Monday, July 25, 2011

mother of God icon: one coat turns it to crap

This is my second icon- Mary, mother of God. (My first, a pioneer icon, is here). I’ve been working on it for about 3 months. A lot of evenings, a lot of weekends. It’s been relaxing and enjoying.

I chose it because of the way Jesus is snuggled into Mary. I love the intimacy and humanity of that moment. As I painted, it felt more and more like the arm of Mary was making a gesture of embrace, inviting me to join the intimacy, to appreciate the humanity and warmth.

Over the weekend I applied the gold halo and finished the final etching. Which meant it was done and so last nite I applied a coat of clear varnish to help protect it.

I don’t know what happened, but it turned to crap. The gold halo is now all tarnished brown, rather than gold and shiny. The varnish has formed bubbles and looks all pock marked. The final finishing coat, after months of work. Sorry mother of God, but you look how I feel. Crap!

Posted by steve at 10:25 PM


  1. But of course there were days when Mary felt, and looked, crap. And Jesus, too, if he really did share in our humanity. And yet Mary gets to share in birthing and nurturing the work of God in the world, and as such is a model for us too. I love this icon – as a model it is something that we can identify with: it invites us to share in God’s gritty love story for the world, and encourages us that we can, that the days when the shine has worn off are no less significant – who knows? are perhaps even more significant – than the shiny days. Yes, it isn’t what you hoped. Yes, figure out what went wrong, and make another. But thank you so much for sharing…and also for boasting in your weakness, as Paul would have it, which makes you – not just Mary – accessible 🙂

    Comment by Andrew Dowsett — July 26, 2011 @ 4:19 am

  2. Fascinating reflections Andrew, which opens up some really interesting theological angles to probe. Thanks.

    It’s good (but not easy) for those with perfectionist tendencies like me to be part of producing crap 🙂


    Comment by steve — July 26, 2011 @ 11:44 am

  3. The right sort of crap makes great fertilizer…It may be the by-product of a horse, not as ‘productive’ as pulling a carriage or a plough, but the gardener will thank you for it as they tend their roses.

    Thanks, as ever, for sharing your creativity and participative worship ideas. I find myself in a context where I don’t have the freedom to do that kind of thing, but one where I have hope that I might be able to introduce a more creative/participative approach, at least in one of the churches I serve…

    Comment by Andrew Dowsett — July 26, 2011 @ 8:38 pm

  4. Why do denominations place bright, creative, alert, passionate new ministers (like yourself and other folk I see around the traps) in restrictive contexts?


    Comment by steve — July 26, 2011 @ 10:15 pm

  5. You could ask that question. I couldn’t possibly comment 😉

    (While I might be inclined to think it is a misguided strategy, and hope for change, if God can do a work in David in thirteen years in the wilderness, or Saul of Tarsus in fourteen years in the desert, I might dare to hope he can do something worthwhile in me in an apparently restrictive context…and no, that doesn’t make it any less frustrating, but…)

    Comment by Andrew Dowsett — July 27, 2011 @ 2:36 am


    Comment by Ingrid — July 30, 2011 @ 7:26 pm

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