Icon of Saint Andrew being held.
Fr. Colin and Shannon with their icon of Saint Andrew.

About this style of iconography

The style of iconography that you see on these pages is a modern  style with ancient roots. It is ancient in the distilled, simple perspective with which it presents Christ and his saints. A similar vision is evident at the very beginning of iconography—especially in the Romanesque and the icons of the ancient Coptic church. This style is also modern in its flatness, which we see in so much design today, and in the northern style of painting so beautifully rendered by artists like Lawren Harris from the Group of Seven.

These icons are stylistically flat, bright and direct. As a portal between heaven and earth, their flatness resonates with a sense of the eternity in which those depicted now participate. Such a focus gives a primacy to the artistic elements of line, colour and shape. The colours of each are from colourful earth pigments collected while on pilgrimage across Canada and North America. The icons of the Conestoga Iconographic Studio aim to be accessible, and can be found in a variety of churches and homes across Canada.

While vocationally a painter of traditional Orthodox icons, Symeon’s talents have also given rise to a myriad of other opportunities—art projects, public installations, and teaching opportunities—which express his additional abilities as both a conceptual and earth artist.

To read more about Symeon’s work in the arts, please visit www.vandonkelaar.ca

About Slow Goods

The Conestoga Icon Studio is proud to be part of the burgeoning Slow Goods movement. While the practice of iconography has been around for thousands of years, it has not been immune to the manufacturing approach that currently drives our economy. However, traditional iconography has much to offer in reconsidering the involvement of local materials and people; what it means to make something good; and the environmentally clean approach our faith demands.


The materials used in making these icons primarily come from within a stones-throw of the studio. All of their colours and wood are harvested around the village of Conestoga. This use of local colours and other materials not only celebrates the community, but shapes the very vision of the saints.


These icons are examples of fine craftsmanship and are made to last. Their panels are solid wood and won’t delaminate or dissolve over time. Their pigment colours are bright and won’t fade. If taken care of they will last for centuries. Good work like this embodies making things from the earth with the humility to walk lightly and listen to our materials.


Everything used to create these icons is really just being borrowed from the environment. The icon’s colours are pigments made from soil and rocks bound with egg yolk. It’s panel is wooden and its glues are all made from animal proteins. When the icon is damaged beyond repair, it can be burned (without releasing toxic fumes) or buried, and will naturally decompose back to the earth.

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