Icon of Christ the Pantocrator by Symeon van Donkelaar.

A long time ago, a monk handed me a palette knife and told me to come and learn to paint icons. I accepted the call, and today work as a full-time iconographer.

The icons made in the Conestoga Icon Studio represent a vision of heaven from the village of Conestoga. While drawing deeply from the rich tradition of Orthodox iconography, their aim is to create a contemporary vision of prayer in the Americas. As such they greet us with candidness, joy, and peace.

All the materials I use in making icons come from the land—my pigment colours most often being found around the village of Conestoga where I live and work. Foraging from the soil, plants, and animals, I take what I harvest and create a testament to the love of God which energizes the whole earth.

I make icons for churches, missions, and homes, offer workshops coast to coast, and regularly present on my work in a host of different places.

Icon of Saint Stephen the Protomartyr. Photo by Sam Landry.

Current Project

Beginning this Advent, a series of Orthodox icons is being made for sixteen rooms typically found in modern homes. These icons are being commissioned by people from across Canada using traditional methods and materials. A series of these prints will also be available, individually or as part of a subscription.

To find out more, click here.

Latest Articles

Making a Traditional Icon Panel

Working with wood to make a panel remains something I love about making traditional orthodox icons. Maybe it’s the smell of the cut wood, which always takes me back to my Grandfather’s woodshop where we built things together when I was a child. Or, maybe it’s the fact that there’s always something more to learn…

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Woad Blue

It seems to me that all blues are the colour of the air—and this is certainly the case for woad blue. As the fall season comes to Canada, the hazy sky of summer clears and becomes a blue as deep as eternity offset by the flaming yellows and reds of the trees’ autumn leaves. It…

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When Saint John of Damascus (c. 676 or 676 – December 4th, 749) wrote his defence of the icons, On the Divine Images, itself a deep meditation on the meaning of the Incarnation he affirmed the sacrality of all God’s creation from the molecular composition of minerals, the glory of the cedars of Lebanon, celestial bodies, indeed, the whole of the cosmos. The Incarnation calls us to a deep regard for every human being and all creatures, the beauty of flora and fauna, indeed, the earth under our feet. The earth we walk is a reliquary and minerals and metals of each particular place a sacred treasure. Symeon van Donkelaar’s iconography, drawing as it does on the local palette of each region of Canada, is a hymn of praise calling each of us to a deeper regard for our fragile world, a deeper attention to the Holy Spirit who “is everywhere present and fillest all things”.


David J. Goa

Founding Director. Chester Ronning Centre for the Study of Religion and Public Life, University of Alberta.
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