The Ancient Art of Iconography

Vivian’s Studio Mary Star of the Sea Icon
 A Window Into Heaven 

An icon is a “window into heaven” because it offers us a glimpse of what awaits us in eternity with Christ­—it’s like a meeting between heaven and earth. As you look through this window, you are also being seen through the eyes of love by those pictured in the icon. In a way, you have become one with the image. God himself is the true artist and guides the painter’s hands. The iconographer does not take credit for the finished painting because it is truly the Holy Spirit that is guiding the hand of the artist. The artist does not sign the work. Instead, she writes on the back of the image “written by the hand of” and then fills in her name.

The process of painting an icon requires prayer, humility, repentance, fasting, and holy communion on the part of the iconographer. Icons are more than art. They are a depiction of people and scenes in a heavenly light that is not of this world. Every brush stroke, every color has meaning. Almost everything painted on an icon has symbolic meaning. Christ, the Virgin Mary, the saints and the angels all have halos which represent the presence of the Holy Spirit. Color also plays an important part: gold represents heaven and eternity; red, divine life; blue, purity; and white the light of God. Light radiates from within the person painted because there is no darkness in them, only light. The eyes are larger because they have seen Heaven. The nose is long and narrow to denote they no longer smell the scent of earth, only heavenly scent. The mouth is small because through their lives they have fasted and no longer have need for food. Lastly the ears are larger because they have heard the Word of God. Icons are sometimes said to be “written” instead of painted because the artist is taking the Word of God and making it an image. They are exact representations of teachings of the faith, not an artist’s interpretation of a teaching.

Original Artwork Mary Star of the Sea Icon

Imagine sitting in deep meditation and prayer and being given the gift of seeing an image as it is to be written through your hands onto a canvas. It begins with the color green to represent all life and develops layer by layer with each guided brush stroke until the sacred icon appears before you. Heaven gives us these sacred tools as a window into heaven. Wear this sacred art on your wrist as your personal reminder that heaven is real and the veil between heaven and earth is very thin. May the Sacred Icon Cuffs be your window into heaven. 

Original Artwork Mary Star of the Sea Cuff bracelet

ABOUT THE ARTIST An artist from Southern California, Vivian Imbruglia practices the ancient art of iconography. She learned the traditional techniques of writing icons from several master iconographers, thus merging her artistic abilities with her exploding Catholic faith. Iconography has become more than her profession, it is her ministry. Vivian’s commissioned artwork, both traditional icons and more contemporary sacred images, can be found in churches, abbeys, and private chapels throughout the United States and abroad. One image was given as a gift directly to the Holy Father Pope Francis. When writing original images, Vivian puts great emphasis on the eyes as that aspect most effectively draws in the viewer, encouraging prayerful reflection and meditation. As with all traditional iconography, Vivian never signs the displayed part of her work. Instead she includes on the back, “Written by the hand of Vivian Imbruglia.” At the same time Vivian has developed her own tradition of writing somewhere within every piece the letters “AMDG” which stands for Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam, explaining her ultimate purpose as working for the greater glory of God. 

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