The Larger Life in Christ

For just a moment, imagine that you are at the entrance of a circus tent. Your curiosity grows. The colorful tent and surrounding signs bring a smile to your face. You hear excited children running past and smell the hay on the ground around you. You feel the pull of the big tent and the impending thrill of seeing tight-rope walkers, dancing elephants, and lion-tamers. Very exciting, right?

And in many ways, creating an art journaling page based on a circus design layout relies on creating visual excitement using enlarged images, bright bold colors, and big text elements. I like that it is called a circus layout because the whole point of the design is to make the art journaling page fun and delightful! It differs in distinct ways from the lined and blocked layout of a Mondrian design (of previous Unit 2) as the circus layout allows greater freedom in how and where you place your lines, text, and images.

In this unit, I will share with you the secrets of a circus design layout.  We will examine the visual elements involved and then use the circus design to create your art journal entry based on a verse from the Old Testament.

The moment I called out, You (God) stepped in; You made my life large with strength.

Psalm 138:3 (The Message)

There is no doubt about it, living a life of social distancing, face coverings, and stay at home mandates requires a special type of inner strength. I think most will agree that, at times, living life at a distance can be very challenging and sometimes lonely.

The psalmist tells us, however, that you are not alone! And how you decide to work through the frustrations does not have to remain a mystery. You see, as a new creature in Christ, that strength or resolve to work through feelings of being alone is promised to you. In fact, one key to your spiritual growth, among others, is not only acknowledging the source of this inward strength but going the next step and relying on it for every situation you face. Let’s take a closer look at the verse from Psalm 138, King David writes: The moment I called out, You (God) stepped in; You made my life large with strength. (The Message)

Take your time. Think about it. As you read the verse, which of the words or phrases seem to “pop off” the page or catch your attention:

  • You calling out to God?
  • God stepping in?
  • Realizing that you are never alone?
  • God making your life larger with a stronger inner resolve?
  • Living a meaning and purpose despite the face coverings, distancing and social mandates?

Once you recognize what is important or meaningful to you in that verse, ask yourself: Did any images or words flash through your mind? What images and words will you include on your art journaling page? Write them down.

Now, let’s get going…

An art journaling page that uses a circus layout is all about large! Large text. Large images. Large blots of color. These elements connect on your art journal page to visually express your inner awareness of life. That is, once you put all the pieces together, you will be able to step back and see clearly the concrete and unique connection to God’s Spirit in your life. Although many struggle with expressing that connection, there is an easy way using 5 steps to accomplish this feat.

First, fill the whole page with either a circus tent shape or a happy bright sun with rays theme. Here’s one hand drawn example with steps 1 – 3:

Don’t worry if it the lines are not perfect. You will use each space to fill with images, color, and text.

Adding big bold color spaces in Step 4.

Step 4. Select a space and fill it in with a word, image, or color that you previously wrote down during your time of meditation. For example, I imagined that, like the Lord, I want my inner man to be strong: a heavy weightlifter lifting barbells. So, I’ll begin by filling in my backdrop with strong bright colors and large text (strength and courage) then place a large image of a heavy weightlifter in the foreground in front of the sunburst. Pretty easy and cool, right?

The colors I chose are the colors of the fictional Wonder Woman character. Her outfit uses ruby, blue, and gold. The colors suggest a brighter and braver world. I’ll use ruby and gold for the sunburst and blue for the weightlifter.

How ‘bout you? What are your three favorite colors? If you’d like to find out more about colors in the Bible, Jacob Olesen’s website will give you a good  starting point for your research.

Adding large type text in Step 4.

Before adding the figure in the foreground, I placed the words courage and strength in large capital letters to fill the space above the ball shape of the sun. I placed them at an angle to each other to suggest movement and excitement. I chose white as the text color as if the letters had been “etched out” of the background.

The secret to the circus layout is: big and bold.

Step 5. Add your selected image to the foreground. You can draw in a figure with pen, crayon, or acrylic paint. You can also choose to find an image from a magazine and then paste it in. In this step, I found a clipart silhouette from online creative commons and then resized it to fit the image frame.

Try a different visual theme with Psalm 138:3 “The moment I called out, You (God) stepped in; You made my life large with strength,” and see what new surprising results you can achieve.

Change the colors and see what happens. Does it make you feel happy? Does it give a deeper insight into the type of large connected life God wants for you?

The circus layout allows a freedom of expression especially when art journaling. Add this along with the Mondrian inspired page design to your art journaling toolbox and you have two very powerful visual art communication tools at your fingertips. Use them this week to start your daily journaling time. Find out what God has in store for you!

Looking forward to Unit 4 and trying out the Multipanel page design for your next art journaling page!

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


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