Iconography Apprenticeship Year 1

Ongoing Enrollment

While our courses are no longer available for purchase on the website, St. Raphael School is open to inquiries about enrolling in courses at any time during the year.  If you wish to enroll in a Yearlong course for the 2020-2021 school year after the official add/drop deadline (September 21), you will need to contact us directly.  We will consider each request on a case-by-case basis after considering several factors, including size of the class, the preparedness of the student, the willingness of the instructor to accommodate a late addition to the class, and the content of the course.  If you would like to submit a request for enrollment in an ongoing course, please visit our Contact Us page.

The Iconography Apprenticeship Year 1 is the first of a 6-year Apprenticeship Program. This course is for students wishing to begin the process of fully training their skills as an iconographer, rather than those seeking to try it out. (For a shorter introduction to iconography, see the 10-session Iconography Workshops.)

The Apprenticeship Year 1 focus will be on faces, and students will complete an Icon of the Holy Face or, in the Adults-only section, the Archangel Michael. Additionally, students will complete many practice studies on toned paper, glass, and claybord. As with the Workshops, the Apprenticeship Program approaches icons as a “prayer of the hands” and uses the traditional media of egg tempera and gold leaf and, after the first year, hand-gessoed traditional boards.

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: www.immanuelicons.org Parent Testimonials

Here’s what parents have to say about the Iconography Apprenticeship:

“It is so much more than an art class. My daughter has been fascinated by the ‘historical art parameters’ within which the art is birthed: the use of egg yolk, rock pigment, champagne chalk, rabbit-skin glue! Making her own gesso board this past summer was like a field trip to a medieval monastery. It is a slow, intricate and meticulous (in the best sense) form of art that teaches the virtue of patience and fosters spiritual ‘breathing’; both the media and the intricate processes give space for the contemplation of the subject matter, which is probably the highest goal of any art, but in this case, of the highest art. In short, that which she works on is, we are witnessing, slowly being worked into her.”  Scott, parent of a 12-year-old Apprentice

“My son told me after his first class…”I think I found my thing, Mom”. He is 13 and has wanted to be a Roman Catholic Priest since he was 3 years old. Who knows what this will do for his future? Mrs. Sider-Rose is such a patient and encouraging mentor and teacher. She has helped my son to view icons in a more spiritual manner and to pull out the theology in the images. His faith is enriched by the depth of the theology woven into the classes and the process of writing the icons. He is a more virtuous child because of the Iconography classes. Jessica, parent of a 13-year-old Apprentice

Student Expectations: No prior artistic experience is expected or required, but fine motor skills and an ability to follow directions and keep their supplies and assignments organized are important. In addition to weekly classes, students should expect about 60-90 minutes of homework between classes. This homework may include a continuation of the painting begun in class or a small amount of reading, as well as the discipline of sketchbook assignments. Students will need to purchase a second webcam and various art supplies (see Course Materials).

The Apprenticeship Program will require a few additional supplies over the Iconography Workshops, including gold leaf, glue, and drafting materials, that require care and maturity. Each student will complete a larger artistic project in the Spring. Enrollment Restrictions: Iconography I is open to committed students in 7th grade and over, including adults but in a separate, Adults-only section. There will be no exception to the 7th grade as the lower threshold. Younger students may take the 10-session Iconography Workshops. (Restrictions apply.)

Students do not in any way have to be trained in art, but should be able to draw a face with eyelids, eyebrows, nostrils, etc., in any style. If you have questions about whether your student is ready, please e-mail the instructor a drawing sample, or she may request samples. A meeting over Zoom may also be arranged to discuss your student’s readiness.


Iconography Apprenticeship Scope and Sequence

The student who is able to meet the measurable goals of Iconography Apprenticeship Year I, with its focus on Faces, can look forward to a sequence of classes in the Apprenticeship Program, each of which will build on the foundation of the year before. In brief, the levels are:

Iconography II: The Face, Turned

Iconography III-IV The Bust Figure

Iconography V-VI-Turned and Standing Figures

Please e-mail the instructor if you have any questions about the right class for you or your student: rsiderrose.raphaelschool@gmail.com


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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.

E-mail: rsiderrose.raphaelschool@gmail.com

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



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 a much better solution, as such devices 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 checkmarkTwo Webcams: You may use an external webcam or one that is built in to the computer for your first webcam. The second webcam must be able to be pointed downward at your painting work surface so the teacher can observe your work.

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.

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 zoom.us/download.
  2. Click to download the first option listed, Zoom Client for Meetings.
  3. Open and run the installer on your computer.
  4. Students will be provided with instructions and a link for joining their particular class.

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