Betsy Porter

Betsy Porter
Art and Iconography

Iconography Classes In San Francisco

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.

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.

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 - 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 - 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, contact Edward Beckett here or 626-791-7953.

Annual classes with instructor Nicholas Markell in Santa Clarita, CA; contact coordinator Kevin Kipper here or at 661-645-1431.

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.

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.

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.


  • 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.

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.

Sister Danielle Fung burnishes red earth bole in preparation for gilding.

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

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

Danielle's icon of the Holy Silence continues to develop. She has now completed the third highlight.

Cathleen Fortune is well advanced on her icon of Archangel Michael.

In her first class session, Sandra Delman transfers a design to her board.

Anne Symanovich gilds the halo for a standing figure of Saint Francis.

Carolyn Feuille painting Archangel Gabriel.

Kilo Munoz at work on his icon of Archangel Raphael.

Photos taken in the garden of St. Gregory's Church

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

Yoshi Mathias is beginning her second icon, Our Lady of Tikhvin

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

Jeannine Jourdan paints roskrish

Sandra Delman is working on 2 icons simultaneously.

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.


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.

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.

Saint Julian of Norwich by Judith Tucker

Our Lady of Tikhvin by Judith Tucker

Saint Francis of Assisi by Dorothy Schenk.

Saint Mary Magdalen by Judith Tucker

Saint Bridget of Kildare by Judith Tucker

Saint Teresa of Avila by Judith Tucker

To see more icons and other work by Judith Tucker, go to

Saint Julian of Norwich by Dorothy Schenk.

Saint Gregory of Nyssa by Cathleen Fortune.

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 workshops.

The Nativity of Our Lord by Judith Tucker - an advanced and complex icon with many figures, animals, and landscape.

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