About the Iconographer/Illuminator


Claire Sophia Nobles is an iconographer and illuminator, who bases her most recent series of illuminated miniatures in the medium of egg tempera and gold leaf on parchment, on models from Byzantine, early Slavonic, and Armenian Gospel manuscripts.

Her work also includes egg tempera icons on gessoed wood panels based on 14th-16th century Russian and Serbian models.

Born in Amarillo, Texas, Claire studied with artist Patrick McCracken at the Amarillo Art Center; in New York City at the Art Student’s League; and in Providence, Rhode Island at Brown University, where she earned a degree in studio art.  During her years of federal government service in the Washington, DC area, she continued to practice art and studied scientific illustration at the Smithsonian Institution, design at the Corcoran Art School, and drawing at the Art League in Alexandria.   

An icon postcard of the Sitka (Alaska) Mother of God, which Claire received as a child, inspired her to learn more about icons. She became seriously interested in practicing iconography while studying the authentic tradition of orthodox iconography under the direction of Master Iconographer Irena Beliakova, of Maryland, a student of Ksenia Pokrovsky. Claire recently studied with Philip Davydov and Olga Shalimova of St. Petersburg, Russia, who have a contemporary approach to iconography, and Master Iconographer Dr. George Kordis, a Greek contemporary iconographer and artist. She has been a member of St. Nicholas Cathedral, Orthodox Church in America, in Washington, DC, for nearly 20 years.

Claire's illuminated miniatures and panel icons are in private collections in California, Florida, Missouri, Rhode Island, Texas, Virginia, and Washington, DC. A one-person exhibit of her illuminations appeared at St. Nicholas Cathedral in Washington, DC from 20-22 October 2019. The illumination The Adoration of the Shepherds was awarded a Certificate of Excellence in the 2019 Members’ Winter Exhibition of the Arts Club of Washington, DC.

Inquiries about commissions of illuminated miniatures and panel icons are welcomed. Please contact us.

About Icons

Icons, sometimes described as "doors to eternity," have the power to influence their viewers spiritually, because they provide a link with God's transfigured creation. When appreciated as art, icons can be a source of pleasure; when contemplated in conjunction with meditation and prayer, they can be a catalyst for interior transformation.

A common misunderstanding is that Orthodox Christians "worship" icons, when in fact they only worship God. They venerate, or show great respect for, icons and the honor an Orthodox Christian shows icons goes to the holy one depicted. Because the Church views icons as sacred objects, icons traditionally are unsigned and are blessed by a priest at the church.

Wall paintings, frescoes; paintings on parchment, known as illuminated miniatures, to illustrate Gospel manuscripts; paintings on wooden panels; and bas-relief carvings are historically known as icons. Iconographers base their icons on historic prototypes or models from earlier generations in order to be faithful to the Church's traditions.


The iconographer is grateful to His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon; clergy and faithful of St. Nicholas Cathedral; iconographers of the Cathedral; churches and clergy of Alaska; nuns and monks of New Skete, St. Tikhon's, and Mary and Martha Monasteries; Irena Beliakova, for her deeply spiritual approach to teaching iconography; St. Sophia Cathedral in DC, where she was Chrismated; Dr. Effie Walsh, for her influential Smithsonian Institution seminar on Orthodox Christianity; scholars and restorers who have preserved for others the beauty and history of the Church's icons; Nik Vale, website designer; Jeff Mauritzen and Irakli Chikhladze, photographers; her dear departed parents, who sent her an inspiring postcard from Alaska of the miraculous Sitka Mother of God icon; and her good friend Mary Jo Colagiovanni, who encouraged her efforts.

In the words iconographers use before beginning to work, they pray "guide the hands of thine unworthy servant." Claire feels humbled to be entrusted with this means of sharing the Gospel of Christ and thanks God for all of his many blessings.

Use of Photographs from Illumined.us 

The iconographer welcomes visitors to download photographs of these illuminated miniatures and panel icons and share them with others, as long as they give credit to illumined.us. However, they cannot change the photographs or use them commercially. The iconographer reserves the right to use photographs of the illuminated miniatures and panel icons for commercial purposes even after the original is sold.