The quality of paint is everything when it comes to lettering. Here are 20 Tips from Mary Jane Miller’s BOOK How to Paint Icons; Workbook and Journal. I have listed 20 tips on lettering for iconography, the book has more resources and tips for icon painters. There is a wide selection of short youtube videos. Some of them are GREAT! Contact Mary Jane for consultations or advice on icon painting/writing and pewter techniques.
You may be a collector of images and ideas like I am. I have an extensive library of icon books from around the world to use for reference and inspiration. Even though we use our books regularly, sometimes we cannot find that one font or detail we saw somewhere. It becomes a tiny detail with only a vague memory of where to find it. I started creating reference cards on heavy stock paper. I collected small drawings of eyes, and on other cards, lettering styles I thought were exceptional. I created cards with examples of hands, plants, and mountains from various icons. I found it to be helpful.
We made a SHORT video on Lettering for Iconography CLICK link VIDEO on YOUTUBE
O Attempt lettering after your icon has dried for two weeks. O You can make plenty of mistakes on an aged surface and fix them without hurting the under-painting..
O Use less water in the egg emulsion.
The paint needs to be thicker to hold the line.
O One part yolk to one or two part water is a good idea.
O Especially when you paint on gold.
O Let your pigments stand for at least 20 minutes before using them.
O Use ocher’s that are soft creamy, finely ground opaque pigments.
O Practice on something to get the consistency correct so it flows.
O Use a small long hair brush, not the short stubby kind, holds the paint longer
O Stir you paint repeatedly to keep it evenly dispersed. Use a crappy brush.
O Make all the letters light at first, register each word for height.
O After you have a rough placement go back and do one letter at a time in detail.
O Slide the brush with water back and forth along all letters to clarify the heights.
O Even up the length of the letters at the top and bottom.
O Add embellishments at the end if it needs some flourish for design.
O You can reduce letters to fit, use “+” instead of the word “and”
O If you cannot fit all the letters place one letter over the other or inside for words like OF, or TO.
O Rinse your brush frequently to separate the hairs so the paint does not get gunky.
O Add a drop of water from time to time on hot dry days, as the paints do dry out.
O Go Slow and be Calm, do not rush this part
Miller is an Iconographer in Mexico, and author of books concerning Master painters, techniques, Women in iconography, history of icons,and Religious Icon Books. Collections of Christian art books and biblical paintings highlighting the early christian experience are good for anyone’s library if you like art books, iconography art books, catholic icons, or books of Christ paintings.
For more information about Mary Jane Miller’s meditations and Mary Jane Miller iconography and her wonderful ministry, visit her blog at San Miguel icons. You may find out about her books at and you can follow Mary Jane on LULU.com and Facebook. Support small companies like LULU. Amazon makes a substantial profit off of all artists. Unique PDFs are available upon request. Mary Jane’s wonderful workshops have been suspended due to Corona stay tuned at Sacred Icon Retreats.