Wednesday, March 5, 2014

An Art Journey through Lent {Ash Wednesday}

"Are you willing to be transformed?"

Transformation.  Reflection.  Laying down of self.  Finding my True Self in God.  These are my desires as I take this journey, these 40+ Lenten days ahead.

This Ash Wednesday I really wanted to incorporate ashes into my art journal page.  The traditional ashes are made from the palm fronds of the year before, but lacking these, I decided to burn away symbolically the habits and traits I had accumulated throughout the year instead.  I began with a simple note card, spent time in prayer, and wrote them down.

Then I lit it.  It was very satisfying to watch those things burn away.

I collected the ashes and set them aside.

For my Lenten journal, I am using a Moleskine large sketchbook.  I love the page thickness- enough for paint and collage but not too rigid- and the creamy texture of the paper.  Be aware that this journal does not accept watercolor very well.  You need to prep the pages with gesso if you plan to use watercolors on them.  

I wanted to put some texture down on my pages and thicken them, so I cut vintage dictionary pages into strips and used mod podge to adhere them vertically to the page spread.

"In him was life, and the life was the light of men.  The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it."
John 1:4-5

I do a lot of sketching on old book pages.  I love the feel of a pen on these pages.  I drew and painted a candle, which is one of the most comforting spiritual images for me, and then drew the flame separately and colored it with watercolor pencil.

I wanted to show the darkness being "overcome" by the light, so I made two circles of light- one larger on an old book page with yellow acrylic ink, and one with simple pen on yellow tissue paper, for transparency.

"We gradually come to see – by the candlelight of our prayers – that there is a space within us where God dwells and where we are invited to dwell with God."
Henri Nouwen, Here and Now

Now for the darkness.  This is where I used my ashes, symbolizing the dark parts of me that I want to shed light on.  I mixed the ashes with black paint and a touch of blue and painted a thick layer over the dictionary-page collaged page spread.

Once it was all dry, I adhered the large light circle, small one, candle and flame.  I used a white uniball signo gel pen to expand the light onto the second page and added the scripture from John.

The final touch was the word "transformed" which I had once found in a magazine and had in my stash.  I added the quote from Henri Nouwen.  I debated adding more journaling, but I usually keep my pages sparse.  I have separate journals for my thought-spilling, so I decided it was complete.

Ash Wednesday Art Journal Devotion:

Read John 1:1-18.  As you prepare today to create, speak a breath prayer over your materials {for example "You are the light (inhale), shine in me (exhale)" or "You must increase, I must decrease"}.  Do not think too much.  Ask the Lord the give you a symbol for His light and sketch it, clip it from a book, or print an image from online.  On a note card, write the things you are turning from in Lent, burn them, and collect the ashes to use as you desire on your page.  {Ideas- mix them with paint, create a small envelope to hold them, sprinkle them over a thin layer of glue on your page as a final touch}


Jesus, we sometimes forget that you are in all, and we go about our day as if the little things aren't sacred.  Inspire us with your light today, sanctify our every thought and word, and open our eyes to see Holy everywhere.  In your fullness, lead us through this journey from glory to glory as we seek to follow you.  Live in us, through us, before us.  Amen

{Share your images on Instagram with the hashtag #lentenartjourney14}


  1. oh Christine. This is SO beautiful. WOW!!! I LOVE that you are doing this!!!

  2. I loved seeing and reading about you process for the spread! Beautiful!

  3. I loved your process Christine. I made do with what supplies I had today, but I really enjoyed the process/purpose of this. Here's my link. I ended up doing a quick blog post. <3

  4. You are an inspiration Dear. Thank you for sharing, I feel so drawn to this right now in my life.

    1. Oh, Jess, I love that this speaks to you too. <3

  5. Blogged my thoughts and art here: This exercise was so good, and also so terrifying.

    1. I loved your post. It means so much to me to have you sharing your rejection of fear with me here. <3

  6. Love what you did for your first day. It will be hard for me not to copy, of course now all I want to do is make a candle, lol. Will do some thinking and praying and see what happens. Love this journey your leading us on for Lent, it's a first for me.

  7. Are you still blogging somewhere? I haven't seen anything recent. I wanted to tell you that your art and words have been such an inspiration and comfort to me. I hope you are well. Blessings, Kelly