Tuesday, June 15, 2010

day one--foundations

We began our day yesterday with Eucharist in the chapel at the cathedral. On my way from the sacristy to the chapel I passed through the church and the flowers from Sunday caught my attention. Aren't they beautiful? The cathedral flower guild does awesome work.

Some of the stained glass windows in the chapel are out being cleaned, and it was strange having them gone, though mostly my back was to the wall where they ordinarily reside. Worst of all, however, was the lack of A/C in the chapel. Before we even got to the homily sweat was dripping off my nose. Thankfully our work space was very pleasantly cooled!

We begin the writing process by tracing the outlines of the icon onto a board prepared with layers of gesso. Jesus' robe is the first layer to apply. The color is a mix of blue and brown, and we may choose how much we want to balance the mix.
I leaned toward blue! It takes several layers of paint to get a flat, opaque look.

Next we applied a sable color for the stole beneath the robe and the cover and straps of the book held in Jesus' hand. Jesus' hair is the next color to apply. I forgot to take a picture after those steps, but you can see them in the picture that follows: the application of "sankir" for the face and hands. Lighter colors are applied over that. You'd never know it, would you, looking at the result?
Before finishing for the day we added a red for the halo, or nimbus, and a dark blue for the orb around the halo. The red is so that if any of the gold leaf used on the halo flakes off or doesn't take on application, the warmth of the red is what shows through rather than the white of the gesso board. Once the first layers of each section are applied we then go back and add lighter layers on top of the darker ones. It will be a bit of a challenge on this icon, since the original image is somewhat degraded (it was painted in the 6th or 7th century!), and the details are difficult to see.

This is an amazingly holy enterprise. We are instructed to pray with each stroke of the brush as we paint. I find that such a task is easy when painting those portions of the icon that are outlines--I want help! While painting Jesus's hair, halo and outer ring, for instance, my prayer was a consistent "Jesus, guide my hand," or "guide my brush." It works. Honest.

As for the wonky eye, I discovered upon closer inspection what that is about. The pupil of the left eye is centered within the iris, but in the right eye it is elevated. One member of the class mentioned yesterday that she has this icon in her bedroom, and that she always finds the eyes to be disturbing. For the record, I confess here and now that I plan to center the pupils of both eyes. I don't want to be weirded out every time I look at this!

PS--I just can't stand that I don't have time to keep up with and comment on everyone else's blogs this week. I'm trying to read them, or at the least look at pictures! 

PPS--for a quick primer on writing icons, go here!

1 comment:

Jan said...

WOW! I am so envious. And thank you for the picture and description of the praying process.


Related Posts with Thumbnails