Local Colour in Icons

A vein of the local colour found along the Conestoga River.

Yesterday an article of mine appeared in the Orthodox Arts Journal entitled, “Local Color in Icons”. The piece is a reflection of how living in Conestoga for the last 15 years has shaped my iconographic work, and is ultimately about how much I’ve found that the material world (especially its local colour pigments) can inspire sacred artwork.

As I write, “It’s been an adventure to realize how much a place can inspire the vision of an icon. Finding a one-inch strip of ochre pigment amid a landscape of several miles took seven years, and learning how to process it into bright colour is something I’m still learning about. I’ve come to understand how the sacredness of the world, to which an icon witnesses, is strengthened in being informed by the colour and qualities of its paint. More and more I find myself relying on a triad of teachers when I make an icon—its materials, my hands, and heaven’s messenger. All three of these inspire, but I’ve found that the voice of the materials is amplified when working locally.”

I’m deeply appreciative that the Orthodox Arts Journal published the article, and also for the beautiful editor’s comment that Jonathan Pageau wrote introducing myself and my work to the community. You can read the article here: http://www.orthodoxartsjournal.org/symeon-van-donkelaar-local-color-in-icons/

2 thoughts on “Local Colour in Icons”

  1. I discovered your icons and your remarkable work of sourcing natural pigments from around your environ through OAJ. I am Father Emmanuel from the Philippines and I too am a beginning a humble endeavor of studying, discovering and hopefully be able to at least try to help develop authentic Philippine Iconography, also using indigenous and locally sourced natural pigments and materials. I have a long way to go ahead of me. I am at the moment affiliated with the Prosopon School and am undrr the guidance of its teachers, especially Father Mefodii. I would just like to congratulate you and to let younknow how much I appreciate and admire your work. Continue to edify many. Mr. Symeon. May you be ever blessed by our Loving Savior.

    • Thank you for the blessing, Father. I’m encouraged to hear that you are also working with a sense of place in your iconography and hope that our efforts will bear fruit!


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