Born in Bryan, Texas, Annette Scarmardo, studied Agricultural Economics at Texas A&M University. After raising a family, and retiring from a 30-year nursing career, Annette is finally able to pursue her artistic endeavors full-time. She is also working towards a certificate from the Glassell School ... moreBorn in Bryan, Texas, Annette Scarmardo, studied Agricultural Economics at Texas A&M University. After raising a family, and retiring from a 30-year nursing career, Annette is finally able to pursue her artistic endeavors full-time. She is also working towards a certificate from the Glassell School of Fine Art in Houston with an emphasis on painting and photography.
In 2005, after visiting an exhibit of religious art, she became enamored with this ancient process and began learning the techniques of writing an icon. She has studied with both Greek and Russian Byzantine instructors. Her current mentor is associated with the Prosopon School of Iconography.
Annette is drawn to the centuries-old technique of applying marble, chalk dust, and hide glue gesso on wood, 24k gold leaf on clay bole, and painting with egg tempera and pure powdered pigments.
Always striving for a flawless finish, the process of writing an icon can compare with our daily struggles-prayerfully seeking peace and forgiveness. The process is contemplative, meditative, frustrating, and spiritual.
Annette currently lives and works in her hometown of Bryan, Texas.
Icons are painted with specially prepared panels of wood, such as alder, birch, or beech. A fine layer of rabbit skin glue is applied to the front and back of the board to size the linen before oil painting to coat and protect the fibers from deterioration caused by the oxidation of linseed oil that would otherwise penetrate the fibers. Then a piece of cloth or linen fabric is soaked in the rabbit skin glue and placed on the front of the board. Great care is taken to press all the wrinkles and air bubbles out of the fabric. After the material has dried, the edges are trimmed to fit the board.
The second step in making an icon board is to apply many layers of gesso. The gesso is made from rabbit skin glue, marble dust, and chalk. Each layer is allowed to dry before another is added. Anywhere from 15-20 layers of gesso are needed to achieve a small finish. When the gesso has dried thoroughly, the sanding begins using 220 - 600 grit sandpaper.
When the artist is satisfied with a board that is smooth and free of blemishes, the gold leaf is applied. There are many techniques for gilding, but usually, 23 or 24 karat gold sheets are placed in a specially prepared mixture of red clay and water, to create a warm undertone to the gold leaf called bole. The bole is painted on the board in multiple layers, then sanded to a mirror-like finish, with 600 - 2000 grit paper. After the gold is positioned and allowed to dry, it is smoothed again with an agate burnisher. Great care is used so the gold does not separate from the bole.
Then the process of painting the Saint begins. All paints are dry powder pigments combined with an egg yolk / wine mixture. Many layers of color are needed to achieve the final results. Then the icon must be set aside to dry for several months. Then the final varnish may be applied to protect the surface.