Oh! so your’e a real artist then?!
This was the spontaneous response of a tipsy friend on seeing photos of the portrait that I painted last year of His Eminence Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster (and what an amazing privilege that was).
Being generous with said friend, I assume by ‘real artist’ she meant an artist capable of producing realistic art. And this – a century after Modernism – is still clearly the standard by which people judge art by. No doubt there are many reasons why there is such satisfaction and enjoyment in see things in this form.
However after three decades of mainly painting icons and ‘sacred portraits in the deliberately and definitely unrealistic style of the eastern Orthodox tradition (I refuse to use the oh-so-pretentious and erroneous term ‘writing’) it is a distinct pleasure to return to the challenges of naturalistic portraiture – but using the same traditional egg tempera medium and the same panels as for my icons.
And, in between continuing to paint icons and teaching the techniques thereof – I will be focusing on Clerical Portraiture. This will be a different type of icon painting, as I continue to explore my fascination with depicting light upon – and within – the human face ans in particular, the faces of those individuals who have given themselves to the spiritual life.