Painting Hands in Iconography

The deliberate and understood presence of painting hands in iconography is crucial to the content and message of the image. There is ample information for study and reflection as young iconographers begin their understanding and intention. Iconography is an ancient language and painting Byzantine hands say a great deal. They are a delight to paint and there are few icons without hands so learn to paint them well.

Hand of God

The motif of the hand, with no body attached, found in the corners of feast day icons are curious and delightful. The addition of a small hand to the icon is a simple and direct way to convey Gods in all things. God is ever present and constantly available. The single painted hand in iconography up in the corner is Gods. The hand is inclusive of hand Christ already portrayed in the event. The hand emerges from a small cloud, or an abstracted quarter circle trimmed in red, white, or black. Part of the forearm is shown with an extended hand or open palm or sometimes with the fingers spread palm down. Painting hands in iconography is narrative language.

It is noted that the representation of the full-bodied figure of God the Father is seldom used and considered to be misguiding. The intention is not to have a human being present up in the corner watching, but rather to indicate the event is being witnessed by the spirit of God.

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