1. Fr Paul Walliker

    Fr Silouan, many thank for both the beautiful Icon and the article. Casper David Frederick is a particular favourite of mine as his art seems to communicate that element of ” otherness” or the Divine. Certainly the proposition you put forward of a tonal gradation in the background provides much food for thought particularly where the subject of the Icon is one where a gilded background would be “too much”.
    May the Lotd continue to richly bless your ministry.
    In Christ
    Fr Paul

    1. Fr. Silouan Justiniano

      Fr. Paul,

      Indeed, sometimes the gilded background can be “too much”. It is not uncommon to find garish gilding interfering with the painting passages and the icon’s overall harmony. So it goes without saying that the presence of gold does not guarantee the pictorial or theological efficacy of an icon. Also, nowadays we find “gilded” and shinny metallic surfaces everywhere. Hence, inevitably the look of a manufactured product enters into the way we look at an icon. Some gilded icons are so shiny that it makes you wonder if they are in fact meant to live up to the standard and compete with the “pristine” look of any other non-liturgical luxury product. So the irony is that under these circumstances gold runs the risk of being associated more with glitzy consumerism than Uncreated Light. Perhaps this is another example of how profane simulacra tends to insinuate itself in the realm of liturgical art.

      In Christ,
      Fr. Silouan

  2. Having seen this icon personally (and having the great privilege of it being at my parish) I would like to say that its beauty and refinement is truly astonishing. It has a fineness and precision of detail that I have seen only in some aristocratic late-19th and early-20th century Russian icons. And yet it does not have the coldness one expects in such precise painting. It is as warm and alive as living flesh. A truly astounding feat of painting, by any measure! Someday, Fr. Silouan, it would be most interesting if you would speak of your techniques of craftsmanship, whereby you achieve this refinement and beauty of brushwork that looks so unlike anyone else’s work.

    1. Fr. Silouan Justiniano

      Thanks for your kind words Andrew. I will definitely work on getting something together that goes into the “techniques of craftsmanship” I rely on.

  3. Anne Ryan

    Thank you so much for this post. So very informative and beautiful.

  4. Fr Silouan,

    This is a breathtaking piece. I had just finished illustrating a half-traditional half-digital drawing for her feast day today and now that I saw yours I’m embarrassed to have even tried to illustrate it :O

    Question though, in my illustration (https://www.instagram.com/p/BELvrL3TOcR/) I had placed Saint Mary on the left hand side contrary to how you and the typical Saint Zosimas and Saint Mary icons are arranged. Is there significance to having her on the right?

    1. Fr. Silouan Justiniano

      I think having St. Mary on the right makes more sense since we tend to look at images in our culture the way we read, from left to right. But it all depends on the narrative context and the restriction of the compositional format. In most cases the figure of most importance would either be in the center or towards the right, since the eye would automatically rest there, as if on the period of a sentence.

      1. What a spiritually beautiful icon which blesses me even in the drawing.

        The question here is which positons do the figures in the icon take? If we refer to the icon’s right, we see St. Zosimas. Suppose you were looking out from the icon where would your right be? If we are are looking at the icon from our point of view we would think that St. Mary is on the right. This arrangement with St. Zosiams on the right helps to draw us into and participate with the icon is part of the set of “canons” as part of the bookends of the tradition we follow.

        Thank you, Father, so much for making this icon come into our world.
        a sinner and a pilgrim, bess

        1. This icon is so sincerely and beautiful it has caused me to question the notion of using graduated blues for the background. Finally my questions fell away. When I think of icons with mandorlas, the graduated blues in your icon seem to me to be like a mandola smoothed over the whole background. As you propose, the blues show the overarching presence of God.

  5. […] Zosimas and Mary by Father Silouan JustinianoAn article in yesterday’s Orthodox Arts Journal reveals a new icon of Saint Mary of Egypt—my patron saint—who is commemorated in the Orthodox […]

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