Test Icon

26" x 40"
Simon taking up the cross - part of the scriptural Way of the Cross, the alternate to the traditional Stations of the Cross (Via Dolorosa). This icon is an adaptation the work of Theophanis of Crete at Stavronikita Monastry on Mount Athos.


All the walls were once pristine white, and we started this project with the painting behind the iconostasis, then worked up to the Theotokos in the half-dome. (More building photos here.)

The Theophany temple, styled after the Chora, an orthodox church in Istanbul, is typical of the Byzantine style of churches of the 13th century. It is built of modern materials, therefore, modern murals and techniques were applied for the iconography on the walls.

The artists consulted with Victoria Ryan of Art Care Services before any work was started, to determine the most archival materials and methods for these murals. The icons are painted on canvas with acrylic paint, then cut and glued with a special adhesive called Beva Gel. This glue is available from Conservators Products Company. It is a reversible application, allowing for the removal of the icons if this should become necessary for any reason.

It is also much easier for the artists to paint the artwork in their own studio, and then spend only a few days applying the completed iconography to the walls.

Considerable research was required to plan the murals to be painted. Many online sources were examined, and books were reviewed for insight and inspiration.

And much discussion between artist and priest ensued.

Stained Glass Window

Christ in Majesty at St. Mary's Cathedral in Colorado.

St. Mary's Cathedral Tabernacle Door

Cast bronze crucifixion with gold leaf overlay.

Installed Murals

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Installation Day

Measuring and getting hangers in place, which turned out to be a bit of a challenge. The wall wasn't quite what it seemed to be - plaster over old brick rather than concrete.

Three Panel Mural

Complete with gilding except for detailing and frame.

Click on the photo to enlarge.

Right Angel


Gilding Process

Laying the gold over the bole and size-prepared cross motif.

After rubbing, the back paper is removed.

The adhered gold is then gently brushed of excess.

The gilded cross is later detailed with background color to neaten the edges.

Then on to the next gilded banding.

It's a time-consuming and meticulous process, but well-worth the end result.

Angel Wings and Gilding

Left Angel Panel Full

Left Angel Panel Detail

In the Details

When the under-painting and the color balance has been established, detail painting begins.

Close-up of left angel icon

The unique drapery shadows and highlights of iconography being added below.

St. Mary's Mural Painting Continued

Next, color is laid into the mural and balance checked.

Below is an example of background lily frieze underpainting and color overlay with detailing.

Here is the center mural panel with detailing added.

Right angel full

Left angel head
Right angel head

The dark shiny red tone behind the angel heads is bole, or the underground for gold leaf that will be applied last. For more information about gilding, click here.

Detail with gold leaf applied

St. Mary's Catholic Cathedral

The original designs

Preparing the canvas and getting ready to build supporting framework

Preparing paint for the marbelling

The artist at work on the faux marble painting

Sketches of the mural figures left panel and center

Right panel detail sketch

"Carving" detail on three lower panels

 Gluing canvas to frame with archival BevaGel adhesive

One finished lower architectural panel

Left, center, and right murals in process

Detail right panel

Detail left panel