Friday, January 9, 2009

Icon painting, step two

This is what the icon looks like after the second time I worked on it. The first layer of paint was applied to most of the image. The dark color will be the shadows of the finished painting. Each successive layer of paint will be lighter. Some grittiness in this layer is normal and visible in the photo. All the paint I am using is tempera, which is egg yolk, wine, water, and ground pigments.

The bole that made up the halo has now been gilded with two layers of gold leaf. Glass gold (gold leaf stacked between sheets of rouge paper) is used rather than patent gold (gold leaf adhered to a sheet of paper). I learned an easy way to transfer the gold leaf, which is generally unruly to work with. Simply place a piece of ordinary wax paper over the leaf, rub it, and the leaf will adhere to the paper. Then cut the paper into more manageable small pieces, making sure that every piece includes a section of the wax paper without gold (this makes the small pieces easy to handle). Voila! Now the gold leaf is easy to transfer!

I also applied another coat of bole to the sides of the piece. In order for the gold to look smooth and shiny the bole must be as smooth as possible. The bole is sanded with successively fine grit sandpaper, finishing at 1000 grit, then burnished. When I started sanding the bole on the sides I discovered I had applied it too thinly and I was sanding down to the gesso. Next time I will have the bole ready for gilding.


Peter said...

This is really nice! Me and a friend are currently planning to make a triptych - your experiences are worth a lot to us!

Liadain said...

Heh. ANd on my blog, you will find the proper way to adorn your icon, once it's painted! :-D

I'm interested to "watch" this-
I only own the results, can't do the iconography myself....