Introduction to Iconography (Spring)

Term: Spring 2021, January 11–March 29 (10 sessions)
Target Grade Level: 7+, including adults (see the course description for restrictions regarding children 10–12 years old)
Schedule: 1x / week, 90 min.
Price: $200.00

Course Sections
Section 1: M 2:15 p.m. ET with Randi Sider-Rose

In Introduction to Iconography (Spring 2021), students will paint in the traditional medium of egg tempera, gaining a foundation in the spirituality and artistic practices needed to continue in iconography, if desired. 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. At the end of this class, students will have completed two small icons (a diptych) of the Man and Mother of Sorrows.

Each lesson will start with prayer, followed by a brief discussion and a warm-up technique exercise. The bulk of the class will be spent painting the icon, and in the process students will learn to “temper” the dry pigments with egg and apply the paint in each of the many stages of building up an iconographic face. Since iconography is a living practice, students will learn about the dynamic relationship between using historic models and understanding for themselves the aesthetic principles of iconography. Therefore students must gain an understanding of composition, the iconographic “style” as it manifests in facial features, etc., and how to “draw on the right side of the brain.” All of these tasks will be broken down into small, structured steps and are manageable for people of all ages and abilities.

The iconography classes at Saint Raphael are intentionally intergenerational, meaning school-age students and adults are together in class. Iconography lends itself well to a multiage homeschool class for several reasons. First, because iconography employs such specialized techniques, everyone has to start at the beginning. Second, given the right subject matter, homeschoolers are often uniquely skilled at functioning in multiage groups. And finally, the adults who sign up for the course recognize the importance of handing on the ancient tradition to the next generation.

If you are intrigued but unsure about the prospect of beginning iconography before adulthood, please see the article by Mrs. Sider-Rose, “The Holy Practice of Iconography: Why Start Young” (see page 8). Please see the instructor’s website for more information about the traditional practices of iconography:

Class Expectations

  • No prior artistic experience is expected or required.
  • This class requires students to have two webcams and to purchase various art materials. (Please see the Course Materials tab for details.) During the orientation session that occurs one week before class officially begins, the instructor will check to make sure that all students are prepared with the correct technology setup and art supplies.
  • In order to stay on schedule and for students to get the most out of the course, students will be assigned 30–60 minutes of homework after each class. The straightforward assignments will be either a repeat or completion of what was done in class or will come from the worksheets developed by the teacher (provided as a free PDF download). No new painting will be done between sessions.
  • Most importantly, before each live class session, students must set up their work space with all their materials, including the ones from home (water jar, paper towels, etc.).

Enrollment Restrictions

  • All children younger than 7th grade (or 10–12 years old) must be accompanied by a parent or adult who will attend every session with that child, staying to assist the child for the duration of each session. Parents and adults who are partnered with a child aged 10–12 will not be charged for the course.
  • Any parent or adult who wishes to take the class independently from his or her own student is welcome to register, and will be required to pay for the class ($200 plus the cost of materials).
  • If multiple people in one household are registered to take the class, they should be prepared to purchase supplies and materials sufficient for each registered student. Note that each person should have his or her own computer so the teacher can watch and give feedback as the student works.

Required Materials:*

  1. Second Webcam and Flexible Arm: Students must purchase a second webcam to point at their workspace so the instructor can observe them as they work. The webcam built into the computer functions as the first webcam. Here are options for the recommended webcam and the arm:
  2. Drafting kit: purchase here. (You may also purchase the individual items: triangle, compass, spacer, and ruler, from other sources and in larger sizes, if you choose.)
  3. Dry Pigments from Sinopia: purchase here.
  4. Painting Supplies from Blick:
  5. Household Supplies: At least two weeks before the course begins, the instructor will send a welcome letter that includes a list of the things that students will need to gather from around the house (paper towels, jar for water, etc.) and the PDF with warm-up exercises to print out.

*Required materials are not included in the purchase of the course.

Randi Maria Sider-Rose began painting icons over 20 years ago, when she received a grant to travel and learn from different teachers and studios. Since then, she has married Michael Sider-Rose, completed an MDiv, and begun homeschooling her 4 children. Though she spends most of her studio time on commissions for churches and individuals, Mrs. Sider-Rose also has a real passion for teaching iconography to all ages and 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. Mrs. Sider-Rose and her family attend St. 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:

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 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
  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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