Friday, April 30, 2010

Christ Pantocrator Icon

This is my second try at painting an icon. I used oils on a 7" x 9 1/2" pine craft panel. The panel is beveled on the front, so I painted on the back instead. This particular icon was supposed to be done on a much larger piece of wood, but since I wanted to save my big boards for when I'm more experienced, I used a small one. As a result, I had to really cram the details in there... but it was good practice.

I've had a book checked out from the St. Maximus library nook for... oh, I don't know how long... months, many of them. I should probably turn it back in so somebody else can have a chance to look at it. Anyway, this book is called 'The Technique of Icon Painting' by Guillem Ramos-Poqui. It's basically a complete course in icon painting, or writing, as the art is referred to when done by a bona-fide iconographer. I'm not an iconographer yet, so I'll just say that I painted a copy of a real icon.

Anyway, I love this book. It contains step by step tutorials for several different icon versions, with this one being a Christ Pantocrator icon. I going to try the Virgin Hodigitria next, which is a version of Virgin with Child.

Anyway, here are some pictures of my progress:

All I have to do now is paint the cross/circle behind His head, and add the Greek identifying inscriptions. This is how it will look when it's finished, basically:

I've painted one other icon before this one, a St. Mary of Egypt on canvas using acrylic paint. I learned a couple of important things in the process... I DO NOT LIKE ACRYLIC PAINT. It is very difficult to paint with in my opinion, because it dries so fast. Normally, you'd probably think that was a good thing... but when paint is dry, it's impossible to mix colors directly on the canvas in order to blend the edges of two differently colored elements. Oils, on the other hand, take days to dry, sometimes weeks. This makes oils very forgiving to me, as I can always go back and repair mistakes by blending in a new color. However, since they do take so long to dry, it's a lot easier to really screw up an entire painting by dropping it face down on a dirty floor, spilling something on it, brushing up against it and not knowing, thus smearing wet paint all over the good parts of the painting, etc. I prefer oils now, but have yet to try the egg tempera technique. That should be interesting.

When I finished the St. Mary of Egypt icon, I was basically pleased with the result, but I could have done a lot better if I'd had a quality reference. I didn't, so I had to size up a low resolution picture on the internet, blow it up to about 8x10, print it, and use that for a reference. Also, I wish I had painted it on wood, but that icon was the first thing I'd painted since 1996, and I wanted to stick with what was familiar, so I used canvas board. Anyway, it's framed now and behind glass and it looks good, and it's hanging on Leah's wall.

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