Teaching Iconography in the Twenty-First Century

By Philip Davydov on May 1, 2024
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  1. Paul Hill on May 2, 2024 at 4:14 am

    An excellent article, thank you. I began learning about icons by doing once a year, week long workshops eight years ago. During the pandemic I turned to an online programme, which I found a much richer experience, steeped in technique, theology and liturgy. As a Masters graduate in Education, with a teaching diploma, what really enhanced the experience for me was the ability of the teacher to teach. I have been fortunate to learn from some of the best in the field but if they did not know how to teach (androgogy) the experience was very frustrating.

  2. Christine Hales on May 2, 2024 at 11:18 am

    Thank you, Philip and Olga for sharing your thoughts and ideas on teaching icon writing. May God continue to bless the work of your hands.

    Christine Hales. Iconographer

  3. Claire Brandenburg on May 2, 2024 at 5:08 pm

    You have created a very thoughtful, realistic, and creative approach to teaching iconography. Thank you for this article and the reference to your courses. Very impressive!

  4. Алла on May 2, 2024 at 9:44 pm

    Спасибо вам, Филипп и Ольга, за Вашу работу. Вы идёте по серединному пути, где важно: не копировать, а анализировать, не использовать чужие находки, а понимать как находить свои решения, но не от ветра в голове ( я так вижу), а через понимание того, что делаешь. Это по-настоящему живой процесс!

  5. Ivan Polverari on May 3, 2024 at 6:56 am

    Ho letto con grande interesse l’articolo in cui trovo pienamente. L’insegnamento attuale è diventato estremamente meccanico e privo di ogni vitalità. Erroneamente si è creduto che conservando la forma, si conservasse automaticamente il contenuto e si è da sempre confuso lo stile con il linguaggio. Questi sono stati gli errori grossolani in cui siamo caduti. Abbiamo solo risposto ad una domanda : ”come si dipinge un’icona?” E la risposta non è sempre stata all’altezza. E ancora non lo è. Abbiamo coperto la nostra ignoranza tecnica e anatomica (nel senso di non sapere mettere in relazione proporzionata le diverse parti del corpo) con spiegazioni pseudo teologiche. La trasfigurazione (metamorphosis) passa sempre per l’imitazione (mimesis) altrimenti, se manca questo processo, non si trasfigura la forma ma la si deforma. Già questo è un concetto teologico applicato all’arte, partendo da un dato pratico. Grazie Olga e Philip per il vostro coraggio che ha aperto molte strade tutte da percorrere e tutte da sviluppare..

    • Philip Davydov on May 4, 2024 at 6:22 am

      Caro Ivan,
      io penso, che la confusione è un’pò diversa. A posto di insegnare come parlare, usando il linguaggio (che si, alcuni hanno confuso con lo stile), la maggioranza delle scuole suggerisce a perfezionare l’esecuzione, e le tecniche. Così iconografia viene ridotta alla esecuzione della forma svuotata.

      Dear Ivan,
      I think that the confusion is slightly different. I have a feeling, that instead of teaching how to speak, using language of iconography) which some people indeed confuse with the style), majority of iconography schools suggests obtaining perfection in execution and techniques. This turns iconography into a process of creation of emptied forms.

  6. Paul Renneberg on May 3, 2024 at 7:55 pm

    As a student in the current Study Group I have found the online method taught by Philip and Olga to be particularly fruitful. I eagerly await the feedback I receive from Olga as it is imperative to have your progress reviewed. Fresh eyes on your work is so important. Over several months I have gone from planning a sketch, to painting an icon at a pace that allows me to practice what I learn. I can even go back over the material and I often pick up bits of information that I had glossed over previously. I have tried a number of teaching methods in the past, from books to watching Youtube and DVDs. None of them have brought it all together as well as the current Study Group.

  7. Cathy McDonald on May 4, 2024 at 6:33 pm

    Philip- I have had the honor of meeting your father in Pskov many years ago. His work in the Pskov church, chapel and in his studio inspired me to begin a pursuit in everything iconographic. I have a few of his pieces in my home. The many workshops that I have attended taught theory about many things, but not about starting with my own drawings. I think working on my own at home would be most useful and far less of a chaotic atmosphere, as workshops can get a little too loud and busy. I would be most interested to know when you will be launching your online workshop again. Where and how can I participate next time? Thank you so much for this article.
    Cathy McDonald, beginning iconographer

  8. Juliane on May 5, 2024 at 1:46 am

    Dear Philip, thank you very much for this article, because I now know why you choose your teaching method the way you do;-)). When I started lessons with you 3 years ago, I always wondered why I didn’t paint an icon with you from start to finish. Now that the study group is almost over and we are painting a colourful icon of Jesus Christ, I realise how important all the other courses were for this. You are laying a foundation for your students and now everything is coming together. But that’s only one good side. The other is that you have shown me tools for painting an icon with the permission to have the artistic freedom that I now feel I can go my own way. And by this artistic freedom I don’t mean that we could do what we wanted, but that Olga is very thorough and precise, but that within this framework I had room for my own artistic expression. And that the tools allow me to create other icons and not just one that I have just learnt in a course. Thank you very much for this and I very much hope that many more people will get to know your well-founded and structured teaching method.
    Juliane Laufer, Ikonenstudio

  9. Mark J Miller on May 6, 2024 at 10:55 am

    So glad to get the “back story” to what I seen you do. So glad you are getting around the globe, too.

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