Reaching the Soul – Bible Journaling with James Presley

Thank you Lisa Nichols Hickman for featuring the stunning artwork of James Presley!

The pen and ink marginalia of James Presley stands out within the Journaling Bible Community for its crisp, dynamic and masculine form.





Time and time again, an image would catch my eye when scrolling through the Facebook page.  Each time it was the work of James Presley.


While these images are unique in their black and white contrast and shading, James’ work gets more and more colorful the closer you look towards your feet.

You know the verse – “What does the Lord require of you? To do justice, love kindness and walk humbly with our God.”

Walking humbly, for James, begins on the soles of the feet and radiates upward to heart, mind and soul.

“Reaching the Soul” is a project James started back in 2008 while a youth camp counselor at Word of Life Bible Institute Florida. One of his campers that summer had a pair of white canvas style slip on shoes. I felt this urge to bring scripture to the soles of his feet.

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Since that day of summer camp, my artwork (Inks) has grown from just being on shoes to being on everything from hats, totes, backpacks, coffee mugs, travel mugs, and more. When it come to “Reaching the Soul,” James reminds us that sometimes it begins with the very place we stand and how our feet are the very basis for spiritual formation and daily discipleship.

James began Bible journaling on white canvas shoes and then turned to the pages of his Bible to work in the margins by the encouragement of his friends Jennie and Curtis Tyson who own Serenity Coffee Shop. His first Bible journaling entry was Psalm 34:6, which James consider to be his life verse due to it being the perfect explanation of his experience with salvation and how he came to know the Lord.


When I asked James about his favorite Bible journaling piece he has ever done, he said, “My favorite entry is alway my next one because the Lord always teaches and shows me something new each time I journal.”

Born in Louisville, Kentucky, James knows a bit about life and its struggles.  He grew up with his grandparents after the death of his mother at age six.  His father was absent from his life.  He moved to Florida in 2001 and attended Word of Life Bible Institute/Word of Life Culinary Apprenticeship Program from 2006 until 2011.


During that culinary apprenticeship program, at the age of 22, James claimed the faith.  In 2012 he met Jennie and Curtis Tyson, owners of Serenity Coffee Shop located in Okeechobee Florida, and was given the opportunity to display and sell his artwork.  Now, James is months away from getting married..

The tools James appreciates the most  for Bible journaling are  the Copic Multiliner SP 0.5 and Bic Atlantis ink pen.


And when it comes to the shoes, hats, totes, backpacksimage9, and other merchandise — I simply use Sharpie permanent markers.

If you are interested in exploring more of James’ work, you can check out his artwork at the Serenity Coffee Shop in Okeechobee Florida.  His artwork can also be seen on the format of Bible journaling stamps through Sonshine Stamp Co. And his work can be seen on Instagram at:  Jep0731 and through the hashtag:  #ReachingTheSoul


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