July 17, 2018
I let the icon set for 2 days and gave it a last burnish today before starting on the inscription, halo, and edges that were lost with the gilding. The inscription took some time to determine; always thankful for being able to play with font and sizes on the computer. I need to do the inscription etc. before I can protect the gold leaf with a sealer, which makes for some very careful handling as the gold scratches at nothing. Basically, any paint has to be applied directly onto the gold in order to adhere properly, and then the protective sealer can be added.
The inscription is "St. Juan Diego, Cuauhtlatoatzin". His birth name was Cuauhtlatoatzin ("the talking eagle") in Cuautlitlán, today part of Mexico City.
Now that the gilding is done, I can return to painting the icon. I estimate that I'm around the 65% complete mark.
July 15, 2018
Well, that worked out well. I didn't have to do that one extra coat of gold size as the surface was OK as it was. And even though its 31C outside, the portable AC unit helped enough to make gilding possible. Some heat while gilding works so much better then trying to gild in the freezing cold in winter. With the heat, the drying time was perfect.
I used Italian Patent 23K XX Deep Gold Leaf for this icon. Now that the gilding is in place, I need to let everything set over the next few days before I can proceed. I've assembled an enclosure with plastic sheeting around the icon to protect it from my 'studio' cat.
July 14, 2018
Have had a few 'life' bumps along the way since my last posting, but I thought it was time to add an update. The icon is progressing. But with the need to protect the miraculous image from paint drops etc., because of the glazing that was using for the rays, it became apparent yesterday that I need to begin preparing the background for the gold leafing. To do so, I sanded the red bole surfaces with a fine grit paper, and then gave the surface its first coat of gold size. The icon will need to set for another day before the gold size is completely dry. Once dry, I will need to cover the miraculous image to protect it, then carefully sand the sized surface with 400 grit paper. Depending on the finished surface, after removing any residue with tack cloth, I can go one of two ways: give it a second coat of size to let it fully dry once again, or do the second coat to let it dry to tack in 3 hours, and do the gold leafing.
Why a second coat to dry? It depends on the results from the first coat and sanding. It may be ready to proceed to the gold leafing. If not, it would help fill in any remaining minor imperfections in the surface and provide a hard, smooth surface to enhance the gold leaf's metallic look.
June 30, 2018
The icon board was ready for the image, and the transfer has been done, and the image inked in. Now I can begin working on the base colours. Yes, the halo is wonky but I'll sort out the final centre point when I prep the background for gold leafing. It is only at that time that I etch the halo into the gesso.
June 28, 2018
Took some time today, while waiting for gesso to dry, to draft the actual size design. There are few tweaks to be done, but it is essentially ready for when the board is completed.
June 28, 2018
After the 6th coat of gesso and 2 sandings. 3 more coats to go and 2 more sandings with a fine grit.
June 26, 2018;
I've been able to get started with the construction and preparation of the icon board for the St. Juan Diego icon. The 'messy' part has been done, and to wait for the gel medium to set and dry. Latex gloved are a must, as the gel medium is hard to get off your skin when dry. No matter how often you've done this step, is is always tedious, and you have to work fast before it begins to dry, working the muslin in and around all corners.
Tomorrow, after I deliver the 2 recent paintings to JD Stevenson Gallery, I can then trim the excess muslin off the board and begin the gesso/sanding process: 9 coats.
June 21, 2018:
The next icon commission for St. Thomas Aquinas High School will be of St. Juan Diego, as part of a series of Indigenous icons. A design is in place and I am preparing to begin constructing the 24"x28" panel out of 3/4" Baltic Birch Plywood, which will be followed by adhered the muslin and applying the 9 coats of gesso. This icon is a bit wider then the other in order to allow for the miraculous image of Our Lady of Guadalupe on his mantle.