I have put down the base colors for the icon of St. Teresa of Avila.
In iconography you put down the darker colors first and then bring forth the lighter colors. In iconography it is not so much that light shines on the individual from without rather the light is meant to emanate from within the saint or our Lord. The light of God’s grace transforms and transfigures from within and shines forth.
Also, iconography is not so much concerned with perspective as we are so often used to in western classical art. The purpose of the icon is to bring the viewer into a spiritual encounter with the person pictured in the icon. It can be said that it is not so much us who view the image as it is the one presented in the icon who is looking at us. Perspective, in iconography, is reversed – the icon watches us.
In the beginning of The Interior Castle St. Teresa reminds us that the only door of entry into true knowledge of self and of God is “prayer and reflection”.
Teresa wisely cautions that self-knowledge must be held in a creative tension with the truth of God.
If we are always fixed on our earthly misery, the stream will never flow free from the mud of fears, faintheartedness, and cowardice…
So it is with the soul in the room of self-knowledge; let it believe me and fly sometimes to ponder the grandeur and majesty of its God. Here it will discover its lowliness better than by thinking of itself (solely)…
In my opinion we shall never completely know ourselves if we don’t strive to know God. By gazing at His grandeur, we get in touch with our own lowliness; by looking at His purity, we shall see our own filth; by pondering His humility, we shall see how far we are from being humble.
Two advantages come from such activity. First, it’s clear that something white seems much whiter when next to something black, and vice versa with the black next to the white. The second is that our intellects and wills, dealing in turn now with self now with God, become nobler and better prepared for every good.
Finally, for this post at least, the saint offers this thought: While we are on this earth nothing is more important to us than humility.
Amen, St. Teresa, amen.