Blog entry

Tools for painting icons- A mahlstick and how to make one

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A mahlstick (or maulstick) mostly handmade is an essntial tool for painting icons. It allows working on vertical surfaces without touching the fresh colors, but it also keeps the (shaky and tired) hand firm and rested in the long hours of icon making- and finally it helps drawing the long smooth  lines that are so required in  icons.

Making a painting study of Sinai Pantocrator- working hypothesis

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A (very challenging, yet very satisfactory) study of an icon,  the very first image of the type "Pantocrator" (All might God) - painted around 6th century AD.
I approached the icon as a "bridge" piece between ancient (roman-hellenistic) and byzantine art- and I leaned towards the ancient - That led me to:
- Use as less colors as possible- Ancient Greek painters were famous for creating their works using four - I limited to my 10-12 color palette to 6- Imitate theuse of Golden highlights in the stars, clavus, gospel and halo)

How to protect your icon painting- Traditional top coats and byzantine icon painting

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Long time since I wrote a "how to" post - This time, I thought to deal shortly with top coats and the traditional ways to finalize your work.

Egg-tempera is a very fine and durable material as long as it remains protected from insects (that really find it very... yummy) and moisture (and in case of Churches, the devastating effects of lipstick, that permanently stains, with its oils, the icon)

So, after completing painting, and letting a week go by (that is the time that egg-tempera really needs to dry)- We need to first protect and then totally isolate the colours.

Byzantine expressionism

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Byzantine painting , an art form that  was expressionism centuries (maybe a milennium) before expressionism /symbolism or surrealism ever even existed. Some of the characteristic elements of this painting "genre" that point towards this direction are:

-The main figure/ feature Enlightened being -The saint, the Saviour or the Holy Mother) is bigger that anything else in the icon.

Color recipes in byzantine iconography - another "How to" on byzantine icons

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 What about the mineral pigments? Despite the variety of colors available on the market, there are only  ten mineral powders that tradition holds necessary for the creation of a byzantine icon.

How to paint a byzantine icon 101- Shopping list with the basics

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I know there are many resources on the web on how to make a byzantine icon, but lately I  've given some advise on how to start from the scratch, (what to buy, where to do it) and I think it would be useful  for beginners, wanting to set up, a small quite corner in their home for their hobby

So what you basically need:

Some privacy, good light, an easel and a Mahlstick (you may see my post on that: )
A Flat spatula
A jar of fresh clear water