A painted icon is a prayer made visible. It is an insight into a different world, which is unique and invisible, revealed by the hand of an icon painter who uses colors, lines, and symbols.
Painting an icon normally takes one and a half months or even more, depending on its artistic complexity. Each stage...
of the process is essential for the final result and cannot be omitted or shortened without compromising quality. Parents often pass painted icons on to their children, from one generation to the next, which makes painted icons a family heirloom, a timeless connection. This is why they should be painted as carefully as possible and without haste.
The icon painting studio of St Elisabeth Convent uses traditional techniques of icon painting. A wooden board for an icon is carefully selected and is left to dry under natural conditions for a decade or more. It is then covered with ten to fifteen layers of gesso - a special chalk based coat. A gessoed and thoroughly polished board must be absolutely smooth.
Preparation of the gesso and gessoing the board is not an easy task. In fact, it requires attention and skill, for it will become the base for the future icon. The lifespan of a painted icon depends on the proper base. That is why we at St Elisabeth Convent have a separate gessoing workshop, which makes gessoed wooden boards for icons.
Once the base of an icon is ready, a draft image is painted on it with extreme caution. Following this stage, the icon is plated with fine gold leaf. Gold-plating is a critical and demanding process. Even a tiny dust particle or a hair stuck under a gold leaf may completely ruin it. Excess gold leaf is removed after drying, and an icon painter starts to paint the icon, going steadily from darker colors to the lighter ones.
You may choose to have your icon painted either with tempera or acrylic paints. Traditionally, icons have been painted with egg tempera: ground precious and semiprecious stones mixed with egg yolk.
How to Handle a Painted Icon
Painted icons are highly sensitive to rapid temperature fluctuations,draughts, excessive or insufficient moisture...
They are not to be placed near heating units. Please do not wipe icons with dry or wet cloth, an do not polish them with oil, as it will damage the paint. The best solution is to place your icon into an icon case, which will protect it from dust and adverse impact of external factors. You should also consider putting an icon into an icon case as a way to protect it from mechanical damage made by public veneration.
You can order any icon in our icon painting workshop, either by giving us your own specimen, or by choosing an icon from our archives, some of which are presented in this catalogue (family icons, church icons, wedding icons, namesake icons, measure icons, etc.)
Please note that the final prices of the painted icons in our catalogue may differ from the quoted ones, depending on your location and method of delivery. We will contact you after you place an order confirming your order and specifying its final cost.
Learn more about the Icon Painting Workshop of St. Elisabeth Convent
Important! If you do not see an icon you would like in our catalog you can email us for a custom order: email@example.com