Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Feeling rubbish? by Claire Graham

I realised the other day how often I mentally beat myself my up ... how easy it is to blame myself in situations ... how often I read things into looks and how easily I spiral into an "I'm rubbish" wallowy mentality. 

If we've run out of milk and I've not managed to get to the shops and buy some it's because I've had a busy day not because I'm rubbish...

If I've forgotten to do something I said I would it's because I'm human and have a thousand things whizzing round in my brain ... not because I'm rubbish!

So... the other day I got thinking about my rubbish attitude ... it made me think of Oscar the Grouch from Sesame Street! So I found an image of him and drew that into my journal... I coloured it with my beautiful Inktense pencils, slowly building up the colours, using different colours to add tones to his fur, the bin, etc. I was careful not to add too much water as that can make the top layer of my sketch book page lift off. 

Then I found some uplifting, positive verses about how God sees and values me and wrote them to fill the background.

And next time I'm feeling "rubbish" I'm going to look at this page and think of some of those verses instead!
"God paid a very high price to make me His" 1 Corinthians 6:20
"I am God's child" Romans 8:16-17
"I am a chosen person... God's special possession" 1 Peter 2:9

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Simple Hand Lettering Idea - by Deborah Gregg

Hi everyone, just sharing a quick and simple technique with you today, for when you may want to journal a long Bible verse or short passage, rather than just pulling out a key phrase.
Sometimes I find it hard to just focus on a few words from a verse, as there's just so much truth in there - I want to journal it all! :-)

As usual I start with the background and lay down some colour to the page in my Faith Art Journal.

For this background I used watercolour paints, I simply picked one colour and then painted in diagonal stripes, using more paint in places for stronger colour, and using more water elsewhere for a softer look, to create this varied, stripy background.

When dried (with a hairdryer!) I then took a ruler and with a pencil, very lightly drew random diagonal lines across the page, from left to right covering the entire page. Some were large at the left and small at the right, and vice versa,

I then very lightly pencilled in my lettering, making sure I used the whole span of each line. I left a teeny tiny gap where letters may overlap with the row above as I didn't want them to actually join up. I then went over the text with a Micron Pen, and lightly erased some of the pencil that was still showing. You will see the lettering is very simple, just ordinary capital letters, with a single line.

I didn't get the spacing perfect, as you can see I ran out of room and had to split the last couple of lines to squeeze it all in. But it doesn't matter - the words are on the page! And I still had room to add a row of doodles!

I love these verses - to me Titus 3 v 4-7 really sum up the whole gospel. I have tried to memorise these verses so many times and still haven't quite got it! But having recorded these in my journal I now have a special place to turn to read it and dwell on it.

I recently used this technique again to record 2 Corinthians 4v6 - an amazing verse with so much truth packed in to think about! I just couldn't separate out one section of this verse to focus on for journaling, so I decided to letter the whole verse!

For this page I actually did the lettering first with a Micron pen, using the whole depth of each space between lines (even for the lower case letters), I love the mixed-up look this gives. I then added the yellow colour afterwards by smudging with Distress Ink using a sponge applicator. Simple, quick and fun.

The lettering is deliberately simple, I just outlined the basic letter shapes with a Micron pen, then went back over the lettering to thicken most of the 'downstrokes'. It really helps to make the lettering stand out.

I've yet to try this style and technique in my Bible margins, might be more of a challenge but maybe I'll have a go soon and let you all know how that goes! And if you feel inspired, just have a go!

I hope this may have helped give you a simple idea for some easy hand lettering that you can play with, practice and enjoy!

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Drawing people by Claire Graham

I've realised recently that many of my journaling entries involve people... and that most of these people look like me or members of my family!

I guess it makes sense really, it's MY Bible that I'm personalising by journaling ... and it's a record of my walk with God, but somehow it still came as a surprise!! I've always struggled drawing people in the past and I've never been a huge fan of how I look but God has been working on me with that over the past few years!! 
But I've come across some amazing tutorials, hints and tips that have really helped and shared some of these at the most recent Bible art journaling group I lead. Some of the photos are of their work (and I do have their permission to share them!) 
I shared about the whimsical girl tutorial  http://www.rebekahrjones.com/create-whimsical-girl-shonna-bucaroff-guest/  and how Shonna creates beautiful characters with detailed faces but simplifies some of the tricky bits like hands and feet! Belle (11) and Eloise  (13) drew their own whimsical girls. 

I also shared about the faceless girls ... these are definitely my favourite. There's a great 'Drawing Lesson Flower Girl' tutorial on YouTube by Ashley Magnolia   https://m.youtube.com/watch?feature=youtu.be&v=emfZVXLupsg  

I love the way that these are simplified too... just keeping distinguishing features of hairstyles and glasses, etc without the trickyness of eyes, nose and mouth! Hayley had a go at one of these too.
We spoke a bit about proportions of faces and bodies, that your eyes are half way down your head, your nose 3/4s and your mouth 7/8ths. And Mel and Chloe drew more realistic self portraits using this info.  

While we doodled we chatted about how God loves us as we are which drew us to a few different verses.

And some of the tips about drawing people... practice may not make perfect but it will help! Develop your own style! Keep it light til you get it right and... enjoy!

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

She Did What She Could - by Deborah Gregg

It's good to pray before I read my Bible, to ask God to speak, and to make sure that I am ready to hear.

Here's a verse and a prayer I found online (can't remember where!) that I journaled into a bookmark for my 'reading' Bible.

When I'm reading my Bible, prayerfully and expecting to hear from God, I'm often find that there are certain words or  phrases I am particularly drawn to by the Holy Spirit, and that's what I love to journal! I especially love to discover something new that I hadn't seen before in a familiar verse or passage.

Here's a journal page that is really meaningful to me, and I'll try to explain why.

In this familiar passage in Mark chapter 14, Jesus was annointed with the jar of expensive perfume, as the woman poured this on his head, amid fierce criticism. I love how Jesus defends her saying, "Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want. But you will not always have me. She did what she could. She poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare for my burial. Truly, I tell you, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her." (Mark 14:6-9 NIV)

I read this passage again back in February, at a time when God was speaking to me about my need to surrender to Him, every single area of my life.

For me this beautiful story shared how this amazing woman did what she could - she surrendered all she had - her most precious possession - to Jesus. And how He loved her, and honoured her! And gifted her with the blessing of a lasting legacy of honour. And as her story is shared today, God continues to speak through her actions and Jesus' words to her - and to us.

To me, the phrase 'She did what she could' really struck me - yes she could have sold the jar and given the money to the poor, and that would have been commendable. (In fact that's what Jesus told to rich young ruler to go and do!) But instead she offered and used what she had, in the way that she felt led to, in order to honour Jesus - even at huge risk of criticism and backlash from others. She was obedient to what she was called to do with the gift she had to offer. Jesus said she did a beautiful thing.

Ephesians 2:10 says: "For we are God's handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." We have all been created in order to be given a job to do, that God has assigned to us individually, that no-one else can do quite like us!

I created this page in my journal to try to reflect my own response to God to this passage. It's my first attempt at a self-portrait (!) and though not perfect it came out a bit better than I'd thought it would! I used my Inktense pencils to colour this page, I love the vibrant colours. I did smudge the colours with a damp brush after colouring, as this really lifts the colours, but only a little bit as I quite liked the pencil marks. I then used a Micron pen to outline and to add the wording.

I have deliberately not shared this until now in the main Facebook page, because I was concerned that the full meaning of this passage would not be reflected in these 5 words! I felt that the phrase 'She did what she could' might be mis-interpreted as 'Well, she tried!' or 'She gave it her best shot!' or 'She had a go!' - all of which seem a bit negative with a hint of failure. Completely the opposite of what Jesus actually said, and meant!

Let's respond to Jesus' call to offer our very best - all that we are and all that we have - surrendered to Him. Don't we long to hear His words over us, saying 'She has done a beautiful thing to me...she did what she could.'

So it's been good for me to be able to write a few words here about the context of this verse in the passage, and its application in our lives. Sometimes when doing Bible Art Journaling it can be easy to be drawn towards key 'catchy' phrases or verses we love but may be over-familiar with. Let's remember to read the whole passage - to study God's Word diligently and to try to establish some context. We don't have to be Bible Scholars - the message of the Gospel is for everyone! But let's make sure we prayerfully read around our verses that we are journaling, to gain a greater understanding of God's Word to us. That's how God's Word will speak deeply to us, and meditating on His Word will bring transformation to our lives.

Another example of this is the familiar verse: 'Draw near to God and he will draw near to you'. I love this so much and it has provided encouragement and comfort to me time and again over the years. Yet, in context - this is actually only a tiny snippet in the middle of a whole section of very strong words all about repentance from sins!
'Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double minded! Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord and he will lift you up." James 4:7-12 (NIV)
Same verse, still with the comfort that God will lift us up and draw near to us - but much more challenging when read in full context! We're not just to draw near to God, but we're to fully repent from all our sins and change our lifestyles too!

That is another example of living a life of surrender. Our lives are not our own. We have been bought with a great price. Let's offer our lives fully, completely, utterly surrendered in His Love.

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Wilderness by Jane Butcher

What does this word mean to you? The desert and mountains of the Middle East, the rolling plains of America with tumbleweed blowing across the landscape, or the frozen tundra and steppes of Russia, white, cold and unforgiving?

Any or all of these images can represent that feeling of being lost, abandoned, isolated, fearful, sad and hopeless.

As Christians, most or all of us will at some time have a wilderness experience. A time when we lose sight of God, when we lose that precious awareness of His presence. We can fool the world that everything is good by going through the motions, we can even fool ourselves for a period. But…there comes a point in our experience when we can no longer pretend, we are confronted by our personal absence from His presence.

It is easy to feel overwhelmed, guilty, hopeless and exhausted, any, or all of the above, and yet our isolation is an illusion, a deceit. Our way back into the presence is just one tiny step of faith away.

The prodigal son certainly knew what life in the wilderness felt like. As is so often the case, it was only when he hit absolute rock bottom that he found the courage to take that first tiny step of faith. The part of the story which speaks to me, even resonates with me, is the response of his father. He didn't stand at the end of the road, stern, challenging, he didn't stare reprovingly, waiting for his wayward son to crawl back. He ran, wildly and exuberantly to meet his son, flinging his arms around him and weeping tears of utter joy at the return of his son. The Bible tells us that he had been standing watching, waiting for his son for days. WOW!

When we find ourselves in the wilderness and come to that point where we are finally willing to take that first small step of reconciliation our God, our Heavenly Father doesn't stand aloof. He runs to meet us, He weeps tears of joy as He embraces us and celebrates our return.

Wilderness experiences are painful but our rescue is always only one small step away; a simple prayer and a heartfelt desire to take shelter in the arms of our loving Heavenly Father once more.

Our wilderness experiences can be a catalyst, leading to renewed faith, strength, hope, purpose and anticipation. As I shared with our Bible Journaling family, I have had my time in the wilderness over the last few months, finally I've taken that first small, tentative step back into the Son light. I have been so blessed by the encouragement of so many of you and I am already feeling the stirrings of my old excitement spending time in the Word, in prayer and in worship. I'm looking forward to journaling the story of the prodigal son but I won't be focusing on the carousing, wild living, pigs! I’ll be focusing on the Father, Abba/Daddy, running to welcome his son home. 

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

For the wings of a dove! by Claire Graham

Life's quite stressful at the moment, juggling my children having different Easter holidays, stress at work, new responsibilities at Church, a poorly child, not enough sleep and a whole lot of negative self talk has honestly left me feeling like I want to run away... and don't even get me started on politics and the scary state of the world.  My best friend and I often joke about wanting to run away and join the circus, but frankly it's quite an appealing option at the moment!

I came across this verse earlier, whilst wallowing in my self pity. "Oh that I had the wings of a dove! That I would fly away and be at rest" (Psalm 55:6) and it was perfect! I loved the idea that I'm not the only one who's ever wanted to run away from it all. King David, super important, amazingly spiritual King David wanted to run away from it all too!!

So... first I used my trusty liquitex matt gel medium and a foam brush to prep the page (the yellow and red are bleed through from the next page.) And blasted it with my heat gun - it only takes a few minutes and for me is well worth it! 
Then I watered down some acrylic paint with liquitex matte medium, it makes it more translucent, but as I added more and more layers with a makeup sponge the text became harder to read anyway. I don't mind too much if I can't read the text, I have lots of other Bibles and phone apps that I can read an obscured passage in! I added some patterns through a stencil as well. 

Then I drew a little bird - i used my pigma graphic pen as it draws well on top of acrylic- and painted that in contrasting colours... the dots were added using the wrong end of a paintbrush! 

and lastly I added the text of the passage...
I found it amazingly comforting to dwell on the fact that I'm not alone with how I'm feeling, that it's OK to want to run away but also that like God walked with King David in his stressful times with him he's walking with me (and you) too.

Friday, 14 April 2017

Good Friday - Calvary Stamps and Pebbles Chalks by Deborah Gregg

In this Easter week, I'm just sharing this reflection on Calvary with you. At this time of year on Good Friday we especially remember all that Jesus suffered and did for us, to take our place, to bear our sins and burdens, and to bring us salvation and freedom through His precious blood that was shed as He died for us on the cross.

I wanted to create a page in my Bible using the stunning 'Calvary' stamps designed by Hannah at Creative Bea, based here in the UK. www.creativebea.co.uk
I have been reading the Gospel of Mark recently, but as I had already journaled this passage in Mark (see at the end of this blog post), and given that there are another three gospels that all describe the events of Jesus' death, I decided to read and journal this passage in Matthew Chapter 27 instead.

To create this page I first prepped the page with Art Basics Clear Gesso - I added two coats applied with an old store gift card (worked perfectly!) drying each layer with a craft heat gun. I prepped the page because I didn't want the stamped images to bleed through the thin Bible pages.

Then I chose the relevant stamps from my lovely Creative Bea 'Calvary' set, and planned a rough layout in my head!
I decided to use my set of Pebbles Chalks for the background. They are a set of different coloured chalks, in a pretty palette, with a crocodile clip 'pen' that you use to pinch a tiny pom pom which you use to apply the chalks and blend them. It's a lot of fun, a bit like applying eyeshadow or something! They are a bit fiddly to use, but not very messy, and are brilliant for adding a splash of colour, lovely to smudge and blend, and as they are dry there is no bleed-through in a Journaling Bible. I've found you can write over them or under them with a black Micron pen without any problems. 

If I'm honest, the Pebbles tray is a little bit of a gimmick, and probably not very good value compared to just buying a set of artist chalks, but they have lasted me for ages and I'm sure I've used them much more than I would have used a regular set of artist chalks. Because they are fun (did I mention that?)!
(One top tip - not a good idea to drop them on the floor - been there, done that.....they can crack and come out of their little palettes, and it's then very messy!)
Anyway here's a few photos of me applying the chalks:

So although I have all the lovely Pebbles colours that I would usually use, this time I wanted to use the greys and blacks to create a smudgy dark background to set the scene. I like to still be able to read all the printed words in my Bible if possible. Using black paint would have been very risky for this page, I definitely needed something lighter and more smudgy.
When the background was done, I added the stamps using a Versafine Onyx Black inkpad.

And as I had the stamps all inky, I decided to make a few tags too while I was at it!
I have found that if I prep the page with clear gesso, the Versafine Ink can take over 24 hours to dry fully! I think the ink just sits on the surface of the coated page, instead of sinking into the paper. However, once dry, it doesn't then bleed through the page. For me, it's totally worth the time involved in prepping and waiting. But if you're short of time or are more relaxed about bleed-through, just go for it! Let me know if you have any other tips or advice about this! I'm always learning....

When using chalks you need to fix them to the page otherwise they will smudge and the chalk may rub off on the opposite page. To do this, I sprayed a coating of 'Fixative spray' (which costs around £5 or so and is easy to buy from online or an art supplies shop). However I have heard that you can use hairspray - I've not tried this but intend to try it out at some point. 

The process of creating this page was fun, but most important to me was the time spent in God's Word, reading, thinking about it, and dwelling on all that Jesus has done for us. Praise Him! 

And as promised, here's the other page I created a couple of years ago, in Mark chapter 15:
Created using 'Forgiven' stamp by Time to Sow, white embossing powder, and scarlet Brusho. I had used white Gesso to prep the page, this was in the days before I discovered the wonders of clear gesso - you can see how the white gesso was starting to cover the words. 
This weekend, may you make time to reflect on the salvation of Jesus. And may your walk with Him draw you ever closer into His love, joy and grace. Happy Easter!