Thursday, July 26, 2012
Lines and Highlights for the Icon
When I set aside the icon of my guardian angel at the beginning of the summer, it looked very incomplete. In fact, the green undercoat to the face and hands looked strange, to say the least. It might look a little better now, that I've redrawn the lines and applied the first of three "highlights," applications of lighter-colored paint to add depth and color to the figure.
I read more of the Summa as I did. I was worried about repainting the lines: every time I have to re-do the face, I worry that it will look stupid and that I will have to look at a stupid face every time I look at the icon.
I continue to discover that the process of painting an icon exposes parts of my character or interior life, like my tendency to worry and my frugality to excess (hurry or the paint will dry and we don't need to waste any paint because it was expensive!!). It's tricky to try to focus on the person of my guardian angel, and not on the distracting stuff that constantly comes up.
</TMI> My plan for the icon's final colors is embarrassingly incomplete. When I began, I thought, "oh, I want the robe to be white in the end," but when I read more about the first highlight, which should be full-strength and very bright, I thought "uh...how's this going to work?" I have a long way to go in terms of technique.
The redrawing of lines is meant to represent order over chaos, as God separated and ordered parts of creation in the early days of the stories as a foundation for future creatures.
The highlight adds light to darkness, and stands for the lights we have by nature, like the powers of the soul (chiefly, the intellect).
And a final note: shadow is added not by application of dark paint, but by absence of light, just as sin enters creation not by action or existence, but by absence of good will and grace. (This is not to imply that my guardian angel or any holy person has sin, but the process of painting mirrors creation and part of the world that will appear on the last day, St. Augustine notes, are the shadows of sin.)