Saturday, September 20, 2014

Bible Journaling - getting started

I started art journaling in my Bible recently, and just wanted to put everything I've learned in a blog post for others who may be interested in doing the same thing.

** If you're not a Bible reader but you've got a journal with thin pages, or you think you might like to respond creatively on the pages of another type of book, I hope you'll find my product suggestions helpful as well.

It took me a while to push past the fear of messing up or not doing it 'pretty'... I find though that most art jumps that I am afraid of turn out to be very rewarding when I do actually go for it. Mixed media was one of those jumps, if that's any indicator!  I love this method. As you can well imagine, I'm a visual learner and I like to work out my thoughts and emotions visually, especially in words and in color. Word pictures are very moving to me, and I love the ability to respond to what I'm reading visually or in imagery. Others who are journaling in their Bibles are choosing a verse and creating word art in the margin. It's obviously very personal and each style and response is very different. If you'd like to be a part of a private group of Bible Journalers on Facebook, you can find more information HERE. (That group is getting large... which is wonderful but can be overwhelming too. Up to you.)

I'll share links throughout the post - please know that these are affiliate links, but all are products that I've used and know and love. If you click through and purchase, these companies will kick a small commission my way, which helps me keep my studio and supplies up to date. Thank you!

I did purchase a new Bible for this purpose, the ESV Single Column Journaling Bible. There are wide margin and journaling Bibles available in other versions as well, if the ESV isn't your translation of choice (it's new to me). Scroll down on the linked page above for other cover and price options as well.

The book itself measures about 7"x8", and at 1-1/2" thick I think it's a nice size for all the extra space they've added inside! The margins are 1-7/8" wide from the edge of the paper to the edge of the text, with more room in the more poetic sections. Lots of room to art. :) I love the lines in the margins too - even if I write larger or smaller, the parallel lines keep me from going all crookedy.

The font size is a bit small, 7.5 point - but not unreadable. It's fine for me. The pages feel thicker than the larger format study Bible and bilingual Bible I've been using. I'm pleased with the quality of the book itself.

I started by creating a test page in the back of my Bible. Here's what that looks like, on the front and back... this is scanned directly and not adjusted so you can see my notes and the effects from each medium on the reverse.

I had an idea of what products would work best, and I didn't test products that I knew would bleed through. Some are using wet media to color around their journaling, and I've chosen not to. Here are my product recommendations, and I've starred my favorites. In case it might be helpful, I've collected them all into one store page on Amazon - that's HERE.


It seems that pigment pens are the best for writing on these thinner pages. I tested one oil-based pen and it did bleed through. These were my favorites:

* Staedtler Pigment Liner Sketch Pens
* Uni Pin Drawing Pens
* Sakura 30064 6-Piece Pigma Micron Pens
Ohto Graphic Liner Needle Point Drawing Pen - Pigment Ink - Pack of 6 (I like how this writes, but it does have a ball point instead of the fine felt tip)
Sakura Souffle Assorted Color 3-Dimensional Opaque Ink Pen Set (just another fun medium to work with - the white shows up well over other coloring)


Memento Luxe Mixed Media Inkpads (many vibrant colors to choose from!)
Versamagic chalk ink pad (I love the option of the Dew Drop pads - there are some beautiful soft colors in their line as well)

If you're afraid of messing up your Bible because you can't draw.......... you can stamp or stencil! I found the inks above work well on the pages. Versamark ink did show through, as did Versafine. As an alternative to Versamark, I found I could use the white Memento Luxe for stamping, and brush pastels over it for a softer look. Here's a stamped image from Unity Stamps.

Coloring media:

I wanted to use dry media in my art, and not incorporate anything wet or that would bleed through. This is what is working for me:

* PanPastels
Polychromos Pencils
* Prismacolor Pencils
Derwent Watercolor Pencils
Inktense Pencils
Derwent water-soluble graphite

(Any of the pencils mentions here can be used dry or blended with odorless mineral spirits. The OMS does not cause the pigment to bleed through, though you may notice some slight darkening on the back side of the page for a few minutes as it dries. Once it dries, there's no sign of it. I tried the SU blender pen and did see some color showing through. It works, but not the best.) 
Lightly sponged inks (even dye inks)

Oil pastels
Faber-Castell Gelatos 

You'll notice on my test page that I have a patch of clear gesso and a patch done with acrylic paints and a Gelli Plate. Those do work as well, though I didn't like the texture left by the gesso and I didn't like the way it pulled. If you're comfortable using wet media, try out some techniques on a page in the back of your Bible. The gel plate worked well, but I'll save that for a page where I won't be doing much writing, since acrylic paint is pretty opaque. I'd like to get the smallest plate, too, for easier handling. I'll share more in another blog post when I've played around with paint and gel printing a little more.


A few others things that I keep handy:

Blending Stumps #4 (for blending pencils or pastels)
Pentel Clic Eraser (for stray marks - a smaller eraser is less likely to 'grab' and wrinkle a page)
Krylon Workable Fixatif Spray Clear (to seal in coloring that may tend to smear, such as pastels or pencil - the spray also gives a little 'tooth' for additional color layering)
Sofft Art Sponges, Assorted, 4-Pack (these are great for use with the PanPastels - these are the medium sized ones)
Shurtape Frog Tape Multi-Use Delicate Surface Paint Block Tape, 1-Inch x 60-Yard (for masking or attaching journaling cards or other ephemera - if you're going to be removing it, be sure to get the one formulated for delicate surfaces - it's great!)
Plaid Simply Stencil Sheets (for masking off large areas or cutting stencils by hand or with dies) - or use commercial stencils to add designs or images to your pages - here's a page combining commercial and die cut stencils.

 I die cut a couple of word stencils so that I could mark themes or favorite words easily. Here's one...

  This new ABC set from Impression Obsession worked best for me, and I'll share some tips for lining up the letters in another post.

Whew! If this is something that interests you, I hope I've given you enough information to get you going. If you have questions, leave them in the comments below and I'll answer them in a separate post.
Thanks for stopping by!


  1. I love how you tested different medias in the back of your journal. Sheesh, I would not have thought of that so I definitely will *if* I ever jump on board - I would love to, though! I love all your pages.

  2. This is fabulous! I LOVE it!!!

  3. I love this idea Dina! Thanks so much for sharing your wealth of knowledge with everyone...may help keep us from making some huge blunders on our brand new Bibles!!! That would so crush me!!
    I love your pages you've shared! Wow. This Bible is going to be a family treasure!!! Love this idea!

  4. What a wonderful post! You've given so much great info here. I really like how your bible journal is going...thanks so much for sharing.

  5. Dina this is fabulous. I love how your pages look. I am a little intimidated but I may jump in and when I do it will be with both feet and running thanks to your sharing.

  6. Oh wow! What a beautiful Bible! It's every bit as pretty as the illuminated ones, I think. I am not an artist of any sort, so I probably wouldn't attempt this, but what an absolutely fabulous idea this is---a wonderful way to deal with the Scripture.

  7. Thanks Dina! This is helpful. Though I’m not doing Bible Journalling - I just started doing an art journal based on a year long Bible Study we’re in and I’m very much at the experiment/beginning stages.

  8. What a beautiful way to put the Word to heart by giving it life in Art. God's art work is astounding and to use the creativity He gave you is a thing to behold. I love it. I saw when you altered the hymnbook and have been chewing on that. Now this.... my mind is drawing to that too. Thanks so much!

  9. GASP! Would never have thought to do this - TFS Dina!!!

  10. Love this. I was enjoying the posts on your altered hymnal. Did you ever do any more with it? I would love to see more pages.

  11. Dina, what a fantastic post. Thank you for sharing all of your ideas, color mediums and accessories. I was fascinated. Big hugs!

  12. Oh I wish I had your talent. This would make an awesome present for my sister. I used to do altered books years ago, but this just isn't quite the same thing. Your page is beautiful, Dina. I'd love to see your cotinued work.

  13. Oh wow! That looks amazing. Love your lighthouse.

    Do you fixate the pan pastels? Or is it a type of pastel that doesn't rub of? (I'm having 'normal' pastels, but they'll continue to 'give off' color to the other paper..)

    I think I'm going to try OMS soon. I do have a bit in my craft stash but was afraid it would bleed. I tried gesso and watercoloring now, but both really wrinkle my pages and I'm still looking for something else.

    Your pages look beautiful!

  14. I love how you are integrating your creative journey with your life journey with God. I think these pages will be very precious to you as you look at them later in life.

  15. Thanks for sharing this Dina. Love your pages that you've created and thanks for sharing your testing of the different mediums/products. Definitely something I'm going to have to try! Elizabeth

  16. Oh my goodness! Beautiful, beautiful work. You say it took you some while to 'push past the fear...' I have yet to do this in order to 'jump' into mixed media. I've dabbled a bit recently and THAT is largely due to your inspiration and the wonderful projects on your blog. Your product advice is much appreciated and thank you for making me a little braver!

  17. Dina,

    I cannot thank you enough for this post! I have just recently started to try this myself and had no idea what mediums would work safely or not. I had signed up for the FB group, but frankly it is so large I was overwhelmed and gave up. I would be so grateful if you would keep updating this information as you discover more yourself. I love the pages you have done, I have the one stamp from Unity and never thought of using it in my bible, but it works great for that as you have shown. I am going to print off your information and try to figure out what where to start so I can get going.

    God bless you,

  18. You are the bomb dot com!!!! I had planned on doing a blog post just like this once I got my Bible and experimented but you've saved me a lot of time and trouble. Thanks so much!!! I am so happy I have this to reference once my Bible comes! Wow. I love how thorough it is! I would have never thought to use OMS but I do have some so I will try that with my watercolor pencils. I want to stamp and color the images too.

  19. Your scripture at the bottom Hebrews 3:13 says "Encourage one another". I just want you to know you have definitely encouraged me. Thanks so much for this post! God Bless.

  20. thanks I would love to do this .I am sure it would be a encouragement to read and study my bible more
    thanks I can't wait to get started

  21. This post is beautiful and so informative! Thank you so much for sharing your process and product suggestions. Many blessings to you!!!

  22. Much appreciated! I've just started painting on my bible, have done 3 pages in 3 days! Love it! Thanks for sharing your experiments! Most of the materials are not available here in the Philippines, or the prices are quite prohibitive, but using acrylic paint and controlling the water has worked for me. :^) patsy

  23. Thanks so much for sharing you've answer all of my creative questions as I'm new to this method of study like 2 days. The FB group is awesome too.

  24. What a wonderful way to not only read your bible,but it is also a way to worship the Lord. By drawing and creativity comes from a heart that longs to praise him even in this way. Thank you! So excited to start: )

  25. Where did u purchase ur Bible?

  26. Jenny Bateman3/09/2015 2:58 PM

    Thanks for all this advice, Dina. I am expecting my ESV Art Journal Bible to be delivered tomorrow and am looking forward to trying out my Micron pens, Staedtler finel liners, crayons (both aquarelle and 'ordinary') on the back page/s of the Bible. Sooo excited!!!!

  27. How sweet are you to share this information. The post was very comprehensive and I really appreciated all links you provided. As a new Christian I love spending as much time as I can in His Word and this combines my love for art with it. Thank you oh so much.

    God Bless!

  28. In my quiet times and journaling I see pictures. I do a sorry job of illustrating what I see but I keep trying. I felt led to bible journaling on Pinterest today. I hope I can progress! Will get the bible suggested to try it!

  29. JUST BEATIFUL DINA!!!! Amazing what you can do! I like how your coloring didn't over-power the words/script on the page too! THANK YOU for sharing!!! ;)

  30. Your Bible is outstanding. I wish I had more talent, way too lacking to try this. I have in the past been creative in Bible study books for answers to questions were a little too personal and paper crafts took the place of the answer. It's a way of participating without sharing more than you want to.

  31. Fabulous Information. I so want to do this. I have one question. Copic SP liner pens...would you comment on those? Do they bleed too much? Thanks so much Dina.

  32. I'm searching online for a Bible to start this process. I have noticed some new ones coming out in September & December. I wonder if they will be better? The one I think I may order is like yours, with the leaves. Could others comment that have been doing this awhile if the one with the stretchy band on it makes a difference when closing. Also does your Leaf Bible lay flat? Thanks for sharing!

  33. I am considering trying this. I love your work! Thank you for taking your time to share this wealth of information.

  34. How amazing! God has blessed you with artistic talents and you have blessed so many of us by sharing in great detail how to reproduce the marvelous techniques. Thank you. I can't wait to get started.

  35. Thank You so much for posting this. =)
    Very Helpful.

  36. Very informative! Thank you so much for the tips. If this is your early work, I'm looking forward to later postings.

  37. Thank you so much, Dina! I'm sure I will be back to this page many times!

  38. Just found this post through a search on SCS. I have my first ever journaling Bible, and knew I could count on an artist for recommendations! Your samples are wonderful.