I am a Russian iconographer
living and working in Australia.
I belong to the Eastern Orthodox Church (Ecumenical Patriarchate).
My professional background is fine arts with specialisation in book
illustration and design.
Apart from painting sacred images I also restore Roman Catholic
statues and write on topics related to personhood, from a joint
theological and psychological perspective. A number of my papers are
about the peculiar set of problems presented to a believer by
post-traumatic stress disorder i.e. how childhood trauma shapes a
person’s psyche in a way that impairs or even destroys their ability
to become attached to God. My particular interests are Christian
mystical theology and lives of saints-mystics, of both the Eastern
and Western Churches.
See below for information helpful to understanding the character and
purpose of my work, and also guidelines for commissions and
I was born in Moscow, in the then U.S.S.R. I was a student at the
College of Fine Arts when Perestroika with its glasnost and freedom
of faith broke in. The Russian Orthodox Church was allowed to come
out and to preach for the first time since 1917. As a result, many
discovered faith and converted to Orthodoxy, me included. I consider
myself to be very fortunate to have come across the works of Fr
Alexander Men which revealed to me the reality of the living
relationship with God opening to me the humanity of the Son of God
and making it possible to relate to Him as Person.
As it was with many iconographers of my generation, my engagement
with icon painting was a natural outcome of my conversion and desire
to live my faith through my profession, art. At some point my
confessor recommended to me to move to actual icon painting. Over
the years my “secular works” have been gradually reducing and the
work of icons increasing. Now I work almost exclusively on icons.
The artworks that had been produced before then are represented on
this site as a reference to my
Like most iconographers of my generation, I initially went through a
period of trying various historical styles of icon painting. With
time however I realized that preoccupation with the strict following
of a particular style was taking my attention from the true purpose
of an icon i.e. the sincere expression of the presence of a Person
in a way that helps a believers prayer to Him. Any style of
Christian art, as I see it, is a reflection of the life of the
Church in a particular period of time and also of the person of an
iconographer, their way of relating to God and this is why Christian
art is anything but uniform. Gradually I began painting icons as it
felt natural to me: abandoning stylisation and incorporating what
was useful from my learning and practice as an artist.
The Iconographic Canon
It must be clearly stated that my approach had nothing to do with
“unrestrained artistic self-expression”. As a member of the Church,
I totally submit to the tradition of the Eastern Orthodox Church
proscribing how to make liturgical art, often called “the
iconographic canon”. This tradition is concerned with theologically
significant things like symbolism, approved iconographic schemes,
treatments of icons, rules for iconographers and so on, and does not
prescribe (contrary to what is often said ) styles or materials.
“The iconographic canon”, in essence, is the host of sacred images
produced within the Church and deemed by it to be in a full
agreement with Christian theology, within certain conventions of
visual language, made with an appropriate attitude and suitable for
prayer. It can be fully understood only via active participation in
the liturgical life of the Eastern Orthodox Church. Likewise, an
icon cannot be seen truly and understood outside of the context of
My major focus, in my life and work, is Our Lord; because of this I
especially appreciate the opportunity to paint His image (that is
not to say that I do not love making other icons). I feel particular
affinity with the holy images which depict Him as most approachable
– with early Christian and medieval Western art, especially schools
of Siena and Pisa, Spanish polychrome statues and also those images
in which a blend of the West and East is evident, something I tend
to do in my own work. However, each icon dictates its own unique
How I work
I mostly work with egg tempera, a traditional medium which I prefer
to any other because it allows the achievement of a luminosity
impossible with any other media. This luminosity is due to the play
of light on the crystals of the natural pigments and to the
technique itself. This effect is perceptible while looking at the
originals but not when viewing photos. I grind pigments and make my
own paints, so as boards.
I do not make exact copies of other icons but always create my own
version based on suitable prototypes. The initial stage of work on
an icon, the preparatory drawing, is very important for me because
during this time I look at many examples. I read about the saint
depicted/their writings when available. I draw and pray asking them
to help me to decide what version is most suitable (prayer of course
is a part of my work at all stages).
When finished, the drawing is transferred to the board and the
detailed monochrome under-paint is made (for the purpose of giving
additional depth to the following layers of colours), with gilding
if needed. Only then comes the actual painting with egg tempera
which is, technically speaking, a very slow process of building up
multiple layers of transparent paint in various ways – glazing,
After drying for several weeks an icon may be varnished.
“An average icon” i.e. about 20 x 30 cm, of one person with
well-known iconography takes a minimum two weeks to paint. This time
does not include making the board and drying time.
Commission and purchase
If you are interested in purchasing an existing icon please refer to
the page “icons for purchase”.
If you wish to commission me an icon (I paint icons of the saints
approved by the Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches) please
contact me for a discussion of your proposal and a quote. More
detailed information like your personal connection with the Saint,
examples of the depictions you particularly like etc. is beneficial
for the work. Traditionally, an iconographer asks one for whom she
is working to pray for her; while painting she is praying to Whom
she is painting. A good icon, then, is born out of the
communication, between the commissioner, the iconographer, and the
For the restoration of statues please refer to the page
1984 - 1988 Moscow Art College – Matriculation (Diploma of Graphic
1993 - 1998 Moscow State University of Printing Arts – Master’s
Degree in Graphic Arts
Private collections and churches: Australia, England, Italy,
Morocco, Norfolk Island, Russia, Scotland, Ukraine, USA.