For the last twenty years, Symeon has worked to create sacred icons of profound beauty for churches and homes across the US, Canada and Europe. He currently lives with his family in Central Alberta and works as a full-time, professional artist.
Symeon’s artwork has a unique style—offering simplicity and stillness in its vision, as well as a love of colour evident in its gem-like hues. As an iconographic artist, he was trained in the Greek/Byzantine expression of iconography. However, Symeon’s own temperament draws him more towards the wonder-informing styles such as the Romanesque or ancient Coptic, where the revelation of divine reality isn’t limited to naturalistic expression. Instead, in his work, we experience visual art that moves beyond nature and symbol to a direct expression of knowing and experience in its own right. Through the gravitas of his style, Symeon brings the real presence of Jesus Christ and his saints—those men and women fully alive in the Spirit—into the lives of those living today.
Symeon’s painted icons can be found in chapels and churches across Canada and the US, as well as in the homes of people around the world. His work also blesses the homes of many in the form of high-quality art prints, which the studio makes in-house in order to ensure that they remain accessible to everyone regardless of their earthly means.
A four-part series by Liturgical Artist Symeon van Donkelaar at the Mount Carmel Spirituality Centre Mount Carmel Spirituality Centre is pleased to invite you to a series of talks exploring the role of the visual arts in the World, the Church, and at Home. Beginning with a broad overview of the way in which good art enables us to perceive the world around us, this series delves into the role liturgical art plays in the Church and ultimately explores how it can present Jesus Christ and his saints in our daily lives. Schedule 10:00 – 11:00 am Mass11:00 – 11:30
The Icons at Home Project
The paintings planned for the Faith at Home project represent a significant development for my work at the Red Earth Iconography studio. For the past 20 years, the studio’s work has been focused on creating original icons painted in egg tempera on handmade wooden panels and gilded with gold leaf for churches and homes across America and Europe. Following this path ultimately led to the creation of a local colour pallet and a style of iconography that is informed by the land and the presence of Jesus the Christ at all times and in all places. However, a lot has
Recent Icon Articles
This summer at Red Earth Icons has been focused on a project: To reintroduce the studio’s fine art icon prints. After the move to Alberta last year, all the papers and equipment used to create our prints stayed in their moving boxes while the space took shape and other work in the studio took precedence.
Sts. Zenaida and PhilonellaThe Charitable Physicians— October 11th — The story of Zenaida and Philonella is not well known in the Catholic Church, but it really should be. These two early Christian saints were bright, intelligent women who are the first canonized medical doctors for their work as physicians in the church. Through them we
With the angel and the youths depicted in The Fiery Furnace, all that was left was the rendering of the soldiers in the bottom third of the icon. And, it was here that I think the vision inspired by St. Basil’s commentary on the nature of fire in consumption and illumination really took form. The
In sketching a cartoon for the icon of the Fiery Furnace, I found that it divided quite naturally into three horizontal layers. In the centre layer were the three young men and their prayerful worship of God. As my pencil moved to the upper third of the icon’s drawing, The Angel of the Lord began
To my understanding, there are many ways an icon can beautifully depict an event. The most simple of these is a historical narrative. In this case, the iconographer brings together scripture, tradition, and history, and renders an image of that event. The result of such icons can be beautiful and meaningful as the icon weaves
In the Book of Daniel, there is an account of four young men who are forcibly taken from their home in Jerusalem to serve in the Babylonian courts after the city falls to the armies of King Nebuchadnezzar. The most famous youth is Daniel himself, whose exploits are recorded throughout the book, but in the third chapter, we also have an account of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego—his countrymen and fellow captives. The icon of The Fiery Furnace centres on the story of these young men.