Icon Diploma Student

Learning to see with the eye of the heart

Posts tagged ‘Pencil drawing’

Drawing Heavenly Bodies: Virgin and Child Enthroned with attendant Archangels Raphael and Michael

pencil drawing of icon of virgin and child enthroned

Cartoon of the Virgin and Child Enthroned

Hello icon friends,

The summer before I embarked on the icon diploma course, I asked Aidan if there were any practical steps I could take to help my ability as a student icon painter. His answer was immediate: ‘Learn to draw!’ So I signed up to a really good local drawing class with David Brammeld and a year later Drawing the Street was born, not long before I was accepted on the Diploma course.

Drawing is becoming a way of life for me and I am always exploring ways to develop. There are many online classes and one which I have found refreshing and energetic is Sketchbook Skook

In the meantime, there is so much to learn with icon painting that I thought that I could share my cartoons of the figures for the triptych I’m working on, which might help you get started with your own icon studies.

You should be able to save these drawn images to your computers and print them off on A4.

The four images of the Angels of Chora are all borrowed from Aidan’s library. I hope to be able to credit the photographer in an update to this post.

Meanwhile, happy drawing!


pencil drawing of angel of Chora

Archangel Michael after one of the Angels of Chora

pencil drawing of Archangel Raphael

Archangel Raphael line drawing after one of the angels of Chora

Now for the full size images:

Virgin and Child Enthroned line drawing low res

angel of chora pencil drawing

Full length drawing of Archangel Michael taken from an angel of Chora

pencil drawing of Archangel Raphael

Archangel raphael full length line drawing

Image of Angel of Chora

Angel of Chora image courtesy of Aidan Hart’s image library

image of Angel of Chora

Angel of Chora images all courtesy of Aidan Hart’s image library.

Angel of chora

Angel of Chora images all courtesy of Aidan Hart’s image library.

angle of Chora black and white

Angel of Chora – images all courtesy of Aidan Hart’s image library.

Hello icon friends,
Good to be back to share what has been going on this last month. I set Gabriel to one side to for a short while to make way for the Prophet Moses – homework time!


Moses detail

Moses detail

Now that we have our first six months behind us, there are signs of all our efforts beginning to bear fruit. It was wonderful to see over 24 homework studies from 12 students all laid out together, they made quite an impact. Let me tell you a little about this particular example
I have tried a different mix of pigments for young Moses: French Ochre Sahara and Avana (75% – 25%) just to explore a different colour. Aidan had said that each colour has a personality, some are more translucent or gritty and it is good to get to know their qualities.


Moses pencil outline

Icon of Moses, St Catherine’s Monastery, Sinai with sketch pencil outline to identify key forms

Aidan reminds us that when we start out, we should spend some time studying the icon before we begin to sketch. Look for the dominant movement, the centre of gravity, the direction that the body takes, the qualities that the person is portraying. Icons start with spiritual truths which are then expressed in matter. Study the main forms and don’t worry about the detail just yet. Is it dynamic or still? Check the proportions of the body in relation to the head, use your dividers to check relationships.

Spending time pencilling out the form on tracing paper helps me to identify some of these points. First I drew the centre of gravity then outlines around the main forms. I drew an axis on the head and divided the vertical line into head lengths. I found the array of garments a little perplexing to draw without some help so I drew a head-sized, free-hand grid either side of the vertical line.

Pencil sketch of Moses

Pencil sketch of Moses

The figure seems quite top heavy, but the whole image is balanced by the burning bush at the bottom. Once I was more familiar with the form, I was ready to set Moses out on my watercolour paper. I allowed 2cm for a border then divided the given area into 9 head lengths which allows for halo space and ground (approx. a head length).

Light wash over pencil outline

Light wash over pencil outline

I’ve learned that it is best to start with a very light wash over the main forms, then rub out the pencil before the drawing gets muddy. This is also the time to look again at the main areas of light and shade, look at which parts of the figure are nearest the viewer (the lightest) and which recede (the darkest).

I will leave you with my final piece and once again, thanks for reading!

Moses study complete

Moses study complete