Sunday, August 1, 2010

Remaking an Icon

As mentioned in a previous post, I produced my first icon before I had a proper understanding of iconography - either its theology or its imagery. However, I now have a much more thorough understanding and appreciation of both the imagery and theology of icons. For this reason, I have decided to redo this first icon (left).

Though I had already sold this painting, I convinced the owner to allow me to produce a proper Christ pantocrator icon over the original. My plan is to use gold leaf - rather than gold paint. I will remove the text from John 1:1, and replace it with the traditional IC XC. And I will paint Christ in a traditional Byzantine style - as opposed to the peculiar mix of Byzantine and realist styles. Unfortunately, I do not think egg tempera is an option at present, so I plan to use oil, which is my preference. (The original is painted in acrylic.)

Step 1 is to blot out the original, which I have now done. You can see this first step to the left.

Next, I trimmed the board for a tighter composition. I then went ahead and applied gold leaf and begun repainting the Christ Pantocrator properly. You can see the stage at which it currently sits (left). 

(My apologies for the less-than-polished photos. I will be sure to get a more professional shot when I finish the painting.)

Since this is my first time using gold leaf, the current look of the gold leaf is not as smooth as I would have hoped. I can't say for certain if the problem has to do with the chosen materials (I opted for a new fast-application gold leaf), or if the problem is on my part. We'll see as I continue to experiment. 

I was also surprised to find that the oil paints simply do not stick to the gold. For Christ's nimbus and the IC XC on either side, therefore, I have chosen to carve these images out of the gold leaf, allowing the paint beneath to show through. I may also apply some additional paint in the grooves - we'll see. 

I'm certain this is not the traditional way, but I like the result. See the detail (right) for an example.

The face of Christ is now starting to take on a more or less finished look (left). At present Christ's face is the only thing that currently has such a look. 

I am more or less pleased with the results heretofore. I believe the piece is now finally looking like a proper icon. I hope to move next into the detailing on his hands and garments. Be watching for additional photos and updates as I move into those next steps.