
Taken from "God's Chemistry Set".