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Drawing with the Byzantine Masters (Spring)

Target Grade: 7th-12th
This course will be of interest both to iconography students and as a standalone drawing class. Students want to know: what are the tools that will make my drawing- in any style- better? Just as there are tools and techniques in musicposition, scales on the piano or paralogi in Byzantine chant- so too, visual artists can benefit from the tools and techniques that have helped students throughout history become masterful at their craft.

We will follow the example of the classical atelier (studio) and take for our starting point the close study of masterpieces. At the beginning of each unit, we will look at icons or iconographic drawings and discuss them in terms of line, value, and composition. The instructor will provide some art historical information about the time period and what tools and techniques were used, or likely used. Then we will take up our pencils and practice some of these techniques, ranging from experimenting with line quality and shading to geometry and tools of perspective.

Three pillars of iconography, each with different approaches, will structure our class. Andrei Rublev (15th century Russia)) clearly used geometry -the vestiges sometimes remain on church walls. His icons, along with those of his colleagues and students, used Greek principles of harmony and order in what is sometimes considered to be a high point of iconography in Russia. The peaceful icon drawings of American iconographer, Father Andrew Tregubev, may be said to carry on this emphasis on harmony.


Simon Ushakov (17th century Russia) was interested in using techniques from Western
Europe, such as deep shading (chiaroschoro), a precise realism he may have achieved with mirrors, and even a bit of linear perspective. His icons resonate with Orthodox Christians today, even if the “westernizing” legacy Ushakov inspired in later icons may be problematic. The contemporary American artist Niko Chochelli might be considered an heir of this tradition of bringing East and West together in iconographic illustration.



Finally, the contemporary Greek iconographer George Kordis argues for portraying movement with line, an emphasis shared by the Palaiologan time period (13-15th century, Greece). We will look at historic icons that have this kind of movement and attempt to replicate Kordis’s use of drawing tools and techniques to bring out movement in the iconographic figure.




For a final project, students will choose to do a more developed iconographic drawing in the tradition of Rublev, Ushakov, or the Palaiologan period.

Student expectations:

*Students do not need extensive art experience, but should be able to confidently follow along with the instructor’s demonstration of techniques including lines and shading as well as arcs and circles with a compass.

*There will be open studio time in class, but students should also plan on 30-45 minutes of homework per week to finish studies begun in class and work on their final project.

The grade for this Semester class is based on Attendance and Participation, including having your camera on and making progress during open studio (30%) Homework, including craftsmanship and effort (30%) and the Final Project (20%). Please see “course materials” for a list of drawing materials to purchase. An external webcam is not required for this class

Required materials

Please see the required course materials here

*Required materials 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.

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.


For more information about Mrs. Sider-Rose’s process, please visit her website at


Red checkmarkComputer: You will need a stable, reliable computer, running with processor with a speed of 1 Ghz or better on one of the following operating systems: Mac OS X with MacOS 10.6 (Snow Leopard) or later; Windows 8, 7, Vista (with SP1 or later), or XP (with SP3 or later). We do NOT recommending 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 an download/upload speed of 5/1Mbps 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.
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.


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First, read the available course descriptions, noting prerequisites, target grades, and course objectives. If you think your student is prepared for the course, go ahead and register. After registration, a placement assessment may be provided to students, depending on the course and the student’s previous enrollment with Scholé Academy. Registration is finalized when the student’s placement assessment has been returned by the course instructor with placement confirmation.

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