If you are like I am, you're curious about the method for painting icons. You've heard that there are steps and that it is a process of devotion. You've heard that icons are supposed to be "windows to heaven," not ordinary pictures. How does one open a window to heaven?
To be honest, in one way I don't know. There are probably many methods and many different schedules of prayer and painting and fasting.
But in another way, St. John of the Cross tells us that to clear a window for heavenly light to pass through, we must be detached from earthly things. So, to successfully paint an icon is to cling more closely to God throughout the process and to grow in love and purity. (Easier said than done? You bet.)
- Preparing the board: three coats of white paint (1Q106A1, A2, A3). Icons painted according to old traditions have white gesso instead of white acrylic paint.
- Painting the sides in brown (1Q106A4).
- Transfer of the line drawing to the blank board (1Q107A1)
- Painting the halo gold (1Q107A2). Isn't this interesting, that the first color to be placed on the board is the halo? In more traditional icons, the halo (and sometimes the background!) is gilded after application of red clay bole.
- Painting a red line around the halo (1Q107A3).
Here are some gems from the Summa:
"...the other kinds of enlightenment that proceed from man or angel [i.e. all teaching of any truth] are, as it were, dispositions to this ultimate form [God]."
"...to him it belongs to change the will, to whom it belongs to bestow righteousness: for righteousness is the rightness of the will. But God alone bestows righteousness."
"...the angel's will is ever regulated by the Divine law which made the order in the angels..."
"The ecclesiastical hierarchy is derived from and represents the heavenly hierarchy."
"...the tongue of an angel is metaphorically called the angel's power, whereby he manifests his mental concept."
"The angels are ever speaking to God in the sense of praising and admiring Him and His works; but they speak to Him by consulting Him about what ought to be done whenever they have to perform any new work, concerning which they desire enlightenment."