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: www.peggyart.com.