Last night I sat bouncing Bernadette as I was painting the bodily layers of the icon. Layers are so important, no matter what medium an artist is working with. What colors you use to layer (keeping in mind oil content, translucency of the colors), as well as choosing when to layer and when not to, or how thick or thin the paint you are layering is – all these have a great impact on the end result of the work. Of course, different mediums behave differently. Oil paints, for instance, take many weeks to dry. Artists can therefore mold the paint while wet, as well as dry (an interesting note: The Mona Lisa was painted in such a way that no brush strokes can be detected. In other words, Da Vinci really “molded” the paint with his layers; he didn’t let the paint dry while working on it). With egg tempera, however, it is easier to add layers when they are dry – attempting to add wet upon wet often results in pulling up the layers beneath. Acrylic can be used in a similar way to oil paint if the paint is thick (though it dries much more quickly), and it can also be thinned out and used like egg tempera. What an artist does with his paint and layering changes depending on the medium and the end result he is trying to achieve at a given time.
But what I find most fascinating about layers is how each layer adds more depth to a painting or icon. When one begins an icon, the faces are brown and monotone, perhaps ugly. As you add layers, ending with the white lights on the limbs, the icon comes to life.
The point of layering is not to cover up what is underneath, but to bring out what is underneath to its full potential, transforming what is ugly into what is beautiful. Every layer can add to the beauty of the final product if the painting is left in the hands of a capable artist.
Similarly, God can mold out any evil or wickedness within us, and untwist the twisted – and the end result will be better than when we were newborn babes. Every tragedy and sin in our lives can make us better people. How fortunate that only God knows eternity. Our duty is see every person as potentially our mates in the Kingdom, whether it be Hitler, or the bum on the street. They are our brothers. They were once little babies that could have been bounced on their mother’s lap as she painted. Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on us and preserve us from all sin!
|Look how different they are!|