The substrate is drywall, typical for North American church architecture. It is only lightly "grounded" with a few coats of acrylic emulsion with mixed in pigments and some chalk.
Main binder vehicle is made by excellent Canadian company Tri Art, and its appearance is absolutely matte. Pigments are mostly from NaturalPigments , accompanied with some small batches I brought from Greece..
As years are passing by, I work more and more in almost pure Tetrachrome (palette limited to four colors only), so the pigment bill is fairly simple in its core:
Titanium White-Yellow Ochre -Natural Oxide Black-Cinnabar Red
I also use Pozzuoli Red (reddish earth). The only reason for this (this hue is easily obtainable using the above four) is to save on Cinnabar (where it's possible) which is, for some unknown reason - criminally expensive in the USA.
There are small quantities of Ultramarine Blue and Greens (Chromoxide and var. green earth pigments), that also have been used here, and just minute traces of Violet and Carmine (paints made by Swiss company Lascaux..)
are exclusively professional artist grade Chinese brushes, even for the underpainting. So, both large and "smallscript", mostly "RatTail" and Mountain Horse etc. I buy them mostly in Deng's Art and Gallery studio in Seattle, WA. There are also decent brushes on Amazon, but you have to know exactly what you are looking for.
Hopefully, there will be an article soon covering the wonderful world of Oriental brushes, and its application in traditional iconography coming soon...
Finally veered off the famous Chora frescoe.
The main prototype, this time, is from the monumental Gracanica Monastery, where artist today recognized as Michael and Eutichios worked in mid 14-th century..
The prototype, however, wasn't followed strictly: reduced is the number of angels around Hetoimasia (Greek ἑτοιμασία, "preparation"), and completely abandoned painting the extensive "Chtonic" area (visible on this photo - below the left and right arch beam levels)
I also had a pleasure to accommodate an Art student from North Carolina - Joseph Kulits. This young man, a devout Orthodox Christian and very talented artist, decided to spend his summer internship here in Yakima.
He did the initial rough sketch-up on the given markings, which I later "reinforced" with simple Ochre brushstrokes:
He also did the underpainting, and after that point the Prototype was seldom consulted...
(gr. "the Crown of Light"), known as Halo in the Western world, is less than half meter/yard in diametar; cranial mass of Our Saviour head is about half the size of the halo (the exact ratio is close to 4:9, but that's beyond the scope of this brief introduction)
I had to force myself to employ more of a crude strokes, in order to get better image freshness and clarity retention when this gets observed from the ground level.
As my fellow coleagues very well know, roughness (and xpresive, sometimes "dirty-look") is easy to obtain. However, from the final viewing point, the whole Anastasis composition still look too "smooth" to my taste, which is unsatisfying...
Also, for me (the aging iconographer) there is unsolved technological problem so persistent: when trying to mimic the True Frescoe look with modern Acrylics, I am still unable to get that "raised" final accents like the old masters did.
I mean, I could build them up by employing "brute-force" repetitions - no problem with that approach.
But that way the final result, the subtle Ekfrasis (gr. expression as in "the face expression", the look) often gets compromised.
Glory to god for all things
Please forgive for any confusion that this long read may bring, and enjoy the images - All Merciful Lord lets us glorify him with our unclean hands and lips, and that is what's most important...
Thanks fr. Joseph Copeland and the parishioners of the Holy Cross in Yakima for making all of this possible - we are just the craftsman executioners. These images are Creative Common...
The "authorship" is of The Church.
Notice the abandoned pencil marks for inscribed cross placement: lazily forgot to rub them off; secular Art can find this pretty, though - and calls it "non-finitti" (it.)
Old masters often did Lord's halo cross inscription by incising it with the stylo (as well as many other things), and were much more determinant and almost made no mistakes - their nonfinitti were noble, adding to true expresivness. They knew exactly what they were doing.
Ours are shaky and insecure.
In my humble opinion, that's the reason why so many of us contemporary iconographers hide under the false "originality"....