Donna R. Rathert

Artist’s Statement

Donna Rathert painting

What a privilege to be a hand for God! To be a vessel for Spirit–a vehicle for the flow of universal creativity.

To “write” and icon is to submit to tradition. Using patterns traced from earliest known Byzantine an Russian images, the iconographer is released from the burden of originality. Yet the experience is no less spirited. For the subject of the icon becomes the teacher and the painter is transformed in the process.

I made my first icon painting retreat in the summer of 2000. I had no idea what I was getting into. I liked to dabble in the arts. I gravitated toward contemplative prayer. Icon painting wedded these two. What developed for me was not just a new form of expression, but a fiery passion.

How can I describe the glory of this spiritual devotion, this loving prayer? Each step of icon writing lends itself to the mystical. One works on a board, the altar. You lay down golden color–representing uncreated light. This shines through every layer: the essence of God becoming incarnate. Clothing is done in overlays–from dark to light; the draping folds suggest a body animated with divine energy. Skin tones likewise proceed from dark to light: earthy browns through reds and ochres to white. The image is stylized to point beyond external reality; time and space are surpassed. Each stroke contributes to a theology of beauty, creating a harmony of line and color, content and prayer.

As I give myself to this process, I am enshrouded by the icon’s profound silence. I commune with color and brush. I’m drawn into mindfulness, connected with Spirit in the eternal now. My spiritual consciousness is awakened as God reveals God’s plan for me. Metaphors for my journey arise. I sense compassion and love.

I pray for the viewer, that this compassion and love might come through.

[Donna passed away in 2011. She is greatly missed.]