Drawing Closer to Christ

A Self-Guided Icon Retreat
Author: Joseph Malham
Foreword by: Robert Barron

Table of Contents

Read a Sample

Format: Paperback

Publication date: December 15, 2017

Also available from


“Drawing Closer to Christ is not simply a 'how to' manual but an introduction to a way of life.”
Bishop Robert Barron
Auxiliary Bishop of Los Angeles

You don’t need the talent of a classically trained artist—or even the ability to draw a stick figure—to create a stunning icon.

Follow along step-by-step with internationally acclaimed iconographer Joseph Malham as he takes you through an eight-day, self-guided contemplative retreat to create your own icon of the Christ Pantocrator (All-Powerful, the Teacher). In Drawing Closer to Christ, Malham relies on his twenty years of teaching experience to walk you through the materials and techniques needed to create your own sacred image.

For fifteen hundred years, icons have helped Christians meditate and pray. Used in homes and public worship, these symbolic images represent the presence of Christ and the saints. Malham has been practicing and teaching iconography for twenty years, encouraging ordinary people to create their own icons and be transformed by the spiritual practice. In Drawing Closer to Christ, he invites people of all levels of artistic talent to the contemplative experience of creating a sacred image.                           

Using the ancient icon Christ Pantocrator as your pattern, you will learn how to enter into the process of tracing the icon into the wood, applying gold leafing to the halo around Christ's head, and blending the paint to create beautiful colors that radiate holiness. Malham provides a list of supplies needed for each stage and step-by-step directions with detailed photographs.

The first seven days of the retreat follow the rhythm of the Genesis account of creation. On the eight day, you'll learn that while the finished icon represents the personality of the artist, it is still Christ. You will be transformed by your sacred image. 

Product Details

Pages: 128

Trim size: 7 x 10 inches

ISBN: 9781594717574

Imprint: Ave Maria Press

  • “Not simply a 'how to' manual but an introduction to a way of life.”


    “For years, Joseph Malham has labored as an iconographer, living simply while unobtrusively embedded in St. Gregory the Great parish in Chicago as an artist in residence. His work manifests his prayer, and his icons—while written in the midst of a contemporary, urban setting bustling with modern secularity—are ageless in their expressiveness, revealing the stunning paradox of the Lord himself who is ancient and yet forever new. Drawing Closer to Christ is not simply a 'how to' manual but an introduction to a way of life.”

    From the foreword by Most Rev. Robert Barron
    Auxiliary Bishop of Los Angeles

  • “A thing of beauty.”


    Drawing Closer to Christ is a thing of beauty; an invitation into the heart of the holy through art. Joseph Malham takes the reader gently by the hand and guides them through the stages of writing an icon, making such prayerful creating accessible to everyone.”

    Christine Valters Paintner
    Author of The Artist’s Rule

  • “Beautiful new book.”


    “As a Catholic, I have always been drawn to icons without knowing much about them. Joseph Malham's beautiful new book not only taught me about the spiritual logic of iconography but it also led me to believe that even I would be able to create a gold leaf halo and paint the face of Christ.”

    Paula Huston
    Author of One Ordinary Sunday

Related Products

Behold the Beauty of the Lord
The Artist’s Rule
Eyes of the Heart
Transformed by God’s Word

Additional Resources

Download the Pantocrator Icon
Document View Document
Chicago Catholic Interview
Link Follow Link