Ikona potiče od Grčke reči i znači slika, lik ili obraz. Pravoslavni Hrišćani odaju veliko poštovanje ikonama jer u njima vide Božije prisustvo i kada se mole pred ikonama, oni se mole Bogu. Poštovanje ikona se ne odnosi na materiju od koje je ikona izrađena: drvo, zlato, boje i drugo, već na lik koji je prestavljen na njoj. Ikona ne prestavlja prosto umetničko delo već se ona smatra nezaobilaznim liturgijskim sasudom koji osveštava čoveka i uvodi ga u neposredni odnos sa blagodaću i ličnošću koja je na njoj izobražena.Kada se klanjamo Ikoni Isusa Hrista i celivamo je, mi se klanjamo Bogočoveku ili ljudskoj prirodi koja je postala ravnobožna.

Ikona nas podućava i sugeriše kako se uzneti ka Njegovom bogastvu i ona prestavlja most između samog Boga i Svetih sa onim koji stoje pred njom. Bude u nama živu uspomenu na rad i život velikana jer nas dela Svetaca i samog Isusa Hrista zagrevaju, oduševljavaju i vuku da živimo religiozno-moralnim životom. Gledajući ikone sećamo se pobožnog života onih koji su na njima prestavljeni, i to nas pobuđuje da se ugledamo na njih i da i mi ispunjavamo Hrišćanske vrline.

Ljudsko biće je po svome stvaranju i naznačenju Bogoliko i Bogopodobno, i upravo je zato Sin Božiji i postao čovek kako bi lično pokazao i u Sebi projavio Bogolepotu čoveka kao namilijeg stvorenja Božijeg, naznačenog za večnog prijatelja i sina Božijeg. Ikona jeste proizvod umetnosti ali njena prvobitna uloga je da poveže onostrano sa ovim svetom i one nam pomažu da se sretnemo sa stanovnicima carstva nebeskog. Čovek je sastavljen iz duše i tela, potrebno im je nešto vidljivo da bi u njemu izazvalo prestavu nevidljivog i zato ikona bolje zadovoljava ljudsku prirodu kako bi ostvarili što topliju i usrdniju molitvu.

Ikone se osvećuju posebnim činom kada dolazi do tajanstvenog susreta između Gospoda Isusa Hrista i onoga koji se moli. Zbog toga se ikone stavljaju u kuće,hramove i na druga mesta. Prisutne su na zidovima u katakombama, pećinama, mućeničkim grobnicama i drugim mestima gde su se Hrišćani skupljali na molitvu. Upotrebu i poštovanje Svetih Ikona potvrđuje i Sveto pismo i po predanju, koje je priznao Sedmi vaseljenski sabor, i sam Spasitelj je poslao svoj nerukotvoreni lik edeskom caru Avgaru.

I pored mnogih svedočanstava o poštovanju Ikona, bilo je i onih koji su se protivili tome. Iz istorije Crkve poznato je da je borba protiv Ikona trajala, sa prekidom, više od sto godina. Npr. Monofiziti su bili protiv poštovanja Ikona jer su u njoj videli idolopoklonstvo. Konačnu pobedu nad ikonoborcima 842. godine Crkva slavi u Nedelju Pravoslavlja, prvu nedelju Vaskršnjeg posta.

Slikanje ikona započelo je ne radi umetnosti same već radi Crkve i njen sadržaj je određen crkvenom potrebom i svrhom. Sadržaj ikonopisa isprepleten je sa životom, razvojem i tradicijom Crkve,i poznanje ove tradicije nepotpuno bez poznavanja i razumevanja ikonopisa.

Verovanje u istinu o duhovnom svetu odredilo je od početka sadržaj i karakter ikonopisa. Svrha i ideal bizantiskih ikona se izražava u svetosti koja nije stvorena da privlači osjetila svojom fizičkom lepotom već da interpretira duhovni svet.

Daske za ikone su pravljene od čvrstog drveta, uglavnom lipovog koji se preporučuje zbog postojanosti I što se neiskrivljuje tokom vremena. Čvrsta hrastova daska se umetne na pozadini kako bi se još bolje očuvala postojanost daske. Boje se ne mogu direktno naneti na drvo već se mora naneti grund sačinjen od više slojeva posebnog lepila (zečijim tutkalom), tkanine I više slojeva gesoa koja čini veoma izdržljivu površinu. Kada se dobro osuše formira se jedan čvrst sloj koji se dobro ošmirgla kako bi dobili besprekorno ravnu I glatku površinu. Ovo je izuzetno zahtevan posao koji traje danima.

Crtež je od izuzetne važnosti jer ikoni daje strukturu, pokret i određuje površine za slikanje. Majstori ikonopisci čuvali su kao veliku dragocenost crteže svojih ikona kako bi ih upotrebili opet iznova jer su ikonopisci upozoreni da ne skiciraju svoje vlastite crteže kako bi ikona bila što autetičnija svome izvoru. Ikona ima svoje razrađene geometrijske strukture kao i odlično poznavanje proporcija između mera ikone i dimenzije aureole, veličina glave i tela.

Sada se može naneti skica ikone. Ako će pozadina ikone biti zlatna nanosi se šelak u više slojeva, a sutra dan uljano lepilo na koje se lepi 24 karatno zlato pomoću zlatnih listića. Šelak se nanosi da bi se načinila nepropustivost tog područja kako bi se moglo naneti lepilo sa sigurnoću i bez oštečenja zlata. Ostavi da se osuši 24 sata, kada se može zaštiti zlato.

Prije pozlate ikonu treba dobro očistiti i ukloniti i najmanje čestice prašine. Za ikonu se obično koriste zlatni listići kao pozadina. Zlato reflektira svetlost i stoga odražava Božiju svetlost. Pozlata je umetnost sama za sebe i umešnost u radu sa zlatom može se steći tek nakon dugogodišnje prakse. Razlikujemo dve vrste pozlate : sjajna pozlata i uljana pozlata.

Danas se najviše koristi pozlata sa zlatnim listićima. Listići se prodaju u trgovinama u obliku malih knjižica prozirnih papira na koje su nalepljeni listići veličine 8x8 cm. Lepilo se može kupiti u vodenom i uljanom obliku u zavisnosti koja se tehnika koristi. Podloga predviđena za pozlatu mora biti savršeno glatka jer su čak i najmanje ogrebotine vidljive kroz listiće. Iz toga razloga daska se mora dobro ošmirglati sa finim šmirgl papirom a potom naneti 2 do 3 sloja šelaka kako bi stvorili nepropustan sloj. Najbolje je ostaviti do sutra kako bi se dobro osušila i sjedinila sa drvetom. Sutra dan tanko se nanosi lepilo kistom i ostavi da se osuši u zavisnosti koje lepilo koristite. Površina ne sme biti lepljiva već na dodir treba da bude hrapava jer ako se dobro neosuši zlato neće dobro leći na dasku već ćete ga samo oštetiti i iskrzati. Ako ostavite i suviše da se osuši zlato neće prionuti.

Zlato se lepi precizno i odlučno tako da ga položite na stranu kojoj je zlato na pozadinu. Listić se utrlja lagano i pažljivo posebnim kistom kako ne bi ste oštetili i ogrebali zlato. Pri nanošenju listića jedan sloj mora da pređe preko drugog na mestu gde se spajaju. Višak zlata se otkloni sa kistom i ostavi da se osuši do sutra kada se zlato može zaštiti sa 1 do 2 sloja šelaka.

Ikona se slika nanošenjem boje u slojevima (od tamnijih i hladnijih o svetlijih i toplijih) i medijum za jajčanu temperu koji je smesa žumanjka i destilirane vode ili sirćeta. Važno je da omer žutanjka i vode za prvi sloj boje bude 1:10, a za ostale slojeve 1:5, zatim 1:3 i na kraju 1:1.

Jajčana tempera je izuzetne lepote, dokazane konstatnosti I stabilnosti tokom dužeg vremena. Žumanjce daje vekovnu postojanost koja ikoni daje neizmernu kvalitetu. Ikone vekovima stare mogu povratiti boju i živost posle restauracije.

Tonovi boja nisu naneseni kao kod uobičajenog slikanja jer se prvo nanose tamnije nijanse boja ka svetlijim. Takođe, u toku rada ne smije se zaboraviti na molitvu koja je sastavni deo rada jer svaki pokret četkicom se izvodi kao kreativna molitva.

Posvjetljivanje daje "svetlost" tamnoj boji podloge pa se zato koristi prvo tamnija boja prema svetlijoj. Prvo se obilno nanosi tamna boja na celu površinu crteža dok druga svetlija boja se nanosi samo na delove koji se nameravaju posvetliti. Uglavnom se koriste oštri kistovi u dimenzijama 0,1,2 i 3. Malenim kistom oštrog vrha mogu se koristiti za precizno crtanje koje se stapaju s tamnijom podlogom.

U zadnjoj fazi rada slikanja ikone obraća se velika pažnja na detalje, ponavljajući linije i ispravljajući eventualne greške. Nastavlja se slikati svetlijim tonovima finijih linija od onog prethodnog sve dok se više ne može razaznati. Pažljivo se crtaju tačke svetlosti na licu jer upravo one daju duhovni smisao ikoni.

Ikona se ne može smatrati završena dok se neimenuje crvenim slovima. Ni pod kojim uslovima ikona se nepotpisuje jer ona nije zastupljena u tradicionalnom ikonopisanju. Ikona sadrži samo ono što je neophodno I to ne uključuje ime ikonopisca ili ikonopisačke radnje gde je ona rađena. Kada je ikona završena,ostavi da se osuši. Sušenje može dugo trajati u zavisnosti od godišnjeg doba. Kada se dobro osuši,završni rad počinje-zaštita ikone koja će ikonu "zajedno sjediniti" i zaštiti od vanjskih uticaja. Zaštita takođe produbljuje I oživljuje bolje. Na kraju se ikona odnese u crkvu radi osvećenja.



 

Icon comes from Greek word “image, picture or representation”. Orthodox Christians give a great respect to a n icon as they see God’s presence and when they pray in front of an icon it is the same as they pray to God himself. This respect is not related to a matter: wood, gold, colors or other, but towards the represented holy image. Icon does not represent just work of art, but it is considered unavoidable liturgical vessel towards dedication of a man that leads him closer to the blessing of a holy person that is refined. When we come down and kiss the icon of Jesus Christ, we bestow towards the Son of God or the human nature that is equal to God.

The icon is teaching us and suggests how to ascend towards His enrichment and it represents a bridge between God himself or a Saint for those who stands in front of. It awakens the memory of outstanding holy person's life or Jesus Christ himself, it excites us and draws us to lead a better religious- moral life. When we look at the icon, we recollect a life of a Saint that motivates us to carry out same Christian virtues.

The human beings, according to it's creation and appropriation are Godlike and holy, and that is exactly why The Son of God became a man in order to show in Himself Godlike beauty and the most favorite thing that God had created. The icon is a work of art, but it’s primary role is to join spiritual and material world in order to help us meet the habitats of heavenly kingdom. The man is made up of body and soul, and it requires something obvious to arouse the idea of invisible in order to better satisfy the human nature that will achieve warmer and cordial prayer.

The icons are blessed in a special church ceremony when mysterious encounter sets in between God Jesus Christ and those who pray. This is the very same reason why icons are placed in homes, churches and other places. They are found on the walls in catacombs, caves, martyr graves and other places where Christians were gathering for prayers. The usage and respect of holy icons confirms a Holy Scriptures, and it is acknowledged by Seventh Ecumenical Council, and the Savior himself had sent His “not made by hand” image to a King Avgar of Edessa.

Furthermore, even that there were many attestations of those who are respecting icons, there has been those against them. According to the church history, fight against icons lasted around hundred years. For example, monophysits were against icons in principle because they saw idolism in it. Final victory against iconoclasm in 842 a.d., church celebrated in a week of Orthodoxy or first week of Easter fasting.

The iconography started not for the art of it, but because of the church and their contents is defined by its need and significance. The content of an icon is interlaced with the life, process and traditions of a church and knowing this tradition would be incomplete without knowing and understanding icon writing.

The contents and character of icon writing is determined by believing in the truth about spiritual world. The significance of byzantine icons is to interpret the spiritual world and not just to be captured by its beauty.

Panels for icons are made of solid wood, usually linden which is chosen for its stable, non-warping qualities. Solid oak struts are inserted in grooves cut into the back of each panel, across the grain to prevent warping. Paint cannot be applied directly to the wood itself as it is required to apply many layers of special glue (rabbit glue), linen cloth and gesso that created an extremely durable surface. Each coat is allowed to dry thoroughly and sanded for impeccable, even and smooth surface. This is quite demanding job that requires few days of work.

The drawing is for the outmost importance because it gives the structure to the icon, movement and it determines the surface for the painting. The old masters cherished the sketches as the most valuable thing because they were warned not to use their own sketch but only original ones so that icon would remain authentic. Icon has its own elaborated geometrical structure such as distinguished understanding of proportions between the size of an icon and dimension of aureole, size of a head and body.

First, the general sketch can be applied to a panel. If the background is going to be made of gold leaf, shellac has to be applied in several layers and after at least 24 hours of drying process, 24.5 karat gold leaf is applied. This method ensures the impermeability of these areas, in order to safely apply the glue, used to fix the golden leaf. Usually, it is left to dry until next day, when gliding surface can be protected.

Before gliding, icon has to be properly cleaned from dust. Gold leafs are mostly used for gliding as it reflects the light - the holy light. Gliding is an art itself and it requires years of practice to be successful. There are two types of gliding: water and oil gliding.

Today, gold leafs are mostly used for gliding. The gold leaves are sold in stores in a small book with the transparent paper, sizes 8x8 cm, where gold leaves are attached. The glue is sold as water or oil base glue, depending what technique artist is planning to use. The surface for gliding has to be perfectly smooth because even the smallest scratches on a wood would be visible through a gold leaf. For that reason, wood has to be carefully sanded and coated with 2 to 3 coats of shellack to get the impermeable surface for gliding. Next day, the thin layer of glue can be applied with the brush and left to dry for a few hours, depending what kind of glue was used. The surface should be more coarse then sticky on a touch because if the glue doesn't dry properly the gold will look freckled and damaged. Furthermore, the gold will not stick if the glue is left for too long.

The gold should be laid down in strict and decisive motion on the wood, and carefully rubbed with special brush so that gold remains intact, without any scratches. The corners of a gold leaf have to overlap and excess to be removed with the brush. Next day, when gold is completely dry, two to three coats of shellack should be applied.

The icon is painted in coats of paint (from darker to cooler and lighter to warmer) and mixture of egg yolk tempera with a distil water or vinegar. The ratio of egg yolk and water is very important, and for the first layer of color mixture should be 1:10, and for the rest of the layers 1:5, 1:3 and 1:1 ratio.

Egg tempera is a medium of unsurpassed beauty, proven permanency and stability over time. It is the egg yolk that gives centuries -old icons their lasting quality. We have egg tempera icons centuries old, which, when cleaned, have retained fresh, vivid colors and an unflawed surface.

With the base colors down, the iconographer applies lighter colors, building up the forms and shapes. We begin with dark tones, gradually moving towards lighter tones in the areas clearly delimited by the drawing lines, using a soft and fine brush. Furthermore, prayer should not be forgotten during work for the icon to become place of holy presence.

The illumination gives the softness and continuity of color because darker color is applied first and then gradually working towards lighter tones. First dark color is largely applied to cover whole area and second lighter color is applied only on the area where the highlights goes. The sharp tip brush is used, mostly number 0, 1, 2 and 3. Smaller brush is used for small details that merge with darker color.

In a final phase of painting, attention should be given to the details of lines, where eventual mistakes should be corrected. Lighter color is continued to be applied in order to accomplish the most precise line details from the former. The dots of lights should be carefully drawn on a face because they are the one who give the spiritual meaning of an icon.

No icon is complete without the name of the saint or of the feast depicted. Under no circumstances does the iconographer sign the icon as it is uncommon in traditional iconography. The icon depicts only what is necessary, and that does not include the name of the painter or the workshop where the icon was made. When the painting is done the icon is set aside and allowed to dry completely. This can take a long time and again, mostly it is seasonally determined. When all is done and well dried out, the final work begins - applying the varnish that the painted surface will “lock together” and have a protective surface. The varnish also deepens and enhances the colors. At the end, the icon is taken to the church and blessed.