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Iconography Apprenticeship Year 1

The Apprenticeship Year 1 focus will be on faces, and students will complete an icon of the faces of both the Theotokos and Christ Child in the “Kazan” icon (pictured above).  Additionally, students will complete many practice studies on toned paper, in their sketchbooks, and on small practice claybords.

As with the Workshops, the Apprenticeship Program approaches icons as a “prayer of the hands” and uses the traditional media of egg tempera and after the first year, hand-gessoed traditional boards and real gold (gilding). Students who take this course receive instruction in both the theology of iconography (sometimes called icon writing to stress the kinship with theology) and the artistic practices intrinsic to traditional iconography.

The Apprenticeship is “skills-based,” meaning we will do plenty of preliminary exercises to learn and internalize the skills before applying paint to the board. Since iconography is a living tradition, students will learn about the dynamic relationship between using historic models and understanding for themselves the aesthetic and theological principles of iconography. Therefore students must gain an understanding of color, composition, the iconographic “style” as it manifests in facial features, and how to “draw on the right side of the brain.”

Apprenticeship Year 1 Students will work toward the demonstrable goals of drawing faces in the byzantine style including using geometry, highlighting a frontal face from memory, and being able to name the steps of painting and types of paint application.  These skills will be assessed in a final one-on-one oral exam with the instructor.

If you are intrigued but unsure about the prospect of beginning iconography before adulthood, please see Mrs. Sider-Rose’s article, “The Holy Practice of Iconography: Why Start Young” (scroll to page 8). For more information about Mrs. Sider-Rose’s studio and approach to iconography, please visit her website:

Eligibility and Expectations

Eligible Students:

  • There will be no exceptions to the minimum of 7th grade.  Younger students wanting to start iconography can take both the Fall and the Spring Middle School Workshops.

The10-Session Iconography Workshops are not prerequisites to the Iconography Apprenticeship Year 1, though any Middle-School or Upper-School Iconography Workshop can be taken along-side of (or prior to) the Apprenticeship without repeating subject matter.  

  • Students in no way have to be trained as artists, but they should have the basics of drawing representationally (not just “abstract art.”), for example, the ability to draw a face (in any style) with eyes, eyebrows, eyelids, nostrils, etc.  Prospective students or their parents should e-mail or zoom with the instructor with a drawing sample and/or a description of the student’s learning history if they have questions about whether this class is a good fit.


  • The Iconography Apprenticeship Program, Year 1, requires a significant commitment of time and mature scholarship skills.  In addition to the 75-minute class each week, there are sketchbook assignments and other homework assignments (see below), as well as acquiring and organizing supplies.  Depending on individual speed, the student should expect to work 60-90 minutes between classes.  

  • Unlike the Iconography Workshops, students in the Apprenticeship will learn:

    • **Geometry **(geometric structure undergirding all traditional iconography), and- starting in Year 2 of the Apprenticeship-
    • **Gilding **(applying actual gold to the icons) 

To this end, students will need to wield drafting tools (compass, ruler, right triangle).  Also, care and maturity must be exercised in gilding (strong glue, etc).

  • Traditional iconography requires a commitment to acquiring and maintaining the materials.  While I have put a great deal of effort into sourcing materials that are inexpensive and rolling the expenses out gradually, students should also recognize that investing in supplies is part of the commitment required of the liturgical art of iconography.

See the full syllabus here.

Required Materials:
Books and supplies are not included in the purchase of the course.

Randi Maria Sider-Rose began painting icons over 20 years ago when she was able to travel to learn from different iconography teachers across the country. Since then, she has married Michael Sider-Rose and completed an MDiv at the University of Chicago Divinity School. As well as taking commissions from churches and individuals, Mrs. Sider-Rose loves to walk with students on the journey of learning to see better and more intentionally, using this “prayer of the hands” to grow in holiness, with God’s grace. Homeschooling her four children in an urban fixer-upper strewn with books, art projects, and Legos helps keep the whole operation real. For more information about Mrs. Sider-Rose’s process, please visit her website at
Mrs. Sider-Rose and her family attend Saint Moses the Black Orthodox Mission Church in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where she has been blessed by His Grace Bishop Thomas to serve in the ministry of iconography.

Red checkmarkComputer: You will need a stable, reliable computer, running with a processor with a speed of 1 GHz or better on one of the following operating systems: Mac OS X with Mac OS 10.7 or later; Windows 8, 7, Vista (with SP1 or later), or XP (with SP3 or later). We do not recommend using an iPad or other tablet for joining classes. An inexpensive laptop or netbook would be much better solutions, as they enable you to plug an Ethernet cable directly into your computer. Please note that Chromebooks are allowed but not preferred, as they do not support certain features of the Zoom video conference software such as breakout sessions and annotation, which may be used by our teachers for class activities.

Red checkmarkHigh-Speed Internet Connection: You will also need access to high-speed Internet, preferably accessible via Ethernet cable right into your computer. Using Wi-Fi may work, but will not guarantee you the optimal use of your bandwidth. The faster your Internet, the better. We recommend using a connection with a download/upload speed of 5/1 Mbps or better. You can test your Internet connection here.

Red checkmarkWebcam: You may use an external webcam or one that is built in to the computer. Webcam Recommendations: Good (PC only) | Best (Mac and PC)

Red checkmarkHeadset: We recommend using a headset rather than a built-in microphone and speakers. Using a headset reduces the level of background noise heard by the entire class. Headset Recommendations: USB | 3.5mm

Red checkmarkZoom: We use a web conferencing software called Zoom for our classes, which enables students and teachers to gather from around the globe face to face in real time. Zoom is free to download and easy to use. unnamed-e1455142229376 To download Zoom:

  1. Visit
  2. Click to download the first option listed, Zoom Client for Meetings.
  3. Open and run the installer on your computer.
  4. In August, students will be provided with instructions and a link for joining their particular class.

Red checkmarkScanner: In this class, students frequently submit homework assignments by scanning pages from their workbooks. Students and/or their parents should have easy access to a scanner and the ability to use it.


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