Artists travel far for SLC iconography class

Artists from as far away as Alaska flew or drove into Wichita to participate in an iconography class Monday through Saturday, July 8-13, at the Spiritual Life Center in Wichita.

It was a long way for some of the students, but a lot easier than flying to Larissa, Greece, where master iconographer Theodore Popadopoulos lives.

He taught a six-day workshop, explaining the ancient technique of iconography. The subject for the artists was an image of St. Michael the Archangel.

The 19 students, who also hailed from Kansas, Nebraska, Colorado, and Illinois, learned to make their icon using dry pigments and egg yolk, a combination known as tempera.

“My classes are for students of all levels, including absolute beginners,” Popadopoulos said, “and is taught in such a way that even beginners can finish the icon.”

The biggest challenge for the artists is the face, he said, which is the last step in completing the icon.

Popadopoulos said students leave the class happy, especially those for whom it was the first time to hold an artist’s brush.

Although Popadopoulos was in Wichita teaching the class for the third time, most of his time in Greece is spent painting murals for churches.

“It’s a great joy for me to find out more and more people wish to know and be taught this unique art and to share the knowledge I have gained after 25 years,” he said.

An iconographer must be a person of prayer, Popadopoulos said, because the creation of an icon is itself sacred. “A great Greek iconographer who passed away many years ago wrote that iconographers paint as they pray.”

He added that many iconographers “deliver their minds, their bodies, to the Holy Spirit as guidance in order to do an icon. So prayer is very, very important.”