Tuesday, 26 June 2012

The (almost) finished icon

Saturday was the second part of the icon workshop, tutored by Ian Knowles. As this was only a two day workshop and not long enough to complete an icon from scratch, the face was marked out from a template using red ochre powder. Each person then made the egg tempera paint from egg emulsion & ground pigment. The focus was on rendering the image by building up layers of tone & colour.
Here is the painting of the first few layers that I completed last week:

Below are the subsequent stages as the face began to emerge.

These are the group's finished icons (mine's the one in the centre). I found it fascinating how they all began from the same few inital markings and yet, seemed to have developed their own expressions & individuality.

For anyone who missed it before, here is the link to Ian's website, Elias Icons, where his beautiful work can be seen.

Thursday, 21 June 2012

The Holy Face

As a spiritual, rather than a religious person, I approach the subject of icons from an artistic perspective & I am drawn to their beauty. On Saturday, I attended the first part of a two week workshop to paint an icon using egg tempera.

It was the end of an exhausting week at work & I really didn't relish the thought of having to get up on Saturday at the same hour I would during the week - but it was certainly worth the effort.The workshop was tutored by iconographer, Ian Knowles,

In addition to the icons, the other aspect of this course that interested me was that we would be making our own paints. Regular readers of this blog will know that this is something I have tried before & the account of my previous attempts at this can be viewed here. I'm pleased to report that the results were much more successful this time. With support from Ian, we made our own egg tempera, a magical blend of egg, vodka & raw pigment. I have to admit that, for me, the vodka was a surprise ingredient!

Once the paint was mixed, the painting process began.....
Below is the icon so far. It already has 5 layers of tempera on the face, although the background will remain as it is, covered with one layer of variegated wash. The face is built up progressively, working from dark to light - it's fascinating seeing it gradually appear.

I am very excited about Saturday's workshop & shall be out of bed before the alarm this week! I promise to report back with an update.

Please take a look at Ian's exquisite work, which can be viewed at Elias Icons

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

A very small museum

I have a confession to make, I have a really unappealing habit, I'm trying to control it, but a lot of the time it gets the better of me.
This is my problem- I see things on the ground & have an uncontrollable urge to pick them up...
Sometimes they're beautiful natural objects, leaf skeletons, a soft shaped piece of turquoise glass smoothed by the ocean or a newly escaped polished conker.  Occasionally, the 'treasures' are not what they first appear & are hastily dropped to the ground again. My pockets are full of these impulse acquisitions, which often crumble to nothing before reaching my studio. For those that do survive the hazardous journey, superior accommodation awaits.

After a visit to the Natural History Museum in Oxford, I had this idea that I wanted to have a museum of my very own. My other favourite museum in Oxford is the Pitt Rivers Museum. One of the reasons that I love it so much is the eccentric classification system; exhibits are grouped by type, rather than the usual way, by geographical or cultural area

However, my museum is much smaller, being housed in a couple of glass lidded tea boxes that I purchased specially for this purpose. I have, however, contrived my own classification system.

The Pitt Rivers Museum has heavy drawers that can be pulled open by their brass handles to reveal hidden treasures. Some of these items are not that pleasant; I am thinking here of the 'sympathic magic' section. One item is a bull's heart, pierced with iron nails & found in a chimney in the New Forest, Dorset. None of my treasures are, thankfully, quite as nasty as that.

What links these objects, that they are similar shapes, natural objects or similar colours? I think it's nearly all of these things and yet, not quite any of them. 
I have lined the compartments with scrunched up tissue paper & plan to make a label for each, written in scratchy handwriting, detailing the contents.

List of contents left to right.
Top row: Bees extracted from the dining room chimney which contained a nest, coral gifted by an elderly relative, an unindentified fruit (collected from a path in a French forest)
Middle row: Ammonite bought from Natural History museum, Oxford, devil's toenail I dug up in my garden, black beetle, honey bee & section of exquisitely coloured butterfly wing
Bottom row: Owl feather (down) found on a walk by the river Severn,  piece of broken pink pressed glass dessert bowl (echoing the shape of the ammonite), foil wrapper that once held a chocolate ammonite, which my daughter gave me as a present from Lyme Regis.

N.B. No creatures were harmed in the assemblage of this museum