Art Journaling the Old Testament

One of the assignments for the class I'm teaching on the Old Testament (the final exam actually!) is to tell the story of the Old Testament in 5-7 minutes. They create an AV that tells the bold type of the story with one highlight from each of the 39 books. I'm going to art journal my version of the project so I can experience the journey alongside my students. I've begun very simply with watercolors and stenciling. I add to it and also switch up the media. 
Exodus: Egypt is on the left with the Nile River center and the Promised Land represented with green. 


Art Journaling for Teaching Prep

The blank white page does not inspire me: to art, to write, to prep for preaching OR to prepare for teaching. I have realized and "owned" the fact the blank white pages just don't motivate me. At all. With that realization firmly in place I began an art journal for two summer courses I am teaching (online) at University of the Southwest. 
I broke out my watercolor sprays and assorted stencils and spritzed a bunch of backgrounds in the two journals. 
I didn't worry about colors or stenciling just put a lot of colors & textures on a dozen opening pages in each journal. 
The art background made it easy to sketch out the notes for my class lectures. 
Distilling the ideas to key themes (and writing them down in a journal) also helps commit the main themes to memory. Once all the prep work is done I find that I seldom actually need to refer to the written material. The art/journal combo is a thoughtful way to process and prepare. 

Experimenting with Stained Glass Stencils

It is so fun to experiment with a new anything art! I think the reason I'm a "mixed media" artist is for exactly that: an excuse to play with something (anything) new. 
Cathedral stained glass window stencils (set of 4). I put all four on one journal page, broke out my various watercolor sets and started playing. 
I decided not to worry about color selection or brush or placement; just dip & paint. 
I layered colors. And of course a dry brush works best. 

Watermark Resist (Stamping) Mixed Media Art

I was intrigued when I saw the technique to use watermark resist (project by to make "resists" using stamped images on paper. The trick is that the paper must have a shiny surface in order for the technique to work properly. Otherwise, you can use any type of foam or rubber stamp and a variety of dye type inks. We experimented with the technique as part of a "team night" while on a mission trip in Mexico. I brought basic supplies which included one watermark resist stamp pad, several small stamps, and mini ink pads to be used for the dye after the watermark stamp had been allowed to dry overnight. The only shiny paper I had on hand was a stack of tags which are generally used literally for pricing and tagging items. We used these tags as the basis for our experimenting.

First, stamp the plain shiny paper with a watermark resist. The samples here show multiple stamps of the same image on one small tag. Allow to dry overnight. Then use a cotton ball or tissue to apply ink; gently rub off. Add additional stamps of colored ink on top if desired. Mix colors of ink as desired. Add elements of collage (like washi tape) as desired. Experiment. Do whatever you like for no particular reason!

I made one tag for each day on the mission trip. I'm not sure exactly how I will continue with them, but they are in my journal.

Stacked Journalng on a Mission Trip

Messy handwriting looks FAB with stacked journaling.
The art technique called "stacked journaling" is an excellent tool for journaling on a mission trip. The technique is writing on top of writing with the point to dump out feelings and emotions and experiences that you don't necessarily need (or want) to re-read later. The tools required can be very simple (i.e., watercolors and pencils or markers) or every elaborate (i.e., incorporating virtually any and all media). We used stacked journaling as a team debrief after a particularly hectic day in the mission field. There is no need for "show and tell" as the art is meant to be self-expression of the moment, day, event, or place.
Layers and layers of neat and tidy writing also works well.

No rules with stacked journaling...just write on top of writing on top of writing.
Team art journaling after a day in the mission field.

King of Kings Crowns for VBS art in a Colonia en Cabo San Lucas

Supplies: watercolors, crayons, brushes & cups for water.
After teaching local leadership how to do wax resist to make crowns, these trained leaders showed children in a colonia in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico how to make the crowns. The teaching theme was Jesus as King of kings (Rey de reys) and Prince of Peace (Principa de Paz). First the children learned a catchy song in Spanish (we didn't quite get to the English which really adds a nice touch when there's time to teach in bilingually). Then the teachers led the children in making the crowns while the women learned how to make earrings for cottage industry skills. The artful crowns were a big hit. Much fun enjoyed by all.

Cabo Church Art Workshop Mixes Art with Theology

Integrating mixed media art in Christian education is an excellent way to help students of all ages embody the lesson through simple art techniques which are easily taught and require simple supplies. Art makes learning much more fun! There are almost unlimited projects you can create that use stencils and stamps. Once you have the basic tools (stencils and stamps), the art continues into infinity. An easy project is to talk about symbols and shapes and how they add meaning to people, places, and events. The art experience helps people to visually connect with the key themes of a particular (biblical) teaching.
Lynn creates layers of meaning with stencils, stamped images and crayon
Lynn working on layers.
Stamped images add interesting layers to art.

No fancy set-up required: art supplies scattered down the middle and GO.

Art Training 101 at Cabo Church

As part of our annual mission trip to work with Feeding Los Cabos Kids, a ministry of Cabo Church in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, we spent an evening teaching how to incorporate mixed media art in Christian education for kids (and adults) of all ages. Various staff and volunteers spent two hours with an intense crash course which covered a variety of materials and methods. We did wax resist on pre-cut paper crowns. The crowns were traced around a Burger King crown on posterboard and cut out ahead of time. Because we did multiple projects very quickly, each person had only 15 minutes to decorate the crown with crayon (wax) and then do a watercolor wash so the wax would "resist" (show through). We talked about the different teaching options which could incorporate the crown as the project to symbolize the teaching. For example, Jesus is King of kings and Lord of lords; the three wise men at Christmas, or one of the kings in the Old Testament such as king Solomon or king David. It is a fun and easy project. No art skills required!

Art of Tears inside a Detention Center for Immigrants Seeking Asylum

The prayer began by drawing around one hand, palm up symbolizing prayer.

The art images here express the tears and prayers of immigrant women seeking asylum in the USA from the violence in their Central American homelands. There are 500 women and children incarcerated about 90 minutes from where I am a pastor, and it is my privilege to do art as a ministry of presence with them as they await the painstaking process of seeking asylum. The examples here are from a guided prayer mixed media meditation. These images were created two days following the attempted suicide of a young woman who had just been denied asylum and was about to be deported. She and her 4-year-old son have experienced horrific violence there...and they have nothing to go "home" to. The guided meditation was intended to help the women express their fears and also to cling to hope and the love of God for them and for their children.

The supplies I brought for the women to use in creating their prayer reflection. The "Jane Girl" stencils were very popular.

The Hand(s) of Prayer

My sample evolved to be prayers for the women and children in Cabo as Hurricane Blanca nears.

White crayon on watercolor card stock.
After a recent suicide attempt inside a detention center for women I volunteered to do a guided meditation on prayer with the women inside the detention center for immigrant women and children seeking asylum. During the preliminary explanation, I told the women (in my mediocre Spanish) that I do not have enough words in Spanish to share with them what is on my heart about what happened here two days ago, but I can share what is on my heart by doing art. I had made a sample ahead of time to show, and I also had typed up the basic steps for the instructions and then put them through Google Translate for a Spanish version. The women are very literate and easily read the steps. My sample also helped to break the language barrier. We used wax resist (crayon on with watercolors on card stock). The hand is drawn around with the palm up as a symbol of open prayer to God.
1.       Watercolor paper
2.       Watercolors and watercolor pencils
3.       Paintbrushes
4.       Crayons and/or oil pastels
5.       Stencils
6.       Stamps and stamp pads
7.       Colored pencils
8.       Cups for water; pitcher; paper towels
9.       Hair drier (to force dry watercolor)

1.       Rest one hand palm side up on a piece of watercolor paper and use a white/light colored crayon or oil pastel to draw the hand. The palm-side-up hand symbolizes an open prayer. As desired, add a border and/or symbols in the remaining space of the watercolor paper.
2.       Use one or more colors of watercolor to completely paint over the paper.  During the painting process think of the people, events, circumstances that you want to include in the art prayer.
3.       Allow the watercolor to dry (or use a hairdryer to force the paper dry).
4.       Use stencils and/or stamps to add the names of the people, events, and/or circumstances to your prayer.

5.       Title the prayer. Put your name and date somewhere on the page—either on the front or on the back.