Guidelines and Suggestions for the Christian Artist

by Robert Flores

The purpose of this treatise is to edify fellow brothers in Christ in the area of art. The following points originally grew out of some ideas that I thought would be helpful to Christian artists as well as myself. The basic theme of this essay, to keep in mind is: art is to glorify and honor God. He has bestowed this talent on us, and our responsibility is to glorify His name (Psalm 86:12; all scripture quotations will be taken from the King James Version). I will not discuss whether you have God's gift of art or not. You either know you have it or you know you don't have it. But rather I suggest many points that God has taught me Himself. I am in no way implying that I am an authority on how to create Christian art, nor suggesting that I have the final say, but I am merely trying to educate Christian brothers and sisters in the tremendous opportunity God has given each of us. These points regarding art, and the process thereof have been a tremendous blessing to me, and I hope they also will be to you. So, without further introduction, let's begin.

What is "Art"? Webster's Dictionary defines it: 1. The activity of using imagination and skill to create beautiful things. Works, as paintings, that result from this creativity. 2. A field or category of artistic activity, as literature, music, or ballet. We Christians can take that definition a step further by saying art is all of that and for the purpose of glorifying God. So, How do we use art to glorify God? Well, first of all, I think we need to look at the way God used art.

• God used mud to make man a living creature.(Genesis 2:7, 1 Corinthians 11:7 )

• Jeremiah's clay pot (used to show people to repent Jeremiah 19)

• Ezekiel's clay tablet (used for prophesying God's Word)(Ezekiel 4)

• Solomon's temple (used to glorify God through its beauty) (1 Kings 5-8)

• Ark of the Covenant (used to remind the Jews of the presence of the Lord) (Exodus 25)

• Tablets of stone (God used to give the Law).

But as anyone can see, art was used of God in many ways, which we are to imitate: We can use it for apologetics , to evangelize , to instruct, to edify, to build up, to encourage: all these give glory to God, the Great Artist. If God has called you to be an artist, then you have a responsibility to serve Him with that gift. (and, as a side note: Yes, it is possible to glorify God by doing secular art for others. Because, by your talent you have a chance to show unbelievers where you got your talent from. But, we'll talk about that later in point #23).

Now that we know what art is, let's look at these 23 points to help us in our quest to create art that glorifies God.

1. Don't compare your art to any other artist (especially not unbelievers!). If you do, you'll either be humbled or you'll be puffed up. If you see a fellow Christian producing fantastic art for God's glory: don't get bitter. Don't get jealous because you don't have his talent. He's your brother in Christ. We're all in the same family, pushing towards that same goal: Glorify God. He has given us each different gifts. "If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling?

But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased Him" ( 1 Corinthians. 12:17-18). If we all had the same amount of ability and gifts, God sure wouldn't be a God of diversity, and the body of Christ would be in bad shape. We'd be walking clones of each other. God never intended us to compare ourselves to others (1 Corinthians:6-7). Don't even compare yourself to artists with B.A.'s or Master's Degrees. Degrees do nothing for your talent. God gives His talent to whom He wills, and God's talent doesn't need to be put through a four-year university to be "refined". Christian artists who compare themselves to the "educated", secular artist of the world are deceived, as I was. Our eyes need not be on the world, but on God.

2. For the king said to Joab the captain of the host, which was with him, Go now through all the tribes of Israel, from Dan even to Beer-sheba, and number ye the people, that I may know the number of the people. And Joab said unto the king, Now the LORD thy God add unto the people, how many soever they be, an hundredfold, and that the eyes of my lord the king may see it: but why doth my lord the king delight in this thing? II Sam 24:2-3

Don't count quantity; Count quality. Numbers do nothing but depress you. But quality is an ever increasing measurement of excellence. David wanted to know the number of his soldiers, even though he had the God of the universe on his side. I felt like David in my Freshman year of college. I read somewhere that young Picasso once filled 17 sketch books in a four month period. I thought "Wow, I wonder if I could do that." I started counting pages in my sketchbook (60 pages per month, etc.), marking each day's progress ("only 5 hours of drawing today!"), and drawing anywhere and everywhere I could. I felt that the more pages of sketches I had, the better my chances at succeeding in the art world. It did nothing for me, except waste my time and depress me. It took me a while for me to realize I was wasting a lot of paper and not getting anywhere. I began drawing less, and putting more faith in God, and the quality of "my" art began to increase . As illogical as it seems: Faith in God and drawing less actually increased the quality of "my" art. God taught me that if you have faith in your own talent, you will not get anywhere. Quantity does nothing for you! You will never do enough art to get better! You will never be at the point where you can say: " Sigh.... finally.... My art is perfect. I can rest now." Your art will never be perfect for the simple fact that humans are not perfect. So, you may have to do what I had to do: put down your perfectionist ideologies, step back and let God do His work. Art is a learning process, in which God teaches you that quality is far greater than quantity. Guess what, my art career is no longer based on something as superficial as the number of sketches I've done in my lifetime. My career and success is based on Christ Jesus and what He wants to do through my life.

3. Go to now, ye that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain: Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. James 4:13-14

Don't set goals for yourself. "What?!", you say. God's gift of art isn't on your time schedule. It's on His. Art isn't something that can be planned out and charted. I used to set goals like "I will have the muscles of the arm memorized in a month". Or, "I'll have this painting done within 6 weeks. "After the goal date had not been met, God seemed to be telling me that I would only get done what He wanted done, when He chose to. Needless to say, setting goals didn't last long. Don't enslave yourself by setting dates and goals. Use goals only as a direction of where to go, and what to do, but not as an ultimatum.

4. "And while the children of Israel were in the wilderness, they found a man that gathered sticks upon the Sabbath day. And they that found him gathering sticks brought him unto Moses and Aaron, and unto all the congregation. And they put him in ward, because it was not declared what should be done to him. And the LORD said unto Moses, The man shall be surely put to death: all the congregation shall stone him with stones without the camp. And all the congregation brought him without the camp, and stoned him with stones, and he died; as the Lord commanded Moses." Numbers 15:32-36

Do you feel like you're picking up sticks seven days a week? i.e. doing art seven days a week. Here's a suggestion: Take sabbaticals from doing art. Set a day (or more) each week in which you don't do any art. This gives you a break to think of what God would have you to do, but also refreshes you for the next time you do do art again. God gave us a Sabbath, because he knew humans would work themselves to the bone, and to show us that we couldn't keep the Law. If you're doing art seven days a week (or anything for that matter), it's only a matter of time that you get bitter and exhausted from that activity. Humans need a rest from their daily activities. We have rest in Jesus Christ (Matthew11:28). The rest of the world doesn't have that rest. You will not die if you don't do art everyday (I used to think that!) You will not lose your talent, if you don't paint or draw everyday. I seriously doubt that a 24 hour period will cripple your ability to hold a paintbrush ever again. I don't think that setting one day a week aside is asking too much. This isn't about being put under the Law again, this is about discipline and how not to let art control your life. It's easy for art to become your god. So set aside a day. It doesn't even have to be the same day every week! It's hard at first , but you'll get used to it. And you will find that God will bless your loyalty to Him and not to the god of art.

5. "But shun profane and vain babblings for they will increase unto more ungodliness." (2 Timothy 2:16) "Turn away mine eyes from beholding vanity;" (Psalm 119:37)

Give up reading secular publications, comics, comic strips, magazines, T.V., movies, etc. habitually. Anything that one does religiously, at a certain time, on a certain day, is sin if it takes you away from God. Christian media, on the other hand, should be embraced. Now, secular entertainment, done in carefulness, is all right, (watching the news or reading the newspaper) but you shouldn't submerge yourself in the world's crud: "Garbage in. Garbage out." If you watch secular TV all day and listen to secular music all the time- guess what? You're gonna start acting and thinking secular things! If you do it to get ideas, I have news for you: God's Word has lots of ideas for art. ( See # 22) Also, pay attention to what music you listen to. (Eph 5:19-20) When using "your" art talent for God, it would seem to me that worldly music would be a hindrance to the process. I mean, what can secular music do for you? What can it really do for you? If you're working for the Spirit, by the Spirit , then your mind should be focused on God , whether in thought, or through Christian radio programs, or through Christian music. Now, I'm not saying you can't create Christian art listening to secular music, all I'm saying is that it would seem like a stumbling block. I want people to think before they go about creating for the glory of God. These are only suggestions.

6. "He that speaketh of himself seeketh his own glory: but He that seeketh His glory That sent Him, the same is true, and no unrighteousness is in Him.." (John 7:18) "For all flesh is as grass and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away:..."(I Pet 1:24)

Give glory to God every time someone compliments you. Never take credit for "your" talent. How can you take credit for something that isn't yours? Once you realize that "your" art talent is really a gift from God, as your body is (1 Corinthians 6:19-20) You'll begin to take pleasure in giving credit where credit is due. Life is too short to glorify yourself. The glory you give God will last forever.

7. "In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you."(1 Thessalonians 5:18)

When an art piece turns out good (or, even when it doesn't), give thanks to God. And if you find yourself giving thanks to God too much for good artwork, give Him thanks for your talent. Or Give Him thanks for your arms and muscles and bone that hold the paintbrush. Give Him thanks for eternal life. Give Him thanks for everything He's done for you, and everything He's not done for you. Our Father deserves thanks. Why don't you tell Him?

8. "Teach me to do Thy will; for Thou art my God:..."(Ps 143:10)

It is God's will when to let you produce art. Realize that God may not want you to draw every time you sit down, with that intention. He may not want you to do art at certain times. Learn to listen to God-and if you've been drawing or painting for 5 minutes or so, and nothing is turning out right, consider that He wants you to be doing something else "right here and now". Don't be stubborn and think, "I am going to finish this: Because you're just going to waste your time. 9. "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." (Rom. 10:17)

Believe that God will make "your" art as good as He wants to. Put your faith in God for Him to make the best use of your art. He's the one that gave you the talent, and He's the One Who will take it places where you never dreamed of. He will use you and "your" art as a tool for His plan. Just be patient. He will let you know in due time. Remember that no art you make is by accident. Even "failures" aren't even failures, because ... "we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose" (Rom 8:28) He doesn't let anything happen unless He allows it to. When you rely on your own power, nothing comes out right.

10. "... for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content."(Philippians 4:11)

Don't get angry if mistakes occur in your art. Don't let mistakes or people or circumstances control your emotions. Your emotions should be directly centered on what God would want you to feel. "Rejoice and again I say rejoice". Paul said to rejoice even when times of distress. He was in prison when he wrote that, so the least we can do is be content with adversity, circumstances, and mistakes. And remember that no art you make is by accident. So called "failures" aren't even failures. He doesn't let anything happen unless He allows it to.

11. "And through thy knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died. But when ye sin so against the brethren and wound their weak conscience, ye sin against Christ. Wherefore, if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend. " (1 Corinthians 8:12-13)

It goes without saying that pornography, erotica, and X-rated "adult" art is inappropriate for a Christian to create. If God is living inside you, (1 Cor 6:19) he will not tell you to draw some erotic, naked woman, or some sick, demented, act of violence. And if it's part of your job, then quit your job. You don't need that type of work. Now, about the human body. Yes, it is beautiful, and yes I know that God created it, and yes Michelangelo and others have propagated the use of nudes in non-erotic art. But a Christian, though He is free in Christ (Gal 5:1, I Pet 2:16) needs to think of the weaker brother, the unbeliever, or any other audience, in the possibility of making them sin as a result of your art. We are above the law, but if a nude woman painting is going to cause a man to sin, You will be held accountable.(2 Cor 5:10) This is a very serious subject: Don't let "freedom of speech" and "freedom in Christ" get in the way of good taste and what God would have you to do. If in doubt, ask this question: "Would Jesus do this?" We are to emulate Christ if we are called "Christian". He is the final authority, for if God wouldn't paint that picture, or draw that scene, or sculpt that figure, then what are we doing it for?

12. "For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God." (John 12:43)

Don't seek the praise of men, but rather God' s praise. Chances are that your art will out live you. What do you want people to remember you as: a flesh-driven artist, or a Christian artist? Friendship with the world lasts only but a lifetime, but friendship and praise from God lasts all eternity. (To get praise from God ...What, an honor!) "And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men." (Colossians 3:23)

13. "Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching. ." (Heb 10:25)

Seek the fellowship of fellow Christians and especially Christian artists. Build each other up. Ideas and encouragement are results of a fellowship group. It benefits not only you but others as well. A fellowship of fellow brothers brings joy , but also glorifies God.

14. Don't limit yourself by media. Try different mediums (scratch board, oil, watercolor, pastel charcoal, etc.) But don't go to the other extreme either. Don't do weird stuff for the sake of getting attention. Don't do art for art's sake: Do it for God's sake. See, we have a tremendous advantage over the world: we don't need to get attention from the world, we have the undivided attention of the Creator of the world. Unbelieving artists try to have shock value, because they have security in nothing else. The whole motive of artists, these days, is for the sole purpose of being outrageous, obnoxious, and incomprehensible. (See Jackson Polluck's painting, Lucipher. I can't put these paintings on this essay without violating copyright laws, but just imagine different colors of enamel splattered on a giant canvas). The world thrives on the modern art movement. Ever since Picasso, artists have tried to emulate him by doing the most outrageous art to bring attention, fortune and fame. But no matter how much joy their art brings, they will have an emptiness until they accept Christ. We need not follow the world system in producing 2-D or 3-D specimens of jargon ("Progress is from Leonardo to Pollock?") We produce art for the Creator of art. God's art is not incomprehensible, offensive or cumbersome masses of junk, they have design, purpose, and aesthetic values, which we need to follow. When God when man, He didn't make a "Picassoesque human". God's art has symmetry and value, and function. Now, I know that there is an air of "intelligentsia", or "sophistication" when discussing incomprehensible art (Rathko, de Kooning , Frankenthaler, Schnabel), but don't believe it. Art is for the purpose of nothing nowadays , and the artists and the patrons have no idea what it's all about, either. They just make believe that they do. ("Oh, you just don't understand 'high art'." Ok, Mr. Patron, You tell me what Schnabel's The Walk Home is about. Where's the walk? Where's the home ?" (no response)). To imagine this painting just picture pieces of broken plates glued on a canvas and with paint over them. Next point: Don't limit yourself by style, i.e. Neo- classical, Manga, American, "Los Angelesian". God isn't limited by style. Don't confine yourself to cartooning, or realistic portrayals , or scenery, or still life, or comics, or sculpture: try all and when you find what you like, all the other things you tried will help you.

15. "For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure." (Philippians 2:13)

Learn to listen to God, and not your own"great ideas". Because your Agreat ideas A will be utter failures if it's not in God's will. I know! It had taken me 4 months to get a David and Goliath watercolor drawn.(it was a really violent drawing and big at that) but when I applied water to it, the whole paper buckled out from underneath the making tape. I tried to get it flat again (ironed it), but it was useless. The whole paper was warped. This unfinished piece (which I still keep for reminders) testifies to the fact when God doesn't want something done, He won't let it get done. Needless to say, I will never do another bloody, violent piece again. So, as you can see, even "failures" really aren't failures. It would've been a failure if I didn't learn anything. But I did learn a lesson from God for once. So, if you feel God leading you to do a project, pray about it and seriously consider what you should do. Be open-minded as to what He would want you to do. The worst God could ask you to do is the best we could do apart from Him.

16. "Let everyone of us please his neighbour for his good to edification. For even Christ pleased not Himself...." (Rom 15:2-3a)

Art isn't just for your own personal pleasure. You need to show your God-glorifying art to the world. Art isn't to get your needs met, or for your own self-interest. Art is meant to be shown to believers and unbelievers alike. The art needs to be a blessing to others. It can be used to evangelize, or show a truth that someone may never have seen before. I figure we have four main audiences for our art: God (to glorify him), ourselves (to take pleasure in creating the art), other Christians (to edify), unbelievers ( to evangelize).

17. "To whom then will ye liken GOD? or what likeness will ye compare unto him?" (Isaiah 40:18) "To whom will ye liken Me, and make Me equal, and compare Me, that We may be like? (Isaiah 46:5)

Never draw God, Jesus, or any other supernatural entity (or even supernatural events to a certain extent.) Stay away from Revelation's intriguing mind pictures. I'll tell you why: God chose pictures to be imagined in your mind: not to be given a visual (or realistic) interpretation of a symbol (if it is one.) Supernatural pictures turn non-believers off and give them the alibi they need to disregard the Bible as fictitious fables and such. (And Satan would just love for that to happen! Just like he loves people thinking of him as a man in red, with a pitch fork and horns, which was propagated by. . . a picture!) Pictures have the potential for truth or lies. Guess what, the devil uses pictures too. Not only is a representation of God in picture form a sin ( Rom 1:23, Exodus 20:4), But it seems to me , that giving a visual representation to symbols, or non symbols is a violation of what God intended. (Now, I'm not saying other subjects, or events shouldn't be represented in visual form, in fact I think artwork of many less-known passages would be fantastic, but only the supernatural should't be. Psalms and Proverbs are wonderful ideas for an artist's rendition. I'm only asking you to consider these points you don't have to agree with me, for none of these points are explicitly stated, only implied. If God would have wanted the Bible to be a picture book, He would've made it that way. If He wanted it as a chorus, or a sculpture, He would've chosen those mediums. (And don't kid yourself into thinking that God couldn't have risen up artists instead of writers. For, if God wanted it in visual form, He could've "God-breathed" the work of 1,000 Leonardos if He so desired.) But He did not. He chose the written word as His most effective, less tedious communication. Michelangelo was wrong to paint God the Father, because now people have an in-grained picture of what God the Father "looks like." (And it makes you wonder how 2nd Century Christians ever got on without a picture of Jesus Christ. Pictures didn't matter to them , and it shouldn't matter to us. They cared about the Jesus presented in the four accounts of His life, and that was that.) They will either choose to believe that or write it off as fiction. God never told Michelangelo to paint the Father. Nor to paint Jesus Christ judging on the Last Day. It's good art. Sure it is. It glorifies God. Sure it does. But God never told him to paint that. The truth of the matter is that if you could see God with your human eyes, you'd be vaporized by His holiness. "No man hath seen God at any time." ( I John 4:12) See what I mean? The pictures on the Sistine Chapel gives a false impression of God. It brings God down to human reason, conjecture, and idea. And that is wrong. God needs to be in the hearts and minds of the individuals who follow Him: not some painting, or statue. In fact, people will eventually start worshiping the art rather than the Creator. (And that is exactly what happened in the Medieval Roman Catholic church, and continues even today to a certain extent). People tend to worship what they see more than what they don't see in violation of Exodus 20:4. Since they can't see God, they want Him in picture form to "have more faith." But you see, " cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." (Rom. 10:17) "For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for?" (Rom 8:24) It's just safer to stay away from painting supernatural events, or subjects. Let each person imagine the supernatural in their own minds. I don't want to think of God as a cloud or a lightning bolt. And just because you do doesn't mean you propagate that imagery! I'm in no way condoning self-interpretation. There is only one interpretation of the Bible, and that's what God says it is. (2 Pet 1:20). But self-imagination-that's part of the beauty and discovery of reading the Bible for yourself. That's why books have always been popular since man began to write. Our minds transfer letters to pictures in the imagination of the individual. It's a fantastic experience reading about Elijah's fiery chariot, or the resurrection of Lazarus, or the locusts in Revelation Chapter Nine: But don't ruin the wonder of a supernatural event or entity, by painting it! Don't draw an angel with wings! Don't draw an angel without wings! (Colossians 2:18) We are going to be so disillusioned when we see the real thing in heaven. Don't draw the Savior, either. Don't even try drawing the back of Jesus' head, because the hairstyle He had will contribute to the generic Jesus icon we've all come to expect since whenever the first Jesus drawing was done. (Now, I will not call you a heretic, or a blasphemer if you do draw a picture of Jesus Christ, or the Father, or the Holy Spirit (which is kind of hard to draw ) I won't call you a heretic. If He's a Spirit , so are the other two persons of the Trinity. And so far as I can tell, human eyes have never seen a spirit. There is a thing called Christian liberty. Remember, these are only suggestions. But ... I think you should seriously consider what God would have you to do. Maybe God knew that humans would begin worshiping the art instead of Him. Maybe He knew the focus would be on the pictures and not on a real relationship with Christ. Maybe that's why God never condones pictures. If God didn't find it important to tell us what color Jesus' skin was, or what hairstyle He had or what color His eyes were, or how tall He was, or how deep His voice was, then it shouldn't be important to us. And we most certainly should not try to guess as to what features the Savior had. The important thing is Who He was, what He did, and how He did it - not how straight His nose was, and not what size sandal He wore. If God wanted to show us how He looked like-He could've told us, or painted a picture Himself, but He didn't. So, how can we represent the Savior? Whether in a symbol, an icon, or a picture. And each of those things lead to tradition. And tradition is hard to get rid of. The urge to draw the Savior is powerful! I know! But I've seen many ingenious ways of getting around the problem of drawing Jesus. I've seen art with a silhouette of Him or a shoal over His head. Or, He was in the shade or a close up of a hand gesture or an eye. When any of these techniques are used there is no doubt in my mind who is being depicted. Therefore, we need not fret over ever painting Jesus' face for there are many techniques of showing Jesus without showing Him. I know this may upset many of you , may even shock some of you. I might have even ridiculed some of your favorite artists (my favorite artist of all time is El Greco, and even he didn't seem to think twice about painting God the Father, Jesus Christ, the ascension of Mary, etc.), but please, fellow Christian listen: We need to stop this representation of the supernatural into the natural. God chose the written word, as His medium to tell of the supernatural. Let's leave it at that.

18. "That no flesh should glory in his presence."(1 Corinthians 1:29)

Here's something to consider: should we sign our works? Who's work is it? Yours or God's? Did God give you the talent to do the art or did you? If you did , go ahead and sign it : put a nice fat signature on it (as big as you want) and don't even bother giving God the glory, because you're obviously a "self-made man" For some reason I think signatures are for ego trips. I just don't think it's right to share in God's glory. "But everyone signs their works!" But, why should we try to emulate the world in putting a signature on a mass-produced piece of art, or an original? We should be different from the world. Having no signatures should be a sense of unification among believers. It would be our identification in the world. But if God gave you the talent, and the means to complete a work of art-how important is it to put your name on it? If you are a Christian , and believe God's Word, then you are God's "instrument". God used "your" mind, arms, hands, fingers, energy, talent to produce a work of art: What part did you have in it? Well, you had the part of a paintbrush, an instrument that is used of Another, to produce art. See, you use a paintbrush, but you are also a "paintbrush" for God to use. Since when has a Windsor & Newton® paintbrush ever started having its name on a painting, or since when has a Berol® pencil been given credit for good style. Only the artist knows how useful his paintbrush is. Likewise, only God knows how useful each of His servants are. You see what I mean? Paul said "For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid upon me, yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel!" (1 Corinthians 9:16). Even though Paul was doing God's will, he had nothing to glory of, because he was supposed to do it. We, as artists have nothing to glory of, for we are God's instruments, as Paul was. So, what's the point of your signature? To give glory to yourself? To show ownership? (Is it really yours?) Michelangelo never signed his works, yet everyone knows a "Michelangelo" when they see one. If people know you and "your" style, then "your" work won't be mistaken. And if not, God knows who the artist is... and that's all that should matter. So don't worry. He won't forget you. (Now of course, if you're turning in a college art final-for goodness sakes-put your name on it! You might need that "A"!) But, it comes down to whether Jesus would sign His name on the artwork. He is the final authority. That's what it boils down to. Until that happens, I think it's pretty arrogant to share in the glory of God's talent, by signing one's name to a work of art, but you will have to decide that.

19. Jesus said unto him, "Thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind." (Matthew 22:37)

Love God. It could possibly be the easiest and the hardest commandment of all. Keep focused on Him, and He will use you and "your" art in ways you never thought imaginable. Someone (I think it was Luther) said "Love God and do whatever you like." 20. "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth." (Gen 1:1)

We need to remember that God is the greatest Artist of all eternity. As we do art, we can only mimic the true Artist. He is the One Who created art. He is the One who created:

• design

• color

• shape

• line

• contour

• space

• form

• volume

• mass

• area

• plane

• axis

• perspective

• proportion

• scale

• light

• shade

• value

• hue

• texture

We are to follow Him as the Creator of all: (Genesis Chapters 1 and 2) God created us as living examples of His talent. He's the One who created our eyes to see art. He's the One who created our hands to touch art. He's the One who created our ears to hear art. We are symmetrical beings who are designed to serve, and love, and worship God Almighty, and we need to keep that in mind, always.

"For if we think we've really found something new in art: A And if any man think that he knoweth any thing, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know." (1 Corinthians 8:2) We need to give thanks to God for giving us what we know. We need to thank Him for such a wonderful discipline in which He created, for the intent of giving Him glory. We should be thankful that He even chose us. (No one else would have wanted a bunch of sinners).

21. Don't do "devotional" art. Drawing at the same time every day makes the art seem routine and bland. It's like reading the Bible: sporadic periods are more beneficial than meeting the "chapter quota" for the day. One learns more when one is really desiring to learn, and one does better quality art when God puts it in your heart to do so at different times. (You can work for one hour, or 10 hours, if God wants you to.) If you think you'll draw at a certain time each day, you're mistaken ( James 4:14). God will allow you to draw on His itinerary; not yours.

22. "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness"...(2 Timothy 3:16)

God's Word provides inspiration. You need ideas for art? God's Word provides tons of ideas for art. There's action stories, love stories, sad stories, and uplifting stories all for us. The Bible has more ideas for art than all the books and newspapers in the world! 23. The art needs to speak for itself, but if it doesn't, you may have to talk about how it glorifies God. For example: Say you paint a landscape. If an unbeliever sees it , he won't know that it glorifies God. Or, if a Christian sees it, he or she may understand that it glorifies God, but may not know that you're a Christian. No one will know if the painting glorifies God unless outwardly noticeable (like El Greco's John the Baptist, there is no mistake that he has used " his" talent for God), or through a caption outside the painting ( in galleries, sometimes a little paragraph tells what it is about, or what the artist was trying to say) or you'll have to do a lot of talking when showing your art to others. Talking to others about "your" art can be a tremendous witnessing opportunity. Also, a painting doesn't have to be religious to glorify a God. A painting of a tree, for example, may be considered secular, but in reality still glorifies God. But it needs to show that purpose whether in content, caption , or communication.

Conclusion: Thank you for taking time to consider these points. I know some may have come as a surprise to you, and others, you may have agreed with. And others, I'm sure I'll be getting some e-mails. The problem with doing a treatise like this is that some people will inevitably take me as an authority on the subject of Christian art and how to produce Christian art. I have mentioned many times throughout this treatise that I am not an authority, and that these points are only suggestions, as the title indicates. I would never look down on any other Christian just because he or she does not agree with me on these points. I only thought they would perhaps be helpful to some Christian artists out there. I like making other people think. That's why I put it on this website. Regardless of your position on any of these points, I appreciate your comments, questions, and objections. Before I end this, I want to leave you with this thought: God came down here, veiled in human flesh, to save us from our sinful selves and to bring us back to Himself. God deserves obedience, love, and glory in which we, as believers, can show through the art we do.

Note: The ideas expressed here were written down in 1998 and had been building up in my mind at least for a couple of years prior to that. These ideas were meant to take me to the basics of Christian art and to help me with my walk with God. I stripped the concepts and misconceptions of Christian art and history as best I could, so I could start from scratch and develop some fresh approach to creating Christian art. I didn't want to be conformed to the stereotype of Christian Artist. And I've pretty much stuck to most of these points. However, as you look around this website, you may see a few paintings that are contrary to the views expressed in this essay. That is because I've recanted on a few of these ideas. I'm not the same Christian I was a couple of years ago; ideas change. My relationship with God is stronger. However, I've left this essay in its original format for you to go through the thought process and use or modify these ideas for your own art and conscience toward God.