Often when the icon panels are prepared, the central space where the figures will be represented are indented, providing a natural border to the finished icon as is seen in this Greek icon. Here the Virgin is portrayed in a full length view while seated on a throne with her Divine Son in her arms. “Panagia” means “All-Pure” in Greek. The darker hues against the luminous gold background seen here make the figures seem to float and be illumined from behind.
In an icon made in the egg-tempera technique, which is most common for portable icon panels, a board is prepared on which smooth white gesso is applied is several layers. The pigment is then mixed with egg-yolk and put on in several layers or washes over the gesso, with the dark layers laid down first, and the lighter layers afterwards. Often gold-leaf is also applied to specific parts of the icon. When light strikes the finished icon it is either reflected brightly by this gold-leaf, or penetrates the successive washes of translucent egg-tempera pigments to strike the polished white gesso underneath, giving a deep luminosity to the icon. This expresses the luminous quality of the Life to come in Eternity.