The Work of Your Hands

“I like the idea of art journaling” noted Carla in her recent online group post. But like many of the new members to the bible journaling group, she wasn’t sure where to begin. She explained “I look at the blank journal page and remain clueless.”

I could sense the exasperation in Carla’s posting. She went on to write, “Most times, I just tear the page out and feel frustrated. Any suggestions?”

And Carla is not alone in her feelings about journaling or any creative endeavor. Many of my students over the years expressed the same sentiments. And when returning to college in my mid-30’s, I also faced formidable hurdles. Like Hans Christian Anderson’s ugly duckling, I had yet to realize my true skills, calling, and giftings. I felt only the awkwardness of being among other learners that were somehow similar but different than me. Under the direction of my design instructors, however, I would soon learn the language of graphic design, adopt the tools, and begin my conversation and connection with the visual world around me.

Knowing what I know now, at 70 years of age, I want to share with you one of the tools that made life easier for me as a developing visual communication artist and, today, remains a go-to guide when beginning any new layout project like an art journaling page. It is easy and quick and will get you beyond the first unnerving creative stage with which most visual artists struggle—the blank page.

To quickly conquer the space of an empty art journaling page requires a guide or tool that can aid you in setting the necessary visual boundaries. Thankfully, graphic design offers a way to approach your blank journal page with six different types of well-established and acknowledged page layout designs. Each one has its own visual appeal. And, over the next six weeks, I will describe, explain, and explore each of them with you as we layout selected text from the Bible. The six layouts include: 1) Mondrian; 2) Circus; 3) Multipanel; 4) Silhouette; 5) Big Type; and 6) Alphabet Inspired.

In this unit, let’s take a look at the first of the page layouts. This layout is based on the work of the artist Piet Mondrian. He was a Dutch painter and theoretician. And according to Wikipedia, is regarded as one of the greatest artists of the 20th century. In his later work, he used simple geometric elements such as the line and square to guide his work and to express his concern with the nature and appreciation of beauty.

As you can see from the example below, Mondrian relied on the space that his lines created as they intersected each other. He carefully filled his spaces with bright bold colors.

Image courtesy of Creative Commons.

If you apply his work to your art journaling page, it acts as a great starting place. Any or all of the blocks can be filled with colors, images, photos, hand drawings, anything glue-able, along with text. Animation can be incorporated for online or virtual display. Kind of, cool, right?

So, let’s take a closer look at the Mondrian type of page layout design and then try it out for yourself! As you prepare your journal page for this type of layout, take your pencil, pen, or marker, and lay down some lines. (For this exercise draw 4 vertical lines from top to bottom and 3 horizontal line from left to right). You can use a ruler, if you like, but free hand is just as good.

Remember it’s your journal and your creative expression will be unique. For a demonstration, watch the video for Unit 2 posted on the Art Journaling Workshop Group as well as the storefront pages at: or

Once you get your lines down, take a moment to rest and enjoy your creation. Don’t get in a hurry; this is an important moment. Allow God’s Holy Creative Spirit to stir your inner creative spirit; this is one of many ways that you can co-create together.

Example of Mondrian Freehand Grid Layout

Most importantly, be accepting of your individuality. The Book of Ephesians (2:10) tells us that as new creatures in Christ “…we are God’s handiwork….” You have been made by God in an incredibly special way with a particular mix of gifts, skills, and abilities. Let God’s light shine through and on those giftings as you use the works of your hands and meditation of your heart to glorify Him. Think about the following verse and what it means to you personally:

Therefore, if you are in Christ, you are a new creature, old things have passed away; behold, all things are made new. 2 Corinthians 5:17 (KJV Personalized)

DIRECTIONS Step 1. Draw four vertical lines and 3 horizontal lines. Step 2. Pick three colors and fill in three separate boxes that your lines created. Step 3. In another space, write the words: New Creature. Step 4. Fill in as many or few of the boxes with old photos, different colors, and thoughts–whatever comes to your mind. How ’bout a selfie? It’s your choice. Allow your creative spirit to feel the free flow of expression.

You can also use the empty spaces to write in any insights that you gained as you meditated on the verse from 2 Corinthians 5:17. You are God’s design specially laid out for His good works.

Last step? date and sign your art journaling page. Now, share your design and thoughts on our workshop page at . If you have any questions, you can email me at:

Looking forward to Unit 3 and discovering the Circus layout!

Dr. Buck / Visual Communication Artist-at-hand / Christian Life Coach / As God gets bigger in our lives–we get stronger!


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