Mother Gavrilia

18 04 2015

Mothegavriliar Gavrilia was a Greek Orthodox podiatrist, physical therapist, who at age 56 was called to leave all and with no money to go to India, where she took care of sick folks in Ashrams.  She became a patroness to me in 2006 when I also left podiatry at age 56 and went into another world to serve the Lord.





Deposition of Body of Christ

7 12 2012





St. Symeon the New Theologian 2012

27 02 2012

This is 1.5 by 2 feet, basswood. Minwax stains, acrylic colors and true gold leaf.





Fr. Patrick Reardon – Iconography as an Ascetic Discipline

3 07 2010

Father Pat’s Pastoral Ponderings

Among the ministries of this parish, All Saints Icon Academy is particularly precious to me. Our congregation began this ministry some five or six years ago, after several parishioners were trained in other programs, and, for the past couple of years, our own program has expanded into two sessions, one in early summer and the other in the fall. The setting of our program is Bishop Lane Retreat Center, near Rockford.

Our master iconographer is Phil Zimmerman from Pennsylvania, who studied under other experienced masters. These included the late and much lamented Bishop Job of Chicago.

The earlier of our two sessions—the one designed for beginners—was conducted during this past week. This session was unique, in that it included only one member of our parish. The rest, three Roman Catholics among them, came from other parishes.

I try to be present at the beginning of each session, as I was this past week, in order to set a proper tone to the enterprise. This effort is necessary, especially because of a common misunderstanding of the ministry itself: the Church’s iconography is often regarded as just a particular art style. Indeed, it is sometimes the case that trained artists are disposed to study sacred iconography as simply an extension of their artistic education.

In our contemporary setting, where art is regarded as a medium of self-expression, this misunderstanding of iconography is especially baneful. (Among the most distressing experiences of my time in this city was a visit, a few years back, to a regular exposition of the Chicago Institute of Art. I rushed home afterwards and took a very soapy shower, wondering, all the while, if an exorcism would not be more appropriate. I had never seen so much self-expression of sick minds in my whole life.) In fact, self-expression is pretty nearly the antithesis of the Church’s iconography.

Anyway, when we begin our own sessions in iconographic training, I try to be on hand to “set a tone.” I remind the iconographers—the beginners in particular—that their efforts are not only aesthetic but also ascetical. Taking my theme from the Cherubic Hymn, I instruct them to “lay aside all earthly cares.” Speaking of the importance of an atmosphere of prayer, I caution them against worldly distractions, especially gossip and political commentary. (I notice that our hosts at Bishop Lane refer to our sessions as “iconography retreats.” They have the right idea.) If there is to be background music—sometimes helpful to the enterprise—pride of place should be given to the sacred chants of the Church. I especially warn again stage music. Whereas some sections of Mozart’s Requiem may be appropriate, we should all agree that his Vogelfanger is not.

In choosing new iconographers from the membership of the parish, I look for spiritual maturity. The standards I have in mind are analogous to some of those required for entrance into seminary: regular participation in the Church’s services of worship, the daily discipline of prayer, the assiduous study of Holy Scripture, peace and harmony with the rest of the congregation, and uncompromised purity of life.

>From iconographers outside our parish, I require letters of recommendation from either their pastors or father confessors.

I especially stress that the iconographer is charged with transmitting “the mind of Christ,” the faith once given to the saints. The iconographer is an active participant in the paradosis, the tradition inherited from the Apostles and Fathers of the Church. This is the reason why each iconographer has, in front of him, a model icon. In copying this icon, however, he will interpret it by its passage through his own soul. The new icon, then, is not a slavish imitation; it will normally carry a perspective from the iconographer’s own soul. I have watched twenty people copy the same model icon simultaneously; each one was different from the others.

Indeed, this last consideration is the reason for exacting high spiritual standards of an iconographer. It is his vocation to convey, in the icon, some personal measure of “the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” The iconographer can hardly accomplish this, if that “correct glory”—orthe-doxa—has not found its way through his soul. The authentic Tradition of the Church, of which her iconography is an important aspect, requires a transformation of heart in the person charged to hand it on.





I Carve Deep Relief Wood Panels

4 09 2009

Welcome to my Blog.  I carve deep relief wood panels, usually made of Basswood, primarily of traditional Orthodox icons

.  The desire to carve icons came to me in 2002, two years after I became an Orthodox Christian. I hadSt. Michael Archistrategos, Virgin Vladimirskaya, The Three Hebrew Children in the Furnace with the Fourth never done wood carving, but had a persistent impression that I was supposed to carve icons.  I had no impression or desire to draw or paint icons- only to carve them.

I began modestly, and had early success, and my work become more complex and I grew in skill. I had no training but what I read on the internet, and the impressions that came to me. 

I enjoy carving icons, and inspiration must come to me for me to be able to carve.  The idea of a carving will settle on my heart and I will know that it is an icon that I am to carve. 

Icons are said to be windows into heaven.  I have had people say that they experience power coming through my carvings, and that there is something to them more than the art.  If that is so it is because the Inspiration comes from heaven and so imbues the works with Energy that draws our hearts beyond this world into the world of the Uncreated and the Invisible and the Eternal. 

I believe that this is what all men are groping foward to when they do art though they do not know it.  Men want direct experience of Reality and of the Eternal.  True icons are windows into heaven and are the fulfillment of the purpose of art.  (I recommend the book Iconostasis by St. Pavel Florensky,  as an introduction to the aesthetic and spiritual  theory operative in icons; also The Aesthetic Face of Being by Victor Bychkov.

Many have told me that I ought to carve as a livelihood.   The Blog is an attempt to be obedient to that vocation.