Bible Tabs for Perfectionists

Adding tabs to your journaling Bible, which show the books of the Bible, should be relatively easy, but as it turns out, there’s a lot of little things that can go wrong.  (Trust me, I learned the hard way!)

Here’s a few tips:

  • I think the “Books of the Bible” tabs work better along the side than on the top.
  • Leave the tabs open as you place them along the page, so that you can be pleased with the spacing; it’s easy enough to re-position the tabs before you close them by gently lifting them up.
  • Check that you didn’t miss a book of the Bible.
  • Be careful closing the tabs so that you don’t catch an extra page along with the first page of the chapter.  (I managed to do this three times!)
  • Do this job while you have plenty of time and ability to concentrate; adding Bible tabs is one of those relatively mindless tasks where it is easy to make a mistake.
  • Some people find that the tabs become a place where the page rips.  It doesn’t hurt to reinforce the tab with washi tape or even packaging tape on both sides.

This tip is not specific to Bible tabs, but I happened to learn it putting tabs onto a Bible:  If you really mess up a Bible to the point where the perfectionist within you can’t be overcome, it’s ok to start a new Bible and use the old one for practice, especially if you haven’t gotten too far into the process.  You are likely going to be spending years with the Bible, you might as well be happy!  It’s a small price to pay.

It always makes me smile to see a picture of a chubby Bible with tabs and book marks on the top.  I have never used tabs in my Bible Journaling, but I decided if I started a new Bible, it would have tabs.  My daughter is interested in starting Bible Journaling, and picked out a sweet Bible with a bird on the cover.

We bought some tabs and put them in the Bible at the top.  The Bible didn’t close right.  It didn’t look cute and chubby.  It just looked odd.  I stopped after putting in the first set of Bible tabs from Illustrated Faith, which only covers half of the books in the Bible, and I pondered what to do.  The Bible tabs are nearly impossible to remove.  Making matters worse, the first page we did in the Bible was kind of a disaster; the page tore.

Bible tabs 3

After about a month passed and I still was unhappy, I decided God allows do-overs.  I can save the Bible above for trying out different supplies or doing a trial run before putting something in the Bible that I use all the time.  I may also cut the tabs out and figure out a way to doctor up the corners.

I bought a new Bible for my daughter.  We tried again with the tabs along the side.  This time, I carefully placed the tabs along the side of the Bible, making sure that I was pleased with the spacing before my daughter closed the tabs.  The tabs are easy enough to re-position before you close them.  I skipped the book of Haggai and made it all the way to Luke before I noticed.  I just plucked them off, made room for the Haggai tab, and put them back on.

bible tabs 1

I was much happier with the finished results!  I love the cheerful tabs!

bible tabs 2

And the Bible closes nicely….

bible tabs 4

Hope his helps!  I think I will eventually add washi tape to reinforce each tab because I want this Bible to one that my daughter keeps forever!

Review: Complete Guide to Bible Journaling

I’ve had so much fun over the past week with the new book:  Complete Guide to Bible Journaling:  Creative Techniques to Express Your Faith by Joanne Fink and Regina Yoder.  Generally, I pick a Bible passage and then think about how to illustrate it.  With this book in hand, I picked illustrations that would be fun to trace and thought of a verse to go with the pictures, but I stuck to the book of Psalms for something of a theme.  What I discovered:  Spending time in Psalms, tracing images, and meditating on the Word is profoundly relaxing.  Illustrating a verse always helps me understand it better, but this experience was somehow different, maybe more peaceful.

If your journaling Bible is just sitting on your shelf, this book is a wonderful way to get your creative juices flowing!!!  The book covers many different artist supplies and techniques, features artists, provides a beautiful gallery of ideas, and best of all includes a bonus section of traceable images and stickers.  It’s great for beginners and has plenty of tips and advice for those with more experience, too.  It’s clear from the pictures below that my favorite part of the book was the bonus section!

I really like Joanne Fink’s simple patterned illustrations.  I can definitely see incorporating more of this style of drawing into my Bible journaling.  I love that she starts with simple easy to draw shapes and makes the picture look interesting with varied line widths and patterns.  It’s relatively easy to do.  You can find even more inspiration in her book called Zenspirations.

One item that I would highly recommend getting along with the book is a set of black micron pens in different widths.  I usually reach for my Micron .05s, but I found that that width was too thick for some of the images in the book.  (It will be more clear when you see some of the first pages I did below!)  I found that I was happier with the results when I used a thinner Micron .01 and added weight to the line as needed.

Here’s a few images from my adventures putting the resources to work in the pages of my Bible.  One of my hopes with sharing my art has always been to show progress and to show that ANYONE can Bible journal.  As I glance over the pages that I did after working with this book, I really can see some improvement.


The first page I did was quite simple.  I just traced the image with pencil and used a black Micron .05.  For this simple image, the .05 weight worked ok.  I may add color to this page at some point, but I kind of like it quiet and still.


I traced another image from the Bible, and this time added some color and some stickers from the book.  With this image, I really wish that I had traced the images with a pen with thinner weight.  I used the Micron .05 again, and it was just too thick!  The book includes several examples of lettering with complete alphabets.  In the page below I played around with the “Simple Monoline Mix”.  It feels so unnatural for me to let the letters bounce around the baseline, but it does create a nice effect.

Do not be discouraged if your traced image does not look as good as the original.  Even tracing takes practice!  Some pages don’t turn out quite as well as I hope, but adding stickers always makes me happier with the page.  All the stickers below are in included in the book.

And spending time in the Word is always good!  The Psalm begins:  “Give thanks to the Lord for He is good”, but then goes onto describe a number of really terrible situations where God responded to different cries of distress.  As I reflected on Psalm 107, I pondered the different ways that God responded to times of crisis both in this Psalm and in my own life, “God Answers Knee Mail.”  seemed to be the perfect sticker to accompany this Psalm.  There are times that drive us to our knees.  Still, we trust in God’s goodness.


A super simple page:  I just used a margin sticker.  What I love about this image is the reminder that while I play at being an artist God’s creation is truly majestic.


I doodled on a tip-in and added some stickers from my stash…


I always find the following verse to be reassuring.  It’s something I tell myself often whenever I start to feel worried; it’s good to know that God has us covered.  I thought the pretty illustration of the feather fit well with this passage.  I colored it with water colors and markers.  The Complete Guide to Bible Journaling also shows how to make your own handwriting look more fancy by adding weight to the downstrokes.


It happened to be my father’s 80th birthday over the past week, so I used some washi tape from the book to add his picture to my margins and doodled a little border following Joanne’s instructions from The Complete Guide to Bible Journaling.


The book shares several examples for how to illustrate Psalm 96:  “Sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth.”  It shares pages with various themes:  music, singing birds, and also the earth.  I felt drawn to the cute singing birds.


I loved this butterfly.  I was trying to think what verse I could pair it with when my Pastor posted the paraphrase of Psalms 103:4-5 below on Facebook.  Both the verse and the butterfly spoke to me.  Here’s how it came together in my margins…


These pretty flowers seemed to fit well with a passage dealing with the ephemeral nature of humankind and the everlasting nature of God.



I was thrilled to learn how to color a beautiful gradient.  This is one of those artistic techniques that looks amazing and pretty easy to achieve.  I just could never figure it out before!  The instructions in the book are perfect.  As I colored this simple leaf while meditating on Psalm 6, which speaks to the experience of being inconsolable (the Psalmist talks about flooding his bed with tears night after night), I felt an assurance from God that those time where we can’t find our joy are much like the times when a tree loses its leaves.  It’s just a shedding that prepares us for a new season of life.


I knew that I wanted to place this tree next to a verse about steadfast love.  I was drawn to these words:  “Because your steadfast love is better than life.”


The Complete Guide to Bible Journaling is an incredible resource.  I improved some skills and had so much fun with all of the traceable images.  With a Journaling Bible, some micron pens, some colored pencils, and this book, you would be well on your way to a wonderful journey!


Learning from my Mother’s Hand…Penmanship, Calligraphy and Lettering with Monica Griffore Malbouef

Guest post by Lisa Nichols Hickman, author of Writing in the Margins: Connecting with God on the Pages of Your Bible.

Perhaps you’ve seen the offer from Monica Griffore Malboeuf for “creative lettering” pages.


Here is a link to a PDF of seven pages of her Creative Lettering  techniques.  She is kind to share!


Once I saw their joy and beauty, I knew I needed to talk with her about her Bible journaling journey.  Here’s what she said:

“I am a wife, mother of two growing boys, a high school art teacher and freelance artist. My mother influenced my penmanship from a VERY early age. She was a calligrapher ( and a beautiful one at that). I remember her teaching small classes in our home and being right there next to her practicing my “good” letters.


As a kindergardener our rural school in northern Michigan ( I am from a small town called Mancelona – it is in the snow belt- just east of Traverse City, west of Gaylord and south of Petoskey)  was without bussing- so her being pregnant at the time and not wanting to drive through crumby snow conditions, homeschooled me until bussing started up again. One of my very earliest memories was filling out line after line of letters – and her putting little smile stickers next to the ones that were almost perfect! It was to her then, as it is to me now to study lettering and make words beautiful.

I am a super newbie at bible journaling- although my experience with sketchbooks, visual journals and hand lettering have been a part of my personal and professional life for years.


I am always excited to practice, learn and to be challenged- which is exactly how I got into this! A friend approached me a few months before starting and asked if I would be willing to teach a class. I thought about it for awhile, bought a Bible and was addicted immediately.


(Side note from Lisa – I had to linger with the beauty and whimsy of the Bible journaling verse from Hebrews 13:16.  When I told Monica how much I liked it she added:  The people represented are each from the passage in chapter 13 – the prisoner, the lover of money,the bride, the angels in disguise.)

My biggest AHA moment so far in my experience is just the mere attraction to reading my Bible. I mean, I’ve always known how Great God’s WORD is, but reading has never come easy to me. Its not that I am a struggling reader- its that 1) my brain was wired for busy- and sitting down to read feels like a chore- like holding still just to get through a chapter of my sons novel ” the Indian in the cupboard” feels like torture. 2) I am a busy working mom- lets be honest anytime I sit still for more than a minute- I am fast asleep- even if I am soaking in the tub (not like I am speaking from experience or anything)!

My point here is just to say that being able to digest small bits, verses, segments- and to spend time working it into my creativity has been nothing but life- changing. It has given me a deeper desire to know the Lord, talk to him, mediate on the goodness he brings to all of us.

My favorite verse is Philippians 1:6:For I am confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will continue to perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.’ I don’t know how you interpret this verse- but it is my life verse. It is my daily reassurance that I am a work in progress- that perfection isn’t necessary- that the good that came into my life the day grace saved me is there because of Jesus- that he is going to grow me, and mold me and he isnt going to back out- ever- and say “you aren’t good enough” ” you messed up one too many times” ” I quit!”


Asking an art teacher what her favorite art supply is , is like asking a mother who her favorite child is- THEY ALL ARE- but recently I have discovered GELATOS. I mean its like painting with lipstick- how can you not love them! One of my favorite parts about them is that although they are an investment, it is an investment that takes the place from so many other materials- oil pastels, watercolors, ink pads ( for stamping), misting spray, etc.  They offer versatile and creamy color. I also love that they are generally able to be applied both before and after written text!

I worked in between teaching jobs as a waitress and got hired on the spot once they realized I could do their chalk boards.


This “job qualification” and years of experience with chalk, encouraged me to start my own little side gig I call “Slingshot Slates– Chalk designs that leave a mark!” It is a fun and exciting way to use my hand lettering! You might also see in many of my journal entries a heavy illustration emphasis- I loveeeee my pen and ink and watercolor! Two years ago I wrote and illustrated a book in memory of my Grandmother June, my biggest artistic influence, It is to date, outside of my own children, my greatest accomplishment!”


Getting to Know Neocolor IIs


What they are:  Neocolor IIs are water color crayons

Why they are great for Bible Journaling:  They are beautiful water colors that do not bleed!  They dry smooth so it’s easy to write on top of the color.

Page prep needed:  None for most applications.

Ideas:  Background color for stamps or writing, painting, coloring, doodling, paint splatters.

After playing with my Neocolor IIs on the 20 pages below, here’s what I can tell you:  They are great fun to use.  You can color with them just like regular crayons and then paint with water for a water color effect or scribble some color onto a surface and lift the color like paint.  You can also use a wet paint brush to draw color directly off the crayon or flick paint at your art project.  These do not bleed at all on Bible paper and no page prep is needed, so they are a good choice for adding a last minute dash of color.  The paint dries perfectly smooth, so it is easy to write over the paint.  They work well with glitter and stickers and other fun embellishments.

Sometimes, I like to challenge myself to use new art supplies by using them with a new devotional.  A local friend recently recommended the book “Boundaries:  When to Say Yes; How to Say No to Take Control of Your Life” by Cloud and Townsend.  I have the workbook that goes along with it, too.  As I read the first chapter of the book, I thought:  This could be a great devotional.  One of the reviews on the back of the book says:  “Boundaries is the ‘untold story’–the other side of love and servanthood that we need so desperately, but that we hear so little about.”  What I love about the book Boundaries is that it is filled with Scriptures that provide the balance, I know that I need in my life.  Most of the verses in the book I’ve yet to journal after two years!  I guess I’m more naturally drawn to verses about service and self-giving and love never failing.  Cloud and Townsend highlight verses about setting limits and knowing our own responsibility.  What I’ve written below in response to the Bible verses they selected largely comes from their book, not necessarily my own understanding.

IMG_6190According to Cloud and Townsend, personal boundaries helps us know what is ours and what is not, what is our responsibility and what not to worry about.  Boundaries give us a sense of freedom within our own domain.  They help us let go of what is not ours and devote more energy to what is.  A lack of responsibility for boundaries can lead to confusion and cause us to carry a heavier burden than God ever intended.

In many ways, the verse below is the theme for the entire first chapter of the book.  Its amazing how much wisdom is packed into these few words.  What lies within each of our hearts forms the core of who we are and what we are responsible for and whom we are responsible to.

I colored the heart with the Neocolor IIs and just let the wet colors bleed into each other.  When I was finished, I spattered paint from the tip of the crayon with a wet brush.


A Bible verse that pops into my mind often is “Bear one another’s burdens”, but I NEVER noticed the verse that follows: “For each must carry his own load.”  It was really helpful to me to recognize and acknowledge that there are times when we should bear each others burdens and times we need to get back to carrying our own loads.  Cloud and Townsend describe burdens like boulders too big to carry and loads as what’s enough for us.  While it’s good to help someone carry a boulder, it’s a mistake to carry another person’s load.

Below is my interpretation of this passage.  I just used the Neocolor IIs like regular water color paint, picking up color with a brush.  This works well in small areas…


So what belongs in our load?  Cloud and Townsend have an interesting list of what’s ours alone to carry, so much of these are matters of the heart:

  • feelings
  • attitudes and beliefs
  • behaviors
  • choices
  • values
  • limits
  • talents
  • thoughts
  • desires
  • love

Our Feelings:  Let me start with feelings.  Cloud and Townsend take a positive view of our feelings and note that feelings often motivate us to take the right action.  The good Samaritan felt sympathy for what the other had experienced before he offered help.  I put this quote from the book on the backside of my tip-in:

Feelings come from your heart and can tell you the state of your relationships.  They can tell you if things are going well, or if there is a problem.  If you feel close and loving, things are probably going well.  If you feel angry, you have a problem that needs addressed.  But the point is your feelings are your responsibility and you must own them and see them as your problem so that you can begin to find an answer to whatever issue they are pointing to.

I would just add, speaking from my own experience, that owning our feelings require developing discernment.  For example, sometimes when I’m angry, it just means I need more sleep.  When I feel sad, looking for the reason why just makes things worse; I am better off just observing the feelings and letting them pass.  And as a person who can cry at Hallmark commercials, I’ve learned my strong empathetic response does not always a good indicator I need to get involved; sometimes it’s enough to pray!  Still, reading the story of the Good Samaritan again in light of Cloud and Townsends’ observations, gave me greater appreciation for my own big feelings and for the ways that they often lead me in the right direction.

With the Neocolor IIs, it’s kind of irresistible to draw circles of color, and then just paint them with a wet brush…


Our attitudes and beliefs:  These are something else that falls within our property line.  Cloud and Townsend note that it’s good to challenge our own attitude and beliefs so that we don’t find ourselves holding to the traditions of men instead of the commands of God.  Below I just colored with Neocolor IIs onto the background to add some color.


Our Behaviors:  We all have to live with consequence of our own behaviors, and as hard as it may be, Cloud and Townsend say it is for the best to expect others to live with the consequences of their behavoir.   At some level, we have to trust that self-preservation will kick in when it comes to watching other people make mistakes.  I put this quote next to Proverbs 15:10 (a rather tough verse to accept!):  “To rescue people from the natural consequences of their behavior is to render them powerless.”

Below, I colored the scene with my Neocolor IIs and then just went over everything with a slightly wet brush.


Our choices:  Below is my favorite verse that I’ve rediscovered as a result of reading this book.  It’s better to give others options rather than compel them to do things.  In doing so, we let their goodness shine.  We all need the freedom to say no in our lives.  Often saying “no” enables us to give our best “yes.”

A few helpful thoughts on the word “No” from their book:

People with poor boundaries struggle with saying no to the control, pressure, demands, and sometimes the real needs of others.  They feel that if they say no to someone, they will endanger their relationship with that person, so they passively comply, but inwardly resent.  Sometimes a person is pressuring you to do something; other times the pressure comes from your own sense of what you “should” do.  If you cannot say no to this external or internal pressure, you have lost control of your property and are not enjoying the fruit of “self-control.”

Below I used the Neocolor IIs for the background color and to paint the butterflies.  I spattered a few paint drops, too.


Cloud and Townsend shared several verses about God giving us the freedom to respond to him or not.  I was reminded of a story I heard from a children’s minister:  “God has no grandchildren,” she said.  “Just because your parents have chosen to follow Christ, does not mean that you have.  It’s a decision that you need to make for yourself.”  As an aside:  Today, I am choosing to no longer be upset by anyone who complains about Christians forcing their religion on others.  It can’t be done anyway!  God has made it so:  we each have the freedom to choose.

Below I used the Neocolor IIs for background colors and paint spatters.


Our Values:  As I was reflecting on this verse:  “For they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God,” I started thinking of the seven virtues.  I found two lists.  One comprised of the theological virtues (faith, hope, and love) and the cardinal virtues (fortitude, justice, prudence, and temperance).  And the other list had the contrary virtues to the seven deadly sins (chastity, temperance, charity, diligence, patience, kindness, and humility).  Both lists of virtues have been taught by the church for centuries.  I feel like the virtue that is most missing in our society today is temperance.  The virtue is found on both lists, but means something different in each instance.  As a contrary virtue to “gluttony”, temperance refers to moderation.  As a cardinal virtue, “temperance” is the proper ordering of one’s own passions.  I was talking with a friend who has studied philosophy.  He said the ancient Greeks saw temperance (the proper ordering of self) as a prerequisite to justice (the proper ordering of society).  The Ancient Greeks couldn’t conceive of a justly ordered society made up intemperate people.  I like how all the values taught by the church over time hold together and support each other.

Below I just added a little color with the bullets and the frame around the verse with a red Neocolor II crayon.


Our Limits:  The next Bible passage is probably not one that I would have ever chosen to illustrate on my own.  For me the words evoke the practice of shunning, taking a group stance against a person because of their behavior.  I’ve heard stories of how hurtful this experience can be, and some of the stories have even included a reference to this verse:  “Do not associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard or swindler—not even to eat with such a one.”  Cloud and Townsend write that we can’t change people or make them behave right but we can set limits to our exposure to people who behave poorly.  Since I had the seven deadly sins on my brain, I noted how Paul’s list lines up with them:

  • Sexual immorality (Lust)
  • Greed (Greed)
  • Idolatry (Pride is a form of idolatry)
  • Revilers (anger)
  • Drunkard (gluttony)
  • Swindlers (a mix of envy and sloth)

As Christians we should take a stand against what destroys love.  I can reclaim this verse as common-sense wisdom to avoid abusive people, even if personally, I feel sad knowing the hurt these words have caused when applied without good understanding. I can see the verse as being protective.

I used Neocolor IIs just to add some background color for my writing and stamps.



Some of what St. Paul writes can be hard for us to embrace as modern readers.  In his defense, let me say Paul’s entire message was one of freedom from rules and laws and obedience to Christ who taught us how to love.  I probably shouldn’t speak for St. Paul, but his words have carried the love of Christ into my heart and I’ve been reading his letters since I was a child.  I feel reasonably confident saying that St. Paul would cringe to see his own words read as law.  He was doing his best to write guidance to young churches.  Paul expected the churches he encouraged to look different from the rest of the world as a result of a holiness that would come from being in Christ.  What was sung at my church growing up:  “They Will Know We Are Christians by our Love.”

When Jesus makes a similar point, it doesn’t seem so harsh:  “If a brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone.  If he listens to you, you have gained your brother.  But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses.  If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church.  And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.”

In the picture below, I colored the picture with the Neocolor IIs and then used a wet brush to go over it.


It’s a comfort to know that when we let a person behaving badly go, that we can put our trust in Jesus, who is the good shepherd.  Maybe the ultimate form of pride is believing that we can personally save a person or a situation.  We would do well to remember that Jesus is the savior.  All of us have heard how Jesus met with prostitutes and tax collectors.  What we sometimes forget is that they were changed after meeting him because he was Jesus.  We should be open to the possibility of change, too; our limits are not necessarily permanent.

Our Talents:  We have a responsibility to develop and use the talents that God has given us.  One things I’ve really enjoyed about reading Cloud and Townsend’s book is the different take they have on familiar passages.  I loved their thoughts on the parable of the Talents:

The parable of the talents says that we are accountable—not to mention much happier—when we are exercising our gifts and being productive.  It takes work, practice, learning, prayer, resources, and grace to overcome the fair of failure that the “wicked and lazy” servant gave in to.  He was not chastised for being afraid; we are all afraid when trying something new and difficult.  He was chastised for not confronting his fear and trying the best he could.  Not confronting our fear denies the grace of God and insults both his giving of the gift and his grace to sustain us as we are learning.

I paraphrased this and put it right into my Bible.  I used a tip-in since I didn’t have quite enough room in my margins to write the whole quote.  I used Neocolor IIs for the background color on the front and back of this tip-in.


Our thoughts:  I love this verse:  “Make every thought captive to obey Christ.”  As I thought about what this would mean:  I hope that all my thoughts must be healing, truthful, and loving.  Probably the most important way to keep our thoughts obedient to Christ is to make sure they are truthful.  As Cloud and Townsend point out:  “We all have a tendency to not see things clearly, to think and perceive in distorted ways…Taking ownership of our thinking in relationships requires being active in checking out where we may be wrong.  As we assimilate new information, our thinking adapts and grows closer to reality.”

This page was inspired by a similar illustration in Rebekah Jones’ Bible.  I used Neocolor IIs for the back ground and to add color to the drawing of the brain.


Our Desires:  We own our desires and its up to us to pursue them and find fulfillment in life.  It’s good to remember that God loves to give gifts to his children and supports us in our goals and plans as we walk in God’s ways.  As I reflected on this verse below, I thought of how important it is to express our desires.  Sometimes we don’t get what we want simply because we don’t make the request known, both to God and to people in our lives who can help us.

I colored swirls and hearts with the Neocolor IIs and used a lightly wet brush over the top.  For some reason, I can’t resist adding glitter to my pages with Neocolor IIs.


Our Love:  The Bible teaches us to love and our love is the greatest gift we have within our own control to give.  Leviticus often gets singled out an unpopular book of the Bible, but there’s a lot of wisdom to be gained just wondering what led to the rules in the first place.  And on a page that encourages us not to put a stumbling block before a blind person (common sense?) and a rule against wearing fabric made from a blend of materials (I would need to throw out 90% of my wardrobe!) and a poignant, timely reminder to be kind to the strangers and foreigners living among us, we find the wisest words ever written:  “Love thy neighbor as yourself!”  And I love what comes just before:  “Do not take a vengeance or bear a grudge.”  The often neglected first part of the verse seems like good advice for our times!

I couldn’t decide how to illustrate this verse, so I took two approaches:  Colorful stamped houses and writing out the whole beautiful verse!




We need to take responsibility for the love we can offer the world, and also our ability to receive love.  These words from “Boundaries” found their way onto my margins:

Our ability to give and respond to love is our greatest gift.  The heart that God has fashioned in his image is the center of our being.  It’s abilities to open up to love and to allow love to flow outward are crucial to  life.

Cloud and Townsend remind readers of the importance of receiving an inflow of love, too!  St. Paul encourages us to widen our own hearts.



Boundaries have gates and when our gates function well, we are able to let the bad out and keep the good in.  I love how Cloud and Townsend paired the warning from Jesus about what comes out of our hearts that defiles us with the promise from 1 John that if we confess our sins, God will cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  And the time to let the bad out is when it’s first in our heart.  Have you ever heard yourself say, “Well, if I weren’t Christian, I would….”  As I worked on this page I was reminded of Zechariah 8:17, which encourages us not to devise evil against another in our hearts.  That’s where sin begins.  And we need to let it out and bring in the good stuff:  forgiveness and love!

I used Neocolor IIs to color in the dirty and clean hearts.


God and Boundaries

This post is getting much longer than I ever could have imagined I first set out to journal my way through the first chapter of this book!!!  Cloud and Townsend ask what we can learn about our boundaries from looking to the Bible and learning from God’s own boundaries.  I’ll just take one question from the Boundaries workbook at a time and look at the passages Cloud and Townsend suggested for each question and journal one of the passages.

Question #1:  God defines his personality by telling us about himself.  What does he tell us in the Bible about what he thinks, feels, plans, allows, doesn’t allow, lies, and dislikes?  See for instance Genesis 12:2, Jeremiah 3:12, Ezekiel 6:9, 36:26.

I’ve shared before that the calling of Abraham is my favorite Bible story.  As I think about the story and how it relates to what Cloud and Townsend suggest is within our boundaries, it does show that God makes choices:  He chose Abraham out of all the people in the world to bless us all and to help us develop into our full potential as human beings.  God lived with the consequences of his choice.  When Sarah couldn’t be patient waiting for the promised child, God did not abandon Hagar and Ishmael.  He made a promise to them, too, one that still has an impact on us today.  Whether we are Jewish or Muslim or Christian, we trace our spiritual ancestry to this one man (Jews through Isaac, Muslims through Ishmael, and Christians through a spirit of adoption).  We are all called to live our lives as a blessing to others.  It’s kind of incredible to think how God’s choice to work with Abraham has played out in human history and to know that God’s plans are still unfolding.  God was faithful in his promise to Abraham, and we can trust that God is faithful to us, too, in our own calling.

Jeremiah 3:12 and Ezekiel 6:9 both show that God owns his feelings.  He angry at times but that His anger doesn’t last forever.  God shares through the prophet Ezekiel that He is broken by seeing His people turn to idols.

With regard to likes and dislikes (just based on these four verses), Ezekiel 36:26 shows that God likes when we have hearts of flesh, but not when our hearts are turned to stone.


Question #2  God differentiates himself from his creation, from us, and from others.  He tells us who he is and who he is not.  What does he say about himself in Leviticus 11:44, Isaiah 48:12, 60:16; 1 John 4:16?

God reminds us that He is different.  It is God who is first and last.  We are called to be holy, but God is holy, separate from us and perfect.  1 John reminds us both that God is light and in him is no darkness and God is love, and all who abide in love are with God.  And God alone is our savior and redeemer.


Question #3:  God also limits what he will allow in his yard.  What, for example, do Exodus 20:1-17 (the ten commandments) and Matthew 5:21-6:4 (the sermon on the mount) say about those limits?

God sets limits about what is allowed in his yard through the Ten Commandments, which just aren’t that onerous.  Many people think that Jesus somehow the law easier, but in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus ramps up the standard.  It’s not enough to avoid murdering our friends and family—we need to release the anger in our hearts.  It’s not enough to simply not commit adultery—we are not to look at people with lust.  As Jesus builds a fence around the Law in a way that shows we ALL sin, Jesus shows the way back to God through his death and resurrection.  As we die to sin, we are given new life.

Question #4  What do Hosea 6:6, Micah 6:8, Mark 12:30-31 and 1 John 4:7-12 say about the gates in God’s fences?

It’s not a surprise to me that while I’ve ignored many verses about boundaries, I managed to find and illustrate all these verses about God’s gates (If God has a way in, I’m finding it!):

Hosea 6:6:  For I desire steadfast love not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.

Micah 6:8:  He has told you, o man, what is good:  And what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.

Mark 12:30-31:  And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.  The second is like this:  You shall love your neighbor as yourself.  There is no other commandment greater than these.

1 John 4:7-12:  Beloved let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.  Everyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.  In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him.  In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loves us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.  Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.  No one has ever seen God, if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.

I did the lettering for this page many months ago, but I added a few doodles and some color with my Neocolor IIs.  It is good to remember this:  Its not sacrifice God desires from us but our love and for us to know him.  That is enough!


This is only the first chapter of Boundaries.  I am not promising to journal my way through the rest of the book, but the remaining chapters have much more food for thought.  I hope the illustrations encourage you to have more fun with the Neocolor IIs and that the passages relieve some worry and release some anger and give you more energy for what is truly yours to carry.  Blessings!!!



Guest post by Lisa Nichols Hickman, author of Writing in the Margins: Connecting with God on the Pages of Your Bible.

There are some awesome guys in the Bible Journaling Community. Today I want to introduce you to Adam Walker Cleveland – father to a new baby and founder of Illustrated Children’s Ministry (Click onto his website if you would like to download a sample pack.)


I asked Adam about his entrance into journaling and faith formation.  Here’s what he had to say:

“My entrance into the coloring craze was quite accidental. I always loved coloring and drawing as a kid, but it wasn’t until my mid-30s that I got back into drawing and sketching, and eventually doodling. The doodles/patterns that I started doing turned out to work really well as coloring page designs, and a friend of mine encouraged me to consider enlarging them into posters to sell for churches and families to color during Advent, and other church seasons.



For over 15 years, I worked in both camping ministry and youth ministry in the parish setting, and now that I am outside of the parish and doing non-traditional ministry, I feel like I am impacting even more people and churches around the world. For example, over 1000 churches around the world used our Advent Coloring Posters this past Christmas, and almost all of them found the posters to be able to provide them with very meaningful intergenerational opportunities.  We have the hope that our Lenten resources will reach even more folks!



It’s extremely fulfilling to know that work I created at my kitchen table in Skokie, Illinois, is creating these types of programs and opportunities for children, youth, adults and older adults throughout the world.  I have received too many testimonials of communities and congregations who have used our materials. It’s been especially meaningful to see photos of parents and children coloring together or doing Advent or Lent devotions together and finding that with a downloadable PDF resource and some crayons, that Illustrated Children’s Ministry could help them find a space to be together and have conversations they wouldn’t have been able to have otherwise.


When I first started, I was doing everything by hand – but when our production picked up, I switched over to the 12.9″ iPad Pro and the Apple Pencil and the Procreate iOS app. They’ve been amazing additions to the tools I use – and although I really do enjoy using real pens on real paper, I also love drawing on the iPad and seeing it come to life.”

For those of you who like topical studies, you might enjoy Adam’s scripture verses and coloring pages for an Il-lustrated Earth devotion.


Here, he lists four scripture verses in three areas for reflection on water stories, plant and food stories, and animal stories of the Bible.  Try journaling the verses in your margins – and then compare your images to his illustrations.  Or, use his illustrations for inspiration for your Bible!



Guest post by Lisa Nichols Hickman, author of Writing in the Margins: Connecting with God on the Pages of Your Bible.

In September, I met blogger Karen Kondziella Hunter at a Visual Faith event led by Connie Denninger. I instantly knew Karen was pretty amazing.  I think you’ll see in her reflection here – just how so!  Here’s her journey with Bible journaling, in her own words:

“Before I discovered Bible journaling, I was already bringing my faith and love for paper crafts together. In my home church and online I was hosting and teaching classes that showed others how to bring their faith more deliberately into their scrapbook pages and other craft projects. In late 2014 I was perusing Pinterest and came across photos of colorful Bible pages and was immediately hooked.


I had never thought to draw and paint right in a Bible, but I knew I wanted to do it. My heart did a little joyful leap at the thought of interacting with the Word in such a creative and hands-on way. I quickly purchased my first journaling Bible and jumped right in. Since then, creative journaling has been an integral part of my devotion, bible study, and prayer time.

When I first started journaling in my Bible I was also going through a bit of an identity crisis (moving from a successful teaching career to being a full-time mom) as well as a difficult season in a close friendship. The more time I spent in the Word, the more God revealed to me that my worth and my identity is found in Him – not in what I did or didn’t do and not in who my friends were or weren’t. Looking back at those entries from that season I can see God’s gentle, yet firm hand as He helped boost my confidence as His daughter and heal my fragile heart from a broken friendship.


Not too long ago, we began to consider a move to another state. This was a big decision for our family and Bible journaling was an important part of my praying over this major life change and seeking God’s wisdom and guidance. Looking at those entries in my Bible affirms and reminds me that God walks alongside us through all of life’s changes and challenges and He will give us guidance and direction when we ask for it.

Since I began Bible journaling, I have been more consistently in God’s Word than I ever was before. That time spent has also been more fruitful and rewarding as I paint, pray, and journal – turning over and meditating on the Word.


Yes, I find joy in creating art, but creating art with the Word as my primary focus results in so much more than just an end product. The primary joy for me is the confidence of Christ’s nearness to me. I also feel a great joy knowing that God is blessing my art when I share it. He has used me to inspire others to spend more time in the Word and grasp that joy for themselves.


Acrylic paints are my go-to for bright colors that don’t bleed through thinner Bible pages. Applied thinly, they also dry quickly so I can get on to the lettering and journaling. I also use a lot of alphabet stickers (many from my scrapbooking stash). I’ve been using more and more stamps as manufacturers are recognizing the popularity of faith-related crafting and so many choices are being made available. The right pen is also important to me – I typically use Pigma Micron pens in various sizes.

At the beginning of the year I compiled a slide show of 100 of my Bible Journaling pages from 2016. As I looked through these entries, there were so many “favorites.” Each entry represents intimate time with God and a relationship that grows closer and better every day. Bible journaling has made me see the Word as living and active in my life. It’s not a trend or hobby – it’s the way God created me to draw me in to a life walking alongside Christ.”

Check out Karen’s blog at:


Guest post by Lisa Nichols Hickman, author of Writing in the Margins: Connecting with God on the Pages of Your Bible.

I first noticed Brittney Michael’s work on the Illustrated Faith Bible Journaling Facebook page.  Perhaps it was her middle name – Sfarzoso – (which means ‘gorgeous’ in Italian) that captured my attention.


I reached out to her to get to know her a bit and to learn about her past year of Bible journaling.  Here’s what she said:

“I am married we do not have children but hope to have some in the future. I am currently in graduate school for the (human services program) to obtain my Masters of Science degree. I am a nature person! I love nature I and my husband and I like to take walks through the park and trails walks. We like to ride our bikes together! I basically love anything that is nature. My favorite hobby is arts and crafts. I am very artistic and unique. I hope to some day to travel the world. I am a firm believer that God sent his Son to die on the cross for my sins I love Jesus. I also like having quiet time in my prayer closet to meditate, study and pray to my father.


I got started Bible journaling when a church member from Center Point Church in Warner Robins, Georgia offered group classes to educate anyone who was interested. I started following her on Facebook and she had a page and I observed and asked questions. She referred me to the bible journaling group founder Darlene and thats when my world changed. I started in February 2016. Soon it will be one full year in February 2017.



Bible journaling is a vital part of my life because it help me grow spiritually and make my walk with God more intimate. Bible journaling has helped me read the word of God with excitement and not be a “bore” like before. Bible journaling allows me to worship God in spirit and in truth. I can praise the Lord with my bible journaling and I can express myself better through in the bible (like doodling throughout the bible). Bible journaling helps me to understand what I am reading and helps me remember what I need to remember.


One day I was reading the book of Genesis 22:14 NLT and I was currently going through somethings financially and God spoke through his word that reads Yahweh-Yireh (which means “The Lord Will Provide”). That moment mattered to me and helped in a difficult time.

Being a nature person – I loved this text from Proverbs – which uses even ants to teach me a lesson!


I like to use Crayola colored pencils, crayola markers (only if I use it in certain sections of the bible) I haven’t used gesso yet though (gesso prep your pages so the material used won’t bleed through, Washi tape, pencils, gel pens, gelatos paints, stickers, scrapbook paper, print outs, tip ins, glue, glitter, double sided tape, tape, easer, pencil sharpener, bible tab, and highlighters.”


Rainbows, Recycled Folk Art and a Really Cool Van…Meet Bible Journaling

Guest post by Lisa Nichols Hickman, author of Writing in the Margins: Connecting with God on the Pages of Your Bible.

This week the Bible Journaling of Peggy Buckley Thibodeau caught my eye.  Perhaps it was her French-Canadian last name, or maybe her title of “Recycled Folk Artist”, or perhaps it was her painted van she drives around Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.  Or perhaps, it was her story – a testimony to twenty years of sobriety.  Whatever the draw – I knew I had to reach out and get to know her a bit.  And I thought you might enjoy listening in to her story.  Here’s what Peggy had to say:


“Thirteen years ago, I couldn’t draw a stick figure. Then I began my folk art journey. After painting for 12 years, a friend invited me to a Bible journaling event. My creative juices flowed and my eyes opened to all that is possible. I started with basic words in colored pencils. I’ve used pencil, gelatos, and gel pens. My first watercolor page struck my artist’s soul because of the vibrant color! I’m all about color! As a kid, I had a huge rainbow painted in my bedroom.


Bible journaling is such a joy for me. I’ve been a student of the Word for 20 years, but Bible journaling has taught me to understand Bible stories visually. This takes them from my head to my heart. Sometimes, I’ll be studying the Bible, and I’ll get a picture in my head. Then I search the internet to find ideas to make it a reality on the page.


Other times I’ll see a photo and think, “Where can I put that in my Bible?” This catapults me into topical scripture study, until I find where it fits. I’ve learned so much this way!


Still other times, God will ask me a question. Once He asked me “what are you saved from, Peggy?” It caused me to study! I came up with Romans 5:9 and Matthew 1:21 and it was the impetus that led to the life preserver page.


On rare occasions, I just sit down with my Bible and a pencil.

But usually, my designs begin on the computer. I’m blessed to be proficient at Microsoft Publisher. I’ll scan my Bible page, put it into Publisher, then copy and paste images and words. Sometimes I trace onto deli paper and play with the sketch, reworking it. It only gets traced into my Bible when I’m satisfied with it. I trace in pencil, then go over it with Micron or Pitt pen. Then I splash in a little watercolor. I usually do the background in chalk pastel because my finished page is less wrinkled that way. I want the focus to be on the sketch and the words, so it’s fine if the background is softer.


For me, the process of creating gets me “in the zone”. Often, as I’m creating a page, God will speak to me about the scriptures. It’s amazing! It’s overwhelming! It’s hard to describe! I’ll have this awareness that my hands and heart are being guided by the Holy Spirit. Sometimes the finished page looks completely different from what I expected or envisioned. This may seem weird, but what else can you expect from the Holy Spirit?! Anything can happen when He’s in charge! God is so honored when we want to create in the image of His creativity.


I wish I could say that God solves problems or addresses my struggles through Bible journaling. But my life is so wonderful and stable since God lifted the yoke of alcoholism from me 20 years ago. I know I’m born again because I’ve been changed! I was a sick and selfish person and I’ve grown so much. The Bible changed my life. I study every day and it rubbed off my rough edges and caused me to grow up. Bible journaling has been an extension of that growth, a continuation of that journey.

My favorite moment in Bible journaling so far was when I did the rainbow Jesus page. I sketched it in my Bible, then lost courage. I felt overwhelmed by the subject matter. Two weeks went by, then God told me that the world needed to hear what I had to say with that painting. As I picked up my brush to paint, God told me that Jesus is Lord of all the colors (races) on the earth. The paint flowed onto the page effortlessly. I was so surprised by how it turned out. It’s my favorite page that I’ve done – so far!


When I was a few months into Bible journaling, I went to the Lord and asked Him to teach me and help me become a better artist. After so many years of painting one way, I didn’t know if change was possible. Yet He has done exactly that. I continue to grow and learn all the time. Of all the things I do in my life, art fills me with the most joy. It’s like a spiritual umbilical cord between me and my maker! It’s like a fire that burns in my soul. I pray everyone can experience this that desires it. All we need to do is ask. God is so generous! People call me a self-taught artist, but really I am taught by the Holy Spirit. God can teach anyone! Wherever you are in your creative journey, ask God for help. Then believe God is giving you that help, and persist. God loves us to rely on Him!”

If you’re in Myrtle Beach sometime this winter season – keep an eye out for Peggy and her van!  Peggy says she uses One Shot paints. They are expensive oil based paints used by sign painters and pinstriping –$25 per quart. She notes,  “They are sticky but they wear well.”



Or, if like me, you are far too distant from the beach this winter – follow Peggy on her Instagram: @peggythibodeau. And you can check out her work as a recycled folk artist here:

Best Colored Pencils for Bible Journaling

WordPress gives me a summary of searches that lead viewers to my blog.  A frequent search is “Best Colored Pencils for Bible Journaling.”  Below is a quick list of my favorites…

PrismaColor Premier Colored Pencils–Smooth and bright on Bible paper.

Faber Castell Polychromos–Rich, vibrant color that goes on smooth.  The pencils hold a tip well for detail work.

Crayola Color Escapes–New pencils from Crayola for grown-ups:  bright, vibrant color that blends well on Bible paper.

Koh-i-Noor Polycolor–Creamy, but not too soft, colored pencils with rich, vibrant color.

Here’s the longer answer:

There’s plenty of room for personal preference in the world of colored pencils, so I’ll do my best to just describe the different pencils.  Colored pencils, in general, lay down color nicely and they don’t bleed, so they are a great choice for Bible Journaling regardless of brand.  I hope you can easily find ones that suit your needs.  For this post, I decided to focus simply on permanent colored pencils.  (Dare I say, I’ll save watercolor pencils for another day?!?)  I also focused on how the colored pencils perform on thin Bible paper, which is kind of a niche use.

Colored pencils are basically wooden barrels filled with leads made of pigments mixed with water, an extender like clay, and a binder, either wax or oil (and some special ingredients).  It’s kind of mind-boggling to think of the effort that goes into putting together each box of 72 different colors:  growing the trees, cutting the wood for the barrels, mixing the materials for the colored leads and preparing them for the barrels, assembling the pencils, painting and stamping each finished pencil, and making sure they each get into the right box.

Colored pencils range in price from a few dollars to over $100.  What differentiates the more expensive options?  The premium pencils are more richly pigmented, have nicely crafted cedar barrels, advertise their environmentally friendly practices, sharpen nicely, don’t break as easily, blend better, have thicker leads and a nicer finish, last longer, have colors that don’t fade in sunlight, and include a storage case.  In many cases, they are also made where labor costs are higher like England, Germany, or Switzerland.  (As a side note, I couldn’t find any colored pencils made in the United States.)  Also, the oil-based pencils are generally more expensive than the wax-based pencils.

Most pencil manufacturers have several lines of colored pencils, which can get a little confusing.  In general, I selected the line (or lines) with the best overall reviews.

Just based on my observations, there are three main types of colored pencils.

Hard and waxy:  These tend to have softer colors, hold a point well, and are especially good for more detailed pictures.

  1. Derwent Artist Pencils
  2. Staedtler Noris Club Colored Pencils
  3. Crayola
  4. Crayola Color Escapes (A personal favorite!)
  5. Tombow
  6. Sargeant
  7. Artist Loft
  8. Cra-Z-Art

Soft and waxy:  These have brighter colors, provide smooth coverage, and need frequent sharpening.

  1. PrismaColor Premier Colored Pencils (A personal favorite!)
  2. Staedler Ergosoft
  3. Ohuhu

Oil-based:  These have rich, bold colors and show a little more texture.  Some oil-based pencils hold a point better than others.

  1. Faber Castell Polychromos  (A personal favorite)
  2. Caran D’ache Pablo
  3. Koh-i-Noor Polycolor  (A personal favorite)
  4. Lyra Rembrandt Polycolor
  5. Imaginesty

Here’s a photo with all of the pencils listed above and how they blend on Bible paper.  I was a little surprised to discover that all the colored pencils blended to create green from blue and yellow relatively easy:


From here, I’ll just plunge into what I’ve discovered about the different types of colored pencils.  I commented on the following qualities:

  • Blending
  • Range from light to dark
  • Ease of coverage
  • Details
  • Vibrancy
  • Bliss factor (my totally subjective response.)
  • Ease of sharpening

I’ll start with the hard and waxy pencils.

Derwent Artist Pencils

Derwent Artist Pencils are made by the Cumberland Pencil company, which has the distinction of being located near Barrowdale, England where graphite was first discovered by shepherds, who hand carved the graphite and wrapped them in sheepskin to make the first pencils.  The first pencil factory was established in Keswick in 1832.  In 2008, the Cumberland Valley Pencil Company built a new facility in nearby Lillyhall.  The company was given the Queen’s Award for Enterprise for developing a unique, solvent free paint application system, improving air quality.  Derwent Artist pencils were used to illustrate the classic animated film: “The Snowman”.

  • Blending: Excellent
  • Range from light to dark: Great
  • Ease of coverage: Excellent, when sharpened to a long point
  • Details: Excellent
  • Vibrancy: Softer, pretty colors
  • Bliss factor: Deeply satisfying to use.
  • Ease of sharpening: Awesome!  They are thick and may not fit in all pencil sharpeners.

When I first started using the artist pencils, I was somewhat disappointed.  I had grown accustomed to the creamy Faber Castels and the soft PrismaColors.  Derwent Artist pencils are hard!  But I really fell in love with the pencils after I started sharpening them with an electric pencil to a long, sharp point.  The pencil lead on the Artist Pencils is noticeably thicker than any other pencil.  The sharp tip is wonderful for detail work and the long side shades quickly.  These pencils had a learning curve for me, but they’ve become a favorite!!!  I love how easy it is to achieve subtle blended effects.  The color lays on the Bible pages like the finish on fine China.


I did not hesitate to choose these pencils for the first page of my Inspire Bible


Staedtler Noris Club Colored Pencils

Staedtler also lays claim to a very long history of pencil making.  Friedrich Staedtler, an ancestor to the company’s founder, was making pencils in 1662 in Nuremburg, Germany.  Staedtler is credited with combining the two trades of lead cutting and carpentry into pencil making.  In 1834, one year before the official founding of the company, Johann Sebastian Staedtler mixed coloured pigments with binding agents and placed a protective wooden casing around the lead to make some of the first colored pencils.

Staedtler has a collection called Noris Club that is recommend by Johanna Basford for coloring in the Secret Garden books.

  • Blending: Excellent
  • Range from light to dark: Good
  • Ease of coverage: Excellent
  • Details: Excellent
  • Vibrancy: Pretty soft colors
  • Bliss factor: Surprisingly pleasant experience
  • Ease of sharpening: No problems

I was surprised by how much I enjoyed coloring with these pencils in the Inspire Bible. The colors are not exceptionally vivid, but they are pretty.  The pencils easily laid down color on the smooth Bible pages.  The pencils held their tip well, which made it easy to color the small detailed picture.  The pencil lead is specially treated to give it more strength.




Crayola was acquired by Hallmark in 1984.  I grew up in Kansas City, corporate headquarters for Hallmark.  My favorite childhood destination was Kaleidoscope, a wonderful place where kids could make art projects with leftover materials from Hallmark’s card-making materials and Crayola products.  What made it even better:  my grandmother was a regular volunteer.  As I got older, she would take me along as a volunteer.  So many good memories!

Crayola has a long stand-alone history in Pennsylvania, where I live now.  I have yet to visit the Crayola Experience in Easton, PA, but would love to do so!

In 1885, Edwin Binney and C. Harold Smith formed a partnership called Binney & Smith.  One of their first products included red oxide pigment used for barn paint.  They also developed carbon back from natural gas deposits found in PA.  In 1900, the company began making slate pencils in Easton, PA.  They introduced the first dustless school chalk in 1902.  And in 1903, the company produced the first box of eight Crayola crayons.  The Crayola name was coined by Edwin Binney’s wife Alice:  “Craie” is the French world for chalk and “ola” comes from “oleaginous.”  In 1958, my personal favorite box of 64 crayons was introduced.  Crayola markers came along in 1978.

(As an aside, Dayspring was acquired by Hallmark in 1999.  It seems clear to my why Illustrated Faith found a good fit at Dayspring by bringing creativity and faith together!)

For the kind of coloring that’s done in the Inspire Bible (small, simple illustrations), Crayola colored pencils are a perfectly fine choice.  They have bright colors, hold a point well for detail work, and provide smooth coverage.  They sharpen nicely without breaking the lead or splitting the barrel.  The pencils are made in Brazil with wood from wood grown specifically for gathering wood.

  • Blending: ok
  • Range from light to dark: good
  • Ease of coverage: Great
  • Details: Excellent
  • Vibrancy: great
  • Bliss factor: pleased
  • Ease of Sharpening: No problems


I think Crayola red is such a distinctive red.  It’s fun to know that Binney & Smith’s first product was for red barn paint.  I wonder if it was a similar color?


When I was doing my review of Crayola products for Bible Journaling, I thought to myself:  I would love pencils that are blendable like Prismacolors, vivid like the FaberCastell Polychromos, but in the cheery palate of a box of 64 Crayola crayons.

As I was working on this post, I received an e-mail from Crayola about new colored pencils for moms!  This post would have to wait until they arrived!  I’m a little embarrassed to admit this, but when these pencils arrived my eyes teared up as I opened the box of pencils.  I feel like I wished them into existence!  The color is bright, vivid, cheery, and familiar!  If you’ve ever had a box of Crayola crayons, you will know instinctively how these colors play together.  And they are high-performance enough for the kind of coloring that I do.  Like the Derwent pencils, I find that these pencils have better coverage with a very sharp point, but that I prefer to hand sharpen them since they are not as thick.   I love all the pinks, purples, and greens!  And the silver and gold!  They are just what I wanted!  (The pencils are made in Vietnam.)  Especially for the price (I paid about $25), these pencils can’t be beat.  These were the last colored pencils I tried.

  • Blending: Excellent
  • Range from light to dark: Excellent
  • Ease of coverage: Excellent (especially with a sharp point)
  • Details: Excellent
  • Vibrancy: Excellent
  • Bliss factor:  Pure Bliss!  A good balance of everything I want in a colored pencil.
  • Ease of Sharpening:  I had trouble with my “bright green”, but the rest of the pencils have given me no trouble.


The pages on the left is the first page that I colored with these pencils.  I used a white Uniball pen to add dots to the flower.  As I look at the page now it reminds me of a a page colored with crayons, and I think its because I was immediately drawn to colors I recognized from my box of crayons.  I’ve tried to color with crayons in my Bible and they just don’t work as well as in the pictures below.  These colors also blend beautifully in a way that crayons don’t.  For me, these pencils totally bring back the joy of coloring.


I couldn’t stop playing with these colored pencils.  This page from my Johanna’s Christmas coloring book shows the range of colors a bit better….


Tombow Irojiten Colored Pencils

These colored pencils turn everything on their head for me.  I’ve been searching for rich, vivid color, and along comes a set of pencils where fully a third of the colors in the palate are light tints or shades.  In the hands of the right artist, these pencils could create some beautiful, ethereal effects.  They would be perfect for coloring books featuring Easter eggs or maybe a whimsical book about fairies.  The pencils themselves are so pretty. The colors blend beautifully and the pencils have the most elegant finish that’s almost glossy.  The set includes vivid colors I love, including some awesome fluorescent colors.  I don’t yet know how to colors like eggshell or sallow.

Irojiten means “color encylopeida” and the pencils come in these adorable little boxes, each box contains three book-shaped boxes that are little stories of color.  I can see how the colors within each box harmonize beautifully together.  Ultimately, I made myself a color sheet so I would know which colors play nicely together, and I put the pencils in a box for easier access.

Tombow is a Japenese company that has been making pencils in Japan since 1913 with production facilities in Japan, Thailand, and Vietnam.  Tombow also makes my favorite brush markers.

  • Blending: Excellent
  • Range from light to dark: Excellent for the darker colors
  • Ease of coverage: Excellent
  • Details: Excellent
  • Vibrancy: Excellent for the more vibrant colors
  • Bliss factor: Inspiring
  • Ease of Sharpening: No problems

The pencils are encouraging me to think of some different color possibilities.


In the left hand picture, I used colors from one story book.  On the right hand picture, I just picked the colors I wanted.


Sargent Art Colored Pencils

Sargent is a big distributor of art materials to the educational market with a 75+ year history.  They sell just about everything for art classes, including colored pencils.  Since they sell art supplies for end users likely to use them in unpredictable ways, safety is a priority and a reputational necessity!  The company was named after the famous painter John Singer Sargent and founded in Hazelton, PA.  In 2006, Sargent Art was acquired by Pidilite, a company based in Mumbai, India.  Sargent Colored pencils are widely available.  (I found a box of them at WalMart.)  The package says they are made in Thailand.  The pencils live up to the description on the box:  they blend nicely, lay down color smoothly, and they have thick strong leads.  The pencils are hard and waxy; The colors are pretty but softer.  The 50-piece set includes a gold and silver.

  • Blending: Good
  • Range from light to dark: good
  • Ease of coverage: smooth
  • Details: good
  • Vibrancy: pretty, soft colors
  • Bliss factor: Pleasantly surprised
  • Ease of Sharpening: No problems



Artist Loft Colored Pencils

I bought a 48-piece set of colored pencils at Michael’s by their Artist Loft brand.  The pencils are made in Thailand and that’s about all I know about their backstory.  The set has many pretty colors and includes a gold and silver.  They are remarkably similar to the Sargent pencils, but they are a bit thinner and not quite as smooth.

  • Blending: good
  • Range from light to dark: good
  • Ease of coverage: sometimes I had to go over and over the same area
  • Details: good
  • Vibrancy: pretty, soft colors
  • Bliss factor: just happy because they are colored pencils
  • Ease of Sharpening: Just one pencil so far has succumbed to wobbly lead issues.

These are an ok choice, but the pencils were not a perfect match for Bible paper.  The lead was hard and a little reluctant to lay down color.  I think the finished product looks like it was not as bright as some of the other colored pencils I’ve tried.  (I had better luck with these pencils in The Secret Garden coloring book, which has slightly more textured pages.)




Color pencil preference is definitely a personal matter, even among student grade pencils.  My son prefers Crayola, but the little boy next door always chooses Cra-Z-Art.  I know that he loves to color, so I gave them a try.  I found that these pencils suffered more from wobbly lead problems than other pencils.  When I tried to sharpen them to a fine point and color detailed areas, the tip kept breaking on me.  I also had a strange problem with these:  As I colored, they lifted up some of the dark grey ink from the Bible pages.  The colors were still bright and cheery and I was still reasonably happy with the final picture.

  • Blending: good
  • Range from light to dark: good
  • Ease of coverage: good
  • Details: Weak, my tip kept breaking on the fine lines
  • Vibrancy: bright and cheery colors
  • Bliss factor:
  • Ease of sharpening: breaks easier than most

Cra-Z-Art is based in Randolf, NJ, and was founded by Larry Rosen in 2008.  I was surprised to read that the company is less than 10 years old since their products are ubiquitous.  My daughter was coloring with Cra-Z-Art markers at Karate last night, and I can’t even tell you how we ended up with a set of Cra-Z-Art pencils.  Larry Rosen is the grandson of Isidor Rosen, founder of Rosebud Art Company, which was eventually renamed Rose Art.  (Rose Art was acquired by Mega Blocks in 2005; the company was renamed Mega Brands America.  Mega Brands was acquired by Mattel in 2014.  I haven’t tried their colored pencils.)



Moving onto soft and waxy pencils…

Prismacolor Premier

Prismacolor pencils have been made since 1938.  They were first made by the Eagle Pencil company, which was founded by Bavarian immigrant Daniel Berolzheimer in 1856 in New York City.  In 1969, the company changed its name to Berol.  In 1995, Newell Company acquired Berol and folded it into the Stanford division.  (Newell owns many other brands including Sharpie, PaperMate, and Uni-Ball).  Prismacolor Premier pencils are made of pigment, clay, stearites, hot wax, and some secret ingredients.  The lead is encased in California cedar, harvested on tree farms grown for their pencils.  They are made in Mexico.

  • Blending: Excellent
  • Range from light to dark: Excellent
  • Ease of coverage: Excellent
  • Details: Excellent
  • Vibrancy: Excellent
  • Bliss factor: A beautiful marriage of pencil to paper!
  • Ease of sharpening: No problems, but must sharpen frequently

Prismacolor Premier pencils are the ones that I’ve seen most often recommend for Bible journaling.  I’ve read some complaints about breakage, but personally, I have not had this problem.

I feel like these pencils are in a category of their own.  The color glides on so smoothly and is richly pigmented, making them a good substitute for markers.  The colors blend beautifully.  Their soft lead works really well on thin, smooth Bible pages.  They come in a huge range of colors.  You definitely can’t go wrong with a set of these.



Ohuhu 72-colored Pencils

These pencils caught my eye because they are relatively inexpensive and received excellent reviews on  They are made in Shanghai by Marco, a brand owned by Axus Stationery Shanghai Co Ltd, a company that specializes in pencils and art supplies that was founded in 2003.  My pencil box was labeled Ohuhu, but the pencils are labeled Raffine Color Marco, which is a little confusing.  The pencils came in a cardboard tube and have slightly thinner pencil cores than other brands and are made in China (all of which helps explain the lower costs).  I’ve been storing them in a mason jar for easy access.  The overall experience of using them is similar to PrismaColor Premeirs.  They have bright colors that blend well and glide onto the paper.

  • Blending: Good
  • Range from light to dark: Excellent
  • Ease of coverage: Excellent
  • Details: Excellent
  • Vibrancy: Excellent
  • Bliss factor: I can see why these got such good reviews
  • Ease of Sharpening: No problems

I think these are a great choice for Bible Journaling and a good value.



Steadtler Ergosoft

The Steadtler Ergosoft are made in Germany and have a triangular casing.  It seems strange to me that Staedtler pencils don’t come in larger sets.  The lead is very soft and bright.  These are my 9-year-old son’s favorite colored pencils.

  • Blending: Good
  • Range from light to dark: Good, becomes fully saturated quickly
  • Ease of coverage: Excellent
  • Details: Good
  • Vibrancy: excellent
  • Bliss factor: Pleased with the pencils, but would like more colors!
  • Ease of sharpening: No problems

I really enjoyed the bright and vivid colors.  The pencils felt nice in my hand.



And finally oil-based pencils…

Faber-Castell Polychromos

Faber-Castell lays claim to being the oldest manufacturer of pencils in the world and also the world’s largest manufacturer of wood-cased pencils.  Headquartered in Stein, Germany, the company was founded in 1761 by Kaspar Faber and has been in the Faber family for eight generations.  The Polychromos Pencils, which were introduced in 1908, are still made in Germany.  The oil pastel pencil lead is made from color pigments, kaolin, and a binding agent.  The lead is smudge-proof and water resistant.  It is encased in cedar wood sourced from sustainable forests.   The pencil is painted with environmentally friendly water-based paints.  Each pencil is a work of art!

  • Blending: Excellent
  • Range from light to dark: Excellent
  • Ease of coverage: Excellent
  • Details: Excellent
  • Vibrancy: Excellent
  • Bliss factor: Can a colored pencil get any better?
  • Ease of sharpening: No problems

I love the vibrant colors, the ease of blending, and how easy it is to get a range of values from light to dark with each pencil.  The pencils hold a sharp point, which makes them nice for detail work and yet the lead is soft enough to provide easy coverage.  The 72-set of pencils comes in a nice metal case with sturdy plastic trays.  After reading many reviews, this was the first colored pencil set I bought and still my favorite.

These pencils hold up well over time, too.  Over the past two years, these pencils have been my most used set and they still look relatively new.  Not one pencil has been consumed by sharpening troubles.



Koh-i-Noor Polycolor

Koh-i-Noor has been making pencils since 1790.  It was founded in Vienna by Josef Hardtmuth, who claims to be the inventor of the modern graphite pencils.  Koh-i-noor pencils are made with rich, top quality pigment.  The pencils are made with special oils and other binders so that the pencils are smooth and creamy and require very little pressure to create dense, even strokes.  The pencils are encased in California Cedar.  They are made in the Czech Republic.

  • Blending: Excellent
  • Range from light to dark: Excellent
  • Ease of coverage: Excellent
  • Details: Excellent
  • Vibrancy: Excellent
  • Bliss factor: Dreamy
  • Ease of sharpening: No problems

The first moment I put the pencil to the paper, I loved these creamy, bright pencils.  Honestly, these pencils are everything I like in a colored pencil.  They blend beautifully, they require very little pressure for coloring, and the colors are vibrant.  Personally, I also love the color range that comes with the 72 set:  lots of greens, blues, purples, yellows and pinks, not so many browns and greys.  The set also includes a nice metallic silver and gold!  These pencils show color lines, but personally I like the textured effect and they can be burnished out if desired.  The Koh-i-Noor tricolor pencils are awesome, too.  My kids love them!



Caran D’ache Pablos

Caran d’Ache was founded in 1915 in Geneva, Switzerland to make graphite and colored pencils.  It diversified to include wax oil pastels, mechanical pencils, and ballpoint pens.  The company has several color pencil lines, many of which are water-soluble.  When I was young, my mother bought me a set of Caran d’Ache pencils and coloring book for a long train ride.  I don’t recall, which line of pencils it was, but I remember the gold letters that read “Swiss made”.  The pencil set brought me hours of enjoyment and an appreciation for how great colored pencils can be!  The Pablo pencils are water resistant and oil-based.

  • Blending: Excellent
  • Range from light to dark: Excellent
  • Ease of coverage: Great, but a little uneven on Bible paper
  • Details: Excellent
  • Vibrancy: Excellent
  • Bliss factor: A joy to use
  • Ease of sharpening: No problems

These pencils have exceptional lightfastness and vivid colors.  It is easy to shade, mix, and layer the velvety colors.  The pencils come in a nice metal case and even the inside tray is metal.  The pencils are made in Switzerland with eco-friendly standards using premium California cedar wood.  They are dreamy and a little addictive.  I found that it was a bit of a challenge to achieve even color on the Bible paper, but the colors are vivid and the pencils are a joy to use.



LYRA Rembrandt Polycolor

LYRA was founded by Johann Froescheis in 1806 in Nuremberg.  It is a leading brand in the school market in Germany with a strong presence in Austria, the Scandinavian countries, and Eastern Europe.  It does not have a big brand presence in the US.  In 2008, it was acquired by FILA, a manufacturer of school and art supplies based in Milan, Italy.  (As an aside, in 2005 FILA acquired the Dixon Ticonderoga Company founded in 1795, the American maker of pencils and art supplies including the Prang brand.)

  • Blending: Excellent
  • Range from light to dark: Excellent
  • Ease of coverage: Excellent
  • Details: Poor, the tip does not hold well
  • Vibrancy: Excellent
  • Bliss factor: Generally pleased
  • Ease of Sharpening: I found the wooden barrel a bit brittle and I had some breakage.

I want to love these pencils because the oil-based colors are lovely and bright, but I found the pencil lead to be a little too soft for my personal taste.  I found that color went where I didn’t expect it to go as I lost my point.  I had some trouble sharpening these pencils:  The lead was softer and the wood barrel was harder than with other pencils.  Out of 72 pencils, I had two pencils break as I sharpened and one where the wood barrel split, which isn’t terrible, but it’s still frustrating when that happens.  The set comes with a wonderful selection of greens and two blender pencils.  The smooth pencil lead is a good match for thin Bible paper.



Imaginesty Colored Pencils

These pencils caught my eye because they are oil-based, but at a much lower cost than most other oil-based pencils.  The box promised that they had a smooth and creamy texture, high quality pigments, and strong leads.  The pencils did not live up to their promises:  The pencil lead was hard, the colors faded, and my pencils kept breaking.  If you are willing to accept that they are lower quality pencils, they are still fun to use, mostly because the set includes a great mix of pinks and purples.  There’s no accounting for taste:  My four-year-old daughter loves these pencils, so they won’t go to waste.  I could not find too much about the company.



Here’s a few tips for colored pencils:

  • Handle colored pencils gently.  Treat them as if they are made of glass!  The lead inside the pencil can break inside the casing, which would lead to bad pencil sharpening experiences and wobbly lead!
  • You can use either a hand-held or electric pencil sharpener.  I generally prefer the handheld pencil sharpeners.  If you use a handheld pencil sharpener, hold the pencil steady and twist the pencil sharpener around the pencil.
  • Keep a sharp point.  You won’t hurt the Bible paper and it will give you better color coverage.  This is especially true for the hard and waxy pencils.  It’s a little counter-intuitive, but a sharp point is easier on Bible paper because you will instinctively use less pressure.
  • I generally like to build up color in layers, coloring lightly and then adding more color on top of the first.  This lets me have more control.  If it turns out I am not happy with the color, the I just add another color on top for a blended look.
  • I like to keep a sheet of plain paper nearby so that I can test out color combinations before working in my Bible.
  • There’s lots of ways to store colored pencils.  The pencils that get used most often tend to be the ones I store in mason jars on top of the china cabinet.  My best pencils I keep in their original casing.  Sometimes I use a pencil box, and a special pencil carrier works well for a large set.

I came across this quote while studying colored pencils:

“If a person wants to accomplish something, he has to have the wherewithal to unleash his innate creative potential.”-Baron Lothar von Faber 1869

I hope finding the right colored pencils for you will you unleash your creative potential!!!