A contemporary iconographer speaking:

“To create a good icon, the icon-painter should adhere to ancient strategies. In old instances, the classic background for icons was gold leaf or silver leaf. Gold getting pricey, icon-painters often used basic paints that have been cheap and produced of natural components. Within the poor village churches of Russian North, each of the backgrounds had been completed with paints of quite light colour. ‘Fon,’ the Russian for background, will not be a Russian word. Our icon-painters known as it ‘the light’. Priming for the panel was created of sturgeon glue, also a really costly material. Effectively, in old times icons have been not cheap… “ (Father Zinon) Get more information about

Icons are religious images painted on wooden panels, ordinarily made of linden or pine wood. Their production is often a extended and complicated process. A layer of linen cloth soaked in sturgeon glue is put around the panel. The ground is made of chalk mixed with fish glue. This can be gesso. As much as ten layers from the gesso are applied over the cloth, or pavoloka . An outline of your composition is incised on the gesso using the point of a needle, typically according to an icon-painting manual.

To prepare tempera paints, mineral pigments are mixed with water and egg yolk. The prevalent minerals are cinnabar for reds, ochre (iron oxide) for yellows and lapis-lazuli for blues. Organic minerals give transparency to colors. Transparency is key in generating the effect of luminosity in icons. Light and dark tones of diverse thickness are brought one on best with the other, layer just after layer. The white ground reflects light falling on its surface back via the semi-transparent tempera. The effect is that of inner light radiating in the image.

Following painting is carried out an icon is varnished with boiled linseed oil, olifa. Russian artists added amber to their olifa. The linseed-amber varnish protects icons from scratches and provides them a deeper tone. But, just after quite a few years within a wood-heated church or inside a candle-lit ‘red’ corner of a peasant hut, the varnish becomes really dark and obscures the image. Within the early twentieth century, to clean the old varnish off the icon surface, restorers used fire to soften the olifa. They place a little alcohol on the surface of an icon and set it on fire. A restorer then was in a position to scrape off the olifa varnish and clean the icon.

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