Father Jon Buffington, a Chaldean Catholic priest and Master Iconographer of over 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 two decades of experience to instruct our beginning students in the foundational elements of iconography. Having a dedicated instructor for beginners optimizes personal attention to for a strong foundation and skills acquisition required to progress. Ania’s extensive background is based on her fine arts training, but she also specializes in Byzantine drawing and the placement art of Geometry, which is critical in representing proportion, scale and original drawings.
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.
No Art Training Necessary
Iconography does not form artists. Iconography forms you. Icons are a liturgical art to lead us into a deeper state of prayer. We will teach you how to create the lines, blend the colors and create the icon. You simply bring your hopes and desires to the process. See the photo below as an example of our 2020/2021 Beginning Iconography students, none of whom had formal art training. You can do it.
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.
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.
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).
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.
If a student cancels prior to the registration deadline, we will refund tuition less the $50 non-refundable administration fee. Cancelations received after the registration deadline has passed forfeit the tuition and pigment kit fee (if any) paid.
Through the generosity in spirit of our staff, supporters and the Cathedral, we are able to offer some scholarship funds to individuals who submit an application demonstrating need and a desire in alignment with our program mission. Email to receive the application: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Keep In Touch Via Email
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MORE INFORMATION: Please contact Christine Thum Schlesser, Director, Trinity Iconography Institute, either by email at email@example.com or by phone 503-222-9811 (Cathedral’s main number).