On 12-16 November, St. Sophia Ukrainian Orthodox Theological Seminary of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA hosted an iconography workshop for seminarians, clergy of the Church, and their wives. Full-time seminarians Yuri Bobko, Mykola Zomchak, Ihor Protsak, Yaroslav Bilohan, Oleh Kravchenko, Myroslav Mykytyuk, and Ivan Venhryn; part-time seminarian Deacon Evan and his wife Alice O'Neil as well as Fr. Anthony Perkins participated in the workshop which resulted in each student creating an icon of the Holy Archangel Michael. The leader of the workshop was an Mrs. Lynette Hull who has been a student of Prosopon School Iconology and Iconography for past 15 years. In 2004, Lynette discovered iconography by taking a class advertised in a local newspaper. This experience eventually led her not just to her current vocation, but into the Orthodox Church.
The Prosopon School of Iconology introduces students to the practice and theory of the ancient Christian art of Byzantine icon writing. Lynette Hull as a student of Prosopon school started the workshop by teaching us what icons are all about and why it is important to write an icon in a particular way and style. “An icon is a representation of Christ and Christ is the First Icon of God. According to Orthodox tradition, an Icon is a symbol and testimony to the fact that God became incarnate in Christ; so, it is the combination of Divine and material, in the image of Christ”, says Lynette Hull.
The process began with wooden panels covered with natural gessoe. All the materials used in the process were natural including genuine gold leaf applied by the bole method, egg tempera with ground pigments, and linseed oil finish. The iconographic method that our teacher taught us was a multi-step process in which the succession of steps is concrete and definite, as in the liturgical services of the Church. Each step she explained with deep understanding and theological meaning which was very interesting and expiring.
All the process required from us a discipline of the hand, mind, and heart. Each color that has been put on the board has its meaning and very tightly related to the theology of Church, Holy Scripture, and different aspects of human life. It helps us to understand ourselves more deeply, especially to understand and to see the image of God within ourselves. Every step was a teaching through the language of line, light, and color which includes within itself the way of perfecting an icon and at the same time the way of perfecting each of us toward the Kingdom of Heaven in the light of Christ. Neither of these ladders toward perfection is easy and it takes a lot of work and effort in order to get to the final point when you can the result what you have achieved.
By the end of a week, all our icons were completed and finished. The work was intensive but the results were wonderful. We were amazed at how beautiful our icons were. It was an amazing experience and great blessing for all of us. After all, we were sharing our experience of understanding of an icon in a new way of observing the beauty of an icon. Now, we know the whole proses and how an icon is made which led us to more appreciation and understanding of its meaning. Thus, it was an unforgettable week and time that we spent with great joy and it will remain in our memory for a long time.