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August 2021

August 2021

Dear Friends,

Preparing this Newsletter I only planned to share some photos and say:
- Please, have a look, what we did in addition to the Online Drawing Course 4, (and Course 1) starting on Thursday:

1. I especially wanted to share this super brand new candle stand ....... made of two brass basins, connected with tumbled glass mosaics.

I almost did, but then I thought, - there will be lots and lots of personal questions, like "Why brass basins?? Why glass mosaics? Why at all it is the way it is?" Church Candle Stand made with tumbled glass mosaics

Well, - yes! I do need to explain, why it looks the way it looks..... But it’s a really long story! And I am afraid it may sound like boring one… Let’s rather a story into a series of questions: Why at all today artists invent? Why they paint (or produce art objects) today different from yesterday? 

The shortest answer and the closest comparison coming to my mind, when I encounter another unpredictable turn of destiny is this: remember a computer game principle?? It's the same, - the player is always forced to move forward, “climbing” up to the next level... Which ALWAYS suggests TOTALLY NEW challenges. That's what is happening to me...  - For almost half a year now I am working on a church interior, and it’s the most thrilling challenge I’ve ever had. 

First, - it’s a collaboration with lots of professionals and non-professionals, and second is communication with them. You can’t do everything by yourself, but you can ask for help from those, who has alternative competences… And here rises the main and most interesting problem: you need to provide information about what you want that the professional to make. You need to do it in some universal terms, and at the same time, and still, producing creative things you need to ask professionals to work differently from their usual way, so that together you may produce a piece of art. 

Looking at old church interiors we see them as complex artworks, which consist of multiple types of minor (in size) artworks… Thus, architecture includes and collaborates with minor forms of architecture and furniture.. With candle-stands ;) And with vestments.. and with images… and other objects... which, in turn, constantly interact with each other… It’s like an unbelievable crossword, (cross-image?) but the problem is, that you can only find all the words when you see them TOGETHER, not after one another. Well, some are ok, but what if you are making something new and you don’t know how it will behave with neighbors and with the whole? It’s what all artists do, working with their projects: making choices and simultaneously controlling, connecting and coordinating everything with everything... 

5-level iconostasis of Nativity of Christ church in KargopolSome people may say it should not be that hard! - Why don’t’ you Philip just draw a good project with sizes, textures and colors and ask everybody to follow it? Well, - it works perfectly when you are doing what you’ve done before, especially with those, who knows what you want… But if you are making new things with new people, you need to constantly control and adjust all the processes. Than you can catch the moment, when things go wrong and art starts getting formal instead of being powerful…

2. Now, as promised I am sharing some photographs from our trip to Northern parts of Russia. It was literally a car trip Saint Petersburg - Archangelsk (about 3000 km (1800 miles) back and forth). We are still digesting our impressions and we will continue talking about them later, now I just want to mention it’s been a touch of a great authentic culture, we saw icons in their natural environment as containers of spiritual experience and heritage. Looking at these images we should keep in mind, that most devastating was not the "time" or weather.. It was period of Soviet regime, when religion was considered undesirable and country administration tried to destroy as much as possible. I guess, that they just wanted to control minds and souls... Sad thing, - they still do, perverting and corrupting people of faith... Well, hope these houses and churches may give a feeling of how these people lived, what were their values and how they treasured them. 

3. The next chapter of this Newsletter is an unpredictably ecumenical one. One of my orthodox friends, who is a priest, asked if I could paint an icon for an evangelical church. He wanted to bring them as a gift, so, he wanted it to fit their interior and not to scandalize anyone. He spoke about one of the last saints, whom we call Saints of Undivided Church, as he was recognized saint before the 1051.. Therefore he is respected by both Eastern and Western Churches, - it’s Saint Olaf, King of Norway. It took a while to make sketches and find a good way to represent him, so am glad that the parish accepted the icon with positive emotions and started to use it right away. And even though it wasn’t planned at the time this church interior was built, I still think it works well. Active enough, but humble enough too :)

4. And last but not least: 3 latest Olga's icons. They were painted several months ago, but varnished on Tuesday last week. They are not large, but I think they represent some new approach to image. Icon of Christ is the oldest among them. It's rather dark and I think it is extremely focused. The icons of the Feasts are made with a different method: they began with shapes made with color. Drawing was only used on top of colored shapes, - to finalize the image adding little details, so it was not the tool, giving structure to the image. I am not sure it is possible to "read" this from the image, - what do you think? We would be interested to hear your thoughts :)

P.S. All images are "clickable" 

Newsletter_aug_2021 Newsletter_aug_2021 Newsletter_aug_2021

Wishing you a healthy, peaceful, and prolific September and the rest of the year!

Yours sincerely,
Philip and Olga 

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