Artsy Theology Workshop Feedback

After a day-long workshop on integrating theological reflection with mixed media art, the participants listed the following as key ways they will incorporate the material in their ministries:

·         Have youth paint scripture (being read) ahead of time—bring it in during the reading of the Word during worship

·         Journal to remember quotes

·         Write down weekly reflections—Hospice chaplain sharing weekly moments to staff

·         Stacked journaling as relaxing for therapy; also excellent for a “dump sheet” for individuals & staff

·         Mental illness—artsy theology to help the mentally ill process their thoughts

·         Hand map—use it for blessings of one’s gift/call

·         Add “artsy theology” to an existing arts & crafts group for fun & fellowship

·         Labyrinth (image transfer w/the smelly stuff—it was a HUGE HIT)—personal devotion and prayer

·         Art journaling as brainstorming for sermon prep

·         Communion workshop—use the block prints or the collage as part of the workshop

·         Global mission—make prayer flags for next year’s mission trip to Panama

·         Clergy retreats—assist with “processing” life

·         Staff journaling

·         Writing your life story—add elements of art

·         Incorporate artsy theology in existing church groups (“Celebrate You”0

·         Create a “gratitude” collage

·         Incorporate the art technique of “Subtracting text” with praying the newspaper
Have the children’s choir prepare a large board and let them decorate it ahead with art/reflection—bring out during singing/children’s choir performance

Success/Good Intentions

 The exposed words "success depends on more than just good intentions" was the catalyst to consider what the reality of my experience was compared to the ideal of my "good intentions." I identified the particular context (the nature and "being" of church) and the reflected on the so-called success of my ideals about the nature of church over-against (current) reality. It was helpful to define what has been going well and where the primary challenges continue to exist.

Christmas Doodle-Edge

Challenge yourself to make a doodle edge of some of the symbols of Christmas. You can use the middle portion later to write your reflections related to the season. Here, I used a white "colored" pencil on pages coated with black gesso to outline a snowman and trees on the bottom; packages along both sides, and stars across the top. It is a fun edge waiting to be filled in with something else later.

Encaustic 'Dump Sheet'

I'm fascinated with the idea of integrating encaustics in mixed media art, but I haven't had time to experiment. This simple journal spread combines encaustics with a "dump sheet" of the crazy excuses I've been giving for why people dislike church. I had printed the excuses in bold type for an illustration in a children's message. I simply experimented with different colors & brushes as I collaged the excuses with hot wax onto a journal page. VERY HEALING.

Water Jars of Heaven


Every time we visit our son and his wife in Portland, OR we take time to go to the majestic Multnomah Falls. This was our first visit when it wasn't cold and rainy so we took our time taking photographs from various angles around the falls. This is one of the natural wonders that makes one...wonder. I used the photographs as reference to do a theological reflection in my art journal.

 Of course the waterfall itself is stunning, but I also was struck by the row of trees that stand as "sentries" along the top rim. It also was impressive to see the tall trees growing out of the side of the rock wall  to the left of the waterfall; contrasted to the bare right side.

At the hotel later that evening, I brought out my travel art supplies to do an artsy reflection on Multnomah. I used a thin felt maker to sketch in the shapes: the rim of the mountain, the waterfall, the trees, and the rocks. I made the waterfall in the seam of the page since it is the centerpiece of the experience. Then I used a light wash of watercolors.
After the basic art had been laid down, I kept thinking about the experience of being at the base of the waterfall and wondering about the source of all that water pouring down. The reflecting brought me to the Book of Job in the Old Testament. Job is shaking his fist at God and asking why Job had been struck by so much calamity. After his friends gave a wee bit of compassion, they then judged him guilty and "worthy" of all the bad things that had happened to him. God finally enters the dialogue near the end of the book and explains the awesomeness of God as THE GREAT CREATOR. I added portions of chapter 38 on the right side of the journal...and I will always look at Multnomah Falls as being "water jars of heaven."

Tourist Trip

An art journal is an excellent place to do a mixed media collage of bits and pieces collected during a family vacation. Instead of stashing everything into a big pile that you (likely) never look at again, cut the bits & pieces out to show the BOLD TYPE best bits of our time with our son and daughter-in-law and made a collage. The memories have a longer "shelf life" because they have become part of my journal.

The post-it-note "Go Somewhere" was on my calendar months ahead of time; great sushi; a postcard of Portland cut into strips and glued on top of other memories; bits from the tourist brochures we collected during the trip.

Begin Again

Create a "poem" by subtracting words from an arbitrary text; then rewrite the words to make them your own.

 I used a Sharpie oil-based marker to mark out words on a page in an altered book (right side); then I slightly re-organized most of the remaining words to express a reflection that grew out of blotting out the words. From this exercise I was reflectively reminded of God's care and providence as I gave myself permission to "Begin Again."
I jazzed up the edges with cut pieces of decorative paper to add visual interest on the theme I was reflecting on, and then used stencils to put the "bold type" message that had come to me through the experience of art/journaling.

Bloom Where You Are Planted

Exposed words in an altered book provide a simple theme to reflect upon.
I used Sharpie oil-based markers to doodle and reflect on white gesso-covered pages. The purple mess can be covered later.
Use the end of a celery stalk as a "flower" block print.
 Lightly paint acrylic over the celery stalk and use it as a block print to decorate the edges and cover up the purple Sharpie marker that inadvertently "bled" on the page.
Rubber stamping and washi tape edge the double-page spread. A fun way to bring in color and design.
Go back and embellish some of your original lines to make create emphasis and also to have something to "doodle" while you are thinking and praying and listening to God.

Gratitude Graffiti

 Sharpie oil-based markers are fun to use on pages covered with black gesso. The markers make the colors POP with vibrancy on the black page. Sparked by the exposed words on a previously black-gesso-coated page, I used the bright markers to do stacked journaling (writing on top of writing) to write my rejoice and be glad gratitude list. The symbols of the sacraments of the Protestant Church -Holy Communion and Baptism-are made with custom block imprints. The chalice and bread symbolize Communion, and the shell symbolized baptism.

Block Printing

Choose a copyright free line art design from the internet; size to fit a block; place the pattern over a piece of art foam (available in all colors at craft stores like Hobby Lobby) and cut between all the lines. Reconstruct the shape allowing space between each piece and glue on block. Allow to dry.

 The chalice and loaf block print is a combination of a simple circle stamped first and allowed to dry; and the cup and bread which is printed on top of the circle. Foam block printing can be “stamped” onto traditional stamp pads, but they also work well to brush with acrylic paint—which gives the two-color imprint indicated below.

Use the block imprints on posters, journals, and t-shirts.