I spent last week in Mobile, Alabama. It looked a lot like this:
My mom and I were there for an icon painting workshop at the Visitation Monastery of Mobile, a classic late 1800s Old South-style compound with the most gorgeous courtyard full of the classic vegetation of the region: palmettos, dogwoods, magnolias, and of course live oaks dripping with Spanish moss.
It was great to be out of the cold, wet, snowy mess that is spring in Buffalo for a little bit. The azaleas were blooming, the sun was shining, and even the one thunderstorm we got was so exciting that I wasn’t even bummed about the rain. Plus this was the view from my window:
I know, I know. That ironwork.
This was my second icon workshop ever, after one at Niagara Falls last year which was a much-needed intro to painting in acrylics and to an approach which I’ve ended up repurposing for my other art. It’s also a cool way to hang out with my mom.
We painted the Infant of Prague. This is a flashy, unusual icon that includes a lot of raised paste and gold leaf. Unlike every other icon which you begin by laying in colors paint-by-numbers style, on this one you paint the whole board solid and pipe the design onto it with texture paste.
Then you paint the face (usually a much later step) and gild everything.
Then you learn faux finishes. Preferably late at night, fueled by Turkish coffee after dinner at that Mediterranean place, or Vietnamese coffee after dinner at that Vietnamese place. Ask me about my devotion to caffeine.
One coat of oil-based satin finish varnish and a smattering of pearls and crystals later (thank you Hobby Lobby), the icon is finished and ready to schlep back to WNY in your carry-on bag.
Yes, there is a ton of gold dust in that varnish. No, I do not care. Yes, I do plan to gold leaf a ton of stuff now, maybe including my fingernails.
And what’s that? You want one more atmospheric shot of springtime in Alabama?
Until next time, Mobile. Spring down South is nice, but remember that I’ll be enjoying a summer without 90% humidity.