Revd. Bechtold is a native of the U.S.A. yet whilst serving us spiritually here in the U.K. for a number of Years. He looked after four churches, two of which were built in the eleventh century.
Favouring the art of the Orthodox church, and at the same time cherishing medieval Anglicanism; he asked me to create an Icon which reflected a combination of these, with the suggestion that it also appear aged, "and Ancient".
This fitted with his experience of having been pastor of a number of listed churches, imbued with centuries of prayer; and of his happy memories of visits to the shrine at Walsingham.
Icon boards are covered with a solution of diluted animal gelatin. This is applied to the board while the solution or size is warm, which helps the glue to Penetrate the wood grain.
Over this is laid a linen cloth soaked in the natural glue, as it cures the cloth stiffens, and can be trimmed to size..
The gesso mixture can now be applied to the board to create a ground for the painting. The gesso is applied in several layers. Each layer is sanded when cured to make it smooth.
The gesso layers represent the perfection of heaven in some Eastern traditions. When executed properly, these gesso layers can last centuries; sometimes when the board has decayed, the gesso layer and "Pavaloka" (Linen cloth) can be removed to conserve the artwork, and re- mounted onto another board.
Some icons have a raised edge rather like a modern picture frame, this is know as a Kovtcheg, and to the spirituality of the Eastern tradition represents a transitional space between heaven and earth.
The name of "windows to heaven" used to describe icons, is not so much because they appear as an image seen through the frame of a window; but as a means of our seeing God more clearly, by means of contemplation.
The finished icon of Our Lady of Walsingham, was rendered in oils, with a distressed and tooled finish to the gold surface as requested by the Reverend .
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