Noah a righteous man

“… Noah was a righteous man, the only blameless person living on earth at the time, and he walked in close fellowship with God…” . That is the account that comes from the book of Genesis. Another reason to paint Noah with a biblical, austere face and expression in a dark blue background like frescoes.

noah the righteous noe 06-12-17 15-36-38
Noah the righteous hand painted in eggtempera

The image of Noah was painted on   a type of canvas that was “cracked’   to produce the antique effect  of craquelure. Additionally an organic dye was applied on top to produce an antique, copperish patina to the painting

Shedding "light" on St Barbara – and another Iconography "How to"

The final steps on a byzantine icon – adding the lighter colors in the flesh”, “underlining” the facial features, adding even more light in the form of  pure white lines  marks the moment” when a portraits starts to become a saint, the highlight of the whole process.
 
Following the process in this  picture collage of St Barbara on the broken paddle – we follow the path to the light-  the essence in byzantine iconography,
Picture collage with the three final stages
In the first part of the pic the “second light” (the lighter flesh) is applied, near the eyes and nose- as well the blond highlights on the hair
In the second part – pure black in a very thin form , underlines the contour of the face, the pupils of the eye, eyelids and eyebrows, the nostrils and the corner of the lips- the expression.
 
 
Finally we have Psimythia- The pure white lines that are added on the forehead, over the eyebrows and under the eye on the nose and the tip  of the nose, the chin- the radiating pure light of a Saint-
 
Hope I ve “shed” some light on the process !
Danish St Barbara on the broken paddle

Christian symbols – Painting the parable of the lost sheep

I was always interested in the symbolism of the first Christians – that is why I always wanted to paint the figure of the Good Shepherd, but not as the usual imaging of our Lord, as we do in byzantine iconography today, but as a young men as it was in the paintings in catacombs.

The Good Shepherd painted in a slice of an olive wood branch

A slice cut from an old olive branch that was left to to dry for a couple of years so to reveal a part of the Parable of the Lost Sheep: “…Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost./ Συγχάρητέ μοι ὅτι εὗρον τὸ πρόβατόν μου τὸ ἀπολωλός…” [Luke 15:6 KJV]

First drawing on olive wood covered with gesso

The painting was created with egg tempera. On top of the colors shellac (goma- laca) and a final layer of “keronefto” a mixture of wax and turpentine was used to permanently seal the colors.

As tradition demands a full “sensory” experience while participating in the worship -“Keronefto” is meant to invoke the sense of smell apart from the other more obvious senses of sight and touch- and open the way to the awakening of the heart- but that is what I think painting is all about…

A view fro m the top parable of the Lost Sheep


 

Fearless- St Marina humbling evil

It is a rare event to see such fierce female Saint in icons- St Marina is at times (after a very popular legend) depicted with a hammer fearless and serene beating evil to the ground, humiliating him.

St Marina with the hammer beating the devil

A very popular Saint where in my region (in the Monastery in the village of Vonni, in Crete a great panygyri (religious feast)  is held for three days (15, 16 and 17 July in her day) and people from all over Crete are reaching there in a pilgrimage by foot. You may learn more about the monastery and the pilgrimage in : http://orthodoxcrete.com/en/places/monastery-of-st-marina-boni/

St Margaret of Antioch

 

There is no absolute black (only absence of light)- St Theodosia of Constantinople

Saint Theodosia Contemporary byzantine art

I only found it natural to photograph Saint Theodosia of Constantinople under a wild vineyard. There is something fierce -if I am allowed to say- a bit unexpected in the nature of this female Saint. The colours used (to my delight) are mostly black and red (for the ladder). Since there is no absolute black (only absence of light) , the colour was mixed with cinnabar red, white and cerulium turqoise to create a mauvish, discreet highlight in her nun’s garments. 

Additionally I was intrigued by the fact, that in the prototype I ‘ve used for my drawing (a much older representation of an unknown painter) the eyes of the Saint are much alike the eyes of the Pantokrator – a quality that I noticed for the first time in a female Saint but I can clearly see the justification for St Theodosia, a woman brave enough to fight the iconoclasts as in the mini icon study of Her



Fighting iconoclasts

The egg tempera was applied in layers and on top of them shellac (goma laca) and a final layer of “keronefto” a mixture of wax and turpentine (wax varnish) is to be used to permanently seal the colours.

As tradition demands a full “sensory” experience while participating in the worship -Keronefto is meant to invoke the sense of smell apart from the other more obvious senses of sight and touch- and open the a “wider” way to the awakening of the heart- the communion with the saints that icons are meant to provide.

Bodiless Powers- embodied in a slice of an olive wood



I believe that angels are everywhere and use to play hide a seek with angelic shapes I can fantasize pictured everywhere (that is how I named my shop) but I was ‘nt expecting to find one hidden on an olive branch!-

Archangel Michael carrying a soul to heaven

Archangel Gabriel on the background and the Taxiarch Michael
on the palm of my hand

A figure difficult to execute with no “easy” expression, no gender, a mighty bodiless power; The Taxiarch, Archon Michael, the first among the ranks of the Angels with his sword on the one hand and on the other a soul that is been carried to heaven. 

The artifact was created with egg tempera in a slice of an olive wood branch that was specially treated before gessoed. On top of the bright colors shellac (goma laca) and a final layer of “keronefto” a mixture of wax and turpentine was used to permanently seal the colors.


As tradition demands a full “sensory” experience while participating in the worship -Keronefto is meant to invoke the sense of smell apart from the other more obvious senses of sight and touch- and open the way to the awakening of the heart- but that is what I think painting is all about…


St Michael, photographed with the fragrant herbs of the Greek winter

 

Coincidence and custom ordering

A custom order for two byzantine icons of Saints Euphrosyne of Alexandria and St Theodora, the Holy Empress

The Byzantine icons of Sts Theodora and Euphrosene

There is also a connection between them that I considered  a nice coincidence and  a good “omen” for this commission: the Holy Empress when retired chose the monastic life for the 8 final years of her life, in the Monastery of St Eufrosyni in Constantinople.

“Athivolo” Drawing

Sometimes icons seem to “choose” one another!

 

Talking with brushes

It was an olive tree branch in our field, Dimitris asked if I could paint on it. It was treated with gesso and then and the shape of this woman, emerged

Fleeing mama. in olive wood

A mama holding her Child in her back, running away fleeing from war. I hope my work has more to say than I do, in words. To say how I feel, about this mama and all mothers and all people that abandon their homes for safety, for freedom, for peace…



A painting with egg tempera on gesso

The painting was executed with tempera. shellac and finally resin varnish was added- You can see its size in relation with my (small) hands

You can see more in: https://www.etsy.com/listing/258351760/fleeing-from-war-ooak-painting-in-olive?ref=shop_home_active_5




Preparing for the photoshoot



Colors in iconography – another "How to" or byzantine icons 101

 

Egg tempera is the medium for byzantine iconography – But what about the mineral pigments? Despite the variety of colors available on the market, there are only  ten (yes, 10) mineral powders that tradition holds necessary for the creation of a byzantine icon.

And yes, I think its only natural for the art that tries to portray  divine order to wisely pick very few and very potent colors for its symbolism. After all, nature has achieved that with even less in a rainbow…


Powder pigments of byzantine iconography in a row

So depending the school, or the master, the colors used (with some variations from time to time) are basically the following (in random order):

1.Titaneum white/ Blanc de titane
2. Black/ Noir d’ ivoire
3. Yellow ocher/ Ocre jaune
4. Cinnabar Red/ Vermillion claire
5. Rouge Anglais (a sort of brownish red)
6. Cadmium Red (a sort of Carmin)
7. Cadmium Yellow
8 Turquise Blue (or Blue Cobalt)
9. Green
10 Ombre vert/ Green Umbre

For example, -if numbers are easier for you to remember- a ccombination of 2,3 and 5 (while other schools use 3,5,1 and 10 or 9) produces what we call “proplasmos of the face” or simply the brown flesh, the color of the earthly soil out of which Adam was made.

Egg tempera: One egg yolk and a spoonful of vinegar

The proportions of the colors are important as well as proportions in the mixture of powders with egg and vinegar; How thick or thin we need the paint to be. White, ochre and vermillion combined, very thinly -that is with al lot of egg and vinegar-  are used for the almost transparent in some spots — highlights of the skin- but that is a subject of another post!!!

August a "How to do" month- How to make byzantine icon panels

Make your own byzantine icon panel?-Well that is actually not as difficult as it initially looks!

Making wooden panels in angelicon’s workshop


First  (after choosing a wooden board of the size you like) we have the connective medium, a type of hide glue that is turned into a gel with the addition of water.
Then zinc and gypsum is added in it and thoroughly mixed and then the pure linen cloth is attached to the wooden board with the assistance of the above materials
After layers and layers of the white paste, there is a lot of sandpapering (I really don’t like this dusting part…) till the white surface becomes perfectly smooth.!

Finally we have the painting on the back and on the sides with glue and red color as a finishing touch.

And not to forget to add your metal hanger on the back. The panel is now ready!