About Joseph Brown

Joseph was born and raised in Southern California. An artist from a very early age, it is possible to see the shadows of iconography long before his exposure to icons. After an encounter with the Lord and Our Lady, Joseph had to abandon his previous artistic interest. He was handed a photograph of Our Lady of Vladimir by a friend who was a priest, and told “You are to paint this, using these.”, and then handed Leonid Ouspenski’s The Theology of Icons, vol.I& II. That was the beginning of a love affair with iconography.

Joseph uses the traditional techniques and materials, without becoming idolatrous toward the tradition. It is the image that makes the icon holy, not whether the wood is from Russia or Greece. The profound message of the Incarnation and the redemption of the cosmos, as articulated by the icon, must not be lost in the “egg wars”*.

If you are interesting in commissioning an icon, please do not hesitate to use the contact button. Joseph’s vocation is iconography, and to insure that everyone who wants an icon is able to have one. Pricing is based on the time and materials involved, and the ability to pay. Our Lord has graced him with this gift, and he wants to share it.

Joseph is available for quiet days, adult forums, lectures and classes in iconography and iconology for churches, groups and, in some cases, individuals.

*The egg wars are battling opinions about the use of egg tempera vs. acrylic paint.

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Iconography (from Greek: εικoνογραφία) refers to the making and liturgical use of icons, pictorial representations of Biblical scenes from the life of Jesus Christ, historical events in the life of the Church, and portraits of the saints. Icons are usually two-dimensional images and may be made of paint, mosaic, embroidery, weaving, carving, engraving, or other methods. A person who practices the art of iconography is called an iconographer.

Images have always been a vital part of the Church, but their place was the subject of the Iconoclast Controversy in the 8th and 9th centuries, especially in the East. The Sunday of Orthodoxy, the first Sunday of the Great Fast (Lent) every year celebrates the reestablishment of the Orthodox veneration of icons. The use of iconography is considered one of the most distinctive elements of the Byzantine Rite. ~Orthodoxwiki

Iconography begins and ends with the proposition that at a particular time and in a particular place, God, the creator of heaven and earth, everything seen and unseen, had a human face. Not in an abstract, as “we are all created in the image of God, thus God has a human face”, but in the particular; that at one time, in one place, a man could have pointed to the face of Jesus of Nazareth and rightly said “This is THE face of God.” The theology of iconography is entirely bound within the theological truth of the Incarnation.

The role of the iconographer is to convey through paint and gold, the truth of Incarnational theology. Thus, the iconographer must be a person of prayer, fasting, repentance and aware that he is acting as a tool in the hands of the Spirit, always relying entirely on God’s merciful love.

Because iconography is theology, there are truths to which the iconographer must adhere. Prototypes, canons and the work of icon masters are to be followed and understood as conveyors of  Truth. For an icon to be a true image (vera-ikona), it must be inline with the truth revealed through Christ to the Church. This does not mean that the iconographer is simply copying old works. There are wide boundaries, and ample room for artistic expression. But, the role of the icon is not the personal expression of the artist. The icon in itself is an icon of the mystery of the human person who retains their personality, while being transformed into Christ. The artist is not destroyed in the process of iconography but is perfected and placed in his proper role: that of priest between the material and divine worlds.



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"Icons are in colors what the Scripture are in words: witnesses to the Incarnation, the fact that God has come among us as a specific, particular person whom we can see, touch and hear, to offer us the new life and begin the new creation." Seventh Ecumenical Council in Nicea, 787 A.D

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