The ICONS came about after doing the art commission for the Nine Elms Advent Window Trail in November, 2020. I loved the modern iconography technique and decided to do more icons of the saints and holy family.
I want to take this further after the commission for Stations of the Cross and also depict biblical scenes, such as: Jesus walks on the water, feeding the five thousand, Noah and the Ark etc
One of the challenges I faced with the icons was the many folds in the clothes and the shadows of the face.
The ltHE ICONS are mainly on plywood, painted with acrylic paint on roof paint. Sometimes, gems or craft jewels have been added..I have also used small canvases or boards. The small icons have a frame. After the painting is finished I vanish them with gloss varnish to get the glass-like effect.
Each saint has. its own identity and unique look. i largely research Byzantine Art and looked at the technique used to paint the faces. The hands of Jesus often hold a mudra pose, this dates back to the 3rd century.
Original icons had real gems and jewels so I have imitated this with craft jewels.
PAINTING THE ICONS - STEP-BY-STEP
I had to train my mind in the different approach how ICONS are structured to my normal style of painting. I had to let go of painterly techniques and look at the shadows of the face and folds of the garments. Initially i sometimes emphasized the halo or aura by studding gems on the outline of it. One of the best advise I received from a fellow artist was to transform the halo by adding gems/jewels to fill up the area. Below are some examples of how the icons are painted and also the transformation when the gems are added. Thank you Anna Cowie.
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THE HOLY FAMILY
Initially I began the ICONS by doing portraits of young Jesus and the Holy Family. The Madonna and Child featured in the early work as I looked at Russian and Greek Icons that drew heavily on these images.
My interpretation of the skin tone developed as I looked at images of local Nazarene people and the darkness skin tones that are prevalent in that area.
Women were often depicted as having a lighter skin tone that the male to show the different sexes. I wanted to show more diversity when I later did the Stations of the Cross series for Saint Marys Battersea Church and deepened Jesus skin tone but added reddish highlights to his hair.
The icons use a formula for their painting techniques such as white highlights above the eyebrows or narrowness of the nose or pouting of the lips. Shadows are also important and th flatness of colour and many folds of the cloth.
"One of the most important genres of Byzantine art was the icon, an image of Christ, the Virgin, or a saint, used as an object of veneration in Orthodox churches and private homes alike. Icons were more religious than aesthetic in nature."
Doing the ICONS opened my eyes to this wonderful artwork and an appreciation of this style of art that I had lain undiscovered. By breaking my mindset of once finding this style uninspiring I now can't do enough of them.