30.000 x 40.000 x 4.000 cm.
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Icon Of The Virgin Mary.
Painting - Egg Tempera On Panel
The medium used in most traditionally painted icons is egg tempera, which requires a rigid support. Panels for icons are made of solid wood,Paint cannot be applied directly to the wood itself. A complex panel preparation is required for proper and permanent adhesion of the paint. The panel is saturated with two coats of hot hide glue, which penetrates the fibers of the wood. Each coat is allowed to dry thoroughly. A piece of linen cloth cut slightly larger than the panel itself is soaked in the hot glue, and carefully applied to the panel and allowed to dry. This phase can take several days, depending on weather conditions. After drying overnight, the panel is ready for painting with multiple coats of gesso, a white, plaster-like preparation made of marble dust, water and the hide glue. The gesso, when gently heated has the consistency of heavy cream, and when brushed on in thin layers, it dries to a hard, permanent surface. The first few coats are applied and rubbed by hand into the rough �tooth� provided by the linen. Thin coats of gesso follow, one after the other, and when done, 15 to 20 thin coats of gesso create an extremely durable surface. Egg tempera is a medium of unsurpassed beauty, proven permanency and stability over time. It is the egg yolk that gives centuries -old icons their lasting quality. We have egg tempera icons centuries old, which, when cleaned, have retained fresh, vivid colours and an unflawed surface. If the background is going to be made of gold leaf, it is usually at this stage, once the drawing on the panel has been completed, that the gold leaf is applied. Twenty three karat gold is the norm for gilding icons.When the painting is done the icon is set aside and allowed to dry completely. This can take a long time and again, much is seasonally determined. When all is done and well dried out, the final work begins--applying the varnish which has been used at least since the Middle Ages and which ensures that the painted surface will �lock together� and have a protective surface. The varnish also deepens and enhances the colours. The varnish used is made of linseed oil and additives to hasten the drying process. Depending on humidity, varnishing usually takes the better part of one day--10 hours from first to last, but we have had panels whose varnishing has kept the community up literally all night. The icon is laid flat, and the varnish poured over it in a thick coat. Throughout the day, the varnish is absorbed by the paint, as it thickens, and forms a film on the surface of the paint.
April 13th, 2010
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