outline and first layer of my icon

I use a wooden board covered with 15 (or so) layers of foundation (this was the bit that Jan did and I was fortunate enough to just take the prepared board.) The board still had to be sanded — this involved A LOT of dust and is better done outside. Rougher sandpaper and then gradually finer ones. The goal is to have a surface like a mirror. Hm, well. It is now kind of smooth enough.

Using the copy machine, I enlarged a copy of the the icon from the book onto paper so that it would fit nicely on the board. Then I fixed the paper and some old-fashioned black copy paper onto the board and traced the outline. You can also put pigments on the back of the paper copy and then trace it. The resulting outline on the board is then traced again with a sharp nail so that the outline is cut into the outer layer and remains somewhat visible after painting several layers. This outline in turn was traced with red paint (will look up which one it was)

You can see that I changed the wings and the outer frame a bit and made the icon show more of the legs. I wanted the person to be as large as possible on the board.


I read somewhere that the first layer should be burnt Siena over the whole icon in crosshatches. You can see the result below. Two comments on this step:

Firstly, I would probably not do it again as not all of the next layers are very opaque and the crosshatches are showing – it took me a long time to apply enough layers so that this first layer would not show anymore. Other books do not seem to mention this layer.

Secondly, I did the crosshatches all wrong. You are not actually doing little cross hatches but you go in tiny short lines all over the icon in one direction and then in another layer you go the same but with the icon turned. And then again and again. So somehow there are hatches but not necessarily crosses. In the end it would just fill the whole icon. Still not convinced as the dark color may shine though (see above).


All icon posts in the right order and with more images on my icon page.

outline and first layer of my icon

Icon Painting

Finally Rosemary talked me into joining their icon writing group one Saturday a month at the cathedral. I have never done anything like it and did not expect to like it very much at first — very slow and meticulous work. But I discovered that it is fascinating! I was lucky as Jan gave me one of his prepared boards so I did not have to go through all the work in preparing the board myself but could get started with sanding it right away. We have a number of books that all explain the process slightly differently. For my first one I decided to use acrylics. I will just try to find out as much as I can and try it out.

I found only one other page that shows a step-by-step icon writing at the Lamp of Beauty (you see her last step of gilding here, earlier steps go back in her blog). A number of descriptions for egg tempera are also online. Seeing lots of examples of work in progress helps me a lot. My progress with the icon will be posted here.

Icon Painting