Special focus of my creative work is on iconography as an inseparable part of my artistic expression. Icon has a special place in religious practices of Orthodox Christian believers. According to Florovsky, an icon is a window to the Kingdom of God. It always depicts a historical character or an event transposed to the state of heavenly kingdom, as well as mortal historical context transformed into immortality and eternity. There is a legend that the first icon depicting the Mother of God and Jesus Christ was painted by the holy Apostle Luke. Furthermore, the earliest depictions of saints from the catacombs in Rome were frescoes of Christ as the Good Shepherd and the Mother of God, as well as the icons of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul. Throughout history, icon has passed through various stylistic changes, but in the Orthodox Christian world of today the neo-Byzantine style of painting is largely upheld with its traditional egg tempera applied on a wooden board with the background gilded with gold leaf.
I paint icons on a prepared linden board which is carved on the front side and which has reinforcements on the back, usually with an emulsion of egg tempera because of its transparency and color fastness. I apply paint in several layers thus building character from the stage of basic sanquir application (proplasmos stage) to retracing the final white highlights (finishing stage). Gilding takes place before the brush painting phase when there is only pencil-drawn saint or a scene on the board by transferring gold leaf onto either oil-based or water-based mixtion-adhesive or red bole, in which case the gild can be burnished or (polished with an agate polisher). Upon finishing the gilding and painting phases, the halo is traced with a brush and the name of the saint or the religious holiday are written in calligraphic letters as precisely as possible. After the icon is completed, it dries for at least a week before it is polished with a wax-based polish which is applied heated by means of a brush or spraying.
As in the case of making mosaics, I paint icons single-handedly without a template replicating the long ago ascertained look of the saints. In case I am supposed to paint a saint that has not been depicted before, I consult his hagiography and create the look of the saint based on the details from it.