Icon Painting Studio

The icon-painting studio of St. Elisabeth Convent was established in 1999.

 

The first major project for the iconographers was painting the icons for the church’s iconostasis.

 

In the fifteen years of its existence, the icon-painting studio has painted icons for churches throughout the world. The icon-painters follow in the footsteps of Byzantine and Russian artists of the XII - XV centuries and use ancient icon painting techniques.

 

There are several people involved in the creation of a canonical icon. First, the woodworker makes a plank from high quality dry wood, carves out the kovcheg (ark) on it. Wood is chosen as the basis for the future icon because it is reliable and durable compared to canvas or glass.

 

Once the plank is ready, the process is passed on to the gesso maker. Gesso is a coat used to cover the plank before the icon itself is painted. First, the gesso maker covers the wooden plank with canvas in order to provide better adhesive capacity of the gesso. Then he covers the plank with gesso, applying about fifteen very thin layers at a time.Once the surface layer is polished, the gessoed plank is handed down to the icon-painter.

 

First the icon painter makes a sketch of the icon. After the contours and main lines of the image are ready, the background is covered with high quality gold leaf, which is thinner than a human hair. The golden background symbolizes the shining of the Heavenly Kingdom.

 

The paints that are used are the same as in the times of ancient iconographers. All these paints are prepared from ground minerals and semiprecious stones. The minerals are first crushed and ground, and then mixed with egg yolk.

 

Once the background is gold-plated, the icon painter starts to paint in full color. The darkest colors are painted first, and then the icon is covered with layers of the brighter colors

 

Most of the time icon painters work with canonical icons. However, sometimes, iconographers paint icons in the realistic style.

 

Apart from high professional skills, an icon painter needs great spiritual effort to paint a good icon. The workday starts with prayer. Although such artisanship and skill are not easy to master, God always sends people who seek for an opportunity to serve Him through iconography.