Since the figures are always either holy men and women or angels, the uncreated light of Christ's transfiguration illuminates them. This light comes from within them, shining out through their eyes and casting no shadows. The perspective is also a heavenly one. To our eyes, trained in realism, the figures seem somewhat distorted. This is due to the use of inverse perspective: the figures are painted as though seen from heaven, from the side of the figure opposite the viewer. As Kati says, “An icon is not meant to be a photograph. It is a vision of a spiritual truth.”
The tradition of iconography dates back to the third and fourth centuries. An icon is an image that owes its distinctive style to a unique use of light and perspective. Icons always contain the golden-haloed figures of one or more saints, angels or the Lord himself.
“An icon is not meant to be a photograph,” Kati explains. “It’s a window into heaven, a vision of a spiritual truth, the uncreated light of Christ shining through a transfigured body. It’s visible proof of the incarnation, God dwelling among us, his people.” She also calls it “an embodied prayer.”
Using acrylic or an egg tempera paint that she mixes herself, Kati begins creating an icon by measuring and drawing the outlines of the figure or figures, then painting the background. Next she paints the bodies of her subjects, and completes the faces and hands last. As she paints, Kati continues to consult traditional icons and she works prayerfully throughout the process.
“For me,” Kati says, “I have to get more serious when I'm working on the figure. If there's a conflict in my life I have to resolve it to keep on working. If I can't pray, I can't paint!”
Credit: Vine & Branches