I make my panel icons using traditional Egg-Tempera method, employing a long and laborious process, in order to achieve longevity and brilliance.
Each wooden panel is soaked with hot Rabbit skin glue and covered with strong cotton gauze. After it dries for 24 hours, seven or eight thin coats of Gesso - specially prepared solution of Chalk, Marble dust and Rabbit glue, are applied.
Since the late Antiquity, Egg-Tempera has been made exactly same way: natural egg yolk is mixed with some white wine, followed by adding mineral pigments to this binder to make the paint.
Nature provided us with various pigments to be used in painting – from colored clays which made bright Yellow, Red, Green, Blue, and Black, to semiprecious stones, like Lapis-Lazuli, Malachite, Cinnabar, Hematite, which can be ground into Royal Blue, Purple, Red, and Yellow.
These natural pigments are not so intense as their artificial counterparts, but naturally harmonized and much more lightfast.
In order to convert these pigments to paint, I have to hand-grind them to very fine powder and mix with water and egg yolk emulsion.
Unlike contemporary Oil Painting, traditional Egg-Tempera is very gradual process, organized in several steps – paint should be applied in many layers, one after another, each after previous coat is completely dried. That is why it takes considerable time to make an icon – days, and sometimes weeks.
After the paint has completely dried – after approximately a week – it can be covered with oxidized Linseed Oil, and, finally, with strong protective varnish. Only after these coats are completely dried, the icon can be shipped to the customer or be installed into the Iconostasis.
Icons made with this method will last decades without changing colors, and can be passed from one generation to another.
While God does not specifically create “holy” art materials, which can only be suitable for Iconography, I believe that the best way to create authentic Iconography is to use authentic methods and materials.