The Iconofile School of Iconography offers classes for individuals to learn the technique of icon painting directly from contemporary Russian masters. Iconofile selected iconography masters who are not only excellent painters in their own right, but are among the best teachers in Russia. Each instructor has a painting style and a philosophical approach to iconography uniquely their own and different from each other instructor in the school.
This is a six-day intensive workshop on the living tradition of icon painting employed by medieval iconographers and refined by the classical principles developed by the old masters.
The workshop will be taught by Russian iconographers Iakov and Nadezhda Khesin of Leipzig, Germany. This workshop focuses on the technique of gold assist and the technique of egg tempera painting.
The instructors will use a prototype of an icon (pictured at right) as the model for teaching the techniques in this workshop. The icon of the Archangel Gabriel is well suited for this course, because it contains excellent examples of gilding and egg tempera painting technique. This icon is one of the most beautiful and well-preserved images of the Archangel Gabriel. The icon model is carefully selected to help in learning the techniques in this class.
Each student will be able to clearly see and understand all elements of the model. This workshop is beneficial for beginning students as well as advanced painters and anyone drawn to Byzantine and early Russian iconography. Students will be assisted by the instructors to define the basic forms of the model by freehand drawing. They will be taught methods of applying egg tempera and basic colors by creating shadows and highlights, then shown glazing, water-gilding and varnishing of the completed icon. All students are encouraged to take notes during teacher-demonstrations and ask questions for clarification. The needs of each student will be taken into account, photocopies of the icon-writing steps will be distributed each day of the workshop. Concurrent to the daily hands-on sessions will be brief lectures on iconography, history, theology and artistic technical concerns.
Students are encouraged to come each day to the class with a refreshed, open mind and heart. Silence and dedication practised by students will help them meet the creative challenges of the workshop.
Icon-Painting Technique: You will learn techniques for preparing the base for gilding, water-based gilding, and egg tempera painting techniques for clothing, hands and faces.
Hands-on, Practical Instruction: You will draw the figure by painting directly onto the gessoed board; paint the base colors of the background, clothing and face; develop the modeling in the folds of the robes, the features of the faces; apply gold to the background; and complete the icon painting with highlights.
The following details of the workshop schedule are subject to change without notification.
Day 1: Paint the model freehand from a photocopy onto the board by first outlining contours with paint. For those intimidated by this approach, the instructors will personally assist you, if requested, to develop the contours. However, emphasis will be given to develop strong drawing skills, something you will not learn in any other icon painting workshop.
Day 2: Gilding demonstration and applying gold leaf to the board. Paint the raskryshka (раскрышки, literally "to open") or base layer of the icon painting.
Day 3: Begin painting the probelov (пробелов) or modeling the structure of the face, hands and garments.
Day 4: Complete the probelov and paint the vokhrenie (вохрение) of the face and hands.
Day 5: Start painting the opis (опись) or highlighting brush strokes of the face, hands and garments. Apply gold assist to the garments.
Day 6: Finish painting the opis, paint the finishing lines and areas of the icon (outline the halo, inscription, outside frame, etc.).
The workshop will begin at 9:00 a.m., break for lunch at 12:30 p.m., resume at 1:30 p.m., and finish at 5:00 p.m. each day. There will also be short breaks during the day. This is a rigorous schedule, so plan on getting plenty of rest each night. If you are arriving from outside the area, we recommend that you arrive early the day before the workshop begins to get a good night's sleep, so that you are refreshed on Monday morning.
On each day of the workshop, the instructors discuss theoretical concepts, such as the construction of the icon, icon-painting technique, the history of icon-painting, etc., however, such discussions will be kept to a minimum to allow students as much time to work as possible.
Who Should Attend?
If you wish to learn the technique of egg tempera painting you should attend this workshop. If you want to learn the technique of gilding, you should attend this workshop. If you want to learn how to paint faces, hands and clothing, paint highlights and shadows on garments, you should attend this workshop. Even if you have never painted an icon or you have successfully painted and completed icons you can greatly benefit from this workshop. Whether you paint in acrylics, gouache or egg tempera you can benefit from this course that teaches painting techniques that are applicable to any of these mediums.
Jordanville—The location of the workshop is the Holy Trinity Orthodox Seminary in Jordanville, New York. The seminary is located near New York's historic Mohawk Valley, one mile north of the village of Jordanville, within a triangle formed by Cooperstown, Utica, and Albany. Lodging and meals are available at the monastery guesthouse at low rates.
Torrance—The location of the workshop is to Saint Matthew Orthodox Church in Torrance, California. The church is located at 2368 Sonoma Street, Torrance, west of the Harbor Freeway (U.S. Hwy 110) off of Carson Street.
About the Instructors
Iakov and Nadezhda Khesin are directors of the Studio Ikona of Leipzig, Germany, specializing in creating icons and wall paintings for personal devotion and church decoration. Please visit the Studio Ikona web site for more examples of their work.
$685 includes the workshop tuition and materials needed for the workshop, which includes most supplies (such as finished icon panel, gold leaf, tools, and natural pigments). Students are responsible for meals and lodging if attending from outside the local area. Please register early because there is limited space at this workshop.
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