Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Art: Natural Pigments and God

I was reading this evening about the application of gesso and rabbit glue to wood panel in over seven layers, dried- to then be sanded down smoothly flat and gilded with gold when I came across this:

Icons are not just stories in paintings, Hart explained. "The intention is to introduce you to reality, not to imitate nature. It is to show you not what you see, but what is real." So the figures of saints often go beyond the frame to show how there are no real boundaries, and buildings tend to have a strange perspective-- you can see left and right and up and down, which is meant to represent the way God "sees" the whole world at once. The use of natural pigments is similarly embodied in the Orthodox teaching that humanity-- like all Creation-- was created pure but not perfect, and the purpose of being born is to reach your true potential.
-Aiden Hart in "Color: A Natural History of the Palette" by Victoria Finlay

Aiden Hart is an Orthodox icon painter who uses classical traditional mediums and techniques to craft and paint, in Victoria Finlay's book, "Color," he describes Orthodox theology and how painting as a craft parallels to it.

I am contemplating perfection, as it is in God and the life He created that relies on His glory in necessity to perpetuate it's existence. I find that God's choice, to create man with free will, and in initial creation is pure and without sin(until the fall, as chronicled in Genesis) to be reasonable. The purpose of creating something is to beget identity to the creator. As a painter renders an illustration of a rose, it isn't so much the glory of the rose that is shown, but the skill of the painter in both artistry and technique. For God to create a being that had choice to glorify Him or not is the most profound act of cognizant thought.

What is the perfect hue, or pigment? If color is so consistent it gets uninteresting. The inconsistencies in life keep us attentive to be willing to interact with the mundane. As is with color, the imperfections at times create texture and sometimes depth. To not be able to predict how paint would flow and the minuscule of inconsistent hues in the paint give the painting more character that sometimes cannot even be replicated.

I am in awe of so much that God does throughout this life and all it's inconsistencies. He paints our lives with such beautiful natural hues, sometimes we just need to be aware to see it. I thank God for this.

1 comment :

  1. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this Aaron! I have contemplated the perfection thing as well, I read this in a book "Seeing" by Douglas Campbell.

    "Excellence for the sake of excellence...is the route of the obsessive. It is the path of the perfectionist who would rid herself of all human imperfection in order to become superhuman. However, as Christians that is not our goal; we are called instead to become fully human. We are called to come to terms with our imperfections of body, mind and spirit, but not so that we dissect ourselves unto deathly perfection. Instead we are called to acknowledge our imperfections so that we might recognize that we are made complete only through Christ, not through our own efforts.
    Once the false goal of perfection is recognized, then the goal of completion may take place. But what does this have to do with the artist making art?
    It is when the artist is aware that the completion comes from God, not self, that redemption of the ordinary becomes possible. For God, a present but transcendent being who created all that is, is not ordinary. When the artist is aware, but not necessarily conscious, of what transcends the ordinary, she may be able to dwell within the realm of redemption long enough to draw from it some kernel of transcendence for her art. Through art this kernel can provide a glimmer of the wholness that is possible with God. If seeking to proffer a glimmer of wholeness through art leads to excellence, then it is not excellence for its own sake."


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