Lori Greenleaf painting; Cheryl Hendrickson with icon of St. Nicholas; Michael Lara mixing egg tempera paint
NEW ONLINE ZOOM CLASSES, Sunday October 17, November 14, and December 12, 2021, 2 to 3 PM Pacific time. 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
Informal drop-in iconography classes for all levels take place about twice per month on Sunday afternoons starting at 12:30 PM and running until approximately 5:00 PM.
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 www.saintgregorys.org
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).
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. Many classes are online during COVID-19.
The Prosopon School of Iconology - www.prosoponschool.org 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.
Irene Perez-Omer - www.iconarts.com offers icon classes and workshops in Austin, TX and occasionally elsewhere.
Iconofile - www.iconofile.com offers workshops in iconography and fresco painting at various locations; lists more.
Theodoros Papadopoulos - www.theodoreicons.com 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 - www.hexaemeron.org offers 6-day workshops in egg tempera iconography at several North American locations.
Philip Davydov and Olga Shakanova of St. Petersburg, Russia - www.sacredmurals.com offer week-long workshops in iconography at several locations worldwide, including summer workshops in North America.
Byzantine Art www.byzantineart.net offers iconography classes in Melbourne, Australia.
Ian Knowles www.eliasicons.co.uk offers occasional English-language classes in Bethlehem in the Holy Land. Contact Ann Welch www.annwelch.co.uk 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.
Updated Schedule Of Classes, FALL 2021 - SPRING 2022
12:30-5:00 Sunday afternoons at St. Gregory of Nyssa Church, 500 DeHaro at Mariposa, San Francisco, CA 94107
October 24, November 7 and 21, December 5 and 19, 2021
January 9and23, February 6 and 20, March 6 and 20, April 3 and 24, 2022
Please join our Zoom sessions; October 15, November 14, December 12, 2021. Call me for a link.
DIVINE RULES FOR THE ICON PAINTER (Traditional)
- 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 silence.
- 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.
- 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.
Photos taken in the garden of St. Gregory's Church
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.