Prayer & Worship Buying hand-painted icons


Where is a good source to buy hand-painted Orthodox icons? A web search did reveal several sources but I wonder if there are any other recommendations...



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There are some USA-based Russian Stores/Shops that sell items from Russia. You will find some nice hand-painted icons.

Edit. Off topic...check out this cool cookie cutter tool to bake your own cookies, cake, etc.


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He prays and fasts during the painting of each icon and makes his own paint according to traditional methods:



I would visit any city or area that has a small to medium sized Russian community. They usually have small shops that sell Christian figurines and small religious statues. There is a small Russian community in the Midwest city where I live and at one time a few years back, they actually had a store that sold those types of items. They had some very interesting items . Sadly, the store is now out of business.


Another option: find an artist who is Orthodox or Catholic and email them asking for a comission. Or ask around. I've taken up a new practice myself where every Christmas I paint a new statue which is rotated between family members as a gift.


As an artist, I’m born with the odd ability to paint my own icons, should I chose to do so. However, any fine art is time consuming, and unless I feel I’m called by God to do religious artworks (or any artworks—political editorial artworks), then I don’t veer from my existing portraits and projects.

Most icons are done with multiple transparent layers of egg-tempera on wood panel, gradually building a deeper color. A coat of translucent white is then laid overtop, giving the saint’s portrait opacity (this can be changed if the saint was of a dark-skinned extraction). Finally, highlights and shadow details are laid over this.

Traditional icon painting in an Orthodox convent:

I prefer the work of this iconographer. I like how he geometrically highlights the slender folds of the Theotokos’ holy garment, and then even adds crystal-like shards of light to the face and the hands:

A little less sleepy than the ones done by the nuns. Interesting, yet not irreverent.

I do have an oil painting of the holy mother and child I’m working on, but she’s not an icon, nor even made to look like one. Nonetheless, I found myself buying a small bag of “premium gold leaf flakes” when I was at the art store, and I may just do the halos in these (that, or the trim of her garment—or both).

Gold flake creates a surface that seems like rippled water, whereas gold leaf creates one like still water. I think the rippled effect will work better with my naturalized Mary.

Let me also say something about the longevity of fine artworks, including icons.

We live in a dimension where all man-made things wear out. The pyramids of Giza seem to be the oldest architectural structures in existence, yet up close you notice their gigantic external stones are cracking and disintegrating, starting to look like indistinct boulders.

The same with icons. “Lasting a long time” isn’t the same as being eternal. Over decades the egg tempera will absorb the soot of sanctuary candles, darkening the saint’s portrait and eventually turning the whole thing black. It’s not uncommon to see centuries-old icons that look like solid black silhouettes, everything shadowed except the gold leaf (or silver leaf).

Ergo, if you can accept the temporariness of man-made things you’ll be more content than those who can’t (or at least you’ll stop expecting artists to create works that last a million years, which is impossible).