After drawing all the lines of the pattern with black paint and a fine brush, I begin laying down the color for the underpainting. In iconography, as in the spiritual life, we begin with darkness and work toward the light. Many people find this part of the process painstaking or boring, but I find that painting in repeated thin coats of color to be very calming, like coloring within the lines when you were a kid.
Before starting, I pray for guidance with the colors; while many people think that because there are canons for color there is little creativity in icongraphy this is not true. While one is certainly not free to paint the Virgin in robes of black or green, or paint brown halos, within the canonically accepted color range there is a pretty wide variety: do I want the red of her robe to lean toward brown in hue or crimson? Or more toward purple? In this icon, I have chosen a red violet.
Then one must choose color for the background and the framework (there is also an olive green outer border of a little less than a quarter inch, not visible here because the panel I am using is 9″ X 12″ and the scanner is 8 1/2″ X 11″.
I am here about halfway to the sort of color saturation I am seeking before I begin the work of highlighting.
(And do not expect the next image to arrive so quickly; I had time to paint yesterday but tomorrow I return to work, after a two week break, and it may be a week or so before the next step is completed.)