I Have Waited My Whole Life for This Moment
I am the daughter of Ukrainian immigrants who came to this country post World War II. I was born with a natural talent in the visual arts and grew up dreaming of becoming an artist. But, bowing to the wishes of my parents I followed a more traditional path to become a science teacher and later a librarian. The responsibilities of life and family determined that I continue bringing in a regular, predictable income, but my love for the arts never wavered. Wherever our family traveled over the next 25 years, we always visited the art museums. I learned calligraphy, sumi-e and watercolor painting. Finally, having retired from my 'day job' I became free to study icon painting, which is part of my byzantine heritage. And now, I have stepped into a paradise where I can learn and paint full time. I am happiest when I can spend the entire day and evening working on an icon. Painting with tempera sometimes requires an hour or so of drying time between the transparent layers that are needed to complete the piece. And so I do have time for other things! But, when I am at my table in my studio is when I am happiest. Sometimes I work accompanied by the sounds of sacred music I can play on my i-pad, and sometimes the birds sing for me as I work. My table looks out through large picture window to the woods and the sky and the seasons and the weather and sunlight. Each moment of each day throughout the year is different, and I am where I should be in the universe.
I was born to be an artist. From the time I can remember I loved color and had a natural ability for drawing and painting. I grew up longing to be an artist. As a byzantine iconographer, I am following in the footsteps of a tradition over 2000 years in the making, and I feel a kindred spirit with the artists that came before me, and those who will follow. I use the beautiful traditional, holistic and “green” methodologies established using all natural, pure materials. I find it essential to work with paints that are freshly prepared using only egg yolk, white wine, earths, minerals and plant or animal products. The process of mixing those colors each day puts a part of my essence, my spirit and my energy directly into the material itself. I am attracted to the permanence of these materials; some surviving paintings are as old as the pyramids, far outlasting those painted with any other material.
Byzantine iconography is part of my Ukrainian heritage. I grew up staring at icons in church each Sunday and on holy days. As I grew older, these grew dearer and more profound in nature until I began to be called to learn iconography. When I took my first week-long intensive class I was very overwhelmed by the countless steps and techniques I would be required to master. But my heart and my mind were already in resolve.
I believe that a spark of the Divine is present in all people and in all things and I seek to make that spark visible in the images I portray. I hope to create sacred images that exemplify the best and highest levels of strength, dignity, intelligence and compassion as well as the transcendent virtues of truth, beauty and goodness.
Each day, I spend several hours in study, examining icons and readings in iconography and theology. This study has allowed me to develop a particular aesthetic in the selection of the icons that I write and the sacred images that I paint. In the afternoon I begin to paint in front of a huge double window that faces a sunlit woodland in the near distance. The contemplative nature of the work engages me, solitude and quiet my peaceful companions. Almost from the very beginning, I sense the eyes of the divine presence gazing up and watching me from the board; the many layers of paint uncovering and revealing what has been present from the very beginning.. This is a kind of mystical experience for me, and I am honored to have it, for I have done nothing to deserve it. I do know that at such times I forget about everything else. Hours go by, and I do not tire, I just want to paint.
Hamilton Square, NJ - United States