Drawing Closer to God – An Art Journal Journey… By Deborah Gregg
As I shared at the last Come Closer evening, last summer I felt God gave me the idea to create an Art Journal to draw closer to Him in a new and fresh way. I had been ‘running on empty’ for too long without really realising it, and knew I needed something to change. Since starting this Art Journal I have found that it helps me to listen to God, to really read His Word, to reflect on what He is saying to me, and to record my response to God. I’ve found it has been deepening and strengthening my faith.
It’s a form of worship. Proclaiming the truth and the Word of God which is living and active, gets to the heart of me. Gets the words off the page, in and buzzing around my mind, and through this creative process into my heart. And I’ve begun to apply the Word of God more to situations too, using relevant scripture verses to encourage myself and even others, which I admit has taken me a bit by surprise!
What is it all about then? Well there’s three stages to the process really: Feed, Pray, Create!
Feed on God’s Word – read the Bible! Lots of resources and sources available to help, if you want to, such as reading plans (e.g. E100), Bible reading notes, devotional books, emails and blogs from Christian writers or bloggers, listen to Christian music, hymns, podcasts e.g. WordLive or Bible teaching downloads, audio Bible, etc. Whatever works, do it! Regularly, and in odd moments too.
PRAY – Ask God to show you what He wants you to dwell on, think about, and select a verse or a word or a theme for a journal page.
CREATE –Put together a page in your journal reflecting what God has been showing you. I usually do this in the evenings if/when I finally get to sit down for a few minutes, or at weekends, while family life is going on around me I often sit and make a page. Some pages may take just a few minutes, others may take a couple of days, depending on interruptions, but that’s OK!
Tips on how to put together a journal page:
What do you need?
- A cheap sketchbook
- A few basic art and craft supplies.
- If you are starting completely from scratch I would recommend you get hold of some scissors, a glue stick, a small pack of scrapbook/pretty papers to start with, some coloured pencils and pens, and a small set of watercolour paints and a brush! (Probably costs about £15-£20 from somewhere like The Works or Hobbycraft for the basics if you haven’t got any of this already).
There are no rules, no right or wrong way to do this. Just have a go! Having said that, it may help to think about three simple steps to putting together a page:
- Background – use scrapbook papers, magazine pictures, photos, old map or dictionary/book pages, wrapping paper, watercolour paints, acrylic paints, felt tipped pens, colouring pencils, pastels, watercolour pencils, or just leave it as plain white paper. Absolutely whatever you like! If you are stuck staring at a blank page, think about the words you will be using and see if that inspires you, rummage through some magazines or papers, or just pick a colour and quickly cover whole or part of the page in that colour using paint or papers, or whatever you like. And take it from there!
- Words – use a variety of different pens and colours, write freehand, try out different types of handwriting, use stencils, draw around chipboard letters, use alphabet stickers or stamps, write it straight onto the background or onto another piece of paper, then cut or rip it out and stick it on. Alternatively type it and print it, cut and stick it on your page. You can tuck personal messages, prayers and thoughts away in hidden pockets and envelopes if you want to (handy if you think you might want to share your journal with others some time). Or stick two pages together at the top and bottom, just leaving a little gap in the middle to create a pocket.
- Embellish – make it pretty! Use ribbons, brads (paper fasteners), paper clips, buttons, stamps, draw doodles or zentangles, stick little gems or sequins, paper or fabric flowers, sew onto the paper, use paper punches to punch out shapes, or buy ready cut shapes, whatever you like. My tip would be to try not to make it too bumpy, as you may need to be able to write on other pages in the journal later. But just enjoy! And write the date on the page, as a record of your conversation with God on that day.
Remember, there are no rules. It’s all good! It’s actually easy. Easier than you would think! It doesn’t have to be perfect. It can be neat or messy, simple or complicated, it may be pages of writing, or just one word. Mistakes, wobbly writing and smudges are perfectly acceptable. You don’t have to show it to anyone else, if you don’t want to, it’s between you and God. It’s your offering of worship. A way of speaking God’s truth into your own life, allowing His Word to become alive and visual and kinesthetic and meaningful – soak in the Word of God.
Enjoy His presence. Be greatly blessed! God is good!
Here are a few of my own art journal pages that may help to inspire you with yours…
My life in your presence –
The sudden realisation that for far too long I had been thanking God for his presence in my life, when really I should be thanking Him that it’s actually my life that is in His presence…
Psalm 91 v 1-2 –
My very first journal page!
Simple watercolour stripes on the background, and the truth of these verses from Psalm 91 written in my ‘best’ handwriting…love these verses that speak of finding shelter, rest and refuge in Him.
Praise my soul the King of heaven –
You know when you have a song on your heart, and the words speak into your soul all day long? I simply wrote out the wonderful words to this hymn and then doodled around the edge.
Simply drew around some chipboard letters, picked up a black pen and doodled (Zentangle style) to fill the page.
Cry of my heart/Thank You God double page
Here I was feeling especially thankful for specific answers to prayers. Used images cut out from magazines, and on the left hand page I included a little hidden pocket behind the picture, with a couple of little prayers of thanks tucked away, just between me and God.
God can (beach huts)
Love this image I found in a magazine, it really seemed to fit something I had read in a Christian blog that day. Isn’t God so good? I am so thankful that when we feel weathered, battered and damaged, that He cares for us and restores us.
Never will I leave you
I came across this magazine picture on a day when I was feeling particularly weary, and was praying that it all felt like an uphill struggle. God reminded me of this verse, that He is always with us. His promises are true and He can be depended on to be there whatever we are going through.
The most important thing in life –
So much truth in this quote.
I felt it needed to be written out as a reminder to me of my priorities. I used a scrapbook paper background, added a little paper flower just to make it pretty!
HOLY HOLY HOLY
I had a Matt Redman worship song on my heart, ‘Holy’, and was feeling like making a little bit of a mess, so got out my lovely acrylic paints, and even got
really stuck in and used my fingers to blend in the colours a bit. After clearing up(!) the page was dry enough to write out the lyrics around the edge, and I had a go at a bit of gothic style calligraphy in the centre, to declare that Jesus is Holy, Holy, Holy!
Set your minds on…
Very simple and fairly visual/literal interpretation of this verse from Colossians, about keeping perspective in our minds, and choosing to focus on things of God.
I love these verses in Colossians 3 that tell us to clothe ourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience and love. I had a lot of fun with these pages, as I was loving the idea of putting on these virtues like an outfit every day. I cut up a clothes catalogue to create this ‘paper doll’ and outfits (inspired by the back page of Bunty circa 1980!)
Still in Colossians, this is such a powerful verse. I especially love the way the outline of the person on the left hand side has an image of a tree growing through them, this picture taken from a magazine really seemed to fit this verse about being rooted in Him.
Because He was full of grace and truth
This journal is a great place to write out verses of scripture that I am trying to memorise! These have watercolour painted backgrounds, the words are written out and a flower is stamped on the page. Simple!
These are some of my favourite verses of scripture, it always encourages me and strengthens my faith whenever I read these verses, especially when read out loud.
Be my rock of refuge
I love this verse, which is a heart cry to God, that we want to be able to always run to Him. I love this image I found of the woman resting in the dip in the rock, it just speaks of how we can always hide ourselves in God, tuck ourselves away in His love and rest in his strength. (The sky in the picture looked a bit grey, so I just painted it blue).