Painting  Icons Is A Challenge

Venturing into new ground. One could say painting Icons is a thing of the past, and people just do not have the “belief” or the inclination to think icons have any more meaning in their life. We are more apt to be affected by the “icons” on our computer, or the logos of mega corporations, the images of “Coca-Cola” or “Starbucks,” than by paintings of holy persons from eons ago.

For many of us who have left the conventional religious context, the notion of Icons had to come from elsewhere. We looked toward the East for a spiritual connection. We looked toward the New Thought movement and the various modalities of psycho-spiritual cleansing, healing and clearing. In India we learned about Murti’s that were similar to the old Icons that possessed the “living presence” of the deity or holy being. Recently a friend from Russia sent me this Icon of Mother Mary. I was moved. He said it gave him and his partner a great comfort. I thought, WOW. Truly it could do that. “Our Lady of Comfort,” became the thought that possessed me fully from looking at this beautiful image.

I began to integrate the image and take it into myself. I thought about my own approach to painting “Our Lady of Comfort.” We were in Estonia, presenting a weekend seminar called the “Miracle Consciousness Training.” I thought it was best to “warm up” with just the face first. So I started there with a study.

This was the beginning of a “delving” into “Our Lady of Comfort.” My intention was to end up with something life sized and even bigger that life sized. This would take shape after the study. We stayed in Estonia an extra week this year, in an apartment in Old Town Tallinn, and I started the larger work. It was a challenge to be into a full blown rendering of the Icon. I used a little black and white photo for the model.

The famous photographer, Diane Arbus, said this about the creative process: “The important thing to know is that we don’t know. We are just feeling our way.” So I began to feel my way into this. I am still feeling my way. It is a challenge to paint an icon in 2017, and to capture the true essence of the being. Do I receive comfort from this image? Does it emit comfort? Is it truly peaceful? Does it have power to transform my mind into a state of being calming and pure?  These are the aspirations of the “unknown” toward which I am “just feeling my way.” I will write again when it is finished.

MARKUS RAY