Saint John the Forerunner

Tamara Penwell's icon of Saint John the Forerunner

Also known as St John the Baptist. One of the most intriguing and enigmatic characters in the Bible and a fascinating subject to paint. About St John the Forerunner there are more questions than answers. He is known as “The friend of the Bridegroom”, “the voice of one crying in the wilderness”, “the witness who […]

Saint Anna, the mother of Mary

Tamara Penwell's icon of Saint Anna the mother of Mary

“The Grandmother of God” is not a title formally applied by the Christian Church to Saint Anna, the mother of Mary (the Mother of God – Theotokos). However, that is effectively what she was. Jesus, the Incarnate God had human ancestors, uncles, aunts and cousins, some of whom are mentioned in the Gospels. Canonical Gospels […]

The New Martyr Elizabeth

Tamara Penwell's icon of The New Martyr Elizabeth

Elizabeth (Ella) was the daughter of Princess Alice of Hesse and the favourite granddaughter of Queen Victoria. Ella married the Grand Duke Serge of Russia. Her sister Alexandra was the last Tzarina of Russia, the wife of Tzar Nicholas II. After the assassination of her husband in February 1905 Elizabeth became a nun. She bought […]

Icons of the Guardian Angels

Hand painted icon of Guardian Angel - egg tempera on wood

Angels are probably my favourite subject. Depicting angels as winged creatures may have originated from the images of the ancient Greek goddess of victory, Nike. In early Christian icons angels are shown giving the martyrs their crowns, laurel wreaths or palm branches, symbolising victory. In traditional Christian iconography angels are never depicted as frolicking, dimpled […]

St John the Evangelist (the Theologian)

Hand painted icon of Saint John the Evangelist - egg tempera on wood - egg tempura on wood

One of the twelve apostles “the disciple that Jesus loved”, writer of the fourth Gospel, two Epistles and the book of Revelation is seen here with an open book showing the words of 1 John 4;7. Behind his left shoulder is an angel whispering in his ear. In architectural iconography the four evangelists are depicted […]

Apostle Philip the Deacon

Hand pained icon of The Apostle Philip the Deacon - egg tempera on wood, oil gilded

We can read about Ap. Philip in the book of Acts in the Bible (Acts 8; 9-13 and 8; 26-39). He was one of the first seven deacons ordained in the church in Jerusalem. His conversion of the Ethiopian eunuch led to the creation of the Christian church in Ethiopia. Apostle Philip is holding a […]

St Tamara, Queen of Georgia (c.1160 – 1213)

Hand painted icon of Saint Tamara of Georgia

This is an icon of my patron saint. Tamara was the first woman to rule Georgia and her reign marked the Georgian Golden Age. She was crowned a co-ruler by her father George III in 1178. Her subjects titled her “king” and “father”. She was renowned not only for her military and diplomatic achievements but […]

St Maria (Skobtsova) of Paris (1891-1945)

Hand painted icon of Mother Maria of Paris - egg tempera on wood, oil gilded

One of the most inspiring modern day saints with an astonishingly rich and varied life. She was a Russian intellectual, poet, nun and also a gifted artist, who lived in France and died in Ravensbruck choosing to go to the gas chamber in place of another prisoner. In Nazi-occupied Paris Mother Maria together with Fr […]

St Xenia of Petersburg (1719-1803)

Hand painted icon of Saint Xenia of Petersburg - egg tempera on wood, oil gilded

Widowed and childless at 26, Xenia Grigoryevna Petrova gave away her considerable possessions to the poor and took upon herself the form of asceticism probably most difficult for us to understand. She became a fool-for-Christ, deliberately renouncing not just material possessions but also the comfort, dignity and security which come from being considered respectable and […]