Deepening the Psalms through Art Journaling
My art journal journey has been really great for me- but because I am not an “artist,” I don’t always have clever ideas about what to do. Last night’s Advent Bible reading had us read Psalm 6. Now, I’ve read the Psalms a hundred bazillion times. Okay, maybe not literally, since I don’t even know how much a hundred bazillion is. But it’s a lot. However, as I read Psalm 6, verse 4 really stuck out to me. It says, “Turn, O Lord, and deliver me; save me because of your unfailing love.” Now, I am not a theologian, and I don’t claim to understand even half of the Bible. So when something really hits me, it hits me hard and I can’t let it go.
The part I couldn’t let go is this: He wasn’t asking God to save him because he was super awesome. No, he asked God to save him because of God’s unfailing love. God’s loving character was the reason God would deliver him. How many times do we ask God to save us because of all the different reasons on our list, most especially, the reason that we are worthy? It hit me then, as I read those words over and over, that I do not have to be worthy for God to save me. Theoretically, we know that. But what I found interesting was that this was in the Psalms, aka before Jesus came and assured us of our salvation. Even before Jesus, it was in God’s good character to save us because He loved us. His love for us, despite our unworthiness, is unchanged.
Which leads me to my art. This message was so powerful to me that I really wanted to do some kind of art to remember it. To let this beautiful thought about God sink deep into my heart. But it’s such a short verse, and I am so bad at art, and I don’t have a very creative artistic mind. Some of you are probably looking at my picture thinking that I am SO creative and SO good at art. Trust me, that’s not talent, that’s just being a good student of a few simple techniques. (For which I am very grateful, and if you want to learn some of this, you should take the Made Art class. LOVE it!) Anyway, as I was really trying to think of ways of expressing what was in my heart, I felt really inadequate. And I was tired, so I prayed about it, then went to bed.
Tonight I sat down to make art, and I realized that I still have nothing. So I went to Pinterest for inspiration. I saw a lot of great pieces of art in other art journals, and for whatever reason, I was drawn to tree pictures. I thought about it some more, and then I remembered a project we did with Kelly Watts on the Proverbs 31 woman. Which is when I decided to combine the cute little circle thingys she taught us with my tree and the other ideas floating in my head. Why am I telling you this? Because you need to know that I am not an art genius. I just wanted to make something cool to express my joy at seeing something beautiful in God’s Word.
And that leads me to the art I created. Maybe you didn’t get a good look at it, but when I look at it, I think, um, that’s really depressing!! The landscape is barren, the girl in on her knees crying with her eyes closed, the tree is bare, and even my cute little flower is falling apart! I felt so much joy in God’s word, but as I created the art, I was creating depressing stuff. I didn’t feel depressed, but I don’t know, it just came out. But the more I worked on my art, and the more I contemplated the verse as I made the words, I realized something. How many times do I resent other people’s blessings from God because in my mind, they don’t deserve them? It really humbled me and struck me in a lot of painful places. And so, I painted, I sharpied, and I prayed. I thought about how imperfect I am, how I wanted people to know that I made so many mistakes in my art, and it was okay. I thought about a quote I once saw attributed to Bob Ross, and how if you make a mistake, you just turn it into a bird. It made me happy to think about making birds in my art. No, I did not actually put a bird in my art. But I think about my life mistakes, and how God has let me turn them into birds instead of leaving them as big ugly blotches on the canvas of my life.
So my picture looks kind of depressing. A depressing situation, and I guess, a depressed person. But God’s Word is surrounding her, and it is full of hope. I realized that it’s actually a hopeful picture, because no matter what is happening in our lives, God’s love is unfailing. Which led me to the final touch on my picture. I’d planned it only being about Psalm 6:4. But as I thought about how thankful I am for God’s love, I couldn’t help but add a reminder to my rather pathetic tree- my favorite verse of praise: Psalm 106:1. Versions of it appear in different places in the Psalms and I love that it is so often repeated. My favorite phrasing is a mishmash of versions, and I think that’s okay too. “Give thanks unto the Lord; for He is good. His love endures forever.”
What I loved about taking this verse and making it art is that in all, I spent about four hours on one verse. I think if you’d handed me a verse and asked me to spend four hours on it, I would have said you were nuts. But because all that time marinating in this one verse was spent doing art, I felt like I got so much more out of it. I dug deeper into the verse and I feel like I know it intimately. Yet I also know that even with all this, I still don’t fully understand it. And I’m okay with that too.
Have you read something recently that’s spoken to you? Consider turning it into an art project to see if you can dig deeper.