February 4, 2018
The two icons have reached a place where both are established as to mutual and differential design. Now I am in the stretch where continued development continues towards completions.
The landscape icon will also have a blue halo and inscription. The floral images and symbols are representational of Rose's own artworks. The landscape icon (which is representational of Fraser Lake in Lejac) will also have an ornamental design from her one tabernacle veil, as part of the painted frame. Rose's prayer book will include Hymn No.5 in the language of the Carrier Nation.
And one word of caution: the faces have not been developed yet. At this time, it was about getting the shapes correctly, based on her photo from the DVD about Rose Of The Carrier. I then also realized that I would not have enough mixed skin colour for two icons. Skin tones are so complex as it requires lots of paint, and many colours. You need to proceed in small gradations as you can easily go too far when adding a colour and then you've created a more complex problem of trying to correct in the opposite direction. Sometimes you succeed, but there are times when you don't, and just end up with a batch of muddy colour. Now, because I use the Golden High Load Archival paints, which are hugely expensive, that is a result to be avoided.
January 29, 2018
I am pleased to report that after the long haul on the one icon, the final phase of restoring the background was successful and got the gold leaf in place this afternoon.
As usual, I always need to move everything around to create a plastic hood to keep dust, lint or cat hair (and needless to say, the cat) from settling on the oil size while it sets to tack. It becomes a bit of a sauna while working inside the hood, both for applying the oil size or for applying the gold.
Now that it is in place, I'll examine it tonight to see if there are any spots where the leaf hasn't stuck, and then let the leaf and size set for 2 days before I can burnish it and then do the halo and inscription etc. before I can seal the gold. Once sealed, it is a bit more forgiving in order to continue painting.
January 26, 2018
Some journeys are more convoluted then others, especially from the practical sense. Not having a functioning furnace this winter, basic things such as drying times takes on a whole new meaning. And doing two large icons at the same time within a smaller studio poses its other challenges. But having improvised through the years, and sometimes feeling like I'm tripping over myself and constantly moving things around, I move forward. The two icons also gave two very different requirements, in that one has to go through all the added steps of being prepared for gold leafing, and the other requires a painted landscape.
A cat barrier is required so that the Gold Size can set without a cat accidentally jumping up on it (and minimize air movement on the surface), and I now need to work on the landscape icon, while it is laying flat.
The armchair on the right is basically what consists as my living room at the moment.
January 15, 2018
Vancouver Sun, December 20, 2017
January 14, 2018
Seeing that 8 days have flown by since my last entry, I felt that you are still left waiting for a visual of these icons. I don't have a great picture yet as, even now, I'm still going back and forth between the two icons and making more alteration decisions as I go: replacement, size, and colours.
And with the 2 icons being so different, I need to sort through these changes before I can begin the full on writing of the icon. And major changes during the writing would damage the work done if I needed to sand down areas for the change. I can't just paint over what I need to change as the previous layers will show through as a texture through the new paint, lines especially. It has to be sanded down to the gesso so that I don't feel any texture.
With the icon which will have the painted background, I also needed to work out the inscription etc. at this point so that I can just develop the landscape without trying to work around these. I had to develop the circular inscription onto the icon before copying it onto vellum. I also decided that the artwork monogram needed to be lowered to free the area for the inscription. I sanded and painted out what I had done, and decided to tape them on the same vellum. Towards the end when I am nearing completion, I can then transfer these last things onto the landscape. The other icon which will be gilded, the inscription will be as usual and can be applied later. But I also draft that onto vellum in order to trace it onto the gold.
The key problem that required working back and forth between the 2 icons was Rose's dress. I had originally started with a rose colour because of the gold. But the rose didn't look right on the landscape icon. I took a day to change the one dress to a light powder blue, but really disliked how that turned out. I then took another day to change the dress pattern to the cream/ochre pallet. I felt that this was the best option in representing Rose's dress which is seen in the one picture that people are familiar with. But before starting to change the colours on the other dress, I needed to see it with some colour blocked in for her rose paintings along the bottom. It did confirm that the floral patterns on her dress could not have rose and blue colours, but needed to be done in the same cream/ochre pallet. With this confirmation, I could then proceed with changing the dress colour on the other icon.
Why so much complexity? Yes, the two icons will have completely different looks to them, but Rose's image needed to be the same. It needed to work within either background.
I'll be redeveloping that today.
I hope this photo isn't disappointing. I would understand if you had been expecting something more developed by this point, as did I. The challenge with a commission of a completely newly designed icon, is that it is completely dependent on the amount of available information for the prototype, and finding the right path for an icon and not a painting. The fee remains the same no matter how long the project ends up taking (becoming a challenge for the home budget). ;-) But it is all part of commission work. You factor in a client's need and make assumptions as best possible, on what the design requirements may become.
Notes on the picture;
- You see the vellum on the landscape painting with the inscription and artwork designs. I can then store this vellum for later.
- The halo in the landscape icon will be done in thin glazes so that you can see the landscape through it.
- Other then some base colours, I haven't begun developing any of the icon yet.
- The face is typically the last thing to be painted on the icons, being the most important. I will be using the 2 images as my referral, as seen on the one easel.
So, I now need to get down to writing and I may not be able to post an updated photo for a while. I'll plan on posting a picture or two when the icons get passed the 1/2 way mark. It will be after this point where I will need to begin the gold leafing process on the one icon.
An added footnote: New to me this winter, is the fact that keeping a fire going in the wood stove and working in the studio are not compatible. I have my back to the stove and once I get working, I'll find that the fire is almost out and then priorities change to trying to get it restarted. :-) So a wood stove is an ongoing art form throughout the day, until the evening when it goes out and it gets time to get under all the bedding for the night.
January 5, 2018
I did say that the process would be fluid... As I was staring to block in the colour for the sweater, it was back to the drawing board.
In the first stages of designs, I had designed the sweater as buttoned at the top, but it appeared as though Rose had no neck. But after opening up the sweater and changing the positioning of her head as facing more to the left, I was seeing the opened sweater as a problem when adding its base colour. After speaking with Father Laboucane this morning, it was better to return to buttoning the top button as how Rose typically wore her sweater.
So, the January 4th drawings are already out of date. :-) Will keep you posted once I've added the block colours, and the further adjustments those present.
January 4, 2018
Well, almost 1 month since this project began, so much time goes in to the research, development, working and re-working drawings, and reaching confirmations, before you can actually get to this point with a new design. Even after getting the design transposed onto each board, there are still adjustments to make, and again after inking in the designs. This icon has a few critical factors, one being Rose's deformity from her childhood back injury. The key is to honor the curved spine and head position, while not making the icon all about the deformity and losing the essence of Rose in the process.
The text on the open pages of the prayer book, that she used to teach the
children, will be Hymn 5 in the Carrier language.
I know that there will be notes as to other adjustment recommendations, but at this point, the design and development will be a fluid process. Having the boards prepped and the designs inked in, I can now begin the journey of writing; staring by blocking in the mid tone colours. That is when I make the colour choices that work best together as a whole.
The main reference picture that I will be using for this icon.
January 1. 2017
Happy New year to all.
It is always a treat when things go well. Even though colder outside, I was able to get both icon panels prepped today and ready for transposing the image onto the respective full scale grids on each panel. Once those are done, I can ink in each image. Once that Is done, I can finally post pictures of the designs in this Journal. It's taken a bit longer then planned due to the weather and a furnace being out of order, but the projects move along in any case.
December 28, 2017
The plan for today is to get the panels sanded, then add the frame to the one that will be gilded. Once the glue has set, I can seal the wood with a coat of thinned gel medium. Once that is fully dry, I will be doing the most tedious part in my iconography - working fast in adhering the muslin on the panels, working out the air pockets before the gel medium sets, especially within the inside corners of the frame... Caution: wear latex gloves! After that, both panels will need to set. That will likely take longer then usual because of the cooler temperatures and with only a wood stove. I'm hoping that the muslin will be dry enough tomorrow to trim off the excess muslin and then give the panels their initial sanding before starting the first coats of gesso.
December 21, 2017
I know that many of you are checking in to see any further news on the design for the icon(s). With all the adjustments along the way as I find new photographs, the image of Rose Of The Carrier won't be absolutely finalized until I've transposed the design to scale onto the actual icon boards. During that transposing, that is when I make all the corrections (facial etc.) as it is now in actual scale and will become the icon(s).
Again, there are two icons to be written.
The image is designed based primarily on 2 photos of Rose standing. The one image that everyone is familiar with is the one of her reclining outdoors. The dress pattern in that photo was impossible to decipher. I was thrilled when I received the one photo of her from Therese Seiner and Father Vince in Lajac, as seen in the attached photo. I then received the DVD about Rose, There was a quick shot of her during the DVD, also standing, but in the patterned dress. So I was able to return to that dress as I could now see the overall pattern.
The gilded icon will include her Carrier prayerbook and her painted roses. In the other icon with a painted background, it will include scenery from her region, and more of her artwork on her altar linens. In this icon, the inscription of her name will follow the rim of her halo, which will be blue instead of red. But here again, in the transposing, and once having worked out the drafting for it, the letters will be smaller.
With Christmas fast approaching, I hope to get the icons boards prepped so that I can begin the gesso process right after Christmas (a messy, dusty procedure). Once I get the images transposed and inked in on the boards, I can then take a picture of each to post in this journal.
Thank you for your interest and support in this project. This blog has a comment option at the bottom.
December 19, 2017
Nearing completion and approval for each icon design. I was scheduled to go in to Nanaimo today to get the Baltic Birch panels cut but with the amount of snow overnight, it will have to wait a day or so until the roads are safer. With Christmas so close, I hope to at least get the panels started, with the molding added to the one icon. Adhering the muslin and adding the gesso will have to wait until after our Christmas Dinner. Once the 9 coats of gesso are added and sanded, I can begin transposing the designs on the gessoed surfaces. And, once I've inked in the designs, I can take photos for each and will post on this journal. That will likely be around the 29th/30th?
December 16, 2017
I had reworked a second design for Rose Prince's image after receiving a photograph which better reflected her posture because of her back injury, but it left questions in sorting through some of the distortions for the design. But I received the DVD 'Uncorrupted, The story of Rose Price' this Thursday, which in itself was very helpful in getting to know the region she was from and hearing the interviews with those who had known her. Within the video, there were two pictures of her I hadn't seen before. One especially provided more answers in how to proceed. So I will be reworking a third design for final approval. Once I reach that point, I can then prepare the icon board this week and once ready, I can transfer the image onto it (hopefully before Christmas). Once inked in, I can post a picture of it in the journal.
December 11, 2017
"Rose Prince - Beginnings
Rose Prince was born in Fort St. James, BC, Canada in 1915 of the Dakelh First Nation also known as the Carrier Nation. Her father, Jean-Marie Prince, the son of a Chief, was a devout Catholic who helped the priest with translation, prayers and singing. He was known as ‘Church Chief’. People remember Rose’s mother, Agathe, as a very beautiful and kind woman.
Agathe had been brought up by the Sisters of the Child Jesus and she and Jean-Marie met while they were students at the Residential School. They were married and returned to Fort St. James eventually having nine children. Rose was the third child and she first attended the little school at Stuart Lake. In 1922 she went to the newly re-built residential school at Lejac which was run by the Sisters of the Child Jesus. The Lejac Residential School was named after Father Jean-Marie Lejac, an Oblate of Mary Immaculate missionary who co-founded the mission at Fort St. James in 1873.
Her mother died of influenza when Rose was seventeen and her father re-married. After graduation, Rose asked to stay on at the residential school. One source says that her step-mother did not accept her so she didn’t feel comfortable at home, another says that she liked the peace at the school and wanted to be of use there. She used her gifts as a seamstress, cook and substitute teacher. Rose was very artistic and created beautiful embroidered Church linens and hand-made cards with her paintings of flowers which she gave to the Sisters and other friends.
As a child. Rose had been injured which resulted in a back deformity making it difficult for her to walk and kneel. It may have also caused her considerable pain but her contemporaries say she never complained. Her friends describe her as gentle and humble and she was said to have a keen sense of humour. Other children would often come to her for advice. During school years she was known as an excellent student and would help the younger children with their homework and encourage them to read books. She loved the prayers and hymns in the Carrier language which had been written by Father Adrian Maurice and when she wasn’t working could often be found in the chapel. But her life was ‘ordinary’ and others did not see her as very much different than themselves.
Sickness and Death
When she was in her thirties, Rose contracted tuberculosis, a disease which was very common in all the population of Western Canada at that time and for which there was no treatment except rest and fresh air. Gradually she grew weaker until she was confined to her bed and unable to work. In August of 1949, she was admitted to the hospital in Vanderhoof, BC. Her brother, Paul, was with her. She asked to see the Sisters and Father Mulvihill who celebrated a Mass for her in the hospital chapel. After she received Holy Communion that evening she died. She was only thirty-four. A few days later she was buried in the cemetery at Lejac.
In 1951 four gravediggers were re-locating several graves near the Residential School at Lejac, BC (900 km north of Vancouver) as they were too close to a barn. When one of the caskets accidentally broke open the men were astonished to see that the body of the young woman inside was uncorrupted even though it had been buried two years ago. They opened the other caskets and these bodies had decomposed normally. The uncorrupted body was that of Rose Prince."
December 9, 2017
I am pleased to announce that another icon commission has been confirmed, two actually, and the design process is underway. Both icons are of 'Rose Of The Carrier'. I am grateful for the information provided by the collaborators of these projects. Each icon will be for two separate locations.
The one icon will be done as a traditionally gilded icon, while the other will have a painted background, similarly to my other First Nations Icons.
I will be adding entries along the way, as to the progress of each icon.