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Friday, February 27, 2015

Anatomy of a Bible art journal page

2015-02-27 19.12.41A lot of people ask me about my art journaling practice, especially as it relates to my Bible reading. I’ve always been the sort of person who likes to write in my Bible. I like to highlight passages that mean a lot to me, and I like to write notes in the margins. However, when I discovered art journaling, I found that I had a new avenue for worshipping God.

Have you ever read something in your Bible that made you so thankful to God? Something that made you want to worship God in a deeper way? Art journaling gives me the ability to have that deeper worship.

When I read something impactful in my Bible, I love being able to respond in a creative way. More importantly, I love being able to have that worship written right in my Bible. It’s a wonderful experience to thumb through my Bible and remember all the beautiful moments I’ve shared with God. Having the colors and images pop out at me bring back the experience in much fuller detail than if I’d simply underlined a passage. More importantly, the time I take to create the art in my Bible has me meditating on that piece of Scripture longer. Rather than highlighting and moving on, I spend a lot more time, doodling and soaking it in.

As an example of how my process works, I’m going to take you through the creation of one of my pages. I have a daily reading plan (which, in all fairness, does not always happen daily!) and I try to follow it as best as I can. The day I created this page, my reading was Psalm 136.

One of my favorite phrases in the Bible is, “give thanks unto the Lord, for he is good, his love endures forever.” It’s mentioned several times in the Bible, and I even have a little tune I mentally sing this phrase to, because it’s such a beautiful reminder of God’s love. As I read this Psalm, even though I have probably read it dozens of times, I realized that every other line was my favorite phrase. With one exception. The word “steadfast” is added.

I couldn’t stop thinking about that addition to the phrase. To me, steadfast love is a much more powerful image than plain old love. I ended up highlighting the entire Psalm. When I have something that hits me that powerfully, that’s when I pull out my colorful pens and journal. I go through different phases with my Bible art journal, and I love word art. I wrote the phrase I loved and made it pretty and colorful.

Then, because the word “steadfast” was so important to me in this time, I looked it up, and I wrote definitions of it in the margin. I thought about each definition and how it fit God’s love. Finally, at the bottom, I wrote two summaries of what that time had meant to me. What I wanted to remember.

Don’t take this as a “this is how you should always do it” bible art journal guide. Each entry in my Bible has a different component, or a different order. Sometimes, I skip the full reading plan, because just one verse sticks out to me in a powerful way. What remains the same and consistent through each one, is that it was done in response when I felt a particular reading speak to me. My art journaling Bible isn’t perfect. You’ll find mistakes, splotches, smudges, and other weird things. But I think it’s beautiful to God, who sees my response to him and loves it.

If you’re thinking about trying art journaling, or even putting some art in your Bible, I highly encourage you to do so.

It’s really wonderful to have these mementos of my time with God. You can purchase a journaling Bible or a notetaking Bible so you have more room to make art than you would with a regular Bible. I use the ESV journaling Bible by Crossway. Pen-wise, for this page, I used some glitter gel pens from the Write Dudes. Basically, the ones you get at Target. Nothing fancy you have to buy at an art supply store. I also used a regular pen for the rest. Other pages, I’ve used colored pencils, watercolors, and Sharpies (which bleed).

Do you art journal in your Bible? What tools do you use? I’d love to hear about your process. And if you don’t art journal in your Bible, but want to try it, let me know that too!

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