Theotokos of Fatima Icon Finally Finished!

I was temporarily diverted by Holy Week and Pascha (Christos voskrese!), but today I at last got around to put the finishing touches on my icon and here it is! It is both amazing and humbling to see how wonderfully it turned out in the end. I am sure this image did not come from my skill but through grace from above!

Theotokos of Fatima, by the hand of DJ Shulick

Some remarks on method: I did not use the traditional iconographic materials (egg tempura, gold leaf, etc.) and techniques, but strove to imitate their effect with a familiar, less expensive, and easier to use, but still high-quality approach. I had developed some know-how with acrylic painting as a youth, so I decided to try writing the icon using professional-quality acrylic paints on a wood panel.


First, I painted the panel with several coats of gesso (art-quality primer). Then I sketched the rough contours of the figure with pencil. After that, I painted in the background with a really nice metallic gold acrylic, which does quite a fine job of simulating gold leaf. Next came the most challenging step of all: painting in the figure. I started filling in the face and skin tones, which was by far the most intimidating part of the whole process. I wanted to see if I could even do a half-convincing job on these elements before spending time on any other aspects!

Once I was pleased with these, I traced out the lines and began shading the garments. This step, while simple in theory, was more difficult than I thought to execute, since it required careful mixing and blending of colors and layers. Speaking of which, I only used 4 base colors (including the white gesso) for the entire icon. All the other tones came from different combinations of these. Finally, I painted the details of the halos, chotki/rosary, and lettering in shiny black, which did not involve artistic creativity but did demand a steady hand!

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