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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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Stronger than Lions

With this post, I am extending an exclusive invitation to Christian women to come with me on a 12-week digital journey. The destination? A place where journaling, visual communication, and your inner artistic spirit intersect. If you are a younger woman just starting out on your life’s journey and seeking a deeper relationship with Christ, this place is created with you in mind.

Starting Tuesday, September 29, 2020, my Facebook page will open as a meeting place. This is a place where we can gather for the purpose of art journaling, for sharing creative thoughts, and expressing God’s goodness through the works of our hands.

The goal of the workshop is singular: to challenge you with a journaling prompt based on a Bible verse. It provides a time to reflect, rethink, build, and strengthen the gifts, skills, and abilities God has given you. It offers a place to receive encouragement, to look beyond the visible in practical tangible ways, to become stronger than lions in your Christian walk. Perhaps, more importantly, it can be the place where your life’s calling and purpose comes into sharpened focus.

It all begins with a weekly Bible verse prompt. During the 12 weeks you will be able to share your thoughts in the comments area. I find that just the simple act of sharing with others oftentimes breaks the chains of anxiety and worry that hold back creative work. And, I make it fun and easy by focusing in on just 3 areas of interest: people, places, and pets.

In addition to the workshop’s prompts and comments, every week through December I will illustrate, explain, design and create using techniques from the field of visual communication arts. These techniques are great no matter your level of experience. The techniques are also great for working through any creative mental blocks and keeping the artistic flow moving.

At the beginning of each week, I will use this blog (Living Life’s Way) to share my thoughts and provide a starting point for our discussions and creative work. As time allows, I will also include a link to a YouTube demonstrating a mixed media technique that you can try out for yourself. Of course, as the Spirit leads, we can always Zoom and meet !

This 12-week workshop is based on my training in communication arts, education, life experiences and ministry calling. My undergraduate work was in television and radio broadcasting which along with my advanced degrees shape the work that I do today as a 180 advisor or consultant. (You can read about the latest ministry development in my previous post: Knocking on Heaven’s Door). Teaching is my life’s calling and ministry gift. It does have a touch of serendipity, so I enjoy it greatly and am very thankful that God has allowed this open door as part of my Christian life coaching ministry.

Over the last forty years, God has refined my purpose and calling. He used the many art awards my work received to draw my attention, to lead, and guide me through my life’s journey. My work has been displayed, published, purchased, printed, and copied. I still have my first piece using 2 pieces of construction paper, scissors, and glue. It is an amazingly simple piece and I keep it to remind me that most times simpler is better.

I hope you give this 12-week workshop much thought and accept the challenge as a young woman in Christ toward developing a deeper richer Christian life using art journaling. I pray that the work of your hands be blessed and increase.  And may God use this workshop and our time together to reveal, to establish, and bring to focus His purpose and calling in your life.

Put the date on your calendar now–9/29/20! And, share this invitation with your best girlfriends. All are welcome. And remember: As God gets bigger in our life, we get stronger!

Dr. Buck / Christian Life Coach / 180 Advisors

Please note that no previous art or writing experience is required to join this workshop. To get started, all you need is a computer and access to the Internet. A cell phone camera will come in handy to record and upload your work to Facebook.

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Knocking on Heaven’s Door

A few months ago, our Pastor encouraged us to think about ways of how the stay-at-home COVID-19 mandate could be a blessing. He suggested that God could and would open a door of opportunity for anyone that asked.

As I sat before my laptop screen listening to his message, I felt a nudge inside of me. I wondered if it were possible or even appropriate for a 70-year-old retired professor of communication arts to even consider such a challenge.

The thoughts came: What would a door of opportunity look like? What would it sound like? Who and what would be on the other side of that door? Oddly, the thoughts made me nervous and yet excited. With raised eyebrows, I questioned: Was this challenge really meant for me?

Six months later, I am now a 180 Advisor and Virtual Learning Coach. I am glad that I accepted our Pastor’s challenge. The challenge, however, was not without an inner fight and resulted in many a long nights, bleary eyes, and weary bones.

Perhaps, it’s best to start with telling you what a 180 Advisor is and what it is not. A 180 Advisor is not a pyramid scheme, a swindler’s dream or confidence game. Rather, I find it to be an activity involving both extreme mental and physical efforts. It can draw both the best and worst out of me, so, keeping my eyes open and catching myself from the temptation of bulldozing others out of my way remains high on my must-remember-to-do list.

The name 180 Advisor came from John, my daughter’s beau. John’s work involves helping businesses through financial crisis. He told me that there exists a huge difference between a 360 degree and a 180-degree turn. One leaves you going in the same dizzy direction headed toward crisis whereas the other, 180, means a turnabout, a shift, a complete change in the direction and thought in which one is engaged. I adopted the name immediately and asked his permission to become one of his 180 agents. John agreed.

This excitement helped to balance the anxiety that had recently crept in as the stay-at-home COVID-19 mandate had closed all my avenues of social interaction. Our library volunteer manager wrote an exceptionally long and sad goodbye as the City closed our library’s doors. My Homeowners Owners Association banned all public meetings. The distance to my family and neighbors’ homes grew longer with the passing of each day. And, although, the broadcasted public announcements continually reassured me that I was not alone and that separation did not mean isolation, I could not help feeling I was on my own.

It was in this gradually growing state of mindfulness that I answered my cell phone on that early April morning. The person on the other side of the phone greeted me with her familiar term of endearment “My sister,” and went on to ask: “how are you? I was wondering if you had time to talk.” And talk we did. And I’m glad we did. I still have the notes I took during our conversation about teaching and teachers and developing online training because of COVID-19 and the need to shift from classroom instruction to online using computers and the Internet. The pivot was shaking the field education like a 6.0 earthquake.

A few weeks ago, I gave my first online Zoom presentation to a university in Florida. It went very well. I felt like a 180 Advisor—that I am making a difference. And, best of all, I have been invited back next month to provide additional faculty training in online pedagogical practices for educators. This was not an opportunity that I could have foreseen. It is, however, a personal turnaround for which I am grateful and thank God for opening this door of engagement. I had forgotten most of my training in education and so it forced me to reconnect to theory and to practice and, most importantly, people.

In addition to my consulting work, I am also opening a new series of art on my Art Journaling Facebook page connected to my blog here at Living Life’s Way. Over the last seventy years, I’ve learned a lot about life and the 3P’s—people, places, and pets. And, apparently, a need exists for older Christian women sharing life experiences with younger women in those areas! — (we’ll talk more about that later).

The opening verse is taken from Philippians 1:11 (TLB). “May you always be doing those good, kind things that show you are a child of God, for this will bring much praise and glory to the Lord.”

My hope is that younger women everywhere can learn from both my successes as a new creature in Christ as well as the hard-earned lessons from my missteps as God’s new creation.

God’s blessings and peace!

Dr. Buck / 180 Advisor / Virtual Learning Coach

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