“Christ is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.” - St. Paul, Epistle to the Colossians
Brian Matthew Whirledge and his wife, Rebekah, live in Goshen, Indiana, USA. He paints icons with the blessing of Bishop Anthony of Toledo and the Midwest, Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America. Brian is an ordained reader, and serves as Protopsaltis and choir director at St. Mary’s Antiochian Orthodox Church in Goshen, Indiana. Pursuing the visual arts his entire life, he has painted traditional Orthodox Christian icons since 2007. He has painted over 100 private and church commissions since 2013 using only finest materials available: professional acrylic paint, 23k gold leaf, and birch panels.
It was in Jerusalem, during a family trip to the Holy Land, that he first experienced Orthodox churches and their iconography. The beauty of the icons contributed a great deal in his desire to join the Church. After converting to the Orthodox faith in college, Brian began to learn to paint icons.
As a visual artist and Orthodox Christian, painting icons in the traditional Byzantine style is an organic way for to express the Christian faith visually. The art of icon-painting originated in antiquity, was perfected through the centuries, and has been passed from master to student until today. Brian continues this living, growing tradition.
Icons are a proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, not in words, but in lines, shapes, and colors. Silently, an icon bears tangible witness to the incarnation of God and declares that creation is essentially good, sanctified by the Creator’s incarnate presence in His world. Through an iconographer, the wood, gold, water, and pigment can attain the likeness of a saint and bear his name. Icons depict transfigured reality. They do not depict the world outside, but the heavenly world within. The light in icons is not Renaissance chiaroscuro, but rather the uncreated light of Christ, shining forth from within. Features are abstracted, clothing is geometrized, and the landscapes are flattened to reveal a spiritual vision of reality. The postures and composition are balanced and hieratic, yet graceful curves and subtle asymmetry suggest motion. The clothing falls on the figure in vibrant, geometric highlights.
To ensure these icons will last generations, Brian uses only the best materials and methods available. He works in professional artists’ acrylic paint, which is versatile and durable. The 23-karat gold leaf interacts with the viewer as it captures and reflects light around a saint. Icons overflow with heavenly vision, becoming a palpable presence. They are not only windows to into heaven, but doors, inviting viewers to enter.
Brian Matthew Whirledge paints traditional Byzantine icons and wall paintings for churches and private homes. He uses the finest materials available: professional acrylic paint, 23k gold leaf, and birch panels. He is blessed by Bishop Anthony of Toledo as an officially sanctioned iconographer for the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America.
EDUCATION & TRAINING
2014 Independent Study of Iconography in Greece
2013 Master of Education, Indiana Wesleyan University
2012 Apprenticeship with Tom Athanasios Clark, master icon painter. Studied Byzantine Iconography and Byzantine Chant in Athens, Greece
2007-2008 Studied iconography with Nun Olympia at Holy Dormition Monastery, Rives Jct., Mich.
2007 Bachelor of Science in Art Education, Indiana Wesleyan University
MAJOR COMMISSIONS & WALLPAINTINGS
Brian Whirledge has painted over 100 private and church commissions since 2013
2017 Communion of the Apostles for Christ the Savior Orthodox Church, Rockford, Illinois
Iconostasis for St. John of Damascus Melkite Catholic Church, South Bend, Indiana
2016 Virgin Enthroned with Angels for Christ the Savior Orthodox Church, Rockford, Illinois
2015 Sanctuary decoration, St. Mary’s Antiochian Orthodox Church, Goshen, Ind.
Sanctuary decoration, Holy Spirit Orthodox Church, Wantage, New Jersey
Christ Pantokrator for St. Thomas Orthodox Church, Kokomo, Ind.
2014 Angels for St. Mary’s Antiochian Orthodox Church, Goshen, Ind.
2013 Theotokos Platytera, Angels, Christ Anapeson, stars, and borders for St. Mary’s Antiochian Orthodox Church, Goshen, Ind.
2011 Christ Pantokrator for St. Mary’s Antiochian Orthodox Church, Goshen, Ind.
2013-Present Brian Whirledge teaches approximately six icon-painting workshops annually to students of all ages and abilities, hosted by churches of various denominations.
2013-Present Instructor of Visual Arts, grades 9-12, painting and ceramics specialist, Wawasee High School, Syracuse, Ind.
2007-2013 Instructor of Visual Arts, grades K-6, Fairfield Community Schools, Goshen, Ind.