Monday, 16 February 2009

Be Not Afraid

This latest icon is very unusual -- in several ways.

I actually got the idea for this drawing from the work of an iconographer on one of the Franciscan web sites. I was attracted to the striking features of the icon and wanted to create my own version -- which I did.

What makes this icon so unusual, however, is the fact that Jesus is shown with his eyes shut. Well, you say, why wouldn't his eyes be shut, he is asleep after all. While that is very true, the tradition in iconography throughout the centuries has always been to never show anyone with their eyes completely closed unless they are dead!

I have broken this rule before in an icon I did of the sorrowful mother. In that icon, Blessed Mary has her eyes closed in sorrow as she holds the body of her son. Her son, on the other hand, has his eyes slightly opened the way that people often do shortly after death.

Now, as to the story of this icon. Those of you familiar with the Christian Bible know the story of how our Lord Jesus got into a boat one day with his disciples and said to them "let's go across to the other side of the lake" (this is Lake Tiberias or the Sea of Galilee). Then, while the apostles, who were experienced sailors, were looking after things, Jesus fell asleep. Suddenly a wind storm swept down across the lake (as still happens frequently) and the wind and the rain were causing the boat to take on water. Jesus meanwhile continued to sleep.

Peter, it is assumed, started shouting at the Lord, "Wake up, Master, we are perishing". Jesus awoke and gently rebuked the wind and the raging waves and all was suddenly very calm. He said to them: "Where is your faith? Don't be afraid." They were amazed and said to one another: "He can even command the winds and the waves and they obey him! Who can this be?"

My drawing only shows St. Peter and St. John in the boat with Jesus although in the Bible story, all the apostles were with Jesus. I did this for emphasis so I could show St. Peter in his position as leader of the apostles and St. John representing the fear of the apostles. I hope that fear is evident in the figure of St. John crouched down in the corner of the boat.

Since this is somewhat of an experimental icon, I would really appreciate any feedback you can give. I know some of you have told me "oh, I don't know anything about art or icons or stuff like that". However, you do know if you like something or not. Even if you say "I like the bright colours and swirls" or "I think the colours are too bright", etc., all such remarks help me to get a better idea of how a drawing is perceived -- and believe it or not, that helps me.

Peace be with you all.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Simply put, I like it very much! The reasons I like it are that it is, in fact, unusual; your having broken the rule/tradition of showing Jesus with his eyes closed enhances what the icon represents to me; the mix of colors is most appealing; your depiction of the raging sea makes the story come alive.