Every Monday, I will add something to my icon-style painting of Holy Mary:
Every time I add to her, I learn something new. It's a lot to take in. First, I learn about technique.
Iconography is not quick, although there are some steps where the artist must be deft with a brush. Here, I'm learning about gilding, which is the process of applying gold. Mary's halo is 23 karat gold, applied in very thin leaves like decals. If you look closely, you can see red. The red is a special undercoat which both helps the gold to adhere to the wooden board beneath as well as adding a stronger lustre to the gold itself. Traditional technique involves using powdered gold in suspension, but I am not at the level of expertise that I can use that form. Gold leaf is troublesome and expensive enough to use as it is.
The next I learn is from my mistakes, of which I seem to be discovering all of them that are possible. Paint too thick, paint too thin, paint too fast, paint too slow: each has its own irrevocable effect on how the piece will turn out. I miss my "undo" button. I don't mind the mistakes, though, as long as I learn from them and have a chance to correct them.
The last I learn from is from within myself. Painting something so profound so slowly allows me to think a lot about what I am doing. Mostly, I am trying to concentrate on technique. But I do think about my subject. Of course she is not a true, lifelike depiction of the original Mary, nor is she supposed to be. But it is daunting to paint this immaculate woman, when I have my own massive catalogue of sins, with numerous appendixes fully cross-referenced. And I found out that some faiths consider the painting of icons to be idolatry, if the artist is not sanctioned by the bishop. So I bring one more sin to the table, and an exotic one at that, one most people outside of the Old Testament just don't get around to anymore.