It is Holy Week and Christ holds out His hand drawing us close to walk with Him.
Debby Topliff, an artist along the Western Michigan coast, delves into Scripture holding a paintbrush and invites us to see this Story fresh.
This is a 4 minute Vimeo video with Jars of Clay providing the music. (song used with permission.)
These images are part of a large painting (diptych) of the whole Gospel of Mark. I call my method of studying the Bible visual lectio divina. In this process I first read a portion of Scripture, then use paper and pencil to capture all the details of the passage in a simple form—both to visualize the story and find ways to help myself remember.
When I’ve completed an entire section—or in my case a whole book—I use my sketches to create a painting. This next step of adding color, constructing the setting, seeing connections between stories and scenes, draws me deeper into the reality of what I’m depicting, and into the lives of actual people who lived thousands of years ago. Because the subject is not only history of people, but God making himself known within history, this experience of “seeing” the Word in symbols and colors has a profound effect on me as a participant in it.
The people—Peter, Paul, John the Baptist, and most precious of all, Jesus—become as real to me as my own family and friends. Their suffering, their joy, their relationships, their wisdom teach me and become part of me. I move into their lives by painting them and they move into mine.
As with any art form, elements emerge that are beyond the intentions or skills of the artist. For example, as I watch this Holy Week video, I’m struck that Peter’s clothing is the same color as the rooster. Not only does that pairing reinforce Jesus’ prediction of Peter’s denial, but also prompts me to contemplate times Peter was one who “crowed.”
When I have a painting of an entire book before me, the colors, shapes (a friend pointed out how the houses look like tombs), body language, and relationship of images continue to draw me deeper into the story and closer to the Author who wants to reveal his treasures to me.
Debby holds this gift with open hands and would like it to be spread wide to friends and used within churches. Visit Debby’s site and check out her resources for the full Book of Mark, Acts and opening wide the mystery of the book of Revelation as well.