Project #3, Make your own Icon of Mary

We have been studying all about Mary, involving her in our mental and spiritual selves.  But this is a hands on course, too, and we need to bring Mary into the physical realm, we need to tune into her energies.  Drawing and painting divine images is an ancient worshipful act, and it’s one of the best ways to attune yourself to the Deity.

Icon painters in the Eastern Orthodox Christian Church are usually monks or nuns who fast for 40 days before painting.  You have seen their work many times, it is not exactly “fine art” because they are not artists.  Nevertheless their icons are some of the most valued art on earth today, fetching large sums at auctions and becoming prized possessions of many.  Eastern Orthodox Churches have entire icon collections. Families usually have their own small collections, and non-Orthodox often collect icons just because they like religious art. Even though you are not an artist you can still paint or draw your own high quality icon.

 Eastern Orthodox monastic icon painters use a grid, too, and follow certain rules.  The egyptian artists always used one size grid—18 squares tall by 9 squares wide.  Icon painters usually follow a “shorter” grid, about 9 by 12 equal squares.

 Before icons, religious art was cave, tomb or temple paintings.  If the Egyptians were known for anything, it was for their religious art. (Okay, and they were known for the pyramids, too!)  The gods and goddesses, pharoahs and priestesses were all painted in bright vivid colors on temple and tomb walls.  You are not making a tomb painting, though, but rather something for your personal “temple” altar at home.  Like the ancient egyptians, you can use a grid to guide you.

The picture at left is from the book, Magic & Mysteries of Ancient Egypt in a chapter recommending this very exercise–making a work of art for your altar.  The authors, Bennett & Crowley, say, “Creating sacred images has a strong effect on the psyche.” If you click on the above link there are 8 pages of the book displayed on line at Amazon’s site.

Here is a grid superimposed over a painting of Mary by Joseph Kerns and his daughter Abby Willowroot of Goddess 2000 fame. You might try to paint one like it. Sketch a grid ever so lightly onto your paper or canvas first.  Then copy it square by square.   Or if you can’t handle that, get some good old fashioned tracing paper and use it to at least get the outline of your image onto your paper. Then you can color it in with paints or pencils, whatever you want.  Or use another image of Mary. Photo copy it and draw a grid over top of it.  Then draw a grid with the same amount of squares onto your paper.  If you are adventurous you might even try using wood as the Orthodox Christian monks use for their icons.

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