Getting Started in Iconography

I am very curious about the lives of the saints. There are lots of saints, and some of their stories are oddly fascinating and yes, implausible. Even humorous. But rich with images and faith. I have known for many years that I wanted to delve deeper into those stories, but I could never find the right voice for that.

Then recently, I took a trip up to Boston to visit my daughter. I had picked up a copy of Draw It with Your Eyes Closed: The Art of the Art Assignment at a used book store in town, which I planned to read on the flight. It was an interesting book with lots of college art assignments; some successful, and others not even remotely so. Some very amusingly awkward assignments designed to kick people out of their comfort zones.

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One section talked about these cardboard chairs that are assigned as design projects to students at the Rhode Island School of Design. The parameters change every so often, but it got me to thinking about redoing my dining room table in cardboard, and what that would look like.

While on my visit, it was suggested that we take in a Russian icon museum in Clinton, MA, which we did. It was a wonderful way to spend a fairly blustery Sunday afternoon with my daughter and her friend.

The museum was very still. There were icons of all sizes and descriptions, and the museum had magnifying glasses on the walls that you could carry around to really examine the work. We spent a long time reading the notes and looking deeply at the details of the work, and afterward discussing our impressions over cups of tea.

Of course, most icons of saints have certain ways in which they are represented, and there is a very specific method for the way in which the boards are prepared and primed and painted. But how would it feel if you honored some of that, but in a modern way, with regular people and recycled materials? That is my starting point.