Friday, June 23, 2017

Studying Scripture: Adding Art to a Non-Journaling Bible

In my last post on Studying Scripture, I shared all the details about how I have been reading, color coding, studying, and filling my new Bible with notes.  Because there is not (yet) a journaling Bible with wide margins or interleaved pages in an approved Catholic translation, I had to get a bit creative about how to include everything.  I also wanted to be able to add in art and handlettering to my Bible as part of my prayer and study, so I thought I'd share some of the techniques that worked for me.
Here are the supplies that I have been using over the past year and half and am very, very happy with:
(My suggestions in this post contain affiliate links, meaning that if you decide to make a purchase through me, I make a small percentage at no cost to you.  Thanks for supporting my little blog!)
1. I have this version of the New American Standard Bible (mine is navy, also available in burgundywhitehunter green, brown, and black)
2. These colored pencils (supplemented with a few Crayola colors)
3. This pencil sharpener (sharpens both large and small colored pencils)
4. These pencils (the only kind worth having!)
5. This eraser
6. These fine tipped pens, brush pens, and bolder pens.  I also love these pens, but they are likely to bleed through Bible pages- I recommend them for art done separately
7. Washi Tape like this
8. Vellum like this or this or this
9. Various sizes of blue post it notes (I do not recommend Post-It brand Super Sticky notes- they can damage the delicate Bible pages if you try to move them)
10. And a pouch to hold it all in like this one or this one or this one.
(You can also see the whole supply list on Amazon here.)

*Holy Cards
Taping in my favorite holy cards with washi tape is a perfect way to add in holy art.  It does nothing to damage the page- you simply lift or turn the flap to access the text.  I love that it easily provides beautiful images to meditate on while reading corresponding Scripture:

*Post It Notes
In my other post, I mentioned that I use tons of post its to compile notes from talks, homilies, and books I've read that I want to have close at hand in my Bible.  Post its also work great for adding art to my pages. Little lettering on post its of various sizes also works great, and the post its can be lifted or removed:

Sometimes I'll create art over the footnotes.  They are still able to be read, but I have the added beauty of color, lettering, and sketches without covering the actual text.  I know that some people have created room for art and journaling in a non-journaling Bible by painting the footnotes with white paint or covering them with a large white label sticker.  If you are looking to create just a Bible for art, with another Bible available for study and prayer, that is a valid option.  My Bible however serves for studying as well, so I want to make sure the footnotes are still legible:

Probably my favorite way to add art in my Bible is using vellum.  Transparent paper that allows you to see Scripture behind it, using vellum is also super easy and fun because you can trace your designs from a pattern, prototype, or other work and then easy add them into your Bible.  Here are a couple of examples that I created by tracing verses that I had previously lettered in a notebook but wanted to add to my Bible:

*Tracing & Computer Fonts
This technique makes it easy to add lettering even if you don't consider yourself an artist or don't like your handwriting.  First, I highly recommend you go read my post called Your Handwriting Matters, because if there was ever place to use your handwriting, your Bible is it.

However, if you want to try a different lettering technique you can easily do that.  Using a program like Word or Publisher, type your verse in a font you like.  I recommend doing this as a piece of word art or in a text box so it is easier to manipulate.  You can set the text fill to white and the text outline to black creating a font that can be colored in.  Print to a size that you can trim and fit in your Bible.  Then color and decorate and add it to the matching page:

Or you could use that font as a template.  Here I printed the verse, taped a piece of vellum over it, and then used it as practice using a brush pen:

Then I taped the vellum art into my Bible.  This is a great technique to help you develop your own lettering style.

*Coloring Pages
There are a lot of really pretty adult coloring books with Scripture and Tradition as themes (like this and this and this).  You could put that beautiful coloring to good use by trimming your final art work and adding it into your Bible as a flap by taping it only on one side.  (Bonus- the back side can be used for notes or prayers!) Here, I added in one of my favorite coloring pages I've created, the Immaculate Heart of Mary.  You can find that coloring page here, and I have tons of other printables listed under the tabs above that could be used for the same purpose. 

Another option is to create your art or lettering in a separate, special notebook just for that purpose. I've been doing that with my Sunday Readings Scripture Doodle using these notebooks for the past two years.  They give me just enough room to letter a verse.  I add the reference in the corner, and I know some people also make a notation in their Bible as well (a great use of washi tape for example) that they have corresponding art in a journal:

There's a few of my ideas for adding art in your Bible!  You might also like this post with tips on adding notes, color coding, tabs, tools, and more:

So, how do you use your Bible for art and prayer?  What has worked for you?  What stumbling blocks or challenges have you faced? What new techniques would you like to try?  I'd love to hear from you in the comments!


  1. I wish you would just come doodle in my Bible for me! I love how you use the gifts Our Lord has given you!

    1. So sweet! Thanks Victoria! However, I know that whatever you add to your Bible will enhance your prayer and study. Also, I do have a giveaway going on over on Instagram- I'm sending the winner three handlettered verses on vellum to add to a Bible or journal. You should go enter!

  2. love this post .. and I'm praying that I will be brave enough to begin this practice this year! ... I just wanted to suggest another AWESOME CATHOLIC BIBLE... it is, by far, in my opinion, the BEST hands down... they are published by St Mary's Press... The best one is the CATHOLIC YOUTH BIBLE ... they also have a CHILDREN's YOUTH BIBLE that is equally awesome .. but most adults don't want to be seen with a "child's bible" except people like me that love how it speaks to me and has AWESOME devotions & explanations for the young or the young at heart. But back the the BEST Bible hands down - The CATHOLIC YOUTH BIBLE - don't let the YOUTH in the title throw you .. its not just for those in High school although that is who it was originally published for .. many adults equally love, use and study this precious book! It has great insights, devotions, explanations and its written in a language/vocabulary that all will understand & feel as if it is truly speaking to them! If you have not checked out St Mary's Press Bibles please take a moment out of your time to do so... - they also have a great version for tweens.. and another that is geared towards families. Seriously ... The CATHOLIC YOUTH BIBLE is the bomb diggity! {{ oh and i don't work or get ANY compensation for this extreme suggestion and personal opinion! :) }}

    thank you for your inspiration and sharing your gifts!!
    - I've thoroughly enjoyed getting emails and many inspirations from you and the ideas you share on your blog!

    Peace & blessings,

    1. Hi Jodi! Thank you! I too am a huge fan of St. Mary's Press Catholic Youth and Children's Bibles. They are so well done and I have used both as gifts and recommended them to many. I'm glad you have found them to be a great resource!

  3. I shared this on Prayer, Wine, Chocolate! I'm a big fan of your coloring pages and ideas :) . Thank you for sharing!!

    1. Thanks so much Amy! Your followers are a perfect audience for this post- thank you!

  4. I have a question? I have the NRSV Notetakers Bible with APOCRYPHA by Oxford University Press Ive heard that this is a version that is accepted by the Catholic Church. They are hard to find. Would these be considered Catholic Journaling Bibles? Thanks Joanne

    1. Hmmmm, that's a good question! I am in no means an expert on this, so let me clarify a bit. There are currently no Bibles with wide margins or interleaved pages from Catholic publishers using the two most common Catholic translations- NABRE, which is what is used in the liturgy, or RSVCE, which is used in the Catechism. There are many many Bibles that include the Deuterocanonical books (also called Apocrypha in Protestant circles), but are not necessarily Catholic translations. I'm sure that your Bible is perfect for journaling and art and for personal use. I hope that a journaling Bible from a Catholic publisher that has every book and verse and footnote approved is coming soon. :) I am linking a couple pages below that have info about approved translations. I hope that helps!
      USCCB Approved Translations
      EXTN Answers about Bible Versions