I recently got hold of a copy of Mike Rohde’s ‘The Sketchnote Handbook: the illustrated guide to visual notetaking’. It reminded me that notes can be fun, and that linear format notes tend not to be that exciting – either in the writing or indeed the review. I’m always looking for ways to stay awake in church (it’s the sleep disorder and meds I’m on, not a side effect of the service!) and thought I’d give the principles a go. Here are four examples, in date order, from my first go at the process to yesterday’s sermon notes. I say ‘first go’ – I’ve been used to note taking, and doodling in the margins, as well as adding illustrations to mind maps over the years… this is the first time I’ve combined all of them into one method of notetaking.
[Completed during the sermon, in a Moleskine Pocket Plain Notebook with Lamy Safari fountain pen, fine nib with Noodler’s Bulletproof black ink]
I was asked by a friend to help illustrate his message for the evening service at Whetstone Baptist Church last Sunday evening. He used passages from Psalms to describe David’s fall from kingship through despair in a dungeon, to feigned madness and then freedom and release. We were then invited to visualise and recall a walk in the sun, how it felt, and then we were told facts about The Sun itself. Alex then compared the darkness to his faith a couple of years ago to walking in the light now – and moved onto passages from John describing how it is to walk in the light of God.
My illustration used PanPastels as they blend and overlay so well, working onto A3 white card and filmed using an overhead webcam shared to the church projectors via laptop. Unfortunately, I didn’t work out the technology enough to record as I went, so I only have the final still to share. I started by adding a grey swirl around the outside as the walls closed in round David, adding yellow in the centre as the glimmer of escape came. As the description of the sun played out, I added the blue skies, built up the centre and erased the circular lines and the rays. We used a play on words to initially ‘walk in the sun’ as we were visualising that, and then as we moved on, I erased the figure bit by bit, adding the head and hands just before the climax of the illustration changing the ‘u’ to an ‘o’:
Feedback from this first time attempt at live illustration was very positive, and from my point of view, it all worked well! Some top tips: work with the preacher to hone the order of things, especially if the image develops from a previous layer; definitely rehearse timings with something so tied to the sermon material; know your technology and check it’s doing what you expect; and be prepared to go for it 🙂
I treated myself to the Paper 53 Pencil (in walnut) to use with the Paper 53 app on my iPad mini. It takes a bit of getting used to, but I think it has helped my digital art on the move no end. Here’s the result: three drawings inspired by the sermons I was listening to at the time… and I’m going to be having a go at live on-screen illustration in mid-November! Each drawing was completed within two sermon lengths (approx. 40 mins) as the church I go to has two morning services (9am and 10:45am) and when I’m playing in the worship group, we’re rostered for both.
As previously mentioned, I am clearing out my study – I’ve also cleared out an old PC. Whilst doing this, I came across my original sketches for some artwork I did back in 2008 whilst at Robert Hall Memorial Baptist Church in Leicester. Again, I sketched out the idea whilst the service was taking place, and this time took the sketches back home and created some digital art (Photoshop/Illustrator) which was then printed as A0 poster size. As far as I know, they’re still on display in the church. I also know that one of them ended up being given to Rothley Baptist Church as well. Here are the ‘before and after’ pics:
Possibly one of my earliest surviving artworks, from 1985 when I would have been 14… Later strips weren’t coloured and I used a typewriter to add the text. I seem to remember the inspiration stemmed from the fabulous Classical Studies classes led by Mr Boulting at school, where we were asked to do comic strips to illustrate the mythological stories of Ancient Greece and Rome.
I’ve recently joined a new worship group at the church I’ve been going to since December 2012, Whetstone Baptist Church. As there are two of us trained to work the data projector, I was at a loose end a couple of Sundays ago, and thought I’d do some art work during the service. I’d had a couple of sheets of pre-coloured watercolour paper left over from a craft club, so took one of those, a permanent black marker, a white Signo pen and drew this during the services:
Inspired by words of one of the songs, and adding other lyrics and phrases from the sermon made this a specific act of visual worship for that service.
Encouraged by the response to this, I was then asked to do some more artwork to complement a service last Sunday where the plans for a new church building were to be revealed. The artwork was to illustrate ‘Waiting here for you’ to be sung as a duet, leading into a time of reflection and prayer. Using much the same technique, I blocked out areas using black acrylic ink after colouring the page using inks, ProMarkers, paints and stains. This time though, it was two days work prior to the service! These were the featured pieces:
The beauty of this approach, over stock imagery, is that the artwork can directly fit the emphasis of the service – in this case, I used the ‘wait’ text to illustrate several meanings of the word that emphasised anticipation and service rather than the more common sitting-around-twiddling-thumbs kind of wait.
I enjoyed the creative process, looking at all the different ways I could decorate the pages before blocking out the negative space. Some needed tweaking in Photoshop (for instance the addition of the lens flare in a couple), but most were unedited aside from adjusting brightness and contrast for data projection. I will definitely be doing more of this type of worship in the future, and may be even gearing up for ‘live’ artwork creation as part of the service.