Better photograph of the St. Thomas Aquinas Icon
22" x 28"
This texts within the book are:
1) on the main page: 'Panis angelicus'
2) on the small fragmented page: 'Pange, lingua'
The crest is a traditional sunburst crest for St. Thomas Aquinas with the acronym of the name of Jesus Christ 'IHS'
The sunburst and background of the icon are in 23K Gold leaf.
The icon will be installed within the Chapel of St. Thomas Aquinas Regional Secondary School in North Vancouver BC.
I'm happy to report that the St. Thomas Aquinas Icon has been completed, other then one final coat of sealer. Once the sealer is fully set, I will try to improvise a way to get a better photograph of it, now that I am minus my wall easel.
It will be then packed and delivered on Wednesday. Chris Campbell, Vice Principal at St. Thomas Aquinas Regional Secondary School, will meet me at the Horseshoe Bay terminal to pick it up and then I will turn around and catch the next ferry back to Nanaimo. Chris and I go back a long way to when we were fellow teachers at STA. At the time, I taught Art, Drama, Western Civilization, Apologetics, and Morality and Ethics.
While teaching at STA in the 80s, I had written an early icon of St. Thomas Aquinas for the school.
5/15/2016 Nearing Completion
The icon of St. Thomas Aquinas is nearing completion and I should be able to get it to Horseshoe Bay for pickup by this coming Friday, allowing for a few days for the varnish to fully dry before wrapping it.
I'm taking it one day at a time, aware that much needs to get done, and timelines to meet. This particular move had an added component, even though having more living space for my son and I, I didn't have adequate storage for my reference books, archives, etc. I've had to be brutal in my purging (which began when we ran out of space on the rented truck on April 1st). 27 days later, most of the boxes have been dealt with, even though there are still some things that I haven't found yet. Every square inch of available storage space is used up, and I have enough garbage and paper recycling to fill the van.
I was finally at a point yesterday where I could safely unpack both the St. Thomas Aquinas icon and the Thomas Merton icon. I can now gradually get back to writing those, knowing that I have two critical items to take care of as well; filing my 2015 taxes (which I still need to sort through) and preparation of my submission for the upcoming Sooke juried Art Show this summer. The booklet of Patent Palladium (25 - 3"x3" sheets) arrived yesterday for the Thomas Merton icon. It will be an interesting introduction to working with Palladium. I'd always avoided any silver leaf or white gold as both tarnish. But Palladium has a silver finish and doesn't tarnish. But it will be a different process as i will need to use a different base colour other then the traditional red bole for gold. One question that I need to check into is the sealer that I use. It is pretty clear and has very little colour to it when new. But all varnishes darken a bit with time, which is fine for gold leaf, and I'll need to test it on a sample to see if it alters the silver finish. If so, I will have to order a new sealer from Calgary.
My new studio space is definitely different from the one in my previous condo, but as with all spaces, there are pros and cons to each. There have been a few trade-offs.
- My new studio space is less defined but the living room nook is adjustable as required.
- I have lots of natural light whereas my previous studio had none. My studio table has a northern window and the easel area has an eastern exposure.
- I have no way of adding track lighting in the new space but I've improvised 2 mic stands with clip-on halogen flood lights which may be a bit too bright but I can adjust their positions as I need.
4/14/2016 Underestimating moving
I was being too optimistic in my assumptions as to when I would be adequately 'moved in' so as to continue my art work. In one sense, our new home has more space which finally allows my son to have his own private space, but the main living room / studio space is smaller and with less storage. So naturally, it takes longer to do further purging and to reconfigure the use of space and lighting, while creating/finding storage options in my bedroom etc.
It didn't help having to leave key things and furnishings behind with this move, having run out of space in the rented truck. And funds are such that I won't be able to replace most of them until there are further art sales and commissions. But I remain hopeful that my followers will continue spreading the word about my work, and sales and commissions will continue.
The paintings from the 'Journeying With The Totems' series, and the 2 icon commissions in progress, have all safely made it through the move.
Now that I am residing on Vancouver Island, I now can begin introducing myself and networking within the local arts communities, galleries, surrounding Byzantine and Latin Churches, and presenting submissions for exhibitions and juried art shows.
The gold leafing phase has been completed, and now back to writing the icon. The count down to have the icon completed is on.
With a job interview coming up on Tuesday, this was a good time to do the first coat of gold size on both the St. Thomas Aquinas and Thomas Merton icons. That will give the size 2 days to fully set. So, starting this Wednesday, I will sand all red boles surfaces.
This is the first coat which is important for the next step. It seals the red bole surfaces with a hard finish, which can be sanded with a very fine grade sandpaper. While setting, the gold size also pools into the small imperfections in the red role. While sanding, it is easy to see any remaining imperfections, which may be taken care of with more sanding with a 400+ sandpaper. On occasion, if I am not satisfied with the quality of finish, I will decide to do another coat of gold size after thoroughly removing and dust or grit. If so, then it adds another 2 days before I can sand once again.
Once satisfied, I can proceed to the next step in preparing for the gold leafing. The Thomas Merton icon itself will have to wait for the leafing as the Palladium will have to be special ordered once I have the funds to do so.
Yes, I am managing to get time on St. Thomas Aquinas's icon.
I want to get the icon to a point where I can get to work on the gold leafing. That takes at least 4 days on average. I'd like to begin that this coming Wednesday, so that come next Sunday, I can continue writing the icon.
Got the main colours blocked in, the halo etched in, and the red bole put in. The red is the underlay wherever there will be be gold leaf applied. Now the work begins in developing the image.
I picked up the Baltic Ply that I had cut to size, and the oak molding that needed right angled bevels. Now the task to build the frame on the Baltic ply.
Of course, I was suppose to be moved by now, so things like my box of assorted clamps is buried in storage! Luckily, I had kept 4 clamps. So the process, along with a left elbow wrapped in a tensor bandage (painful Golfer's Elbow), is slow.
With 4 clamps, I can only do one side of the frame at a time and wait for the glue to set before the next one. Also, with the Golfer's Elbow, it is difficult to hold the molding in place on the miter, and oak is a hard wood. The plan is to get the frame cut and glued in place so that it can set until tomorrow afternoon.
I'm having to use my dining table as a work bench as it's the only thing I can use with the ongoing viewings. On the condo sale front, I finally have another offer, but unlike the original offer that was above asking in November, this one is under asking. Hurts my options on the Island, but after 3 months, I hope this one works out. The potential buyer is having a home inspection done tomorrow at 9AM! So I will have to pack everything up again tonight. I won't know until the 9th whether the sale is confirmed or not.
Feb. 7, 2016Got the framing done for both the 22"x28" STA commission, and also a 11"x14" for a Calgary commission. The plan for this afternoon is to tackle my least favorite stage of adhering the muslin to the board. It's a messy job with acrylic medium (laytex gloves absolutely required) and you need to work fast before it begins to dry. You have to keep working your hands over all surfaces to avoid air pockets, which is especially tedious with the inner edges of the raised frame. You then check it as it dries and sets to make sure that it is well adhered.
Adhering muslin - Feb. 7, 2016Tackled the larger icon board this evening. You need to keep an eye on it as it dries and sets, as it will often come up with a surprise or two; in how it shrinks, or air pockets just come up unexpectedly. The inside corners of the framing always need tucking in as the muslin dries as it will often lift a bit because of the stresses of working the cloth into a recessed corner while being stretched along the outer sides and corners.
Now to let it fully dry overnight, before I can trim the excess. and apply the first 2 coats of gesso...and then the sanding and gesso layers have begun.
Gessoing - Feb. 8, 2016The gesso process has begun.
The first 2 layers of gesso coat and seal the muslin, in the same manner that a regular canvas would be prepared. After letting these first coats fully dry, I need to sand all gessoed surfaces to smooth out any texture(s) left by the muslin, acrylic gel medium and gesso. It is important to do this from the beginning as these will only get worse as you go along, contrary to the smooth finish you are wanting to achieve.
This will be repeated after every successive two coats of gesso. There is never less then 7 - 8 coats applied to the board before it is ready for the prototype to be transferring onto it.
The commission for the icon of St. Thomas Aquinas High School is confirmed and just sorting the final payment details. The icon of St. Thomas Aquinas will be 22" x 28" and to be installed in the school's Chapel in North Vancouver, BC. The goal is to get it completed before the eventual move to Vancouver Island, and around the upcoming exhibition of the Journeying With The Totems series (which opens Feb. 16th in Mission BC).
The icon will be traditionally prepared; inset wood board covered in muslin and gesso, written in archival acrylic paints, and leafed with 23K patent gold. It will be based on an original design which I prepared for an earlier ordination gift icon last year.