We had a choice of two icons this year: St. John the Theologian (seen here) and St. Michael. At first glance I wasn't the least bit interested in St. John, but St. Michael is essentially the mirror image of Gabriel, done two years ago, that I felt a bit stuck with John. Let the record show, however, that I have no regrets, and John and I are on getting along fabulously. Serendipitously, the John icon also allowed me to exercise a little artistic license. After reading Dating Jesus the biblical/patriarchal slant against women was fresh in my mind, so I decided to make St. Prochorus, John's scribe, female. When I spoke to our teacher about making this change she asked, "Why not make John feminine?" I had an answer. For one thing, it would have been a lot more difficult to feminize the icon's image of John (or so I believe). Not to mention that St. John is a well known and established person. Prochorus, not so much. Although biblical and historic, he doesn't stand out. And here, in this icon, who he is is less significant than what he is doing.
In this icon John is receiving divine wisdom, and is "dictating" it to Prochorus, serving as a scribe. By making that scribe feminine, Prochora, I see it as John entrusting the Word of God to a woman. As one who preaches that Word, that, to me, is significant. There ya go!
The first image, above, is at the close of the first day, after the application of the flat layers of color on the icon. With base coats down, we then worked on the robes of John and Prochora. I still have some work to do on Prochora's robe, but I left it in pretty good shape. John's may get another "wash" of warm color, as well, if I want it to look more like the original.
Our third day began with the blessing of our hands, since the work we were undertaking was the face and hands of our icons. You can see the guiding outlines of the faces in the second image, at right. It's an amazing process, to watch the face emerge from the dark, sankir base as lighter colors are applied to it. That's one of the glorious things about icons, that the work is done from dark to light.
As I glance at the next image I realize that I have overlooked adding the sandal straps on the feet. Oops! I'll do that today. There is still some tweaking to do--I notice that I left a scraggle of beard "undergrowth" without its accompanying gray/white, and a section of Prochora's face needs a revisit. But essentially, the faces (and John's hair and beard) are done.
Today the rocky entrance to the cave will get its detail, as well as the scrolls and basket, and the divine "intervention" emerging from the upper left-hand corner. Those rocks are going to be a killer! The rest may have to wait until tomorrow. We'll see.
I've included this closeup of the faces. The red on the icon is where the gold leaf will go. Red is the color of choice in the event that some portion of the leaf doesn't take or flakes off. Better for it to show through than the white canvas beneath. So the tradition goes.