Icon Diploma Student

Learning to see with the eye of the heart

Posts tagged ‘saunders waterford paper’

Lofty Discoveries!

Hello Icon Friends,

I am making up for time lost last week when I was out tying ‘Missing’ posters to lamp posts and scouring the internet for our pet cat. Not the little fellow you might have seen eating up my egg mix in November, but our older cat Ollie. Two nights away is unheard of for this home-loving creature. A long story cut short, we now have new friends down the road and if you lose a pet, enlist St Francis and put up posters! Ollie had climbed into their loft space where they were building an extension and got stuck. I am overjoyed to have her home and very thankful to St Francis!

So, back to the paper trial. The Saunders paper is without a doubt a treat to work on but having tried the Fabriano Artistico, I have to say that I found blending the egg tempera just a little bit easier. The paper is almost luminous and seems to make St John more appear more present.

Monochrome study of St John the Evangelist

Monochrome study of St John the Evangelist

Looking back on my posts, I have spared you my earlier image of St John. This will never do! I should be showing you how my work is hopefully progressing.

Why is it we always see things (where we have gone wrong) more clearly when we take a step back?

Why is it we always see things (where we have gone wrong) more clearly when we take a step back?

Let’s see, St John above is my most recent work, on Fabriano Artistico paper.  St John below was painted on rough white water colour paper, about 2 months ago.

Blending the paint is clumsy and the overall appearance is hard. See my post 'Core, Clarity and Confidence'.

Blending the paint is clumsy and the overall appearance is hard. See my post ‘Core, Clarity and Confidence’.

It has taken a few attempts and I am still a long way off, but I think the blending above is getting a bit softer. That said, looking at the uppermost one as I write, his whole head shape is still too round, the shape of his face too wide and flat, the eyes looking too much to the left…oh…I am going to have to have another go!

Homework update from the icon course day five: Day 5 Notes Icon Screens Day 5 26th November 2013 Feet

Before I say cheerio, here are five more quotes from “the mustard seed garden Manual of Painting” to follow from the last blog post:

Originality should not disregard the ‘Li’ (the principle or essence) of things

Learn from the Masters but avoid their faults

Posess delicacy of skill with vigour of execution

The second fault is described as ‘carving’ (‘K’o) referring to the laboured movement of the brush caused by hesitation. Heart and hand are not in accord. In drawing, the brush is awkward.

He who is learning to paint must first learn to still his heart, thus to clarify his understanding and increase his wisdom.

The Spirit Gives Life

Warm greetings Icon Friends,

I have tried some different paper for my monochrome studies and I think it has made all the difference! I would love to know what you think. The study on the left is the second (fourth if you count pastel studies) attempt at painting the Virgin standing at the foot of the cross.


So far, I have been using a rough surface, bright white paper for my monochrome studies and not been doing very well with blending the egg tempera. A fellow icon student suggested I try using a heavy weight (300gsm) hot pressed watercolour paper such as Fabriano Artistico or Saunders Waterford. Both are smooth, creamy coloured and gorgeous to work on, though with a slightly different texture. I have done a monochrome on both these papers to compare them.

I started with the Saunders paper and it was so much smoother to work on than the rough white watercolour paper. The paint flowed and blended without having to saturate the paper with water first although I did apply a light water wash before addressing a large area. I am gradually finding my way around the end of a paint brush – it really is a case of just getting on with it and learning as you go along. Aidan makes it look so easy but it isn’t!

The blending and overall appearance of this monochrome looks a bit better than my earlier attempt a few months ago. I have attached the work in progress photos as a pdf. The folds in the robes still have a long way to go though!Virgin at Foot of the Cross

I have finished writing up my notes and will attach them in stages. Day 4 Proportions of hands Ottoman Romanesque Carolingian examples

Next post will be about the Fabriano paper.

Thanks for reading and I will leave you with:

The seven canons


The Spirit gives life


The brush’s task is to incarnate spirit


Although you abstract, model form

According to the essential laws of nature


Usecolour to manifest the spirit


Organize the elements within the panel

To make an harmonious world


Remember there is an imperfect perfection

And a perfect imperfection


In copying, seek to unearth

The master’s techniques