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  1. […] Part Two of this article describes a recent project undertaken by Andrew Gould to apply polychrome to a Byzantine-style carved wood analogion. […]

  2. Olga Dytyniak

    In the Byzantine era, most people lived a common life with drab clothing and household goods. Beautiful colors and gemstones were reserved for the very wealthy or the very rich. And so, indeed, upon entering a byzantine church, they were struck by the beauty and the richness and the vibrancy of color, and the stark contrast between life on earth and the representation of the heavenly realm. As an artist, I could not imagine living or working without color. But in today’s world, the argument can also be made for the softness and the peace that one finds in a monochromatic piece. That piece that draws one in to further study before one can discover the nuances of it’s message rather than its medium. Compare Michaelangelo’s Sistine Chapel ceiling to that of his Pieta sculpture. There is great beauty and profundity in both, each according to its gifts. In this noisy world, there are times I long for simplicity, not that the designs are simple, by any means, but that the monotone gives the eye a kind of rest in traveling over the carved surfaces and valleys of the piece to appreciate the beauty of the craftsmanshipship that has been offered up to God, and that one can see the hand of God within. And, there is the eye of God within pieces with beautiful color. Thank God for both of these gifts.

    1. Baker Galloway

      Thank you for that perspective, Olga. Well said.

      I think the coat of arms pieces shown above are more successful polychromed wood specimens than the analogion in that they honor the wood by revealing it with semi-transparent thinned layers over a grain that persists. Completely coating wood in opaque pigment rather seems to plasticize it, which is unfortunate in my opinion.

      1. Painted wood certainly can look plastic and characterless, but that is why it’s important to do all this rubbing and waxing. It reveals a little of the wood underneath and gives a handmade feel to the surface. I like transparent polychrome very much also, but I’m not sure it would work well on an iconostasis, for instance, where the polychrome needs to match the icons.

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