Key to iconography is an understand that raw materials are assembled for the glory of God.
Above all else, humility, prayer and God’s guidance are needed to paint an icon.
So, while the skill of the artist is obviously on display, the purpose of painting an icon is not to glorify the artist. The artist’s mark is secondary to the work of the Holy Spirit through the hand of the iconographer, which is why Icons are usually not signed.
Precisely because it is a work of the Spirit in the Church of God, there are canons, or rules, governing the painting of icons.
This is why, when painting an icon, the iconographer refers to ancient prototypes, setting aside the desire to innovate.
As a work of the Spirit it is authentic through a deeper obedience, a spiritual humility, a purpose beyond the individual artist, so it echoes with Christ’s words, ‘your will Father, not mine be done!’
The creation of each icon is a spiritual journey steeped in tradition and culture.
For iconographers, there is a physical, mental and spiritual preparation necessary to achieve inner silence and facilitate full immersion into the art form.
This process allows the artist to become a vessel for sharing the truth of the Divine through the creation of the icon.
To be in tune with the life of Christ incarnate, iconographers need to be organically linked to it and to interiorise it. The aim is that every brushstroke flows from that ‘prayer without ceasing.’
Painting icons entails applying oneself to a task which flows from an interior obedience and humility before the Word of God as He leads us in every moment of our life, through the Comforter and Spirit of Truth who is everywhere and fills all things.