“...blessed are your eyes for they see, and your ears for they hear, and your hearts for they understand…”  /Matthew 13:16

IRMINA Stiles, alias SANTAIKA, studied Visual Arts at the Vilnius Justinas Vienozinskis Art School, Class of R.Vaitekunas. Some years later, when she moved to Switzerland, she resumed her studies in art, and has studied Ceramic and Pottery under Anne-Chantal Pitteloud at Sion and Oil Painting under Ghislaine Varone at Saviese.

Irmina’s main focus of Art study is Sacred Surrealism and Religious Art, especially Byzantine Icons, which has given her art a deeper meaning and a more significant connection with her audience. In addition to creating her Sacred Art collection, her experience includes creating artwork for churches, monasteries and ashrams.

As it applies to Sacred Art, the Icon is a small picture or other representative object of religious devotion. It is often painted or drawn on wooden panels. The Latin “icon” or Ancient Greek εἰκών ‎(eikṓn), means “likeness, image, portrait”.  Byzantine era Icon paintings are often called ‘Iconography’, or the ‘Art of Writing’. They are symbols with images of Saints, Christ and Virgin Mary. They were used in the Catacombs of Rome, which were the Christian burial places. This ancient technique by Christians started after Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection to express their sorrow and views of this time. During that period, Icons were full of contemplation, prayer and communion with GOD. Prayer and meditation are the most important tools of happiness. The soul and spirit, mind and body of the person who prays becomes still, attentive, peaceful and constantly receptive to the presence of GOD. St. Isaac the Syrian states that to the ascetic who prays, the Sacred Art creatures communicate to him about meaning, purpose and value of life. Matter and spirit, heaven and earth are both united in that kind of Art.

Today, Byzantine Icons are a form of Art that depicts the Ancient Art of Iconography that involved conscious copying and duplication of images long established in the Byzantine tradition. Irmina’s Sacred Art also contains spirit and prayer for healing. Instead of making copies of the amazing 2nd century authentic Byzantine Icons that she so very much loves, she creates her own paintings in the late Byzantine and the early Renaissance era style, using her imagination and a symbols of Religious Art with the same spirit as Roman era Christians over 2,000 years ago.

Our modern culture values individual expression above all else, so Irmina exercises this by creating an imaginative world of fantastic figures, or just adding smiles to the holy scribes’ faces, placing a lotus flower in their hands and adding other symbols that were not used in the original Byzantine Orthodox Iconography, but artists loved to add in Christian, Islamic, Buddhist, Hindu or other Religious Art.

Many of her creations are owned by private art collectors and Christian Church Communities in Poland, Russia, Germany, Switzerland, Portugal, Brazil, USA and Lithuania.


With Lollipop, 2016
 (Framed Artwork)
5x7, oil, acrylic, gold, lacquer, conservation-grade paper, wood

For most of her artworks, Irmina uses 5×7 pine (she loves to paint on canvas and cardboard also) that has no large knots on the surface upon which she paints. She attaches Indian Silk (or conservation-grade paper) to the board that provides a surface that is flexible and helps to eliminate cracking in the many layers of lacquer that she applies to the painting. To do this, she coats the board with glue and waits until it is absorbed and then pushes the silk out from the center, thus driving out any air bubbles.

After drying overnight, she examines the board carefully by firmly rubbing it with her hand. Then, she smooths down the rough edges of the board with 80 grit sandpaper. Irmina works from a concept from which she creates a drawing, first by watercolor pencils or pen (sometimes by acrylic also),  and then begins painting with oils. Later, she puts a layer of lacquer over the entire painting. When it is dry, she sands it using 240 grit sandpaper to eliminate gross irregularities, then finishing her artwork with oil and gold.

Generally, Irmina applies up to 20 layers or more of clear lacquer to create a three-dimensional effect. This process takes five weeks to three months.