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Lara Neri

Akathist Art

214.422.5060

lara@akathist.com

Original Fine Art.   Hand-painted Iconography. 

 Feast Day Resources. ideas for at home & abroad.

iconography

When you commission an icon, it is not quick work. You can expect me to spend many hours (usually at least 60) carefully and prayerfully pouring over the piece. Icons are not just art; they are visual theology and an aid to prayer. Icon writing is a spiritual practice, and it is accompanied by special rituals and prayers, including fasting and meditating on the scriptures.  When you commission an icon, I welcome any prayer intentions that you would like me to focus on during the production of the icon; I also like to write the intentions onto the icon board before I begin painting. 

Every icon commission includes genuine gold leaf halos, acrylic and/or egg tempera paint, and a wood panel, along with hours of prayer. I adhere to the guidelines set by the Church for iconography, and do not change the symbolism or content of the icons, just as one would not rewrite the words of the Gospels.

8"x10" icons begin at $800

5"x7" icons begin at $600

4"x6" icons begin at $400

Prices vary dependent on detail and design

Payment plans are available

Contact me about commisioning an icon
St. Michael Archstrategist

St. Michael,

Archstrategist

acrylic & gold leaf on oak panel

13" x 18"

This icon was done on commission in 2018

St. Gabriel

the archangel gabriel

egg tempera on hard wood panel

10" x 13 1/4"

I did this icon when I was studying under Theodoros Papadopoulos with the Byzantine School of Iconography in 2017.

It is in the Greek Byzantine style.

St. Anthony

saint anthony

acrylic & gold leaf on hard wood panel

8" x 10"

This icon was done on commission in 2016.

the God Shepherd

Christ the Good Shepherd

acrylic & gold leaf on hard wood panel

8" x 10"

This piece was done on commission in 2017.

Theotokos Eleusa

Theotokos Eleusa

egg tempera on hard wood panel

10" x 13 1/2"

I did this icon when I was studying under Theodoros Papadopoulos with the Byzantine School of Iconography in 2016.

It is in the Greek Byzantine style.

Our Lady of Czestochowa

our lady of czestochowa

Acrylic & gold leaf on hard wood panel

10" x 10"

This icon was done on commission in 2016.

St. Joseph

Saint Joseph

acrylic & gold leaf on hard wood panel

8" x 10"

This icon was done on commission in 2016.

saint abel the righteous

acrylic & gold leaf on wood

4" x 6"

This icon was done on commission in 2019.

“The honour given to the image is transferred to its prototype.”                  - St. Basil the Great

“What the book is to the literate, the image is to the illiterate.”               - St. John of Damascus

How is an icon different from naturalistic art (particularly the religious art of the High Renaissance)?

  • The Seventh Ecumenical Council said that everything on an icon should be different from the real, material world; the viewer should be carried from this world to the heavenly kingdom. The icon is rule-bound in both form and content

  • Beautiful women and handsome men cannot be used as models - icons are not portraits (an earthly image of a human being), but an image of a person united with God, painted to convey his or her holiness

  • Profiles are almost never shown in icons because the full face shows that the saint is in prayer before God, as well as direct communication between the saint and the viewer. The icon expresses inner, spiritual qualities especially through the face.

  • Icons show exaggerated organs of the 5 senses rather than making them anatomically correct because the Church fathers said that the senses are the doors to a person’s soul; the eyes are large because they have seen great things; the ears are large because they have heard the commandments of the Lord. The nose, which smelled the fragrance of God, is drawn long and thin; the small mouth indicates the saint’s obedience to God and willingness to sacrifice in fasting.

  • There are no shadows in icons because the light of God saturates all things. Light does not have an exterior source. There is a degree of object shadow; faces, garments, and objects are modeled by using lighter and darker shades of color.

  • The canons of the Councils declare that the garments depicted in icons are not to show the natural body lines, but to use simple lines and wide overlaps  in order to show the spiritual body rather than the natural body; the garments must show the saint’s profession or vocation (prince, princess, soldier, priest, etc.)

  • The canons state that gold is reserved for Christ; red, blue, and green are for the Theotokos and Christ; white, gray, and lighter shades of red, blue and green are for saints

  • The background is secondary to the person shown; only the most necessary items to the scene are shown; animals or secondary characters are small, showing their lesser importance to the story

  • Architecture is shown only in part, so just a door, a dome or a curtain can represent a whoel structure.

  • Rather than one or two point perspective receding to one or two vanishing points as in Renaissance paintings, inverse perspective is used. The viewer himself is the vanishing point, so the lines of buildings terminate in the viewer, not inside the painting; this is to emphasize the communion of the Church militant with the Church Triumphant and it is as if the viewer is being looked at by the Holy person in the icon. This inverse perspective also leads the thoughts towards an existence without end, to a transcendent dimension.

  • Hierarchical perspective is also used; the most important, holiest figures are larger than the others

  • Icons are marked by discipline rather than inspiration, as the Church and Tradition determine the content; the form is merely a receptacle for the content. Icons are above the personal - they are an expression of the Church’s faith

  • The icon is never complete in itself; it refers to a spiritual dimension and is part of a concrete religious practice

  • In the East, words and images are equal; an icon with its specific rules of depiction is equivalent to language when it attempts to define dogmas as exactly as possible. The icon has a dogmatic character, depicting visually what the Church declares verbally

 

The iconographer must

  • Be a person of high moral character

  • Be an active participant in the life of the Church

  • Fast, pray, go to confession and take Communion before beginning an icon

  • Sign his icon with “through the hand of ______” because God paints the icons and the iconographer merely assists

 

Icons can be

  • Frescos (an image painted on wet plaster on a wall)

  • mosaics

  • wood carvings

  • Paintings on canvas or wood

 

The Church as Microcosm

The interior of the Church should be a three dimensional icon; the Church is a model of the universe, a vision of the redeemed, transformed cosmos, a mimesis (or copy of) a divinely ordered universe. It is both a reminder of God’s constant and visible revelation in man’s history and a symbol or copy of heaven.

In a Byzantine cross cupola church, the main structure is shaped as a cross representing Christ’s cross and the four points of a compass. The cupola over the crossing point is like the sphere of heaven, showing that the whole cosmos is encompassed by Christ’s death on the cross. In the cupola, Christ Pantokrator (the All-Ruler) is enthroned. Also in the dome are prophets of the Messiah’s coming, and in the four corners supporting the dome are the four evangelists. At the top of the walls are icons of the twelve major feasts, and under them the icons of other saints. The figurative work stops at shoulder height because the congregation makes up the the next step of the hierarchically arranged microcosm - we enter the church and become an integrated part of the divine drama; man himself is made in the image of God and is an icon, a part of the complete decoration.

The faithful on earth may partake in the heavenly liturgy because of God’s descent to us through the incarnation. The uniting of Heaven and earth is manifested by the placing of the Theotokos with her hands lifted in prayer and Christ on her lap right above the altar. Mary is a bodily channel for God’s coming, a ladder between Heaven and earth. The connection between the Incarnation and the sacramental continuation of the Incarnation through the Eucharist is made clear. The altar symbolizes the Heavenly throne and Christ’s grave, actualizing the whole scope of the drama of the Redemption.

 

Sources:

The Mystical Language of Icons by Solrunn Nes

The Story of Icons by Mary Paloumpis Hallick

Techniques of Icon and Wall Painting by Aidan Hart

https://www.greekboston.com/religion/icons/