Father Jon Buffington, a Chaldean Catholic priest and Master Iconographer of 25 years, instructs in the traditional ancient iconography style and methods, conducted in relative silence as a spiritual journey, always beginning with group prayer.  Students paint with traditional egg tempera on wooden panels, just as in ancient times.  Our program curriculum is designed to support the formation of a traditionally trained iconographer for the church, but also is open to anyone interested in writing icons, and those who seek truth.

In 2019, we welcomed Ania Kocurek-Williams, a fine arts-trained Iconographer with nearly two decades of experience, to instruct our beginning students and optimize personal attention. Ania specializes in drawing and the placement art of Geometry, which is critical in representing proportion, scale and drawing from scratch.

Dry Pigments from
Zecchi’s in Florence, Italy

In the traditional iconographic philosophy of humility, we use only humble natural materials from the Earth of animal, vegetable & mineral origin. The dry pigments in the Student Specialty Pigment Kit are purchased and imported from Zecchi, the pigment vendor in Florence, Italy, who supplied the great artists Michelangelo, Giotto, Leonardo da Vinci, and many others. To this day, Zecchi’s supplies the very same pigments to Uffizi conservators for restoration and conservation of museum masterpieces.

Students can expect to complete an icon following the prototype provided by the our instructors.

16 Week Iconography Program

In the Fall, we offer 16 weeks of instruction in the traditional egg tempera method and theology of iconography. These evening classes offer a place for students to receive one-on-one instruction to prepare them for working alone during the week. Students are expected to practice at home and come prepared for the next week, having followed class notes and information contained in the Program Study Binder. Each week, students receive additional educational materials intended to support their work that week.

Tuition for the 2021 Fall class is $425. Students are required to purchase a Pigment Kit from the Institute that will contain the dry pigment needed for the class, at an additional cost of $50.00 (unless one has already been purchased for a previous class). Costs of any other personal supplies (brushes, pencils, palettes, etc.) will be purchased by the student. 

Click here for the description.

Summer Intensive Programs

We offer 3 levels of Iconography Intensive instruction every August. In this full emersion program, students participate in the entire process from board preparation to gilding, drawing and painting on a specially hand-prepared icon board. Pigments, gold leaf and optional specialty supplies are sold separately at a nominal fee. Classes fill quickly, so please register early: Click here to learn more.


Since 1996, classes have been held in the Bishop Scott room, in the lower part of Trinity Episcopal Cathedral’s Commons, Trinity Episcopal Cathedral 147 NW 19th Avenue, Portland, Oregon (corner of NW 19th and Everett Street).

During the uncertainty of COVID and while Trinity Episcopal Cathedral is closed, the alternate class location is TBA.


Students are asked to park in the lot directly across from Trinity Cathedral’s main entrance on the East side of 19th.  The Institute will issue a special parking code to be used in the lot’s pay station to provide free parking during iconography class.


Registration for all classes is on a “first-come-first-serve” basis. Tuition must be paid in full and a registration form must be received by the specified registration date before a student is considered registered. We will fill any seats that become available prior to the first class from the waiting list.

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MORE INFORMATION: Please contact Christine Thum Schlesser, Director, Trinity Iconography Institute, either by email at or by phone 503-222-9811 (Cathedral’s main number).