Details and Explanations for Icons Painting

colors GuideColors   Pigment Guide

Quality of Paint

The paint used in egg tempera, is ‘million year old’ stone, finely ground into powder and suspended in an egg/water emulsion.

The sandy particles settle on the flat surface, finding their own rest and natural condition. We use ground stone from all around the world, minerals, metals and oxides, that each has their own integrity and behavior as they dry. 

As the paint sets the water rises to the surface and ultimately dries, leaving a thin film of dry stone tempered with egg emulsion as the binder. (More Explanation in Book)

You see here 20 pigments not including white and black. They are all organic and semi transparent to completely transparent.

It has been said the old iconographers used a limited pallet and jumped for joy when a traveling merchant would stroll into town with a bag a new pigments from far way.In our world, we go to a store and purchase more than we need and colors we want to try but discover are useless. I suggest you begin with a few colors, perhaps 12 and build on them. Remember……..


Line QualityQuality of Line

There are no firm rules about Lines. Look for quality of line, ”not too long or too short, not too wide or narrow, be sure to be intentional but without force, lots of strokes but not too many,

keep them close but leave space between them. Keep the image balanced, spiritually but not too spiritual, understand without trying to understand, remain clear without ridged expectations of yourself, and on and on…………..”  

God moves as we move, everything is in relation with other therefore everything is changing. There is no absolute.

The theology of line is subtle.   Like final ascents expressed towards the end of our life.  For example, writing your memoirs, of having a retrospective show or perhaps selling your business so you can retire.

The final lines are full and exciting each and every one with its own signature and grace, like the final moments in our lives. Imagine that with age and experience; we could live being continually aware of every breath, every moment, and every breeze upon our face. The closer we grow to ourselves and God, the more of life is lived in abundance, diversity and wonder without judgment.


Final LinesVirgin Mary

Affirm within yourself that you have given attention to every detail of your icon thus far. Affirm within yourself that you could not have done this alone, without instruction and guidance from some outside source.

Tradition and practice work harmoniously and deepen with every icon written. The divine desire you have been given and the hands you were born with ground your success and accomplishment.

The two images here illustrate the drama found in life giving lines. Her face seems to be lifeless on one side and alive on the other. The small lines added at the end are placed in your deepest place of prayer……If we seek to experience all of humanity as divine incarnation, we will indeed see we are loved, while we love what we see.

Detail for highlightsAnalysis of Highlights and Veils


___________________ base color

_________________________first light

______________________________second light

__________________________________third light

Highlights have three dimensions and they progress through the application. First is a wide area, soft edges. Second is perhaps one soft edge and one hard edge. Third is all had edges called a facet. This is said as a guide, an orientation, there are now rules only the directions of the light.

Take the time to analyze the Saint John Icon and other icons and you will begin to understand the layering and the direction of the light.

Highlights are symbolic of our human creative effort. In the detail above, Saint John the Apostle, the highlight is bright because of the bright white added to the base pigment color.  (Book recipe guide) Each highlight is separated by a float or veil of clear transparent pigment. The veil is symbolic of God’s presence which permeates all of creation. In this case the float expands into every corner of the shape being painted.

Estano Repouserepouse triptic

 My husband Valentin has been a great asset and grace to work with, he is a technician as well as a fine draftsmen. I got involved with the estano (hand tooled pewter ) because of my fear of gold.

Application of gold is an art in itself. Since Gold is symbolic of divine presence uncorrupted, in all my seriousness I felt like I was working before God “himself”. Too scary for me, I have never felt worthy to do any of this work.

Thank God a priest once told me “Don’t worry, God makes us worthy, he gave you the desire to paint that will be sufficient.”  Anyway, I chose the silver to avoid the gold. Valentin is one of those wonderful husbands who can not only do almost anything but he will if I ask. Yes, I know what you’re thinking.

MORE Details in The Book, Icons Revealed.






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