As a child I was given an illustrated New Testament. The illustrations were in the style of illuminated manuscripts and icon paintings. I fell in love with those illustrations, and they have remained a big influence on me.
I am not sure how to explain what I love about icons, but I think there is an element of serenity that I find appealing. Stylistically, I am drawn to images that are somewhat realistic but a bit stylized. And I love pattern. I guess I like the blend of simplicity and ornate pattern, though it sounds like a contradiction.
Last June I traveled to Ravenna, Italy. It had been on my bucket list since I was 18 and first learned of the beautifully preserved Byzantine mosaics found there. I was a little concerned that I would be disappointed after so many years of wanting to see them, but the opposite was true. They moved me to tears.
The image on the left is a classic Russian Icon. The image below is from Ravenna. It represents the Empress Theodora... and amazing feminist empress who is worthy of a post all her own.