In Orthodox Christianity, icons are considered to be 'windows to heaven'. The traditional icon suggests a material world transfigured, radiant with divine light and love, seen not only with bodily eyes but also with the ‘eye of the heart’. Although primarily associated with Eastern Christianity, broader interest and demand for icons has grown steadily. The Prince's School of Traditional Arts (PSTA) established the Icon-Painting Course in 2009 to offer aspiring iconographers a structured foundation course.
The PSTA Icon-Painting Course is taught by Master Iconographer, Aidan Hart, who has over 30 years of experience. He is author of Techniques of Icon and Wall Painting. The course encourages a thorough understanding of the following:
- Iconographic Form Through Monochrome Studies
- The Orthodox Church's Theology of the Icon
- Egg Tempera Techniques for Icon Panel Painting
- Techniques for Pigment and Panel Preparation and Gilding
- Business Skills
Students who successfully complete the course will receive a certificate of completion outlining their achievements (see Curriculum for 2019-2021). The course runs from October to September, for three academic years. Students gather seven times a year for intensive three-day sessions, usually at the end of each month. They are also expected to spend about four hours each week studying and practicing at home. The classes are held in the beautiful county of Shropshire, England at The Trinity Centre, Church Road, Meole Brace, Shrewsbury, SY3 9HF. The fee for the 2019-2021 program is £2,100,00 per annum. This fee covers tuition, lunches, refreshments, and evening meals on Mondays and Tuesdays. Students are expected to provide their own materials, at an estimated cost of up to £400.00 per year. Accommodation costs are not included in the course fees. PSTA provides a list of reasonably-priced local housing alternatives, and students are responsible for finding their own accommodation. To allow sufficient time and attention for each student, only twelve course places are available. Since demand is usually high, a selection process is used. Selection for interview is based on each applicant's portfolio and written application. The final selection is based on the outcome of the interviews.
The course beginning in October 2019 is now open for applications. Please download the following application documents:
A fee of £30.00 must be submitted with all applications. Please contact the Finance Coordinator, Jamil Akhter, to arrange payment at 011 (0)20 7613 8500. For additional information, contact Master Iconographer and Course Instructor Aidan Hart.
The Icon-Painting Courses at PSTA are based on the traditional model of master/apprentice teaching. Instruction covers all the processes required to create traditional icons in egg tempera, including panel preparation, gessoing, gilding, pigment making, design principles, and painting techniques. The practical work of the student is placed into context through studies of the masterpieces of Icon painting and talks on theology, and the relationship of iconography to Church architecture and worship. Students are also guided in ways of developing their skills in the contemporary business environment.
On 11 September 2015, Subdeacon Spyridon Morrow became the first St. Gregory Nazianzen Institute graduate to complete (with Honors) the Prince's Foundation School of Traditional Arts Byzantine Icon-Painting Course. In partial fulfillment of the requirements for that course, the student mastered and implemented a 27-step Icon-Painting process, which culminated in the painting of a close-up image of St. Michael the Archangel using egg tempera and natural and semi-precious pigments. The student used geometry in the design of the halo, which was gilded with 23.5 carat gold leaf.
See BlessedMart for Byzantine Art and Gifts.
Through my school for the traditional arts, I have tried to do what I can to continue the living traditions of the world’s sacred and traditional art forms. It is all too easily forgotten how crucial traditions are in handing on the immense richness of human knowledge, wisdom and skill, and giving them new life and new application. I hope that The School’s practical teaching and outreach programmes will enable the next generation to bring their inheritance to life.