Local Colour Saints

Folk Icons from Iconographer Symeon van Donkelaar

Creating icons, using simple methods and local materials, that embody a sacred joy and playfulness.


The work that happens in the Local Colour Saints studio is pretty magical, with a vision of heaven made out of the rocks and plants found here in Conestoga, Ontario. If you want to see more about that, you should check out the gallery and the photos.


Pigment and iconographic workshops have been offered in cities across Canada. If you want to learn about the traditional iconography, or experience making pigments from the earth, contact Symeon to find out when the next workshop is being offered.


Symeon is an engaging speaker who has presented in wide-ranging venues across North America. A born story-teller, his expertise in tying together meaning and process makes his talks interesting and accessible.


Symeon’s iconography, drawing as it does on the local palette of each region of Canada, is a hymn of praise calling each of us to a deeper regard for our fragile world, a deeper attention to the Holy Spirit who, “is everywhere present and fillest all things.”

—Fr. David J. Goa, Founding Director or the Chester Ronning Centre for the Study of Religion and Public Life

I find his [Symeon's] work fascinating as it is an exploration of the flatter and more stylized threads of iconography. Color is frank and contrasted like a puzzle; clothing is abstracted towards simple geometry. Symeon’s icons embrace a joyful play we find in ... the transparent innocence of a good folk icon.

—Jonathan Pageau, Editor of the Orthodox Art Journal

Symeon comes across as a really beautiful and knowledgeable and dedicated person. He seems to embody the classic tradition of the icon painter. You can see in him what art must have meant in so many cultures in the pre-modern period.

—Fr. Dan Donovan, St. Michael's College.

In Symeon’s icons we meet nature speaking for itself, with nature’s variation and idiosyncrasy far from a nuisance or an obstacle to our control ... When we contemplate nature honestly in such a way, we cannot misunderstand our humble place within it.

—Fr. Gary Thorne, Chaplain to the University of King's College.

About Symeon

Symeon van Donkelaar

Symeon completed his six-year apprenticeship in iconography in the late nineties at a Greek Orthodox monastery, and subsequently went on to finish a Masters of Fine Arts degree in Berlin, Germany.

He is an iconographer with a passion for the local colours of the earth, mostly creating pigments for his icons from the land where he lives, but also collecting sacred colours while on local colour pilgrimages to unique places in the world. These earth colours have informed his style of folk iconography that defines his work.

Having accepted iconographic commissions since 2004, Symeon has created icons for churches, missions, and homes in Canada. He has offered workshops from coast to coast, and regularly presents internationally on his unique iconographic work to churches, universities, and at a host of convention venues.

Symeon currently works as the full-time iconographer in the Local Colour Saints studio in Conestoga, Ontario, Canada.

Interested in having an Icon?

Don't hesitate to contact Symeon. He has painted icons for many individuals and churches and understands some of the questions you might have. He also has many prints available, which can be perfect for many situations.