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.
I based this on extant photos of my patron saint. She was an iconographer (among other things) and the icon in her hand is based on a surviving icon we have of hers.
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."

An intermediate student working on a Man and Mother of Sorrows diptych at a previous summer intensive (2011)
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.
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Immanuel Icons will be posting pictures showing the process of painting the iconostasis of Holy Cross Orthodox Church in Dorr Michigan.  Click on the above link if you are part of facebook to be notified of these pictures or other icons as I finish them!
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 mornings:  In the past, I have offered a 3-hour class on Saturday mornings Feb.-May for 8 sessions, $200 plus $75 materials.  If you live in the Pittsburgh area and would like to be informed of the next class, contact me to get on the e-mail list!

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

Weekly Studio:  Intermediate students  (No lesson plans, just a coming together and learning from each other.) 

Summer Iconography Intensive:  The August 2015 summer intensive is over, but contact me to get on the e-mail list for future intensives!  Appropriate for out-of-towners.  $425 tuition plus $75 materials to paint an entire icon in a week.

Students at a previous intensive class (2009).

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.