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  • Constantina Alexander

Freedon to Be

There is nothing better than having time and space to reorganise one's space. Last Saturday, recovering after a long, drawn out and low level, chest infection that sapped my energy, I was in the mood to tidy and then tidying became furniture moving and then it became resiting my studio workspace.

The large basement room I was working in was not inviting and as I am accustomed to sitting quietly in prayer in my little chapel I thought it would be more condusive to having my art work space there. For larger pieces and oil painting I can work in the big room, or outside under the balcony which I love doing. The birds, however, have decided the oil painting I am currently engaged with is a perfect perch. I know this as the pesky avians have left their mark.

Being in the right space is so very important. Now set up, I have found I am more inclined to go and work in the studio for longer periods. I like an enclosed, smaller space for icon writing. There is an intimacy in a cosy room, and I have the wonderful presence of my large, old fasioned print of the Light of the World, by Holman Hunt to supervise me. Working as if we are in the presence of Christ is one of the rules of an iconographer. We are always in his presence, of course, and the rule is for our benefit to remind us to to be directing ourselves towards him in our work and all we do. It is my favourite rule.

I have a heap of unfinished icons, partly done as working examples during teaching classes in the past. I have always been in the habit of actually working on an icon alongside students so they can see method in progress but as the teaching week went on and they became more proficient I would leave my work and attend the problems they had with their own icons. So what to do with these partial icons? I am feeling compassionate towards them and want to complete them all now. To take time and work on each until I am satisfied. Poor Clare was rather dull and dusty and is now geting a new vibrancy and lease of life. Here she is after I spent a few hours starting to rework her, there is a lot to do yet. Behind her is an unfinished Baptism of Christ that I have had awaiting attention for nearly a decade now and lurking next to that is Christ Healing the Sick which needs a good bit of work. On my wall are numerous Archangel Gabriels and an Annunciation. So I need to take some time and make some regular effort. I was quite cheered by my first few hours of focus on St Clare - there was a huge improvement.

I have had a long break from icon writing, excepting a gift of OurLady of Guadalupe for someone special recently. But it is with renewed freshness that I begin again. What will I do with all these icons when they are complete? Well now, I am getting older and they will all need good homes. So watch this space as there will be a time when I will need to divest myself of the accumulations of my life and I would like to think my work will find good homes as it has a tendency to last for centuries, unles the world goes super crazy and blows itself up.

Its so good to just be and do these things.