This brief analysis is referred to those who’d like to be informed about the Byzantine Icon Art and to those who do not have any idea about the process of painting icon projects. To make this clear, an example of a project, namely the portable icon of the Saint Anthony the Great, will be described.
To begin with, Iconography, and more precisely Eastern Orthodox Iconography, is an x-step procedure. This means that each and every step leads to a higher level of the upcoming project. At this point, there are many obstacles that icon artists face while they’re painting. One of them is the accuracy parameter. Therefore, the artists try to depict saints or the holy scenes as they were painted by the predecessors thousands of years ago. So, for this reason, iconographers should spend a lot of time studying carefully before and during their artwork. The accuracy is taken into consideration especially in the painting phase of the body parts.
In case of the St. Anthony the Great icon, there was a three-month period process of two kinds of issues that I had to deal with; technically and spiritually which interact and affect with each other.
Let’s zoom into the current project now. Some of the main technical issues that young iconographers usually face are the identification of the color combinations and the exact distance between the lights. If the colors or the technique is used don’t have the desired outcome, don’t hesitate to start the icon painting from the beginning (back to the first step) so as to resemble the original icon. At a first glance, you’d think that this would be time-consuming, but trust me. It’s worthwhile, because it’s the ideal way of learning how to paint icons and improving any capabilities, mistakes and concentration skills.
An equally of importance obstacle is the use of materials, such as golden sheets. Learning from my mistakes, this issue is linked to a combination of parameters; the usage experience, the quality and proportions of the chosen materials and tools, the working conditions, and of course the iconographer’s mood. Some of the above were the factors that I’d encountered for this project.
To sum up and according to a great or the greatest iconographer, Photis Kontogloy, the iconographer has the ability to pass his/her art even to those who do not “taste” the holy delight, flooding their spirit so much as to make them feel the desire of starting painting.
P.S. Many thanks to Nikos Kotsis for supporting this work.
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