Rev Peter Blackwood paints icons, religious artwork in the tradition of the Eastern Orthodox Church. In line with tradition he paints in egg tempera (raw pigment mixed with egg yolk and vodka) onto linen on timber panel.
Mr Blackwood painted this copy of what is possibly the oldest known icon of Christ Pantocrator (ruler of all). The original was painted in the 6th or 7th century and its home is St Catherine’s Monastery, Mt Sinai. Christ blesses us with his right hand and holds the Gospels in his left.
Noteworthy in this icon is that the eyes are not symmetrical. The face has a realism that is not typical of icons of the Orthodox tradition. It predates the iconoclastic periods when many icons were destroyed. Later icons became more stylised.
Mr Blackwood said he began painting icons 10 years ago.
“There are many reasons for taking up this kind of painting,” Mr Blackwood said.
“The images of Christ and the saints have an ancient tradition that has an appeal as an aid to prayer that I do not find in Western art. Western religious art excites something different in me.
“The discipline of iconography requires me to attend to being more still than I usually am.
“I do nearly all my icon painting on the first Saturday of each month at the Uniting Church Icon School in Hawthorn. Each icon takes at least five ‘school’ days to complete. This does not include preparing the board or applying the gold which I prefer to do at home.
“Our session on a school day includes learning technique and history and prayer.
“Iconography is an important part of my spiritual journey.”