Mary Jane Miller is a skilled and generous teacher. The artist who is proficient in oils or acrylics will find the experience of working in the medium of egg tempera to be new and exciting, while the beginner will have a childlike experience of surprise. For 20 years I have been painting and teaching how to work with these images. Jubilee Retreat House in Abingdon, Virgina will provide a perfect and restful environment to have an experience of their own. Mixing dirt, mystery and message is amusing, every brush stroke reminds you of the moment in Genesis where breath and creation meet. Anything can happen. In the class, the painter gets to be the creator and created.
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“In all of my experience, of all the mediums and genres I have worked with, there is nothing as intimate or soul reaching or meditative as working with ground dirt and divine image”. The idea of moving small particles of sand around with a brush to create a divine image is exhilarating, it is contemplative. Others find solace in yoga, meditation and prayer; I find it in icon painting. The practice requires considerable time and patience. The challenge lies in transmitting our individual peace, passion, fear, sadness or joy while abiding the artistic rules that govern traditional icon painting. This is an ancient language handed down from Byzantium times, 1,500 years ago.

Preserving the Practice

Icon painting in the 21st century is not easy; most of the icons we view in books and museums have only become available to the public eye in the past 100 years. Today it is a very popular art form. To believe in something you cannot see, demands balance and perseverance. I never stop believing there is a purpose for each of us, compelling us to go where others dare not tread.

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