Experimenting, seeking, and blessings…

I have been playing around with watercolor pencils and my watercolor paints. I have been watching some youtube videos to get some ideas for what I can do artistically to support my bible studies and my spiritual journey.

First, I learned how to highlight text in my bible and then use the same highlighter color to mark my notes I make in the border of my journaling bible, so it is easy to find my notes which refer to the text. This is great because it not only makes it easy to reference the scripture with my notes, it also adds some marvelous color to my bible.

I also have a notebook where I write down notes regarding the chapter I read in my daily bible study. But the notebook is rather plain and uninspiring since it is written using black ink and in a cheap composition notebook. I decided to start making changes:

  1. The first thing I changed was the format so what I read daily was grouped together and each day was separated by a date.
  2. The next thing I did was use a different color of ink each day. I have about 6 different colored gel pens so I started using them to write my notes changing to a different color the next day. This created an obvious division between each day’s studies.
  3. The third thing I did was see if I could use watercolor pencils on the paper and a waterbrush to activate them. This is where I started to run into issues. The watercolor pencils didn’t move hardly at all on the untreated paper of the composition notebook. This also caused the paper to wrinkle.
  4. The next step, I tried some watercolor paint but that also didn’t move very much. Below is a picture of the watercolor paint layered over the watercolor pencils and you can see how splotchy it appears. I wasn’t crazy about it at all, although when I started writing my notes over it, I kind of liked it. This page has an interesting crinkling sound to it and it is wrinkly, an effect from becoming wet which I sometimes like and sometimes don’t.IMG_1613
  5. The next thing I did was try treating a page front and back with clear gesso and applying watercolor pencils to it and activating it again with a waterbrush. This worked better but still had issues with getting it to blend out the way I wanted it, so I put a wash of watercolor paint over it. This is still blotchy but better than the one above and the page doesn’t wrinkle or crinkle like the untreated page above. I actually love the texture of the page from the clear gesso I’m using. The gesso isn’t gritty and it gives the page what my touch and mind can only interpret as an almost leather type feel to it on both the surface and when bending and turning the page. It feels sturdier and not at all like paper in how it bends.IMG_1614
  6. On the other side of the treated page, I used just watercolor wash of paint over the clear gesso. This is by far my favorite and is what I plan on doing going forward in my bible study notebook.

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I expect my next change will be to decorate the cover of my notebook, after watching a video today on youtube of someone covering their composition notebook, it made me want to do something similar.

The thing I am most pleased about is finding a way to work with a cheap composition notebook. I have seen other people on youtube and in some art courses I’ve taken who use composition notebooks for their art journals, junk journals, bullet journals and so forth but when I tried to use one in the way they did, it just didn’t appeal to me. Most of them didn’t treat their pages, some of them glued pages together to make them sturdier.

As you read above, I don’t generally like the page when it gets all crinkly after it dries, though the sound is pleasing the results of the medium on the untreated page isn’t.  As I learned in my creative journaling bible and now in this notebook, treating the page with clear gesso is what I like best because it gives me a broader range of options for anything I might want to do on the page. Consequently, I’m going through clear gesso quite quickly, luckily the clear gesso I can get locally isn’t expensive and I like it.

I only have a couple pages done with watercolor in my journal, even so, when I flip back through my journal, I definitely like the ones with color more. I am hoping to add some doodles or some variations in my writing to help make my notes more visual so I might be able to have instant recall on what was in the text I was studying. Right now my notes just run together. I am intrigued by those who are able to create doodles in their notes as they go and have them make so much sense. I have never been a doodler, so trying to come up with simple images to draw that would emphasize what I’m learning doesn’t come easily or naturally to me. I think I’m more of a word person, so creating changes in my writing may be what I need to do.

What I’m learning is experimenting, trying different things, is helping me to find what works for me. This is being driven home even more so in my play with watercolor paint. These next two images are from practicing on two pieces of 4 1/2″ x 5″ watercolor paper. I have watched a number of artists on youtube paint with watercolor and each time I try to do something without following a lesson or what they are doing and just try to do something on my own, it ends up something like these. Then I don’t know what to do with them.

The first one looks like an out of focus picture of flowers that have no connection with the earth or each other.

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I have no idea where I was headed with this one, I just started putting paint down where I felt like placing it and letting it run. I think when I was letting the paint run we had a bit of thunder and lightening happening outside which doesn’t occur very often.

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Basically, I was just playing. I think I should try a challenge of doing one of these small watercolor practice squares a day for 30 days and see what happens. I’m just feeling a bit overwhelmed with other things I feel I should be doing and not progressing as fast as I think I should be so to add something like a challenge right now might be a bit too much.

It is hard to justify playing with my art when I feel I should be focusing on things to improve our financial situation. I have to keep myself open to what God wants me to do. After winning a spot in “Paint Your Heart and Soul 2019” and another spot in “Life Book 2019”, I have to believe that God wants me to continue pursuing my art and including it as often as I can in my day-to-day activities.

I started a prayer journal and I’m using my artistic skills to bring prayer to life for me. That may sound strange so below is an image of a page in my prayer journal. I don’t want to confuse anyone and have them think the artwork or text is mine. I got both from Pinterest.  If you want to look up the text graphic you can find it here. If you want to look up the image you can find it here.  The footnote to the image states, “Praying is a painting by Dorina Costras which was uploaded on April 11th, 2017.” I had the background painted long before I found the text or image so to find an image which spoke to me so deeply and blended so well with my background and also the text is wonderful. I would love to have this image on canvas or print for my wall but in my present circumstances I can’t afford it so I opted for a small printout to put in my prayer journal.

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The image and the words together bring prayer to life for me. It has been difficult to have faith that my prayers will be answered. Throughout my life, I have prayed more times than I can count where I felt like no one was listening and nothing came of my prayers. The more I read my bible, the more I realize there was a very important element missing in my life when I accepted Jesus into my heart as my Lord and Savior. Learning was disjointed, had no cohesion, there was no direction given to me as a new child of God. Would things have been different if there had been a more structured teaching to help someone like me? I can’t answer that. I would like to think so but God does things a certain way for a good reason. Maybe after being saved, I needed to become lost and lose almost everything so I would truly seek him for the right reasons. Seeking God for one’s own personal gain is wrong. I originally sought him and accepted him because I feared for my life that I might die and go to hell. I didn’t seek him to glorify him or out of fear of him. In April, when I decided to start reading the bible, I did so because I wanted to get to know God and who he really is. Not the God I was taught about as a child because I felt what I was being taught was a bastardized version of him and not the real HIM.

It is hard to sit back and study the bible at the pace I am studying it. I want to fly through it learning all I can as fast as I can.  Even though I’m moving through it chapter by chapter instead of verse by verse which is what is recommended by Anne Graham Lotz in her 3-Question Bible Study method, I feel like I’m learning at a snail’s pace.

I came across Anne’s method a couple weeks ago when I was searching different ways of studying the bible. I also discovered she has recently been diagnosed with breast cancer and has just started chemo treatments. From what she writes it sounds like her diagnosis is more severe than mine and her treatments will last a lot longer. I pray for her every day for God to give her strength and healing. I used to listen to her father Billy Graham many years ago but had no idea she had her own ministry. From what little I have read and listened to so far, she may become a rather important source of inspiration for me.

I am slowly finding my way in this life, this new life which is developing out of the ashes of my old life. I often feel as though I am no longer standing on solid ground, so unstable it might dissolve completely leaving nothing to stand on, or that I’m standing on the edge of a cliff where the slightest breeze could push me over the edge. God is the only one who is keeping me grounded. He is answering my prayers and giving me hope. When I am left to my own devices, and I try to rely on just myself, everything just feels like it is falling apart and there is no hope left in me.

I am learning to lean on God, and he is showing me in amazing ways that he is listening and answering my prayers in his own way and in his own time. It is hard to be patient. It is hard to change from my old ways. It is hard not to let doubt bubble up and overwhelm me. But each time I witness God’s helping hand in my life, my faith grows a bit more, a bit stronger and becomes a bit more rooted. I am glad my art has a part in my life. I love how it is becoming entwined with my spiritual growth.

Maybe one day I’ll discover my true purpose which God has for me.

The Light in My Darkness

It has been almost two months since my last post. As to why, well, the answer can be quite complicated and too personal to want to talk about. I’ve been struggling with life, mostly, which means I am also struggling with my art. Or rather, I find when I loose interest in life, then I also loose interest in my art.

There is one thing which has remained consistent since I added another element to my journey a few months ago. That element is reading the bible every day. I don’t know why NOW is any different from the times I tried to do this in my past.  I only know that it is. If I miss a single day in reading the bible, I feel compelled to read twice as much the next day. The hunger inside of me to read and learn what the bible has to teach me is strong. It keeps me going. Though I have felt lost these past few months in my life, the one thing which has kept me from loosing myself completely is my daily reading.

I have heard other artists say that art has saved them or helped them through some tough times. I wanted this to be the case for me but it wasn’t. I believe we all have something which can help us and we each have to find what that one thing is. I’m learning, mine is feeding the hunger I feel in my soul to get to know God through my reading of the bible.

I pulled out a bible I bought some time ago. It is called “Inspire, The Bible for Creative Journaling”. I bought some clear gesso and started prepping the pages so I could use markers for making annotations in the wide borders or coloring in the artwork that was already in the wide margins. If I don’t do this then the markers bleed through the page to the other side and I’m finding I don’t like using colored pencil as much as I thought I would. It is too slow for me to keep up with my reading. Also, some ink pens will also bleed through the pages so the clear gesso prevents that.

On two of the pages, I discovered parts of scripture which has come to mean a lot to me these past couple of weeks. I decided to create a couple loose art journal pages so I could display them as reminders. Below are the two pages I created.

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This first one comes from 2 Chronicles 20:12 but is a shortened version and I changed it to have a more personal meaning for myself, which is why I didn’t reference the verse of the bible on the page. It has become a daily prayer of mine when I’m feeling particularly lost.

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This one, I did reference the bible verse. Though it isn’t the whole verse the words are verbatim and part of the verse. This one gives me hope that my prayer is being heard.

It may seem odd that I came across the verses in the order they are presented here since I’m reading the bible from front to back and not skipping around. Not even to read any versus that are referenced in my study bible.

How I discovered these verses is like this…

I was feeling rather tired and went to put my bible on the table but instead it fell on the floor. My first thought was, “I wonder what it opened up to.” This is what I saw:
IMG_1510I immediately knew I needed to make this my daily prayer when I’m feeling lost and in the need of help.

I don’t remember if it was the same day or the next day or the day after. All I know, was within a day or two, I came across the second verse when I was flipping through the pages getting ready to prep them when I saw this:

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I knew I wanted to put these two versus on display in my house so I would be reminded every single day to not loose faith.

Things happen in the way they do, for a reason. I believe I was shown these two verses in the order they were given to me, to help me regain my faith.

I had both of the verses in mind when I started working on the first page. On the day when I put the finishing touches on the first page, I was given an answer I was looking for. I created the second page soon after and finished it tonight.

I have a lot of hard work ahead of me in order to follow up on the answer I was given. My artwork will continue to be a part of my life and always will be. There might be times when it seems like it has taken a backseat but hopefully if I do my work, and keep my faith. All will become clear.

After adding the text to my second page, I was given another answer I had not really known I was looking for. I knew art would always be a part of my life but as time continued, it was beginning to look more and more like my time was going to be pulled away from art. I wondered if it would slowly disappear from my life completely. Then, just as I was almost completed with the second page, I received my second answer.

I had been doing the steps for Let’s Face It 2019 and Paint Your Heart and Soul 2019 to try and win a spot in their giveaways. I started doing this last year when I realized my income might not make it possible for me to purchase both the courses and art supplies. If I could win the courses then I should be able to purchase the art supplies.

Let’s Face It was easy to get the information for each of the artists to enter the giveaways. However, Paint Your Heart and Soul was rather frustrating. There were some I couldn’t find any postings for at all. The dates in the post containing the list of artists indicated it was the date for the giveaway. There were links to the artist’s social media pages but a couple had issues with the links, others had no posts for the course or any instructions for the giveaway and there was no way to tell when the artists would post for the giveaway. Some artists posted well before the date of their giveaway and others, well, some I never found and I reached the point of just giving up and be satisfied with just the ones I had entered.

Then one morning (20 Sept) I was checking Facebook. I discovered a friend request from Sabra Awlad Issa.  I didn’t realize immediately that she was one of the artists only that she was friends with other artists, so I accepted her. That was when I discovered, I won a spot in “Paint Your Heart and Soul 2019”!

Sometimes signs/messages/answers come to us in ways that we may miss them or barely even notice them and we barely acknowledge them and most often forget about them. Then there are times when they come to us like a bolt of lightning or a two-by-four over the head or just so blatantly obvious we can’t ignore what we are being told. This is how I feel about winning the spot in “Paint Your Heart and Soul 2019”.

I hadn’t realized I was looking for a second answer regarding my art. I have always been creative and though I had doubts about how much time I would have to devote to my artwork, I didn’t doubt I would continue. This, however, was a sign to tell me it will continue to be a major part of my life.

Between the two answers I received, I understand the message being given to me. Work hard to get what I want. Stop doubting my abilities. But most of all be strong in my faith.

These past few years, I have felt like I was being buried alive. I have felt like I have no future and my existence on this earth has no meaning. I’m still not sure about the last part but at least I don’t feel like I’m being buried alive anymore. I have my work cut out for me. There might be gaps in posting because I have new priorities which I must not let slide. I might just post a piece of art once in a while but I can’t promise that because I love writing too and I feel like I need to write too if I post any art. Only time will tell what I’m inspired to do.

I am so thankful to God for all that He has done for me, especially this past week. I was so deep in my own darkness there was no light at all. But now…. now there is light and I’m hopeful but most of all I have faith and a direction to head towards.

❤ ❤ ❤

~Patti