I went to a talk at the Idea Hive that was by an Artist named Stephanie Antongiovanni who paints Icons in as close to the traditional methods as our modern era allows. I told her that I wanted to use some as graphics for my blog, and she gave her permission. Sometimes she works with an artist named Joyce Tanner. They work on paintings like some kind of quilting bee, all seated around the board and applying the paint simultaneously. It is on a board because canvas moves and the paint will crack. They put multiple coats of gesso to prepare the board. One of the audience members asked what it was, and Stephanie went into great detail explaining the technique, so she said she was glad she asked, but you could detect a note of irony, if not downright sarcasm. But I was curious and I was sincerely glad she asked about it. I think there were some other technical details — at one point I seem to remember that eggs were involved, in the olden days, they would crack an egg and use the yolk mixed with pigment. I pictured them holding the cracked eggshell and dipping in their brushes. Also, a lot of the techniques were clear lacquer and Stephanie said it made her heart sing as the layers were added, to see how it gave depth and light to the images.
Of course, no talk on icons would be complete, since this was a religious discussion group, without mention of iconoclasts who deemed certain images to be blasphemous, both Christians and Muslims, and destroyed, or kept them hidden to keep them from being destroyed, certain icons and paintings. Lots of really great Art must have been lost that way.