Judaism: Podcast lecture: Symbols & Prophecy – The 12 Tribes

OIC_A3b1_12tribes_Issachar1One of the most interesting things about preparing this podcast has been realising how closely the development of symbols is linked to prophecy. The visual symbol follows the prophecy! In the case of the symbols and flags of the twelve tribes of Israel, we have two prophecies – the one by Jacob on his deathbed, and the one by Moses before the tribes enter the promised land. This study is rather a ‘fun study’ – an aide memoire, exploring how the prophecies played out, in the historical characteristics of each tribe.


OIC_A3b1_12tribes_Good_ShepherdThese symbols are used in many decorative designs by Israelis today – proving that, although Jews do not draw pictures of God, there are plenty of other things they draw!In our study of the icon, the beginnings of the language of revelation are very important. Two very important icon themes unexpectedly emerged – the Good Shepherd and the Guardian Angel. Without doing this visual Bible study, I would not have realised how deep the roots of these images are. It has made me realise that I need to pay much more attention to the visual character of the Old Testament prophecies in the roots of iconography.

* At the time of writing there is a slow load issue connected with some of these podcasts, which we are working on – meanwhile,  just open the lecture and leave it ‘playing’ till the sound loads!

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Hellenic Judaism: First Lecture due this Week!

torah_scrollThis is the first new unit I have managed to put up for sometime, owing to changed circumstances. I am now at an Orthodox monastery in Greece. The content of the new lectures on Judaism is very exciting – I am learning more and more myself about the relationship between Old and New Testament as I do it, and about the process of vision. I did not realise before how deeply visual images are aligned to prophecy – something which will come out in the subsequent lectures.

abraham_wall_iconAlthough the unit is headed ‘Hellenic Judaism’ I found I had to go much further back, and ask the question: ‘Who are the Jews?”, uncovering a lot of source texts on the formation of the Middle Eastern nations in doing so. Although units follow an overall historical timeline, they explore various themes along the way in depth, linking the Old Testament event to the New Testament, and to it’s icon, where applicable.

rublev_trinityThe Apostles and Fathers of the post Apostolic Age were at the intersection of the Old Testament and the New Testament when they are excited about the ‘fulfilment of the law’ in Jesus: ‘Not one jot or tittle shall pass from the law till all is fulfilled’ (Matthew 5:18). This revelation is carried through in the sacraments and icons, and we shall explore this more deeply as we move through this section.

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Christos Anesti! Surrexit Christus!
In the period between Christmas and Pascha, I have been putting a great deal of thought into how to best keep in contact and develop the group, so that everyone who is signed up is getting a bit more content and more 2 way participation.

This is what is happening:


I have just set up a closed group on Facebook, to which you will all be invited to share drawings and icon/liturgy practical tops and know how, both directly with the tutor/s and among yourselves. This is open to anyone who has previously signed up, is pending, or is currently signed up. It is called ‘Online Icon Course’ and you can message me at Petra Clare, if you are waiting for an invite and it hasn’t come. Some invites will be given to other iconographers and teachers in the field and participants in related courses.

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I have wanted to do this for a long time. This will start out, as soon as we can manage it, with monthly sessions going through the content of the Online Icon Course. I find, looking at my own diary and time zone restrictions, that 2 conferences would be necessary to span the globe. As a starting point, a conference set for the UK at 12noon BST will be picked up Melbourne at 8pm. At 8pm in London it would be picked up in Los Angeles at 12noon. Thessaloniki is two hours after London. A 12pm and 8pm Conference from London once a month would seem to give the widest viable options for participants in multi-time zones to join in.
I would like to know who would be interested in this, and will hope to have discussion with possible attendees in the Online Icon Course closed group on Facebook. From time to time I hope to invite guest speakers and teachers. Most likely, I will opt for Skype as the best platform for this as we can screen share and – like Facebook – most people are on it and have experience of how it works!

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Subscribers have access to all the course materials. Non-subscribers will only see parts of the course shared during a Webinair or occasional sample units posted on the closed group page. The Closed Group and Video Conferences are open to all subscribers, but by invitation only to non subscribers or lapsed subscribers.
New Material on the Online Icon Course
I am currently sending the first 2 lectures on bole for gilding to the webmaster (under Technique in the website toolbar), and the rest of that section should follow on. i am also preparing a proportions of the body Project, and that is involving some fascinating research. One of the great things about the Facebook closed group is that we will be able to share links to research sources and useful books, during the study process. There will also be an opportunity for Users to contribute their own studies and expand the value of he website.

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The one-to-one video tuition has started. This is personal workshop tuition from home with screen share and drawing corrections in real time ( screen sharing a drawing app. This is a paid service comprising three conferences and tutors feedback via email and pdf docs. £100.00 per 3 sessions.
There are two options:
1. Follow the Units of the icon Course
2. Personal tuition on an icon, or technical skill, you are working on and need help with.

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I think that updates everyone!
I hope to see and hear more from you all this year. It would be great to start to build up a participatory Icon and Liturgy studies interaction and exchange over the next year via the Closed Facebook Group and Web Conferences.

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Online Icon Course: Designing Old Testament Saints

PROPHETS SLIDESmulti.002-001  Of course, we call Old Testament Saints the Holy Forefathers or Patriarchs or Prophets, but these modules are about designing any Old Testament Saint. The problem is – ‘How do we make a portrait of someone we do not have any kind of portrait of? We start with the Bible study principles outlined in B1a. We then follow on using the
four levels of Scriptural interpretation from B1b.

IMG_0187Through this process we gradually identify the key elements of the spiritual portrait. There are actually 5 sections to the Old Testament module (B1) and the first part is all about how to develop the picture of the saint from the Verbal Iconography contained in the Bible and the early Church Fathers. The second part is practical Design, with suggestions for individual and group exercises, including making your own Pattern Book for Saints and Prophets. Ezekiel is given as a sample exercise: i) Creating the ‘type':  ii) Choosing the colours: iii) Freehand drawing: iv)Finished brush drawing.

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Revised & expanded: Icon Perspectives 1Project

OIC_projectA1e_icon_perspectives1_page6 copyThe Projects are in the form of photo albums which you can riffle through online, or download one or all pages onto your desktop to try out the design exercises. They are accompanied by high quality jpgs of specific icons which demonstrate the subject of the design exercises, and can be printed out as high quality icon models.

The new unit on perspectives in icons is OIC_projectA1e_icon_perspectives1_page2 copymuch more comprehensive than it’s predecessor. We start with an illustrated comparison of the three types of perspective – reversed, natural (vanishing point in the distance) and flat earth, with various examples. There are also slide lectures in mp4 format which explain these in greater depth.

The most important thing for us as iconographers is that, just as the meaning of the word OIC_projectA1e_icon_perspectives1_page14 copyof Scripture defines the shape of the chant, the meaning of the image creates the
‘perspective’ in which you see each person or event. Multiple and reversed perspectives are used freely and creatively in icons to display the true meaning of the event. On the whole, reversed perspectives make a saint immediately and dynamically present to us -much more so than if they were receding in ‘natural’ perspective.  The icon also presents the event from a multiple set of viewpoints – as if we were walking around the subject, looking at it from a number of angles, just as one does when one is meditating on a text of Scripture.

OIC_projectA1e_icon_perspectives1_page16 copyPerpectives part 1 includes  a number of projects based on common objects found in icons  – chairs and table ware, fonts and beds – together with architectural and landscape settings. The aim is to get together a sketchbook of drawings which will form your personal design resource, as you develop your skills in painting icons.
The download images are especially fine examples, largely from the Novgorod school, and it is worth coming onto the site simply to get a good collection of icons to print out as models for your icons – or even for veneration.


Posted in Online Icon Course Update