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Betsy Porter
Art and Iconography
Iconography Classes in San Francisco
Informal drop-in iconography classes for all levels take place about twice per month on Sunday
afternoons starting at 1:30 PM and running until approximately 4:30 PM, sometimes 5:30.

Start any time.  All adults who want to learn are welcome, regardless of artistic experience or
spiritual background.  Call me evenings at 510-517-5360 or e-mail me
here if you have questions.

You can learn to paint a beautiful and sacred Byzantine-style icon!  We work in traditional egg tempera
paint and gold leaf on a wooden board or panel covered with white gesso.  All materials are natural.  We
make our own paint out of egg yolk, wine, and powdered pigments (mostly ground minerals).  Egg
tempera is capable of exquisite detail and glowing colors which last for centuries.

The artistic method is quite different from others that you may have learned.  Artistic, calligraphy,

drafting, or graphic-arts experience is helpful but by no means necessary.

Location:  St. Gregory of Nyssa Episcopal Church, 500 DeHaro at Mariposa, San Francisco, CA 94107.  
Park on the street - you will probably be able to park right in front of the building.  Enter by the main door
under the mosaic icon.  Visit

Time Required:  Iconography is a careful, meditative art form.  Each icon will require at least 40 hours.   
This may mean a year of class time, if you work only in class and not at home.  You will learn many
artistic skills in the process; and your appreciation of historic art will increase as well.

Cost:  Expect to spend $120 to $200 or more on materials for your first icon.  A fee of $15 per person at
the first class includes handouts, patterns, red clay bole, pigments, egg tempera base, and incidental
materials for classroom use.  A limited selection of prepared wooden boards and panels, gold leaf for
classroom use, pigments to take home, small plastic containers to hold pigments, and some other
materials are available at cost.  You may prefer to bring your own board and materials.

There is no charge for my teaching, but there is a requested donation of $10 per session to the church for
use of the space and the xerox machine.  Of course, larger donations are most welcome.

Bring to first class:
  • Table-top desk lamp and extension cord - no clamp lamps.
  • A terry cloth hand towel on which to rest your icon.
  • A tote bag in which to carry your icon.
  • White palette for mixing watercolors and small round watercolor brushes, if you have them.
  • Cash or check(s) for your board ($125 and up), fees ($15 at first class), and donation ($10 and up).

You will find it helpful to review the appropriate
technical pages on this site before each class.  For the
first class, you are encouraged to read the
patterns, layout, and gilding pages.


Under "normal" conditions:
1:30-5:00 Sunday afternoons at
St. Gregory of Nyssa Church,
500 DeHaro at Mariposa,
San Francisco, CA  94107

Classes will not resume until
the church re-opens.  Please
join our  weekly Zoom

  • Before starting work, make the sign of the Cross, pray in silence, and pardon your enemies.
  • Work with care on every detail of your icon, as if you were working in front of the Lord Himself.
  • During work, pray in order to strengthen yourself physically and spiritually; avoid all useless words, and keep
  • Pray in particular to the Saint whose face you are painting.  Keep your mind from distractions, and the Saint will be
    close to you.
  • When you choose a color, stretch out your hands interiorly to the Lord and ask His counsel.
  • Do not be jealous of your neighbor's work; their success is your success too.
  • When your icon is finished, thank God that His Mercy granted you the grace to paint the Holy Images.
  • Have your icon blessed by putting it on the Holy Table (of your parish church).  Be the first to pray before it,
    before giving it to others.

Never forget:
  • The joy of spreading icons throughout the world.
  • The joy of the work of icon writing.
  • The joy of giving the saint the possibility to shine through his/her icon.
  • The joy of being in union with the Saint whose face you are revealing.
Lori Greenleaf painting; Cheryl Hendrickson with icon of St. Nicholas; Michael Lara mixing egg tempera paint
Above:  Sister Danielle Fung burnishes
red earth bole in preparation for gilding.

Above center:  Later that afternoon, she has completed gilding and
has added a design in the gold leaf.

Above right:  By the end of the following session, Danielle has
painted the base color or roskrish.

Right:  Danielle's icon of the Holy Silence continues to develop.  
She has now completed the third highlight.
Above Left:  Cathleen Fortune is well advanced on her icon of
Archangel Michael.

Above Right:  In her first class session, Sandra Delman transfers a
design to her board.
Leon Palad (in dark gray) and Kilo Munoz at
work on their icons of the archangels Gabriel
and Raphael, respectively.

This is the first icon for each of them.

They made their own wooden "bridge" type
hand-rests to protect their paint from smearing.
Above Left; Anne Symanovich gilds the halo for a
standing figure of Saint Francis.

Above Right; Carolyn Feuille painting Archangel
Kilo Munoz at work on his icon of
Archangel Raphael.
Photos taken in the garden of St. Gregory's Church -
Above, Left to Right; Randy Bowman with icon of Saint Stephen, first highlight.
Cathleen Fortune with icon of Archangel Michael, almost completed.
Anne Symanovich with icon of Saint Francis, first float
Below left, Yoshi Mathias is beginning her second icon, Our Lady of Tikhvin
Below right; Jennifer Blecha with icon of the poet Rumi, first float
See bottom of
Highlighting and Finishing Touches pages for a closer view of some of these icons.
Cathleen Fortune, Yoshi Mathias, Jennifer Blecha, and Anne Symanovich with their icons
June 1, 2008
Carolyn Feuille with icon of Mary; Saint Francis of Assisi by Anne Symanovich; Sister Danielle Fung with The Holy Silence
Below:  Randy Bowman with icon of Saint Stephen; Archangel Michael by Cathleen Fortune, photographed while soaking
up olifa; and Anna Maria Stone with icon of Archangel Gabriel.
I teach only in San Francisco, and only on Sunday afternoons.  Here are some iconography classes and
workshops in other cities and with other instructors.  Almost all classes are online during COVID-19.

The Prosopon School of Iconology - offers 6-day intensive workshops in iconography at various
locations around North America, as well as weekly icon painting classes in New York City; in Whitney Point, NY; in Brookfield,
VT; and in Palmira, VA.  Click on "Schedule" for times and locations.

We were previously planning a 6-day Prosopon workshop with visiting instructor Dmitri Andrejev in San
Francisco for July 29 through August 3, 2019 -
but unfortunately it is cancelled!

Irene Perez-Omer - offers icon classes and workshops in Austin, TX and occasionally elsewhere.

Southern California:  For Prosopon affiliated icon-painting classes in the Los Angeles, CA area and in Santa Barbara, CA,
Edward Beckett here or 626-791-7953.

Annual classes with instructor
Nicholas Markell in Santa Clarita, CA; contact coordinator Kevin Kipper here or at

Iconofile - offers workshops in iconography and fresco painting at various locations; lists more.

Theodoros Papadopoulos - offers workshops in Greek iconography in Europe and North America.  
His website offers videos in his style and technique, which are quite different from the Russian-inspired work on this site.

Xenia Pokrovsky and her colleagues - offers 6-day workshops in egg tempera iconography at several
North American locations.

Philip Davydov and Olga Shakanova of St. Petersburg, Russia - offer week-long workshops in
iconography at several locations worldwide, including summer workshops in North America.

Byzantine Art offers iconography classes in Melbourne, Australia.

Ian Knowles offers occasional English-language classes in Bethlehem in the Holy Land.  Contact Ann
Welch about workshops on a Greek island, with visiting Russian instructor.

Numerous workshops in a variety of languages are offered in Europe and the UK, and some in Latin America.

To find icon-painting classes and workshops in your local area, do a web search for "Byzantine iconography
classes" with name of your locality or your nearest large city.  Look for classes where the medium is egg
tempera rather than oil or acrylic.

For information on icon painting supplies and technique, please review the
technical pages on this site.
Above; Jeannine Jourdan paints roskrish; and Sandra Delman is working on 2 icons simultaneously.  
Below; Anna Maria Stone paints first highlight; Connie Kang lays out her first icon; Danielle Fung
shows her second icon, Christ as Good Shepherd, here in roskrish stage.
Below; during the next session, Anna Maria Stone completes first highlight on her icon of Archangel Gabriel;
Randy Bowman has completed third highlight on his icon of Saint Stephen; and Danielle Fung continues with
roskrish and line work on her small icon of the Good Shepherd.  This small piece will serve as a model and pilot
project, to work out any difficulties before she undertakes a larger version of the same subject.
Above:  Saint George and the Dragon by Carolyn Feuille; Danielle Fung completed both icons of Christ the Good
Shepherd on the same day!  The Prophet Elijah in the Wilderness, Fed by a Raven, by Cathleen Fortune.
Above Left; Saint Julian of Norwich by Judith Tucker
Above Center; Our Lady of Tikhvin by Judith Tucker
Above Right; Saint Francis of Assisi by Dorothy Schenk.
Below Left; Saint Mary Magdalen by Judith Tucker
Below Center; Saint Bridget of Kildare by Judith Tucker
Below Right; Saint Teresa of Avila by Judith Tucker
To see more icons and other work by Judith Tucker, go to
At left; Christ Pantocrator by Sharon
Henthorne-Iwane.  Sharon is a highly
experienced iconographer trained in traditions
that differ somewhat from the Prosopon
tradition.  We are honored to have her in our

At right; Saint Julian of Norwich by Dorothy

Below Left; Saint Gregory of Nyssa by
Cathleen Fortune.

Below Right; The Nativity of Our Lord by
Judith Tucker - an
advanced and complex icon with many
figures, animals, and landscape.
NEW ONLINE ZOOM CLASSES, EVERY SUNDAY 2 to 3 PM, until the church building re-opens or maybe
later.  We will look at each other's work and discuss iconography.  No charge, but donations to the
church are always welcome.  For a link, contact me at 510-517-5360 or betsyhartporter