Saturday, January 13, 2018

Studying Scripture: Color and Creativity

(FYI- the links below are Amazon Affiliate links. That means that if you click through and purchase something, I will receive a small commission at no cost to you.)

I've been spending lots of time in my new Catholic Journaling Bible- reading and studying and being creative.  This long awaited Bible from Blessed is She and Our Sunday Visitor features the NAB translation, complete footnotes, and wide margins for notes, prayer, and art.  It also has a beautiful handlettered verse in each book of the Bible from Be A Heart Design.  I've written before here and here about my desire for a Catholic Journaling Bible and how I used my current study Bible, and here about how my favorite pens held up in the pages of the journaling Bible.

I've been posting some of my margin doodles on Instagram and have gotten LOTS of comments and messages how different materials hold up in the Bible.  I'm happy to share a few ideas, tips, mistakes, and successes for you about adding color in this Bible using watercolor, acrylic paint, and stamping.  I reviewed colored pens in this post and wrote about other ways to add art, even in a non journaling Bible, here.

General Supplies I love for working in my Bible:
-These colored pencils (supplemented with a few Crayola colors)
-This pencil sharpener (sharpens both large and small colored pencils)
-These pencils (the only kind worth having!)
-This little ruler
-This eraser
-Washi Tape like this
-Vellum like this or this or this


 Stamping is a fun way for anyone to add art and lettering, no matter your comfort level with being creative.  Here I used a dark blue stamp pad and these stamps to add embellishment to Luke Chapter 1.  (The heart stamp is one I had made using my original drawing- head to the bottom of the post for how you can win one!) and the small letter stamps are from a dollar bin at Michaels a long time ago, but these are similar.)

I stamped directly on the page, and while it looks lovely, it definitely was problematic.  You can see here how the ink bled and ghosted straight through the page, making it totally visible on the reverse page.  It even bled a few pinpricks of color onto the next page.

So I tried a new technique the next time I stamped.  I took a full sized sheet of labels like this and cut it down to the size of the margins (about 2"x8.5").  While the labels are bright white and the pages of this Bible are off white, I actually didn't notice the contrast as much as I thought I might.  I think that it blends in quite nicely.

I then stamped onto it FIRST, which ended up saving my tail as I made my first big mistake.  You can see below all the blobs of ink and the spacing issues.  Since it was just on the label, I threw it away and started with a second label, grateful it wasn't in my Bible forever. :)

I then carefully stuck the label on the Bible page.  I only peeled off about an inch of one end, carefully placed that, making sure to line it up well, and then peeled off the rest of the backing. Here you can see that the label did a perfect job of protecting the page- no bleeding, very very minimal ghosting.  This is definitely a technique I will continue to use, and not just with stamping.  I think this would work great for pens and markers not only to prevent them being seen through the page, but also to eliminate the fear of making a mistake.  You also could print out verses in your favorite fonts, decorate, cut out, etc.  The possibilities are endless!

Watercolor and Acrylic Paint:

 Next up I tried watercolor paint. Watercolor in this Bible is nice because you can keep it light, both in color and weight, whereas the acrylic can be a little thick and heavy. For this FIAT page, I first drew the lettering with these pens (after making a sketch on grid paper and tracing it using this amazing light box- just to be clear that I am not freehanding all of these pages!  I'll have another post soon about tracing and transferring techniques).

I then added a small amount of watercolor paint (just an inexpensive set similar to this). The thin pages took the paint ok, but it definietly isn't going to accept paint like watercolor paper would.  You won't be able to do a lot of blending, layers of paint, or use lots of water.  I was very sparing with the amount of water & paint I used and it turned out ok.

The page has a little rippling, but it straightened out pretty well just from having the Bible closed.  There is a small amount of ghosting on the back of the page, but it isn't too bad. 

Next, I decided to try putting down a base before adding art.  I'd read that gesso or just white acrylic paint were recommended.  I don't have any gesso, so I tried some white paint I had and prepped the margin of one page. I did place a protective plastic sheet in between the pages for this technique.

Here you can see the paint dried fairly smoothly (this was just one thick coat, I didn't want to add too many layers). After it was totally dry, I tried decorating the page with watercolor and ink, and I did not like the result.  The combination was not a good fit for watercolor, and the surface wasn't smooth enough and had a residue that affected using a pen.  I probably won't be using this technique much, but I could see how with different materials it might be helpful.

The paint did do a good job of protecting the page.  Here you can see no ghosting or bleeding, but a little bit of wrinkling that did straighten out after the Bible was closed for a while.

So there are a few ideas for you if you are looking into using a journaling Bible for prayer and creativity.  What other questions, materials, or techniques are you trying or wondering more about?

Aaaannnnnnd, I have a fun giveaway going on over on Instagram where you could win one of my original Holy Family Heart Stamps, some of my favorite pens, a stamp pad, washi tape, some lovely holy cards, and more. The giveaway closes Sunday 1/14/18 at midnight, so go enter now!

You might like these other posts:
Pens for the Catholic Journaling Bible
Tips, Tools, and Ideas for Personal Bible Study
Adding Art to a Non-Journaling Bible
Sunday Readings Scripture Doodles 2015-2016
Sunday Readings Scripture Doodles 2016-2017
Why Your Handwriting Matters


  1. Katie--I cannot thank you enough for sharing your incredible resources--I've been using them for years and my students love them. I see that you are the DRE for your parish, but I feel like you are a DRE for all of us. Your work is an inspiration!

    1. You're so sweet! I'm so happy to share and to be working together in the kingdom! :)

  2. Girl, these are beautiful! I need you to do up your whole Bible like this and then get canonized, because this would make an incredible relic.

    1. Meg, you win my favorite comment on the blog ever. #goals

  3. Katie! Thanks to you I now have my own journaling Bible... and am using transparent gesso to cut the bleed-through from inks that you are having issues with.
    It might be worth a try and I'd love the idea of being able to help you!

    1. Yes! Thank you! I am glad to hear that you are having success with the gesso. Would you mind telling me what brand gesso you are using? And does it react well with all kinds of media? Colored pencils, pens, watercolors?

    2. I have used the ArtBasics Gesso on paper. It isn't as heavy as gesso for canvas or other materials and will seal the page. Acrylic art medium should work as well and won't be as bulky on the page as adding extra paper layers :)

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