Immanuel Icons

an orthodox christian iconography studio
in pittsburgh, pennsylvania

This icon, which I painted based on the Virgin Eleousa at the Cleveland Museum of Art, was our model for the Spring 2013 Saturday class.
The Annunciation, 3'X5', Community of Celebration, a benedictine community in Aliquippa, PA
This Immanuel Icons icon, written in egg tempera and gold leaf, is based on one of the earliest surviving icons (c. 6th-7th century), housed at the Monastery of St. Catherine at Mt. Sinai. This one is privately owned, but see Gallery, Byzantine icons for more like it.
Family icon: Saints James and Thekla inclined towards central Christ Child with Theotokos enthroned, Angels.
An Icon by Saint Maria of Paris
Immanuel Icons takes commissions and offers classes for individuals, churches, and institutions.  The heart of Immanuel Icons are  traditional Byzantine icons written prayerfully using egg tempera and gold leaf on wood panels. 

Icons on this website are written in the traditional medium of egg tempera on wood unless specified as "glass icons."

Students at a previous summer intensive (2009)
An intermediate student working on a Man and Mother of Sorrows diptych at a previous summer intensive (2011)
Out-of-town students in the Summer Intensive will stay here, a house used for the PULSE program during the year and available for us in August.
Gessoing, a very specific and ancient process of board building involving chalk (calcium carbonate) and rabbit skin on a linen-and-wood base.
The Process....Most iconography projects involve research, as your icon should NOT be a mere copy but a new drawing based on core principles and models. A quick internet search is not sufficient and often misleading.
FLYER FOR SUMMER CLASS, click on below link:
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Upcoming Iconography Classes

All classes take place at the studio in Pittsburgh, 931 N. Negley Ave., Pittsburgh, PA, 15206 (Highland Park neighborhood), teach the traditional practice of iconography, using egg tempera and gold leaf on wood boards, and, except for the Wednesday studio, are for all levels, with no art experience required.

Saturday Spring Class:  approximately every other Saturday morning for 8 sessions, 9:30-12:30, $200
February 7, 21, March 7, 21, April 25, May 2, 16, and 30

Students will work on a simple bust of Saint Nicholas, or just the face, or another saint in conversation with the teacher.  $75 materials fee, for first-time students.  Confirm that there is room in the class, then send $45 deposit to hold your spot, check made out to Randi, see contact info.

Private Classes:  Always available upon arrangement of student and instructor.  $20/hour.

Weekly Studio:  Intermediate students, every Wednesday morning, 9:00-12:00.  $20.  (No lesson plans, just a coming together and learning from each other.)

SUMMER ICONOGRAPHY CLASS:  August 3-9, 2015, $425 tuition plus $75 materials fee for first-time students only.

Learn the traditional practice of painting icons with egg tempera and gold leaf on wood boards in a prayerful atmosphere.  The theme of this class will be ANGELS. 

Beginners will receive all materials and instructions required to paint an archangel or guardian angel bust figure.  No art or other experience is required.  The pigment set received will last for several icons.

Intermediate students can take on a larger or more complex icon, with God's grace, such as the Archangel Michael crushing a demon underfoot.  $425 for just the tuition, if materials are not required.

A private room at a beautiful old Pittsburgh mansion around the corner from the studio (walkable), pictured to the left, plus all meals:  $500.

Local people commuting to class will contribute $100 for just lunch and dinner. 

CLASS SIZE IS LIMITED!  A $100 non-refundable deposit, counting towards the $425 tuition, must be received to secure a spot.  You will receive a 10% deduction if the deposit is received by April 30, 2015.  Send a check made out to Randi Sider-Rose to 931 N. Negley Ave., Pittsburgh, PA, 15206.  Questions?  e-mail



Whether local or from afar, students can expect to put aside all earthly cares for a genuine iconography retreat of over 50 hours of instructions.  Arrive by 12 noon on Monday, August 3 and depart by noon on Sunday, August 9. 

All meals will be according to the fast (no meat, dairy, or eggs) as the class falls during the fast of the Dormition.

Leave your worries and i-phones behind for this opportunity to refresh and refocus.  Highland Park is a beautiful neighborhood to take a walk in or return to your private room for reading or napping.

Our daily schedule will be to work from 9-12, 1-5:30, and then again from 7:30-10 at night, except Wednesday and Saturday, when there will be time to attend vespers at Saint George Orthodox Cathedral, if desired.  Church on Sunday can be at Saint George or your own church or local monastery, as long as clean-up and check-out happens by 12 noon on Sunday.

The principles of all Immanuel Icons classes are:

1.  The primary requirements are prayer and humility.

2.  The traditional mediums are taught,  egg tempera, gold leaf, and gesso, and the student is encouraged to learn all the stages of iconography from the beginning for him or her-self.

3.  Students are equipped, over time, to understand for themselves the spiritual and aesthetic properties of iconography, enabling them to participate in the living tradition.  In other words, these are not color-by-number iconography classes.



By choosing the name Immanuel Icons I am not trying to hide behind a "royal we" but rather retain the anonymity that is so central to the ethos of iconography.  Iconographers do not sign our names to the icons because we are mere vessels, not artistic geniuses or masters.  Some iconographers write on the back, "through the hands of..." or even "through the sinful hands of..."  I use the name "Immanuel Icons" so you can find me and because Christ is truly the "Icon" (literally image) of "God-with-Us."  Alleluia!

I find the tradition of anonymity freeing and I find that following prescribed rubrics is not only more creative than you might imagine, but also uplifting in a way akin to praying the liturgy amidst your community.  I join other iconographers in not improvising on the style or creating my own subject matter.  Praying my icons into being along with the "cloud of witnesses" of the Church is more uplifting than marketing my own creative genius ever could be!

My name is Randi Maria Sider-Rose and my patron saint is Saint Maria of Paris, a canonized monastic, mother, and iconographer-saint of the Orthodox Church who ran a hospitality house in Paris, taking in Jews during the occupation of Nazis.  She was martyred in the camps herself.  If you do not know her fascinating story, see this website for more details. 

I have been writing icons for about 15 years  since studying at the Mt. Angel Abbey Iconography Institute in Oregon, the Prosopon school, and with a couple teachers here in Pennsylvania, all on a Lily grant (thank you, Fund for Theological Education!).  I have returned to Mt. Angel for the advanced program more than once and as a private student of one of the three wonderful teachers there.

I lived in Russia and Latvia for two and a half years (as a student and later as a Fulbright Scholar focusing on religion) and I completed the M.Div. at the Divinity School at the University of Chicago, where I focused on iconography.  I've led hands-on as well as art historical iconography workshops in Chicago, Washington D.C., Pittsburgh and elsewhere for students aged 8 through 80, as well as taking private students.  Now I live in Pittsburgh, where I have been blessed by His Grace Bishop Thomas to pursue the work of iconography.   I attend St. George Antiochian Orthodox Cathedral with my family. 
Saint Maria of Paris (Skobstova) was an iconographer, mother, and monastic of our time (1891-1945).  A leader in civic affairs and mother of three in her younger years, when her little daughter Anastasia died of an illness she resolved to become a mother to the larger world.  Under spiritual guidance, this resolve eventually took a monastic turn.  As a nun active in the world, Mother Maria ran a hospitality house for the poor and marginalized in Paris.  During the Nazi occupation, this became a hospitality house for Jews.  One day, Nazi officials arrived at the doors of her hospitality house and demanded that Mother Maria reveal to them any Jewish person within.  She opened the door still wider to reveal an icon of the Theotokos in the entrance hall and said, "Here she is!"  Mother Maria was taken to the Ravensbruck concentration camp because of her efforts to hide Jews, where she was known to minster to those around her and sustain herself spiritually by trading food for embroidery thread to sew textile icons.  She was eventually martyred in the camps and was canonized by the Orthodox Church.