Sacred Icons of Winter Light

Storytelling & Icon Workshop for the Christmas Season

December 4-8, 2017 in DeLand, Florida

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Basic Info:

The Nativity Icon of the Eastern (Catholic & Orthodox) Churches is in stunning contrast to both the cultural and religious art of the Roman Catholic and Protestant churches of the West.  No tender Madonna, no plump little baby, no falling snowflakes, and no twinkling Christmas lights.

Instead, The Nativity Icon challenges us to go deeply into the mystery of the winter light through images and stories that reveal the mystical heart of the season.  In this retreat you will paint The Nativity Icon as you explore the stories that generate its images.  This is  five-day retreat centered on techniques of painting the Christmas story and discovering its meaning for you.

The seminar, limited to 12 persons, meets Monday through Friday from 2:00 pm to 6:00 pm.  Tuition is $250 for early registration before September 4, and $350 afterwards. Meals and lodgings are not included.  Suppies for Icon making an additional $50.

Location is in DeLand, Florida. 

Our Process:

1. Understanding the spiritual principles of The Nativity Icon.  What is essential to painting the icon authentically? Where is the creative freedom that let the icon touch our souls today in painting and in praying?

2. Exploring the history of the painted icon from the seventh century (in the Sinai) to its fullest development (in fifteenth century Russia) Here are photos of various approaches over the centuries.  Please note, that our icon will incorporate some features from the tradtion, but will also be an authentic and unique expression of the sacred presence in our lives today.


Nativity 2


Nativity 4


Nativity 3


Nativity 1


3. Following the artistic and spiritual principles in painting an icon, step by step.

Our Goal:

1. Learning to master the technque and spiritual principles of The Nativity Icon so that you can create new versions in every coming Christmas season (2018, 2019, etc.) as your iconographer’s skills improve, and your spirituality deepens.

2.  Understanding the intimate connection of the Biblical stories and liturgical prayers that shape every painted icon. Painting the icon is only the beginning. You will return to it again and again, over the coming years, as you pray and meditate.


Robert Béla Wilhelm received his doctorate in sacred art from the Graduate Theological Union (Berkeley, California) in 1976. At the GTU he studied iconography with art historian Jane Daggett Dillenberger and hagiography with dramatist Wayne R. Rood.  Robert Béla Wilhelm is a Byzantine Catholic iconographer and hagiographer — that is, he paints icons and tells sacred stories as a single integrated process rooted in prayer and meditation.

Bob Wilhelm at Hay-Adams


If you have quesiions, or would like to register, please email here.


© Robert Bela Wilhelm 2016