Icon Diploma Student

Learning to see with the eye of the heart

Posts tagged ‘St Francis’

All gone quiet

It’s all hands on deck at home as finishing off seems to take almost as long as actually painting an icon. Our last icon session is only days away and details of the graduation show next month are now up on the PSTA website. I would be delighted if you could come along though I know many of you are miles away. It promises to be a great show as my fellow students have produced some breath-taking work.

I plan to continue with the blog after the course has finished as I haven’t posted any where near as much as I had intended.

I will be back in touch when I get a moment and will leave you with these two icons which are almost complete…varnishing, picture hooks and cord still to add.

iconpainting of St Hilda of Whitby by Ronnie Cruwys

St Hilda of Whitby

Icon painting in egg tempera of St Francis of Assisi

St Francis of Assis

Thanks for reading!

Ronnie

 

 

 

Working with St Francis

st Francis

Work in progress on St Francis of Assisi

Hello icon friends,

A very happy Easter to you all and a warm welcome to the recent people following my blog. You have nudged me back to the desk to post some work after being away for far too long. Thank you!

I have a backlog of four icon boards to finish but thought I would start with a summary of work to one of my half figure icons – St Francis, chosen as I am so often calling on his help with one or the other of our pets. I can only trust St Francis knows best as he doesn’t always answer prayers with what I want to hear.

pencil sketch over drawing

Starting with a pencil sketch

I am referring to Aidan Hart’s image of St Francis (the one with him holding a robin) for this icon and began with a pencil sketch which I photocopied and went over with a black line ready to transfer on to a birch ply board prepared by Dylan Hartley.

lines transferred

Transferring lines using red ochre rubbed into a sheet of paper

light wash in red ochre on icon

Light wash of red ochre to define the forms

I have learnt to go very lightly with these first lines on the face, especially the lines on upper moustache and below the eyes. Use pigment with no egg so that the lines aren’t fixed and hard.

face underpainting of st francis

Underpainting the face and garments

I used Cornelissen’s Terre Verte with a dash of Stuart Stevenson’s yellow Ochre light to underpaint the face, making sure that it was dark enough to withstand 3-4 layers of membrane.The membrane was the same yellow ochre with a small dash of English Red Light.

membrane layer on face

First membrane layer applied to the face

membrane layers

Building up the membrane layers

I applied four membranes to the face as I was looking for a warm, even Mediterranean skin tone. The underpainting was just still visible. Some of the dry pigments brushed off as the egg tempera mix had got a little weak but I remembered the benefit of applying a nourishing layer of egg stock (approx 80% water 20% egg)  which helped stabilise the pigments.

face highlights

Adding highlights to the face

background layers

Building up the background layers

I am not going into the garments here as I made a bit of a hash of them! I used varying mixes of English Red Light and Ivory Black but I was too heavy-handed with the darks. I lost the translucency and almost sanded the whole lot off to start again, but Aidan thought they could be improved so I persevered. I am glad I did.  I recalled from one of the weeks spent at Walcott Hall that Avana is a pigment that can rescue many a difficult colour situation. I applied several thin washes and it seemed to soften the starkness of the red robes and evened the shading a little so I could almost start afresh with the highlights.

adding red ochre

Adding English Red highlights to cheeks, mouth, eyelids and nose

Adding light washes of English Red Light really adds warmth to the face. I still have the eyes to finish but the next stage is the background, halo and lettering and making good some of the highlights follwing my last class review.

Thanks for joining me here and if you are still reading, I am sorry I haven’t posted for so long as I had a bit of a set back when I fell and fractured my pelvis (in 3 places) and my drawing arm in two places – I only fell over our own back door step! I am well and truly on the mend now though and gradually catching up.

This post is dedicated to Leo; as I said not so long ago, we are only ever their keepers.

Thanks for reading.

Ronnie

Ollie and Leo

Ollie and Leo

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.