Why Commission an Icon?
A beautiful hand-painted icon is to be treasured. It can be a gift for a beloved family member, a godchild or dear friend and can honour a lesser known saint or one that is meaningful to you.
An icon can be painted to commemorate a sacramental stage in life such as a baptism, first Holy Communion, confirmation, wedding or ordination. It can honour a significant anniversary.
An icon can be a gift of a prayer for protection for those working in conflict or stressful surroundings.
An icon can be a prayer for the gift of healing.
An icon can simply be a gift of divine presence in your home.
Where do we begin?
Commissioning an icon simply begins with your idea. After some discussion, this is eventually reflected in a working drawing. It may be a theme from the gospel which you love or a saint where there is no icon already available. Equally it could be an icon you know and love and you would like an original hand painted icon.
Take for example a saint where there is no existing icon for reference. We would discuss what the icon is for, whether it is for personal or group devotion. Where will you be placing the icon? Will it be accessible? This will suggest the ideal size and composition, whether a face, a standing figure or half height figure.
It will help if you have a budget in mind as this will indicate the extent of any gilding.
The sketches shown depict half-height figures.
I will then study the life and teachings of the saint, look into the context of their lives to determine the appropriate symbolism to use on the icon. For example, clothing can suggest a noble birth or perhaps a life in an abbey. A love of nature and the animal kingdom can be included such as the robin with St Francis. I will then prepare a drawing on paper and some proposals for the colours. This is the time to discuss any significant changes. When the drawing and overall composition has been agreed, I can calculate the cost of the icon.
Should you wish to proceed, I will request a 10% payment towards the finished icon and this completes the first stage.
Should you need time to raise funds for your icon and an interim image might help to generate some momentum, an option would be a monochrome study on watercolour paper. Prices from £150 for an un-gilded study on 300gsm watercolour paper.
The next stage is the icon itself. This begins with gessoing the icon board.
This is a slow and messy process involving three days work as the boards are primed, gessoed and sanded. I prepare a selection of icon boards each summer but can also order pre-gessoed boards cut to your preferred size.
Painting, gilding and lettering follows:
I paint with the best quality materials and St Hilda is an example of painting with lapis lazuli – a ground blue mineral pigment. When the tiny particles of this semi-precious stone are set against bright white gesso, it gives a luminosity which reflects the light within the saint.
Prices vary according to size, number of figures, extent and finish of gilding. For the 2016-17 price guide please click icon price guide and board stock Cruwys 2017 to download a pdf.