Thoughts… and Exhibitions!


Icon the Mother of God Smolenskaja by Olga Shalamova

Getting ready to teach a series of iconography workshops I decided to check programs, offered by fellow iconographers. In a few minutes discovered an extensive number of icon retreats all over the world, and suddenly I had a rising desire to choose a course for me to sign for!

I was so amazed, how many opportunities open up when you google “icon painting workshop” or “course”. The ads said you can learn “technique of Byzantine art”, gilding technique, the “language of icons” and their “meaning”, and even to work as a team member with renowned master-iconographers for several days…

I searched really hard, but in the end, I did not find a single one to sign for. It was so disappointing, that it even became the saddest news of the day.

Flipping through photos of different workshops taught in Russia, Italy, the USA, Australia, Greece, and Canada I saw a great deal, and it was not even close to what I was dreaming about. Most of the photographs were showing iconography students copying photocopies of their teachers’ icons, where the most beautiful, deepest, most powerful, and breathtaking old icons were rudely reduced to plainest simplified patterns. I saw dozens of students bending over their tiny little tables, overloaded with dozens of prints, plastic palettes, and other staff, dying to perform most unexplainable actions with most unexplainable pre-mixed hues of colors, composed by their teachers.

What I was seeking for was a kind of structure, which could help to see iconography as a living theology in color, and I only found commercial schools of sacred craftsmanship with very little understanding of the very techniques they teach. It’s not to be mentioned here, that the students’ works which I saw often had better colors and composition, than the works of their instructors. They looked more alive and less betraying their medieval models.

The whole research and the pictures, in particular, brought me to depression, but it did not last long. My brain rejected to stay in obsession and generated a consolation: tough but a good one.

The conclusion was this: if I want to be a serious iconographer, yet there is no extensive program of studies to follow, and the only thing on can do is this, – we all have to continually teach ourselves, getting knowledge from all available serious sources, and shape our vision struggling with conformism.


Another question, – practical AND theoretical at the same time: – Have you ever thought, what should be the relationship between art VS design in a church? I keep thinking it over and over for several months, and my initial point remains as it was: if we make icons for our contemporaries, we should consider their actual needs. But does it mean that we have to always agree with what our clients want us to do, or, belonging to a certain professional guild, we are entitled to suggest an alternative? For us, it’s a challenging question.

Icon the Mother of God Sosnovskaja by Olga Shalamova

Since 18 years ago we had our first commissions, we met lots of priests, who tried to make us follow their very extraordinary ideas of what is an icon and how the church space should be organized. As now we know, these situations are always unpredictable, and maybe in Russia, the ideas are even weirder. Once we worked with a priest, who out of the blue requested us to paint saint Nicholas holding a steam locomotive in his hands. The reason was obvious for him: it was the railway station, which sponsored the church construction. Another priest, (hieromonk, which means he was a priest and a monk at the same time) insisted the Archangels on icons should not have any wings since no one we know had ever seen them or any photo of them with the wings.

Facing situations like this we discovered that the role of an iconographer has to be much more extensive and serious than just being a “church artist” or a “church designer”. In the current situation of almost total iconographic ignorance of the clergy and devastating loss of connection with the traditions of the past, it is the iconographer, who is forced to become the last professional, responsible for the church interior final appearance. It is him or her, who has to think about the beauty, as well as functionality, coherence with the rules, canons and the tradition. It’s the iconographer, who should have the ability and rights to coordinate all the elements of the interior together, preserving the harmony, unity, and integrity of the church as a holy whole.

Well, now the question is how to obtain an authority to speak on behalf of tradition if you are invited to discuss “little changes” to an existing structure, and you are not entitled to have any right to seriously change anything?

The easiest answer is: “do not agree”, but what is the right kind of argument for these people, if you don’t want to lose the commission, or at least to keep some friendly relations, and want to avoid looking like “I-know-it-all” kind of person? How do you defend your point if the client insists?

Icon of Christ by Olga Shalamova

I have a feeling, that it may also depend on a role, iconographer wants to play in his or her own eyes. Maybe, despite all the workshops, trying to educate us as craftsmen, called to please our priests’ eyes with our lovely icons with overwhelming amounts of gold we can take it much more seriously? We probably might start considering ourselves not only artists (or designers) but also professional educators, sharing the essential knowledge, shaping (and re-shaping) our priest’s views?

Well, at this point I expect your objections, like where one can get spare time to obtain the necessary knowledge to become an expert and how to get the authority to cross someone, who was ordained by a bishop, or a bishop himself or herself?

Again, – I only have my own answer to this, and even I do not like it myself, but now I think it’s the only one:

We must ask for help from professional theologians and art-critics to make our opinion valuable and to seriously root it in the tradition.

We should honestly and fearlessly ask those, who is able to evaluate our bottlenecks, find common ground in our glorious past and help us to get better.

I am sure it will be a long and difficult process, but without the help of renowned professionals, we will always remain a narrow guild of basket makers, complaining about a lack of respect.

Now, as this thought was torturing me for a number of months, and as I have tried hard on my own and I can’t help it, I am turning to you, our dear subscriber and friend!

– If you know a professional theologian or/and an art critic, who would like to think together about contemporary iconography, constructively criticize and to see a better way for all of us to evolve, – would you ask him or her for help?

Any outcome is appreciated!

P.S. Step by step together we generate a General Bibliography for Iconographers, – everybody is welcome to propose valuable titles!.


The time flies and in a few days, the challenge continues – another series of workshops, – sharing/discovering new ideas and widening horizons. It’s such a great time!

Have you ever faced the “varnish fear”? I mean the fear to ruin the finished icon by sealing it badly?

Life was so easy with copal varnish by Lefranc (see our old video), but as many of you know, they stopped producing it! The last bottles we bought a year ago are almost over! Time to experiment with the new version advised by LeFranc (Lefranc Picture Varnish Extra Fine Gloss). I started and even made a new video, but yet the result is too glossy, even with the addition of linseed oil. It’s like a Galoshe! I can not recommend it the way it is.

Some people advised to use highly diluted shellac, but in my humble opinion egg tempera needs some sort of transparent semi-liquid substance to fill the gaps between pigment particles…
If you have any trustable recipe of what can substitute copal varnish from LeFranc, – we’d be happy to hear from you! In the meantime, our own experiments go on and I hope to come up with something good in February! It’s urgent for us as well!

4. 2 EXHIBITIONS in 2 days and NEW ICONS

Icon the Mother of God Feodorovskaja by Olga Shalamova

Just yesterday we had the first day of our annual Exhibition in Melbourne, (ACU ArtSpace), featuring images by Peter Blackwood, Margaret Broadbent, Olga Shalamova and Alexandra Irini, here comes another news: – Bernardine College in Paris (France) hosts an exhibition of Russian and Ukrainian icons, – it opened for public today and will remain open till the 20th of January. Here are some links to see at least something:
1. Colleges des Bernardines #1

2. Colleges des Bernardines #2

3. Artos Fellowship

5. Our Workshops – very short:

The June workshop in New Zealand is full, the icon painting workshop in Queenscliff has 2 available spots. Yet nothing concrete for the USA: – yet we are looking for affordable venues with good lighting.

Thank you for reading our Newsletter! We appreciate your feedback and shares.

Wishing you a prosperous year!,

With warmest regards,

Philip & Olga

Cappadocia + Call for Exhibition

Mosaic details for iconostasis

Cappadocia + Call for Exhibition

Newsletter 20 November 2019

Dear friend,

How would you call a state of mind, when you have just unloaded a large project from your brain?

What are the most appropriate words?

Mosaic detail for iconostasis
Mine are the emptiness and freedom, and when they are together, it’s a state of inspiration. Well, I did not finish the church interior 100%, and yet I can only share photographs of mosaic details but at least there is nothing I can do with it right now, – time to start painting icons again, – time to do a commission I promised to make more than half a year ago. It’s st Victoria of Ephesus and I hope it will be ready by the new year…

After finishing with the Epitaphios Olga has started several pieces of research, getting back to egg tempera, relief gesso and experiments in relative materials… Hope in the next issue we both will have some completed icons and will have some newest icons to share… Icons and other images inspired by…


When it comes to Cappadocia, we just can not help it. We both fell in love with this little piece of land, the motherland of St Basil the Great, St John Chrysostom, and St. Gregory the Theologian (known as the Great Cappadocian Fathers)… Every time we come there, it’s an overwhelming dose of adrenaline, excitement and continuous brainstorming, caused by the desire to understand these local artists, to get what made them so great and so free at the same time.

Sarnic church, Cappadocia

The most surprising thing, when you come to Cappadocia, is the fact, that you are surrounded by beauty. It’s everywhere: rocky landscapes and painted cave churches…

There are some painted cave churches, where you need to buy a ticket to enter, but there is also a number of churches with X – XII century murals with totally free access, you just have to know how to find them. In Cappadocia it’s not an easy thing, because the maps and tourist schemes in the valleys have faded (most of them), and maps from the Tourist Information offices are so approximate, that they only provide you with very rough coordinates. And even locals sometimes can not help you. This makes even more valuable an opportunity to find a painted X century church just by yourself. Sarnic kilise (“Cistern church” from Turkish) is a good example of it – we only found it on our second try.

Here we publish some photos of it, all in one album – Sarnic Kilise , – hope they give some idea of this tiny-tiny little church…

The Workshops:

The 30th of November we most likely will have to close the registration for the Icon Painting Workshops in Melbourne. If you are waiting for the last moment to sign for any of them, it’s time to act.

In the meantime, the boards for the workshops are ready, they are on their way to our Studio. The boards for “Our Lady Igorevskaya” workshop are 30 * 25 cm (12 * 10 in) with raised edges, the Crucifix boards are 50 * 37 cm ( 20 * 14 in). As always they are made from solid linden wood, but these particular boards have no raised edges, to give more freedom and possibilities for drawing.

Besides, we have a narrow and specific proposal for those, who may happen to be in Saint Petersburg in February: some weeks ago we have been inquired if we could teach relief gesso technique, which made Olga’s works so special on New Valamo icon exhibition “Saints of Undivided church”. We agreed to make a series of 4 half-day sessions 17-20 of February 2020, and if you are interested to read about this “Relief Gesso Workshop in Saint Petrsburg (Russia)”, please see a special page: .

The Exhibition:

Another note for those, who can bring or ship one or more artworks to Melbourne: – exactly like in previous years, we invite our students and friends to participate in the Exhibition “Visions of Beauty-2020”!

Exhibition of Icons in Melbourne
Here we have to mention, – even though this exhibition this time will be organized for the fifth time,
last year we had a very unfortunate incident, when a wonderful tiny copy of Hans Memling, made by a Melbourne-based iconographer was stolen.

This year for the time of the exhibition and workshops we are going to remove the temporary wall between the gallery space and the class, hoping that nobody will dare to steal in front of a class, but yet we have to give a little piece of advice: please, bring large pieces if you can!

The topic is wide – Christian Religious Art. We invite icons as well as other religion-related images. We can not guarantee we accept all the images, but especially if you bring a large size artwork, we will most likely include it in the show.

Exhibition address is the same, – ACU Visual Arts Space, 26 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy, Victoria. Upon your arrival, please wave in front of the window or knock the glass door of the Gallery to be noticed.

The installation is scheduled for about midday on the 11th of January 2020. Together with our students and friends, who come for the installation, we will select the best ones and mount them. If you think you may have some spare time, any help will be appreciated.

For those, who want to participate, here is a little hint: the flyer was not made yet… Well, here is the point: this time we are counting on you.

Please email us the photographs of the works you wish to show, in high resolution and we will choose the best ones to be put on the flyer. Mosaic from Saint Sophia


P.S. Occasionally found in our Newsletter of 2016 a link to the photographs of some of the churches of Istanbul,- Aya Sophia and Kahrie Jami .
Thought you may like them, if you missed:…


Thank you very much for being our valued subscribers!
If you have amoment, we would greatly appreciate if you let us know, which for you is the best and preferred type of news, and which you think can be lift unpublished.

With warmest regards,
Philip Davydov and Olga Shalamova

Australia Rules!

Dear Friend,
We have some workshop announcements but … I can’t help it!

First I shall praise our colleagues and friends Australian iconographers! It’s an unbelievable coincidence, to have so many events in a row, but they are all the fruit of much long and hard work. CONGRATULATIONS!  And here are the reasons for such praise (in the chronological order the news reached us):

A Celebration of Living Light. Exhebition and a Reception
A Celebration of Living Light. Exhebition and a Reception

First: an Exhibition and Reception “A Celebration of Living Light” at the Mercy Mission, Spirituality and Action Hub in North Carlton, Victoria. The exhibition was attended by a large number of Sisters and guests. The work of four Australian iconographers: Margaret Broadbent RSM Margaret McHugh RSM, Pauline Pervan RSM and Mrs Alice Vaughan.

We know that it took a very long time to get everything ready, but we are happy to hear that all went well. The photographs and a video are available here.

Icon exhibition Images of the Divine in Canberra. Sue Orchison (in red) who organised things, Richard Charlwood and Apostolic Nuncio, Most Reverend Adolfo Tito Yllana.
Icon exhibition in Canberra. Sue Orchison Richard Charlwood and Apostolic Nuncio, Most Reverend Adolfo Tito Yllana.

Second: About 80 people attended the opening, and several hundred guests in total saw The Images of the Divine, an exhibition organized by Sue Orchison displaying the work of 17 iconographers. 70 icons were produced and shown at the administration centre of the Archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn, Australia. Some photographs from the opening are available on Sue’s  Facebook Page, and her speech can be seen and read  on her website:

We are very happy and proud of our friends and students’ progress. Olga and I both appreciate and know how hard it is to progress and move forward so successfully!

Eastern Iconography in the contemporary Protestant West
Eastern Iconography in the contemporary Protestant West

Third: this news is less visual and rather verbal. However, we consider it may have great importance for all of us, especially in the long run.

This morning I received a letter arrived from Peter Blackwood, Australia. He was invited to a conference where he gave a lecture: Eastern Iconography in the Contemporary West.  Peter kindly agreed for us to share the text of his speech on our website. It has been added to our text collection and we hope you will gain some important insights and knowledge from it.

Corsi fi iconografia a Milano Italia
Corsi fi iconografia a Milano Italia

Fourth: future workshops

The first ones will be in Italy. Continuing on from last year’s “Corso di Perfezionamento” there will be two courses at the beginning of September. The first one is for those who have professionally worked in iconography for a number of years, and the second one is for other students who have just started on their journey in iconography.

It’s been almost 20 years since I last went to Italy as my father’s workshop interpreter and assistant, and it came around again! Last year I was contacted by some of his students who want to continue their education. I attempted it last year as a special challenge – to figure out the most crucial problems, and share the solutions with the “veterans”, who know almost everything. But what inspires me is that, even though they are so experienced, they are still open and still want to learn!

The US workshops are steadily filling up, and it looks like we are going to have both groups in September. At the New Skete (with the icon of “Angel with Golden Hair” as the chosen image) and at the Holy Cross Monastery in West Park, where we will continue a series of lectures on icon drawing.

At last, but not least, finally … so late, what a shame!! we can announce our January workshops in Melbourne!

Icon of Our Lady Igorevskaya for Icon Painting Workshop
Icon of Our Lady Igorevskaya for Icon Painting Workshop

We are really sorry for the delay. However, it took us a while to figure out what should be taught to people, who organize their exhibitions and lead their own icon schools all over Australia!

After discussing possible topics, and trying to find the answer for months, here it is:

The first one (as always) will be open to everyone. The chosen image is the icon of the Mother of God “Igorevskaya”. This means that students will have to study and paint two large faces, but we feel this is doable.

Model for Icon Painting Workshop Image of Crucifix
Model for Icon Painting Workshop Image of Crucifix

The second will actually be a double one.  It is has been chosen for those students who have previously painted icons.

We have to confess, it’s for the first time ever that we have decided to make a workshop as a two-session series with one model, and we are very excited about this.

We will use an image of the Crucifix for painting an icon of the Crucified Christ without other figures. However, both sessions are planned to include many studies and research results,  so we are sure it will be a fruitful time.

The plan is to work seriously, i.e. with lots of investigations and routine discoveries, so that the whole workshop could be experienced as a real immersion in a professional iconographer’s work. Please share this opportunity with others you may know who would like to join us.

The gessoed boards for the workshop icons will be made in the form of a cross. We have planned this so that these icons, when they are finished and varnished, can be used for church or personal veneration. We believe it will be a valuable practice and inspiration for everybody.


Mosaic detail for iconostasis
Mosaic detail for iconostasis

To finish all the practical news, we will only share one tumbled stone and glass mosaic image as our fresh “production”. It’s a small section of a future iconostasis decoration by Philip Davydov. Other images are still in the planning stages.

Olga and I are both immersed in extensive projects which should be finished within several weeks or a couple of months.

Thank you very much for being our valued subscribers!

With warmest regards,
Philip Davydov and Olga Shalamova

March 2019

Dear Friends,

We wish you a peaceful and fruitful Lent! May God help you get rid of something you want to get rid of. And, also, may it be a fortunate occasion to do something creative that you have wanted to do for so long!

In this Newsletter:

  1. Exhibition and workshops in Melbourne
  2. TRUE FRESCO workshop in Wesley Seminary (Washington DC)
  3. Exhibition in Moscow
  4. Inquiries for iconostasis projects
  5. Interviews
  6. Advertisement from our class-mate

Icon Exhibition in Melbourne. Visions of Beauty 2019
Icon Exhibition in Melbourne. Visions of Beauty 20191

We have had several events on our itinerary since Christmas, and we are very happy to share them in the hope they may inspire you!

  1. First – we have had an exhibition: Visions of Beauty and 3 icon workshops in Melbourne, – a General one, a Drawing one, and an Advanced one on Assist Gilding. As always there were multiple challenges, for us and for the students, but we hope that the knowledge gained will help all students give more structure to their art in general, and to their iconography in particular. Mainly what we always try to do is this – not only to give our students certain practical skills, but also to provide them with instruments. Instruments for a multifaceted understanding of their global role as artists and iconographers; considerations and contingent guidelines for a professional approach to their work.

Iconography Workshop in Melbourne
Iconography Workshop in Melbourne

This is the reason why every year we more and more transform our workshops. Most of them are structured to teach different spheres of iconography, providing a multi-resourced approach to one specific subject at a time.

We are glad to share the photographs from these three workshops and, if you have any questions or comments, please feel free to share!

True Fresco Workshop USA
True Fresco Workshop USA

2. Our next workshop was scheduled for June (Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington DC), and it was going to be very cool one, but we had to close the registration due to a little number of reigstrants. We regret to say it, and we are sorry for the inconveniences it  caused to anyone.


Exhibition of Christian Graphic images by Olga Shalamova
Exhibition of Christian Graphic images by Olga Shalamova

3. One more important event we should mention was a little exhibition of Olga’s graphic works at the Art Library of Bogolubov in Moscow. There were more than 30 works in different mediums. Some were the images, made for the Calendar (we mentioned these in our previous newsletter), and some were made earlier. We think that works on paper are great because they offer great freedom to learn and use our visual language most effectively.

Iconostasis project rendering
Iconostasis project rendering

4. These last month’s assignments were very different from our previous ones, because we were asked to design unique iconostases for 5 different churches here in Russia. Not all of these eventuated as final projects, but Philip has invented an interesting mosaic technique for an iconostasis surface decoration and, in hindsight, considers it a great experience. Composing projects is a specific task, but the process of interaction with clients is a very special one. It was cool overall – we learned how to negotiate, and how to research the best iconostasis for each individual church, choosing from hundreds. Boards have been commissioned, and we hope to share the photographs of those icons in the coming months.

5. Of course, it would only be fair to say,  that some of these inquiries only happened because of an interview, published in the popular Russian Orthodox online media “Pravmir”. Philip was interviewed in Russian, then Peter Blackwood inspired us to make it available to an English-speaking audience and, with the help of Alexandra Irini, it was possible to translate it. Click the photograph or the link: to read the interview as a PDF file.

Very soon we expect to have another interview. This time with Olga. It has taken several years to finish but we hope it got just got better because of that duration – it’s coming soon!

Now, as we have got the most urgent questions answered, work gets back to normal, and we slowly start thinking about possible programs for the next workshops.

If you have any special ideas, we are happy to hear from you!! Please let us know what you think are the most important problems iconographers face, and we will try to find the best ways to resolve them together.

6. We were again asked to share some information from our friends, and hope it may be of interest to you. This time it’s our former classmate Natalia. We studied with her at the Fine Art Academy. She now owns a travel agency in Saint Petersburg. Here is her info:


Hi!  I am Natalya German-Tsarkova, the owner of Tzar Travel –

I am an art history major and that’s why it’s always been a pleasure to share my passion for St. Petersburg with our clients.  Our guides share my vision of what a tour should be.  They are super qualified, enthusiastic, charming people. We offer visa-free shore excursions for cruise visitors as well as various land tours.
You are welcome to contact us by
email: or WhatsApp +7(921)391-18-94.

25 November 2018

Dear Friend,
This time we have very few news, and the first one is about…

Exhibition of icons and other spiritual images1. EXHIBITION in Melbourne – Visions of Beauty 2019!
Such a shame I have forgotten to announce it in our previous issue, – hope it’s not too late, here I am doing it:
!!! Welcome to participate in Visions -2019 in Melbourne !!!
As always we feel deeply grateful to ACU for another possibility to use the Visual Arts area for our workshops, therefore we invite all our students, colleagues and friends, who have a possibility to bring own works to show.

We should begin installation on Saturday, 12th of January 2019 in the morning, usually it’s something around 10 or 11 AM at Brunswick street 26, Fitzroy Melbourne, Australia. If you plan to bring your image (and/or object), make sure it has a hook or anything else to hang it on the wall and please, email us the title in advance, so we may print out all labels together so they look uniform.
Choosing works for the exhibition we give our preference to larger scale pieces. Those, who have already participated, remember, – we do our best to include all the images/sculptures/objects in the show, but we can not guarantee that everything you bring will be exhibited.

Besides, if you have a chance to spread the word and share information about the exhibition, we kindly ask you to share and invite those who can come on Monday 14th of January, towards the end of the Workshop day, around 5 PM.
The flyer is uploaded to our website and it is available here:
PDF: (12.5 Mb)

2. THE GILDING WORKSHOP in Melbourne still has some spots. Welcome to join us, – we will investigate possibilities gold provides to an iconographer and try to get as good as we can in Assist Gilding.Mosaic image of archangel Michael by Philip Davydov

We have had some positive responses after publishing the Bibliography for iconographers, so we continue. This particular list of books was shared by our friend, student and fellow iconographer Alexandra Irini from Melbourne.
Plus to this, I have asked Todor Mitrovic to share his list… he did… well, maybe not actually “his”… but it was a cool answer to my question – a link to a Book-Search-Engine! Look what he shared:

I shall ask him to shorten the list!

As previously, we invite you and all our subscribers and friends to share with us the titles of your most favorite books – most decent and serious studies, as well as uncomplicated and well reasoned original books, worth to be shared with everybody. They should help people to enter the world of Christian iconography and to see right benchmarks and values right from their very first steps, as well as those, fitting professionals’ needs, helping to understand own work in a deeper way.

4. ONE MORE MOSAIC is finished!
This image of Archangel Michael is made with marble, granite, golden mirror and tumbled glass. I love making this kind of mosaic because I am thrilled to see how different materials interact. The surface can be so material and so immaterial at the same time, rich in textures and colors. The most intriguing for me is the moment of planning, – simply dropping some pieces of glass and stones on paper side by side and looking at them, checking, if they coop well. And by cooping I mean all their qualities, – what they add to the future image, how they render it’s essential idea, whether they help or not

5. Our parish (Feodorovsky Cathedral, St Petersburg) published a Calendar with Olga’s graphic images.  It consists of 14 full color pages (12 Feasts), page size 44 X 31 cm (18 X 12.5 inches). The introduction is written by Fr. Alexander Sorokin and translated by Paul Williams.

We have shipped the Calendar orders made by Sunday the 9th of December 2018. Cost of one calendar with worldwide shipping was US $20.

The shipping is performed with regular registered Airmail. The Post Office kindly informed us that the regular shipping time to the US, Canada & any European country is about 2 weeks, although in Christmas/New Year period it takes longer.


Wishing everybody lots of creative energy and time for the realization!,

With warmest regards,
Philip (and Olga)


Exhibition & Manual +

Dear Friends,
Thank you again for your interest to our work! We’ve had lots of little news, but Newsletter is just for the most serious, and the first one dates back to December 2017… Here they are:

  1. Saints of Undivided church Exhibition in Minsk
    Saints of Undivided church Exhibition in Minsk

    Last June our friends launched a project, named Saints of Undivided Church and we were invited to participate their first exhibition. It took place in National Museum of Belorussia in Minsk (December 20, 2017 – February 18,  2018. It was a great pleasure to be at the opening, – more than 200 visitors  and a great bunch of icons, painted by almost a hundred iconographers from different countries. I admired how much freedom can iconographers have without pressure. To share the information I published some photos on Flickr and we are happy to share our friend’s video on…
    The project continues and different iconographers continue to join it. Let me know if you are interested, – I will give you Sergei’s email (he speaks english well).

  2. Icon workshops in Auckland and Melbourne
    Icon workshops in Auckland and Melbourne (January 2018)

    Icon Workshops in New Zealand and Australia went well, and this time we publish almost one hundred photos:…
    Now preparing to hold the ones in DC and New York, plus within two weeks we will launch another workshop in Italy. It’s going to be 6-10 September 2018 in Milano, made exclusively for iconographers-professionals and taught in italian.

  3. Menologion of Basil the II
    Menologion of Basil the II

    Our latest internet discovery: A very famous illuminated manuscript of X-XI centuries “Menologion of Basil the II” was recently published online by Vatican Library: .
    Even though many images depict wild scenes of martyrdoms, it’s a great source of visual information, and may be very useful.

  4. Iconographers Manual
    Iconographers Manual

    For many years we tried to build up a text, which could describe our working process, a “Manual“. Here is a current version of it:, feel free to download and use it if you like. We hope to update it from time to time, and if you have any enquiries or comments, please feel free to share, – we will consider your feedback very seriously. In the nearest future we will add list of our favourite pigments, – what else should be changed??
    Lately we also started to compose a “Bibliography for Iconographers”, as soon as it’s ready we shall publish it too. ANd if you have any of your favourite books, – books or quotations, which you think may be useful, – please share!

  5. After numerous recommendations we have opened an Instagram account: and started sharing our photos.
    Welcome to subscribe, comment, like or dislike :). 
  6. And as always at the end, our latest icons:

    Icon of The Mother of God "Umilenie" (Tenderness)
    Icon of The Mother of God “Umilenie” (Tenderness)

    Icon of Christ
    Icon of Christ

    Icon of Mandylion - Image of Christ not made by Human Hands
    Icon of Mandylion – Image of Christ not made by Human Hands

    St. Alexandra of Rome
    St. Alexandra of Rome

    St Elizabeth the Martyr
    St Elizabeth the Martyr

    St Stilian
    St Stilian

    St Lev Egorov
    St Lev Egorov

The Holy Martyrs Saint Sophia and her Daughters Faith, Hope and Love
The Holy Martyrs Saint Sophia and her Daughters Faith, Hope and Love

To be continued 🙂

With warmest regards,
Philip and Olga

Published on: February 18, 2018

November 2017

Hello, dear Friend!,

Shepherds. Detail of Contemporary Graphic Series Nativity of Christ.
Shepherds. Detail of Contemporary Graphic Series Nativity of Christ.

Before sharing news we are proud to repeat our CALL FOR EXHIBITION “Visions of Beauty 2018” one more time: – if you have a possibility to bring your image(s) or object(s) to ACU Visual Arts Building (26 Brunswick st., Fitzroy) about 11 AM on Saturday 13th of January, – please do so! We particularly appreciate large scale works, even though smaller ones are accepted with a great joy as well. Even if we can’t guarantee, that every work will be accepted, we try hard to exhibit all what we can.

  1. This time instead sharing all images at the end, we will start with some and finish with some. First: Olga’s latest graphic works:

    Nativity of Christ. Contemporary Graphic Series.
    Nativity of Christ. Contemporary Graphic Series.
  2. I doubt anyone likes advertisements in Advent time, so we make it now: we have uploaded all our images of the Nativity of Christ to FineArtAmerica. Some were done in egg tempera, some in colored pencils, the cost of printing dropped for November – December 2017.
    Have a look when thinking about Christmas postcards or other prints:…/phil-davydov…
  3.   Some time ago together with other iconographers we were invited to participate a project, called “Saints of Undivided Church” . Currently there are more then 100 icon painters from different countries and more than 140 icons completed by now. The first exhibition is scheduled to open 20 December 2017 in Minsk (capital of Belarus), it will last till 28 February 2018. Olga’s British Saints and st. Patrick by Philip were accepted and we hope to get some friend’s photos from the opening and 2-day conferences to share. If you are interested, let us know, – we send you a program (in Russian since the whole event will be in Russian as well).
  4. Drogheria Del Zio
    “Drogheria Del Zio”

    At the end of October we have spent 7 graceful days in some old Italian cities, looking at great mosaics and icons. We took some thousands of photos (start sharing them below), but the most romantic moment happened in a pigment shop, which I remember visiting 20 years ago…. And it was still there!!! A cosy “Drogheria” (drug store), on Piazza delle Erbe in Padova selling almost everything, including the pigments… As we entered there, we could not find the pigments at first, but the salesman helped me to remember, where exactly in 1990s I enjoyed so much pulling out these ramshackle boxes with colors. We found them, and shared the fun with the new team. I am speaking about this just to remember Michelangelo, who I heard used to say: “The pigments can be purchased in a drug store”.

  5. Visiting Ravenna and looking at it’s stunning treasures we could not stop thinking of showing them to everyone we know. Thank’s God, humans invented cameras and internet! – At least we can share photos and upload them for everyone to see! Feel free to visit our latest Flickr album:, – it’s Mauseleum of Galla Placidia. All images can be viewed and downloaded in full resolution (about 4000X6000 pixels). Enjoy!

  6. Utrecht Psalter
    Utrecht Psalter

    We also wanted to share one of our latest internet discoveries, – Utrecht Psalter, available in full resolution:

    Scholars, designers and web-masters in Utrecht University did a great job, – the website gives unique opportunity to read comments to every scene and detail in more then 180 pages with drawings, possibility to enlarge and download page by page. We downloaded them all and if you like to have them downloaded too, let us know.

  7. Forthcoming workshops – very short! All our workshops in Melbourne (Australia) and in Auckland (New Zealand) are full.
    Now we announce three workshops in the United States for 2018:
    Wesley Seminary (Washington DC) – August 6-10

    The Holy Cross Monastery (NY) September 18-21

    The New Skete Monastery (NY) – September 25-29.

    Iconography Workshops in the USA
    Iconography Workshops in the USA


  8. Two small size icons by Philip:

    Saint Nicholas, Saving Sailors
    Saint Nicholas, Saving Sailors

    Saint Andrew and Saint Catherine
    Saint Andrew and Saint Catherine

    And more to come!

    Thank you for being our Subscriber!,
    With warmest regards,

    Philip and Olga


Dear Friend,

Exhibition in Hannover
Exhibition in Hannover

Our latest Newsletter came out in July, but news are rushing and we have to share them before they get too old. Here are some recent things we wanted you to read about and see:

First: We are SO HAPPY to spread the word about Exhibition of our friend Todor Mitrovic and his exstudent Nicola Saric in Hannover! It opened 25th of August and will be on till the 30th of November 2017. Some information can be see on the church web-site and on a flyer

Todor has prepared 6 diptychs of the Mother of God and Exodus, Nikola has other subjects. Unfortunately there are no photos from the opening, which gathered 100 people. But we can see the icons the way they are distributed in the church space, which we think is good:

Iconography workshop in New Zeland
Iconography workshop in New Zeland


It’s been a long time since we first were asked about an iconography workshop in New Zealand, and here it is! It will take place in Auckland, starting the 5th and ending the 9th of January 2018. We plan to paint an icon of Christ, taking a 13th century image from Mount Sinai as our model.

For those, who live in New Zealand, and have already signed up for our workshop(s) in Melbourne. – I don’t mind you shifting to the newer group, but please, do it in the nearest days since the group is filling up quickly, – we have only 5 spots left.

Visual Literacy
Visual Literacy

We have started a new project, – series of Visual Literacy video-lectures on YouTube. The first one is short (only 3’22):, but hope it can be a good addition to our workshops, available to everyone. Next one is planned to be about Integrity… What do you think should be other urgent topics?

Looking forward to see your comments, likes and dislikes as well :).

Medieval Reliefs
Medieval Reliefs

This time we have no new icons to share, therefore we publish 74 medieval images. These are carved wooden sculptures from Novgorod Museum and Magdeburg bronze doors, which for many centuries work for Saint Sophia cathedral in Novgorod (Russia).

All our students and friends, especially those, who come to our Melbourne workshops, are invited to participate our 3rd exhibition “Visions of Beauty 2018” in ACU Gallery Space. The installation should begin on Saturday the 13th of January about midday. We can not guarantee, that all the works will be accepted, but larger ones are preferable.

More news in the next Issue!
With warmest regards,

Philip Davydov and Olga Shalamova

March News

Dear Friends!,

If you are in northern hemisphere we wish the most beautiful spring, if in the southern, we hope you are having an enjoyable autumn!

As the time runs, we have to make some changes in our workshop schedule, couple of new works, couple of exhibitions and a special website to share.

Groups in Calgary and Seattle are  filling up well, but last week we have been contacted by Wesley Seminary (Washington DC) and we were informed that our workshop has to be cancelled because of widescale renovation works.
But since every cloud has a silver lining, with a generous invitation of Peter Pearson’s now we happily launch a brand new Icon Drawing Workshop in the Holy Cross monastery in West Park NY, – reachable by direct trains from NYC).
It’s a 4 days course for $650 with lodging and meals included, – lots and lots of drawing! We think it’s essential for all.

Only two works to publish since our previous Newsletter:

One by Philip:

Contemporary Icon Transfiguration of Christ
Icon of Transfiguration of Christ by Philip Davydov

And a Last Supper by Olga Shalamova:

The Last Supper by Olga Shalamova. Egg tempera on wood.
The Last Supper by Olga Shalamova. Egg tempera on wood.

Besides, we are surprised to see constant and unpredictable interest to iconography exhibitions. As always we publish some photos at our Flickr, hope you may find something inspiring.

Exhibition 85 years of Saint Petersburg Union of Artists
Exhibition 85 years of Saint Petersburg Union of Artists

The first one was a “85 years of Union of Artists of Saint Petersburg“,  which included our iconography section  not a special one iconography  (February 20 – March 10 2017, St. Isaac’s Square Manege, Saint Petersburg, Russia).
The second in Feodorovsky Cathedral (also in Saint Petersburg) exhibition

Exhibition Passions of Christ in Art
Exhibition Passions of Christ in Art

Passions of Christ (March 5 – April 10).

After this, – at last but not least, as the best desert, we are also very proud of an opportunity to share a brand-new website of our fellow iconographer fr. Silouan Justiniano, constant author of Orthodox Arts Journal and a friend of ours. It’s  very minimal, just the essentials for now. Take a look:

Thanks you very much for your time, hope next one will have less news and more images to share!

With warmest greetings and wishes!!!,

Philip and Olga

February 2017

In this Newsletter:

  • Photos from icon painting workshops in Melbourne
  • Icon workshop(s)
  • Exhibition “From the Star till the Water”
  • New icons

Dear Friends,

The first word of this newsletter we want to be the word Gratitude!

Though we often wished to say it before, somehow yet there was no special occasion. Now we think it can be a good time. Looking back at our 10 years of workshops in Melbourne and even more in the US, we are happy to say how grateful we are to God, to our friends and relatives. We feel that in these years we had been immensely blessed, helped and inspired, our work – valued.

I know, I should list the names, but it would need many pages and simple listing of course would not be enough… We thank you all very much and wish that this coming year (and many more to come) will bring you the peace, joy and blessings in Christ.

Now we are back home-sweet-home, and thanks to Margaret Broadbent (see the photograph) we had a great cultural program in Sydney and feel very much rested… Time to stir paint for new sketches, time to bring together all we have seen and experienced lately.


Photographs from our last workshops (and exhibition) in ACU can be found on Flickr

NEXT ONES are planned for June 2017 (Seattle and Calgary, – filling up). In addition to them we announce our traditional workshop in Wesley Seminary (Washington DC, USA).
Though yet it’s not sure, but we may as well have one more workshop in the UK, but this should be happening in the second half of the year, – it’s just a “maybe” for now. And to conclude this listing, it’s good to say, – we always look forward to hear your critique, questions, comments or proposals, hoping that our educational methods and principles may be considered as an open system, changeable and upgradable.

EXHIBITION “From the Star till the Water” 

With most grateful feelings about the Moscow exhibition “Gifts”, where traditional icons were placed next to contemporary Christian artworks, I decided to share a local one. We only visited it because this Exhibition Center is very close to our home.  The exhibition was open for the period between feast of the Nativity of Christ and the Epiphany – 24th of December 2016 till 29th of January 2017. We especially enjoyed some of the objects and images and happily share them with you on Flickr too:


As always few ones finished:

Graphic image Prophet Isaiah, 2016 by Olga Shalamova
Graphic image Prophet Isaiah, 2016 by Olga Shalamova

Graphic image Prophet Micah, 2016 by Olga Shalamova
Graphic image Prophet Micah, 2016 by Olga Shalamova

Icon of Saint Irina, 2016 by Philip Davydov
Icon of Saint Irina, 2016 by Philip Davydov

Icon of Our Lady with Christ Child for Marist Brothers, 2016 by Olga Shalamova
Icon of Our Lady with Christ Child for Marist Brothers, 2016 by Olga Shalamova

Icon of Christ, 2016 by Olga Shalamova
Icon of Christ, 2016 by Olga Shalamova

Icon of Saint John the Baptist, 2016 by Olga Shalamova
Icon of Saint John the Baptist, 2016 by Olga Shalamova

And hopefully more to come!

One more time we thank you very much for being with us!

With warmest regards,

Philip Davydov and Olga Shalamova


P.S. For those, who like to travel, here is a number of opportunities from our friend fr. Ilia Gotlinsky:

The one, he especially loves is this one, which will include a visit to our studio:

The “Russian Icon” tour

The history of Russian Sacred Art and Architecture through Millennia July 10 – 30, 2017 The “Russian Icon” tour is the first comprehensive study tour that along with all of the major collections of Russian Icons will include many less famous, generally overlooked, but yet very important monuments and collections of the Russian Medieval Sacred Art. The itinerary includes visits to Moscow, most cities of the Golden Ring, Vologda, Ferapontovo, St. Petersburg, Novgorod and Pskov. Travelers will get a real in depth course not only on the History of Russian Sacred Art and Architecture, but also on the History of the Russian Orthodox Church and the Russian State. Another benefit of this trip is the fact that we will work directly with museum staff and clergy along the way. With many of them we have longstanding and personal friendship that enables us to see and to do learn about the things that usually remain behind the closed doors.
Link to the program:

Detailed itinerary available upon request.