Thursday, 11 April 2019

The story of Nicolai's icon

Nicolai sits bent over and paints the last bits of gold made with gold dust he traded for his jacket in this strange town that has become his home the last three years. The gold shimmers in the light of the candle whenever he moves. In the next room, the woman that has been his mother since the war is sleeping now.

He believes that painting this icon will save her and has spent the last three days finding food, caring for her and painting whenever he's had a chance. He lights a small candle and places the icon next to her bed and closes his eyes. But it is too late...

This is just a figment of my imagination but something similar might have happened. I know about the war centuries ago in what is now called Armenia and I have seen the little houses where people took shelter.

When I paint furniture, I transport myself to a different time. I think about people that came before me. Not just my own ancestors, but people from different eras and especially different cultures.

I believe that the process of creating art, whether it is painting a picture or a cupboard, is more important than the artwork itself. Furthermore, to understand and appreciate artwork, we need to feel what the artist felt.

Imagine what people felt and what their lives were like in a time without television, computers and even books. How often did the average person see a picture? Perhaps they had a few treasured paintings at home or maybe they decorated their own furniture. They might have visited a church once a week where they saw painted artifacts or decorated walls. Because of its sheer scarcity, pictures had a power we cannot imagine today.

Through this process, not only do I discover where I fit into the world and human history, but I learn to accept people and what they do. Moreover, I create a "history" for my piece. I imagine how and where it was created, whom it belonged to through the centuries, where it traveled and how many wars or revolutions it survived. This "history" determines what my final piece will look like.

Hopefully, decades or centuries from now, people like us will make the effort to imagine what we feel today. I believe this is the greatest compliment we can pay our ancestors.

The recipes and techniques used to paint and create patina on this icon are from the FARRAGOZ Patina PROJECTS Course.

Happy Painting!

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