“I am the True Vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit He prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me” (John 15:1-4).
My life theme lately has been abiding in Christ. I am nearly finished with the devotional I’ve been reading, and decided it was time to create an art page to complete my study. I began by meditating on John 15, and writing it out long-hand over a page prepped with gesso:
My first reaction is, “My handwriting is terrible!”. It is. Really. But that wasn’t the point. Fortunately, much of this will be covered up when I am done. But I will still know it is there. There is something to be said about journaling the Word of God. I can’t explain, but believe totally, He somehow writes it more deeply into our hearts. The act of writing it out word for word impresses it upon us in ways we miss in reading alone.
I wanted to create a vine. Next, I gathered all kinds of random vine-looking green papers and washi tapes from my stash:
I literally just make a pile on top of my page to sort through. Side note, my desk is a disaster during this step. But I find I like to work from an over-abundance of choices. I keep a scrap box (actually, boxes….I need more than one) next to my desk. I just dump leftovers into it. The scrap boxes are my first go-to when I start a new page.
I selected and glued down my tissue papers, string, washi, etc…. until I was happy with it:
I also added a thin layer of gesso in the gaps. I left the words, “I am the True Vine” on the top left and “I am the Vine” on the mid-right. This directs the start and flow of my vine. I love, love, love the green vine lokta paper. I got it last weekend on clearance at Blick art supply in Columbus. My family was gracious enough to let me stop in there on our way to the zoo. See how the black and white chevron washi tape directs the eye along the vine? This was an important foundational step before adding paint.
My vine went through many iterations in the next steps. I will spare you the fifty pictures, but had trouble deciding what color I wanted the background to be. I first tried dark blue to add shadows. Then I outlined the leaves with golden high-flow chartreuse …love this stuff! I often highlight with it because it is so brilliant that little bits of it still show through after many other layers of paint. But this was “the ugly phase” of my page. I didn’t like the blue. So, I added another thin layer of gesso and then tried brilliant purple. I loved the purple with the green. It did a nice job creating shadows and outlining the leaves and flow of my vine:
It should be noted there are a couple other products in play in the above photo. By this point, I had added an antique white Shiva oil stick to the background, and then yellow ochre. I played around with the oil sticks and the purple until I liked the mix. I decided I liked some white, and only adding the yellow around the curves of the vine. Otherwise, I lost its definition. I also used a white fine liner to outline the vine and each leaf. I like to have multiple thin lines vs. one solid line around. I think it adds more character. Here is a close up of my finished vine:
I used the green lokta paper as the main part of each leaf with heavy outlines. The other two things I used to add line and shadow details were my black stabilo pencil and a dark green acrylic ink. If you look at the leaf above, you can see both of these. I added a line of dark green ink down the center of each leaf and near the top, where it connects to the vine. I also used the green ink along the vine. I just love how the lokta paper and the chevron washi tape look in the finished vine. What do you think? It makes me happy! And I even left some of my own handwriting over top! I went over the words with a black water-based Sharpie paint pen , and added a few swirly edges to some letters.
And on the other side of the page, I used a black fine liner to add, “Abide in Me” and “John 15” around the vine:
Overall, I am very happy with the depth and detail of my vine. But what I love most is that my page reinforces all I have been thinking about lately in what it means to abide in Christ. Right down to the Word embedded in the page…a symbolic picture of abiding, and beautiful reminder for me to take to heart.
This is to me the joy and meaning of art.