Monday, January 9, 2012

First and Second Highlights, Icon Progression

The process is slow now as we add the first highlights over the golden layer beneath. You may have noticed a blush applied to the cheek areas. Now we start to slowly build up the first highlight. A lighter version of the first golden color each applied with a liner brush in long strokes that contour the face. While theses photos emphasize the golden tone, in real life it is much more subtle that this. some of the lines are being laid in for the garments again and the eyes have been worked on. Darkening the eye "liner", whitening the cornea, deepening the pupils.

Now the second highlight is applied. A shade lighter than the first and a smaller area applied to allow each layer to show through at the edges. Again, a gradual blending in strokes, never looking solid and heavy and the lines always following the facial contours defining the curves and space. A third will follow, even lighter. The final few strokes in pure white "ozivki" will be applied lastly. They represent the pure "uncreated" light of Christ. traditionally some dark red will be applied aside the nose and cheek.

I am constantly overlaying the drawing on the painting to ensure that I have not wandered too far from the original forms. I have used white chalk to make guidelines for the garments. The chalk is easily brushed off after the paint dries.  The edges are looking rough right now but they will get a a coat of Red Earth paint and then left alone or possibly gilded. Depends on my mood at the time. If I use the Red Earth, there will be a final thick green line between the image and the red border.  Just a traditional thing.

You see there are no halo lines in this icon as the composition is so tightly cropped. The halo remnants are the gilded areas around the hand and behind he Maphorion in the upper right of the icon. Since Christ is so centrally located within another figure, this is a rare time where he has no halo at all. There will be no lettering on this icon either due to the composition. This would not be considered a "real" icon in this regard as the composition is too cropped for purists. This panel measures 9 inches by 12 inches, 3/4 inches thick. It is a plywood panel, birch with a prepared ground that has been heat finished onto the surface. The surface is very smooth and made for this type of paint. It is not suitable for egg tempera applications. It does, however, gild beautifully.

I am using a water based size and 23 K gold for the gilding. Normally I would use marine varnish and a 12 hour size. That produces a highly burnishable finish (polished) and makes the gold look like a mirror.

As I am online this a.m. (Tuesday) I can compare this with the original. The original is much more subtle of course. I am still and probably always will be a student with a much coarser hand and eye in the bitter end.  I make a lot of rookie mistakes that I see other students make. The over emphasis here and the incorrect form there. A failure to contrast light and dark. Takes a lot of practice to master these arts and I have neither the time nor inclination to be so disciplined. A sign of our times or a faithless lack of commitment?  Probably more the latter than the former. Just not willing to put in the hours. My kids are much more dedicated to their chosen careers than I am to my hobbies. I am afraid that if it does not come easy I lose interest or get frustrated (ask my saxophone). You would think that as many of these as I have painted, I would be better at it. The human condition.

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