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!”


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