The Icon-writing Studio:


Icon Painting Workshop in St Helen's Church, Abingdon, Oxfordshire, UK

Workshop schedule:
10 am � 4 pm
16th � 20th of May 2016

Parish Centre Hall, St Helen's Church,
Abingdon OX14 5BS, Oxfordshire, UK

See St Helen's Church on Google maps >>

Housing possibilities: Coming soon.


The cost is £350 per participant. Applications should be accompanied by a £25 deposit to secure your place, refundable before March 30th, thereafter not.

We hope to provide up to four bursaries toward the tuition fee for Sixth-Form and college level applicants (on a first-come first-serve basis).

The group is be limited to 9 participants with one instructor and 15 with two, students are accepted on a first-come first-served basis. The registration payments are non-refundable, unless the workshop is canceled due to lack of participation.

What to expect:

The Icon Writing Studio is an introduction to the visual language of traditional Christian iconography.

We never trace our models, teaching our students professional drawing and painting methods, used by serious iconographers all over the world.

The method, taught at the Icon Writing Studio is deeply rooted in those of medieval iconographers. It is intended as a universal structure, which can be used to paint icons of any type.
Icon writing workshop
Daily lectures with slide presentations include discussions on different topics. Painting an icon is taught to be done in a totally focused and spiritually concentrated way with no chatting or music. It is very important to go slowly at all times, living and understanding each of the steps deeply in our being.

Students are encouraged to take notes during teacher-demonstrations and ask questions for clarification.
Students also are advised to bring photographs of their previously painted icons, (if any) to speak about them with the instructor(s). The needs and questions of each student will be taken into account.

The image was painted in XIII century as a book illustration.

We have chosen it as one of the greatest spiritual treasures of medieval Christian imagery.

The goal of the workshop is to teach main principles of egg tempera technique and basics of icon painting.

The workshop begins with a practice of iconography drawing.

Students create a number of freehand drawings of face of Christ with pencil, brush and egg tempera.

After finishing all the preliminary studies the workshop participants learn how to use egg tempera in different ways.

Then the students practice face painting techniques and paint face, hair, beard and clothing of Christ,

according to traditional method of icon painting (egg tempera).
When we finish painting the figure, we hope to have enough time to do graphic details.

In case if we don't, the students will be given most detailed instructions and pigments to help them to finish their images at home.

Things to be taught during the Icon Painting Workshop:

  • main purposes and goals of icon painting - linking the verbal and the visual

  • to plan the image: composition, values and colors

  • to define the basic forms through free-hand drawing and painting techniques

  • to understand methods of mixing and applying the egg-tempera

  • to use basic colors, to make shadows, highlights and glazes

  • to control the finer highlights

  • to apply the final varnish on the surface of the finished and dried up icon

  • Icon writing workshop

    Who should attend:

    Our workshops are beneficial for beginning students as well as for advanced iconographers and anyone drawn to practical and theoretical study of Medieval art in general, including Byzantine and Early Russian.

    Previous experience is not required but any art background can be very helpful.

    Topics of lectures and discussions:

  • Main purposes and goals of icon painting. �Functionality� of the image.

  • Main terms: Iconography as �Theology in Color� (linking the verbal and visual). What makes iconography spiritual art? Liturgical art vs Religious art.

  • Traditional liturgical arts (icons, frescoes, manuscript illumination): differences in characteristics and requirements.

  • Parameters for drawing / under-painting.

  • Ways to identify essential characteristics for the future image (sketches and other types of preliminary visual studies).

  • Composition, - building and binding the image together.

  • Values and scales: how to make them work.

  • Professional use of: pigments (synthetic and natural), wood, gesso, gold and other materials.

  • Latest period of history of iconography in Russia (XX � XXI century: - Grigory Kroug, Leonid Uspensky, Juliania Sokolova, Ioanna Rejtlinger, Anatoly Etenejer, Irina Zaron and others)

  • Iconography as actual art: possibilities for correlation with environment and time.

  • Canon and creativity.

  • About the instructors:

    Icon writing workshop

    Philip Davydov and Olga Shalamova are founders of Sacred Murals Studio (Saint Petersburg, Russia). Philip, M.A. in State Fine Art Academy of Saint Petersburg, faculty of Theory and History of Art, is a professional, second-generation iconographer with more than 15 years of experience, teaching professor at the Institute of Theology and Sacred Arts and head of Sacred Murals Studio in St. Petersburg, Russia.

    Olga Shalamova, M.A. In State Fine Art Academy of Saint Petersburg, faculty of Theory and History of Art, Member of Union of artists of Russia, chief artist of embroidery workshop at Feodorovsky cathedral in Saint Petersburg, active participant of exhibitions of contemporary ecclesiastical art.

    Philip's goal and the goal of his studio is to create icons and murals within the Christian tradition, while being contemporary works of Christian sacred art. Philip shares this creative and responsible approach as well as his own experience and professional discoveries with his students at his workshops.


    The method, used and taught by Philip and Olga is not a craftsman's practice, which supposedly might guarantee some "perfect results". He rather aims to teach students certain professional approach, which can be used for the iconography, and also for almost any type of traditional painting/drawing.

    Download a printable flyer - short description of our Icon-Writing Studio in Abingdon in PDF format: http://sacredmurals.com/iconstudies/icon_writing_studio_abingdon_uk.pdf