Packing it in on the icon for today. Not feeling well today, and it is 7pm after all. Been working on the flooring and arch of the design the last few days, getting the patterns and colours to work to my satisfaction. Will be back at it tomorrow.
Pretty exhausted today after my trip to the Island yesterday to pack up my 'Journeying With The Totems' series. I needed to take today to just veg and try to recoup. I jump back into the Centenary Icon tomorrow, very aware that I only have 23 days before the icon is scheduled for shipping to Winnipeg. A very stressful time given the the design discussions have been lengthier then hoped or planned. The 21 days include the 5 days that I will need for the gold leafing process, in a confined space that I still need to find a solution for. This is such a large and complex icon. I hope to post a picture here very soon, after I've had a few days to move forward with the writing in general, and resolving the background landscape requirements within an icon.
My very expensive installment of archival quality paint has arrived, minus the Cadmium Red that is still to come. It has more then doubled in price over the last few years and no longer available on Canadian Art Suppliers' shelves. How much you ask? For this shipment of 9 - 16 oz jars along with the Red still to come, came out to $1300 after a good discount.
It can only be special ordered directly from Golden in the States now. It technically hasn't been discontinued but you have to pay through the nose to get it. Some of my favorite colours like Phtalo Blue and Cadmium Red Dark can't be ordered anymore. :-(
And people don't believe you when they ask you about your costs... But this High Load paint can't be compared to the regular acrylic paints. Its signature is a much greater % of pigment in the paint. You can use a fair bit of water without losing the intensity of the colours, and it doesn't fade over time. I work very thinly in my style.
The design for the main focus of the icon is in place, with the mix of represenatives of historical figures and cultural groups. Now begins the process of blocking in (and changing) base colours for everyone depicted, keeping a balance between the whole icon. The base colours are not necessarily final but they give me a direction from which I can mix the larger quantities for all the lighter or darker shades as I move along. This process is always interesting for me, in how colours that worked in other icons, don't in another. They will appear as a totally different colour when set next to others: blues or greys looking purple or green, etc.
This is also a time when I get a better sense of the positive and negative space as, once the base colours are in place, I can clearly see what available space there is for the background landscape that still needs to be plotted. This too will need to be blocked in as I continue writing this icon. The current plan is to gold leaf anything that you see in red (red bole): the frame, the 3 halos, and whatever becomes the sky over the landscape. The red bole also informs me as to the available space for the icon's background.
This is very much in the preliminary stages of an icon. There is much to be done. Actually, this is the most complex icon that I will have written, in the short period of time. Excluding the 5 - 6 days for gold leafing and drying times, I basically have 30 - 31 days. There will be some long days.
Nearing the completion of the main design, and I have been able to ink all but a few on the right side. I hope to have the final pieces confirmed tomorrow and then I can begin to write this icon. I am running out of time and this is one of the most complex icons I've done in this size. As you can see, the size of this icon is stretching the limits of my current studio.
The design process is moving forward. I think the overall design composition is nearing approval, with a bit of switching some of the placements for some of the personages depicted. Everything is currently on gridded velum paper which is on top of the board. Much easier making changes on paper. I am hoping to transfer the Holy Family image onto the board by Monday, ink it in and then start choosing and block in the block colours for that. I only have 5 weeks to complete this icon. I can transfer the images of the persons on either side as soon as they are confirmed.
Progress is underway in both refining the design for the icon, along with working out the scale sized drawings for each section. Bear with me as you wait for progress photos, but in fairness to the archdiocese, approval for any section(s) of the designs are required before i can share with all of you.
It should be coming very soon. After all, I have a April 22nd deadline that needs to be met, so time is of the essence...and flying by much too quickly.
Got the front of the icon board sealed and added 3 coats of gesso yesterday. But before I can continue (and I am headed to the Island tomorrow for a few days for the painting exhibit reception), I needed to flip the board onto its front and seal and paint the back of the board. It can be left this way while I'm away in order to completely dry.
That protects the board from any warping over the period that I am writing it. It is not as critical when using 3/4" birch plywood along with the 1/4" front frame, but the stresses of an unfinished side leaves it open to drying or absorbing moisture, and warping because of it. That is why I also build a proper support easel for a piece this size, again to avoid stresses on the board when resting against an uneven surface.
Before I flip it back again, although seemly a backward process, I also need to add my monogram, year, and any inscription on the back, even before writing the icon. Why? It's a logistical problem. Once the icon is written and the gold leafing is done, for a piece this size, it is far too risky to lay the icon on its front to add the inscriptions at the end.
This is what I'm up against in trying to prepare a large icon board in a very small condo studio. With a lot of shifting, I have a 14" work space on one side at a time (at most). I need to plan my strategy for adhering the muslin on the front surface, factoring that it has to be done very fast (and working out air pockets) before the gel medium dries. This is a hateful process under the best of circumstance where I've had ample room all around in my previous studios.