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

The icons for the Icons at Home series are set to begin in the Conestoga Iconographic Studio in the spring of 2019. Using traditional methods and materials—as well as the particular vision for which the studio is known—original icons will be made for sixteen rooms typically found in homes today. As each is finished they will also be available as mounted prints.

Each of the sixteen original icons is being made with the traditional approach, materials, and vision that the Conestoga Iconographic Studio is known for. The vision of each saint, or event, is focused on connection for those who pray before them with the kingdom of God. They embody an innocence, candidness, and joy. These icons are stylized and flat in the vision they render of the Kingdom—lines are bold, colour’s frank, and clothing rendered in a simple geometry. While participating in the rich tradition of Eastern Orthodox iconography, their rendering is towards creating a vision of prayer for those living in the West.

To find out more, click here.

Latest Articles

November Newsletter

The Studio is Open! I’m very happy to announce that the Conestoga Iconographic Studio is now open. For nearly twenty years I’ve been working as an iconographer, but last year I began transitioning towards working full-time in the studio. It’s been quite a road to get here, and I’m grateful to all the people who…

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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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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”.

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David J. Goa

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