Creating an icon works from the inside out. Once you transfer the image onto the gessoed background, you create the halos out of a clay base covered with 23 carat gold leaf. Before you begin to lay the background color, you paint a prayer for someone, or dedicate the work with a cross.
Once the background is colored in, thicker and thicker layers of egg tempera lay the foundation colors for skin and clothes. Since icons are meant to open a window to the world of the divine, you work toward the light, painting lighter colors and more detail in each layer of paint.
The painting will begin to glow with the light that shines out and invites you into its world. Father Damian is a theologian who is an artist, and each step in the process opens a new window for us on the mystery of trying to capture an image of the eternal.
We dwell in the space that meditates on the incarnation, moving from what our brain understands, to what our eyes see, to what our hands create, to what our heart receives with wonder.