Seasons in a Creative’s Life

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“Spring Song” – Violet Nesdoly (Watercolor on 140 lb. cold press paper, 9×6 inches).

This week I’m taking in a three-session webinar on the artist’s mindset led by artist coach and mentor Matt Tommey. Yesterday’s lecture was followed by a Q&A where Tommey answered submitted questions. The first question and his answer opened a window for me.

The question was (not the exact words but the gist) “What do I do when I feel an artistic calling in many directions?”

Matt’s answer:

  • Many creatives are polymaths, i.e. Renaissance people who are interested and excel at many things. It is not surprising that they struggle with finding a focus when their interests and skills are wide and varied.

  • The answer to that is to recognize that life has SEASONS.

He spoke of his own seasons of leading worship (music), basket making (art), church involvement, now leading his mentoring program.

Our seasons are determined by many things: our age, family and responsibilities to them, finances, health, etc. When we are aware of life’s seasons, and the changes they bring, we don’t need to stress when we find our focus shifting as a result of changing circumstances.

I can relate to that!

When our family was growing up, my creative pursuits involved decorating my home, sewing for my family, gardening, and doing the odd craft project.

Then I started a home-based medical transcription business and for a time my attention was absorbed by it—along with family and church responsibilities.

Once it was established, I got the itch to work on an old love—writing. I registered for a writing course and within about a year, had sold my first article. Many published articles, stories, devotions, puzzles and poems followed. I published a couple of poetry books and even wrote two novels.

Then in 2017 I discovered Bible Art Journaling through a request to review the wonderful book The Complete Guide to Bible Journaling. Oh shiny!

(Many of my siblings are talented artists with formal art training. I loved art but felt I couldn’t measure up, so shoved that old interest into the background. When I saw the Bible Journaling book and the projects people did, immediately I knew I wanted to try this, just for the fun and spiritual enrichment of it. I promptly ordered a journaling Bible, which I enjoy doodling in to this day.)

My next step into art was joining Instagram where my visual world exploded with the wonderful art work of others. I joined in on a few art and lettering challenges and stumbled across Samantha Dion Baker’s book Draw Your Day, about keeping a sketch journal.

On December 7, 2018, I made my first sketch journal entry, with a resolve to do a little art every day. It’s a resolve I’ve pretty much honoured since them.

What I discovered, however, as I let myself get drawn ever more into the vortex of art, was that my formerly high enthusiasm for writing was waning. All the creative oxygen in my life was being sucked up by art. I often felt sad and a little guilty about this, but didn’t feel like going back to the committed writing lifestyle either.

Yesterday’s discussion by Matt about flowing with the seasons of life, then, helped me put my experience into perspective.

I realized there were reasons why I was moving out of the writing season.

  • I have written about many many things and felt talked-out.
  • As I age (and I am a senior) words are harder to find. The old mind isn’t quite as nimble and sharp as it used to be. Art is easier on the brain.
  • The production cycle for any big writing project, like a book, is long and taxing. Even if one puts one’s heart and soul into it, it is often not monetarily viable. (It’s true what they say, that writing the book is only a fraction of the work that’s needed to get it out into the world.)

All that to say, I now understand my journey better. I feel free to embrace this new season of visual art creation as a step that was right and perhaps even inevitable.

Our Lecture One assignment was: “Create a piece of art that reflects your response to the beauty of God’s gift of imagination.” The Red-wing Blackbird study that illustrates this post is based on a reference photo i took a few weeks ago, of a blackbird singing his heart out. It symbolizes the joy of a new season.

One more thing!

We’re having a two-day sale at our Etsy shop. You will find 15% off all items in the store (art cards and wall art). Check it out: at Violet Nesdoly Art.

Love everlasting (#BibleJournaling)

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“I have loved you with an everlasting love…” – Jeremiah 31:3

This is the verse on which the Rebekah R. Jones’ Original Bible Art Journaling Challenge series, Week 36 is based.

As soon as I saw the word “everlasting” I thought of dried flowers, which are sometimes called everlastings. My mom used to grow gorgeous everlastings—strawflowers, statice, love-in-a-mist (nigella), Chinese lantern, and more.

She got me interested in trying my hand at it. I did, and for a few years I made dried arrangements out of my dried roses, statice, hydrangea, baby’s breath, tansy, nigella pods. So fun—but messy!

I decided to decorate this page of my Bible with everlastings. Working on this drawing of straw flowers, statice, celosia and nigella was like stepping back into time. I just wish I could have shown Mom, who died in 2006, but whose love I sensed as I worked on it. Of course God’s love lasts longer and is stronger than any mother’s!

Thank you, Jesus, for your truly everlasting love!

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Bible Journal entry for Jeremiah 31:3 (Photo © 2018 by V. Nesdoly)

Media used: Pigma micron pens and pencil crayon.

Jonah (#BibleJournaling)

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Some Bible stories are just too deliciously visual to resist bringing to pictorial life. I found Jonah to be one of those.

In my 2018 project to journal at least once in each minor prophet book, Jonah got the full treatment; an entry on each of its four pages.

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Jonah runs from the presence of the LORD. (Good luck with that!) (Photo © 2018 by V. Nesdoly)

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Jonah in the belly of the great fish. (Photo © 2018 by V. Nesdoly)

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Nineveh repents. (Photo © 2018 by V. Nesdoly)

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Jonah sits outside the city, waiting for fireworks. (Photo © 2018 by V. Nesdoly)

I love the end-of-Jonah challenge cast before the reader by my study Bible’s notes:

“After a brief pause to imagine the worst threat someone could pose against us or the worst injury someone could inflict upon us, then we are ready to ask ourselves: ‘Would I be willing to invest myself in God’s forgiveness of them?’” – Charles W. Snow – Study notes on Jonah, New Spirit-Filled Life Bible, p. 1198.

 

 

Media used: Inktense pencils, watercolours, Pigma Micron pens, coloured pencils.

Take words … (#BibleJournaling)

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In my personal Bible reading, I’ve been following The Bible Project’s reading plan. I’m now in the prophets, and what a lot of beautiful, poetic, and picturesque passages they contain!

Last week Hosea 14:2-4 snagged my attention:

“Take words with you,
And return to the LORD.
Say to Him,
‘Take away all iniquity;
Receive us graciously,
For we will offer sacrifices of our lips…
For in You the fatherless finds mercy.’”

 

I love the humble attitude of these verses. The image of a wagon filled with words came to mind. In order to preserve the readability of the verses in my Bible, I made them part of the wagon’s load.

A little girl pulls it because isn’t that how we come to God—in childlikeness?

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NKJV Journal The Word Bible entry for Hosea 14:2-4 (Photo © 2018 by V. Nesdoly)

God invites us still, whatever our situation; “Take words with you and return to the LORD… ‘For in You the fatherless finds mercy.’”

Fix your eyes on Jesus #BibleJournaling

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On these last days of Lent, our thoughts go to the subject and central character of the Good Friday and Easter celebrations just ahead. There is no One more beautiful to contemplate!

“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the Pioneer and Perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” – Hebrews 12:2.

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Bible Journal entry for Hebrews 12:2 (Photo © 2017 by V. Nesdoly)

This journal entry is one I did in my original NIV Journaling Bible last Easter. (The drawing of Jesus on the cross at the bottom was inspired by an illustration of Annie Vallotton’s – scroll down….)

Harmony of Worship

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Though I haven’t posted anything here for a while, I have been busy with Bible journaling. A week ago today I completed instructing a six week series  of lessons on Bible Art Journaling for women at my church. It was a good and stretching experience to put together and then present six illustrated talks about Bible journaling, along with journaling prompts.

I have also ventured, this year, into prophetic art. This is as a result of Rebekah R. Jones’ 2018 Prophetic Art challenges (delivered once a month).

This first collage / mixed media piece done in January was on the theme of HARMONY.

The idea behind my piece is that God harmonizes all of earth’s expressions of faith in Christ (worship, prayer, praise, depicted as musical instruments and symbols—and of course, other expressions that don’t involve music) into a glorious song ascending into the heavens with Jesus acknowledged, praised, and worshiped as Saviour. The conductor’s hand holds a baton, which is also a cross. The rainbow is meant to symbolize God’s presence and power (as seen in Ezekiel 1:28 & Revelation 4:3).

The scripture passage on which this is based is Revelation 7:9,10:

“After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, saying ‘Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!’”

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“Harmony of Worship” – Violet Nesdoly (Mixed media 8.5 x 11″ – Photo © 2018 by V. Nesdoly)

The musical instrument graphic was a tracing of a vector image from Freepik.com, with changes from an image designed by Zirconicusso / Freepik, both used with permission.

Psalms Alive! (review)

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Psalms Alive!Psalms Alive! by David Kitz

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

In Psalms Alive! author, pastor, and dramatist David Kitz takes us on a journey through thirteen selected psalms. In the Preface Kitz explains why he wrote the book:

“For the past number of years I have been bringing the Psalms to life for audiences through the medium of live drama. Here now in book form, from a dramatist’s perspective I provide a glimpse into the prayers and praise of the psalmists” 18.

Each of the book’s 26 chapters begins with the quoted scripture passage under discussion. This is followed by Kitz expanding on it in a variety of ways that include personal stories, explanations of biblical customs and settings, devotional inspiration, and challenges to apply the scripture’s advice to life. Each chapter ends with a “Bringing Life to the Psalms” section consisting of three to four discussion and personal application questions.

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Bible art journal on Psalm 19:14 using a quote from Psalms Alive! (Photo © 2017 by V. Nesdoly)

Kitz’s writing is lively, picturesque, and wise. He expands liberally on the ideas presented in the Bible passage. He doesn’t leaves us in the theoretical clouds though, but makes sure his conclusions connect to everyday living. My book is full of underlined sections. Here are a few of my favourite quotes:

From the Preface: “When we handle the Word of God, we are handling life. When we take hold of the Word of God, it takes hold of us” – 17.

From a chapter on Psalm 19: “Your heavenly Father does not need a stethoscope to check on the condition of your heart; he needs only to listen to the words coming out of your mouth” – 43.

From a chapter on Psalm 103: “Relationship is always the wellspring of all revelation. It is while we are in God’s presence that we discover the mind of Christ” – 149.

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Bible art journal detail (Photo © 2017 by V. Nesdoly)

I used this book, along with others in an online creative Bible study and found much inspiration in it for Bible art journaling. It has deepened and broadened my appreciation of the psalms discussed. It would make an excellent textbook (along with the Bible, of course) for men’s or women’s Bible studies.

I received this book as a gift from the author for the purpose of writing a review and participating in the study.

View all my reviews

Blessed by Psalm 84 #BibleJournaling

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I love Psalm 84!

David Kitz writes three chapters on it in his book Psalms Alive! I did a Bible journal sketch for each of them.

The first section (Chapter 12 in his book focusing on Psalm 84:1-4) is about living in God’s house. I love the word pictures of sparrows nesting there—all the more because my maiden name was “Sperling” (German), which translates to “sparrow.” I doodled this picture in the margin of my Bible, based on Psalm 84:3,4.

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Bible Journal entry for Psalm 84:3,4 (Photo © 2017 by V. Nesdoly)

The middle section (Chapter 13 – Psalm 84:5-9) is about the faith journey or pilgrimage. I focused on verse 5: “Blessed are those whose strength is in You, who have set their hearts on pilgrimage. They go from strength to strength till each appears before God in Zion” – Psalm 84:5.

Because my Bible margin was already full, I did a journal entry in my sketch book. Ever since I saw the idea of using footprints in a Bible journal entry, I’ve wanted to do that. This seemed like a good place to use that idea.

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Bible journal entry for Psalm 84:5 (Photo © 2017 by V. Nesdoly)

The quotes on the shoe soles are from Chapter 13 of Psalms Alive! (pp. 121-128):

Right (top) shoe:
“He brings hope into the Valley of Despair”
“We are called to a faith journey.”
“He is the great transformer. He brings light into darkness.”
“Read God’s Word daily.”
“It is the way of the cross that will bring us safely into His arms.”
He will be living water.”

 

Left (bottom) shoe:
“The place of weeping becomes a place of living springs when Jesus passes by.”
“We are to undertake this walk together.”
“He brings joy into sorrowful hearts.”
“Bread of Life sustains us.”
“Pray.”
“Hear His voice.”
“Our strength is in the LORD.”
“Strength for our pilgrimage comes only from Him.”

The last section (Chapter 14 – Psalm 84:10-12) was about how this is really a love psalm to God. I chose to illustrate it with a wonderful quote of David Kitz’s that fit on the overleaf side of my Bible—“Love is at the core of every special day”— paired with Psalm 84:10: “For a day in Your courts is better than a thousand.”

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Bible Journal for Psalm 84:10 (Photo © 2017 by V. Nesdoly)

After all that, I love Psalm 84 even more!

(David’s book Psalms Alive! is really quite wonderful as an in-depth study of selected psalms. His writing is full of vivid word pictures and meaty quotes that make it a perfect resource for those of us attempting to personalize and add colour and images to our Bible pages.)

 

Psalm 23 — a lifetime in my Bible margin #BibleJournaling

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I’ve read Psalm 23 many times (perhaps you have too). And so when I saw that David Kitz gave it two chapters in his book Psalms Alive,* I was curious what he’d all find to say about these six familiar verses.

After reading it, my chapters now have many red underlines. Several of those quotes figure in the doodle I call a lifetime in the margin of my Bible.

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Bible art journal entry for Psalm 23 (Photo © 2017 by V. Nesdoly)

The words I printed on the path are a compilation of a couple of sentences from p. 49 which is so true of the Christian life. Working up from the bottom to the top: “Surrendering the leadership role in my life to the Good Shepherd is a daily conscious decision to follow where He leads.”

The many challenges to that daily conscious decision to follow His lead are depicted by the highways (to Ease, Wealth, Pleasure, Fame, Popularity—and I could have added many more) branching off from the narrow road.

Near the top of the path (near the skull depicting the “valley of the shadow of death”) is this bit that I find most comforting: “During our darkest hour He holds us closest” – p. 54.

And finally at the very top, when we’ve reached our Welcome Home banquet and the golden city: “A good life extends through all eternity”– p. 59. (Hallelujah!)

Singer Audrey Assad sings a lovely song based on the memorable phrase “I shall not want” from this psalm. Enjoy!

*The book of Psalms in the Bible and Psalms Alive by David Kitz are the books some friends and I are reading and responding to creatively in a several-week study.

God’s Word #BibleJournaling

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I recently joined a group of friends for a creative Bible study in Psalms. Using the book Psalms Alive by David Kitz, we’ll be working our way through several Psalms in the next weeks. We share our thoughts and creations in a Facebook group (since we’re far apart geographically).

We started our study by reading David’s Preface. I underlined statements like:

“Within the Psalms we hear the deepest longings of the human heart.”

“When we handle the Word of God, we are handling life.”

and

“When we take hold of the Word of God, it takes hold of us.”

That last really grabbed my imagination, so I decided to reflect on it in a drawing. I paired it with Psalm 119:25-32, which is full of how God’s Word, interacting with us, brings changes—positive changes.

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Bible Journal  entry for Psalm 119:25-32 (Photo © 2017 by V. Nesdoly)

Let’s accept the challenge to allow God’s word to revive us, teach us, strengthen us, give us understanding, remove things from us, and more as we move toward the goal of a God-enlarged heart:

“I will run the course of Your commandments,
For You shall enlarge my heart” – Psalm 119:32.