“You take a simple flat piece of wood, & you make it into a Prayer.” This quote from a friend led me to consider my own painting process, and how every step of the way is a prayer in both word and spirit. As I prepare the blank board, each step is accompanied by prayer. Applying the gesso, sanding–I pray steadily as I work for the person I am making this icon for. As I paint, each stroke of the paint brush is accompanied by words of a simple prayer. Often it is the Jesus Prayer, or the Hail Mary, broken down into phrases to accompany the motion. Lord Jesus Christ. Son of God. Have mercy on me. A sinner.
My favorite prayer to paint with is from an Orthodox daily prayer: Holy God. Holy Mighty. Holy Immortal. Have mercy. On us. This is repeated 3 times. (A version of this prayer is also part of the Catholic Divine Mercy Chaplet.) Painting then becomes a deeply meditative, prayerful activity with the intentions of the recipient foremost in my mind as I work on the image.