Custom Jesus Icon: Self-Guided Icon Retreat!

Recently, I purchased this book Drawing Closer to Christ: A Self-Guided Icon Retreat by Joseph Malham* as I had heard of Icon Retreats before and was excited to try this at home!

The book is formatted with Scriptural and Theological reflections alongside step-by-step instructions to create a traditional painted Icon. I appreciated the special tips along the way, even though I opted to create a different image and use less traditional materials. While the author directs us to trace, etch and paint on a wood surface, I opted for a framed canvas from the dollarstore.  While I didn’t have access to traditional gold foil, my “gold spun” acrylic paint plus a little gold glitter paint added the texture and color and sparkle I was looking for.

Step One:

I collaged a Jesus icon, melding the favorite image of Jesus I grew up with, a traditional icon pose and an image of the Sacred Heart.

Step Two

I traced the most significant lines of the collaged image to make a simpler black and white template and enlarged it to the size I wanted.

Step Three

I carefully traced the black and white template onto a 12″x16″ wood framed canvas from the dollar store. I followed many of the helpful tips within the Drawing Closer to Christ book.

Step Four

While I didn’t follow the gold foil process to create the gold accents, I tried to match up my own process as best I could with the author’s. I began each session by reading the chapter in the book and even prayed a little before I got to work.

Step 5

I liked the look of the white throughout the halo and the frame and felt that they complimented the white tunic I always imagine Jesus wearing. The deep red in the halo edge is the same color as the red garment I always expect to be draped over Jesus. The same red is found in the Sacred heart.

I used masking tape to make straight lines of gold paint, but still needed a little white paint for touching up the edge.

I know that this strays very far from the tradition icon, but it appeals to me because it’s the familiar Jesus face I love, the classic Jesus clothes I expect and it incorporates the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The background color is kind of a happy accident…I was planning on a more dignified olive color, but I really like how this color pops.

This process was so fun and even though I know it’s not perfect or terribly sophisticated, I’m looking forward to putting this up on our wall…and probably starting a new icon soon. Next icon: Mother Mary!

*References to Drawing Closer to Christ include our Amazon affiliate link. The small commission I receive for your purchase through this link does not inflate the price you pay! Thanks for your support!

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