Painting the Pages | One Girl’s Story of Theology through Art

This is a guest post by Ilene Butler

Ever since my 2 year old fingers wrapped around a crayon or were submerged in finger paint, I’ve always been drawn to anything creative. My heart would skip a beat walking into an art store, surrounded by any and every medium to express my love for color and creating. The sight of unopened tubes of paint and unused paint brushes and blank, plastic-covered canvases lining every wall moved me to want to start creating on the spot.


Don’t mind the crazy lady in aisle 9 – she’s having an artist moment, folks.

And ever since my 6 year old self came to an understanding of who Jesus is, I have had a gnawing hunger to know Him more. This hunger led me to ask my parents questions, to pay extra attention in Sunday School class, to crack open my dad’s thick commentaries, and eventually drew me to applying to Bible college to ask more questions and to dive even deeper in studies. As I grew in m
relationship with God, I studied and questioned and struggled. The rearing head of doubt and dry spells made their appearances, yet by God’s grace and the guidance of my parents and mentors, I continued to hunger.

Don’t mind the crazy lady in the commentaries section of the library – she’s experiencing a spiritual moment, folks.

When I think about my love for Bible journaling and how this has impacted my personal relationship with God, I can’t help going way back to the very beginning – where two of my passions were fused together, long before the trend of Bible journaling made its appearance in the creative world I was blessed to have parents who “made” my sister and I “do a quiet time.” A time was set aside every evening when we were to go to our rooms and read our Children’s Bibles. When you’re eight years old and in the middle of reading a Boxcar Children book just as they we e about to solve the mystery or playing Barbies with your sister when you just got the Dream house situated just right, you don’t always want to stop what you’re doing. But that discipline of reading and reflection instilled by my parents, over time, eventually turned into desire later on in my high school and adult life. I learned to study passages, write down questions to ask later, and eventually process what I studied through journaling.

If you were to take a peek in my childhood, high school and even college journals and the pages of Bible, my own world of Bible journaling was already evolving. From colorful highlighters marking out particular verses to doodling phrases that stand out from a passage, the Word of God was already alive – I interacted with the Scriptures so much that it was visually obvious.

When I was in need of a new Bible because the leather one I had until at the end of last year was sadly falling apart, the Bible Journaling trend was already making head way. I was immediately intrigued and started to research, giddy to find a Bible with the space for my constant notes.


I have received comments regarding the artwork covering the pages of my Bible from social media followers and church friends. But for me, it’s more than just making the pages pretty. There is a part of me that is encouraged by that because it draws some people to the Bible in a way that probably normally would not. If God uses my Bible Journaling pages to draw people to His Word, then praise Him! But to me that is only the first step, which is the desire to engage with the Word. There is no substitute for the actual Word of God and taking action to study it. And there is nowhere to go around the word study. Not a five minute devotional or skimming a Bible verse to get through the day. This is legit, heart-breaking, putting your thinking cap down to your ears sort of study.

Then again maybe five minutes is all you have. If so, I truly believe God will honor your desire that you set aside that time; however, I also believe that God will honor the desire of your heart to study His Word and will help provide the time to do so. If we have time to binge watch all 27 seasons of our favorite TV show on Netflix or 3 hours on our phone, scanning the world of social media before bed, we have the time to spend with the King of Kings and Lord of Lords who gave up everything for us.

I look back at some of my pages and I see beyond the watercolor strokes and the gel pen markings. I see tears and heartache and wrestling. I see celebration and joy and peace. I see God and Who He is – His holiness, His goodness, His sovereignty, and His love.  see a process of God working in my soul and heart in a visual way. It’s a personal process for me that is rooted in study.



If you are interested in Creative Bible Journaling, here are answers to FAQ I receive on my Instagram or Facebook:
Where did you find your Bible and what version is it? My Journaling Bible is made by Crossway and called the ESV Single-Column Journaling Bible. I bought my copy from Amazon.

I bought the same Bible but there are lines. Did I get the right Bible? There are faint lines in mine too but you can barely see them especially when you paint over them.

Does your watercolor bleed through the pages? Sometimes they do. Depending on how much water I use. The only time I see a bleed is when there is ink or ma
rker on one side and I use watercolor on the other side of the page.

Do you prep or gesso your pages? I do not.

What brand of art supplies do you use for Bible Journaling? I have a lot of art supplies in my studio, so I use a wide range of supplies. My go-to watercolor is made by Artists Loft (Michaels’ Generic Brand). I also love Reeves’ watercolor in tubes – its more concentrated but it becomes more diluted on the amount of water you have on your brush. The neon colors are either highlighters (old school office supplies, no particular brand) or neon pastels (from Hobby Lobby). I am also partial to the Big Brush by Faber Casteel and gel pens.

Remember Bible Journaling is just the first step. Take it a step further, friends. We were made to create and even more so made to know our Creator.



IMG_8724 Ilene Butler currently resides in Acworth, Georgia with her husband, Ryan and their fur baby, Taylor Swift Butler. She grew up as a Navy Brat which explains her itch to relocate and/or rearrange the furniture every 3 years. When she’s not hanging out with Ryan and Taylor, Ilene loves drinking her weight in coffee, writing books without endings, dying her hair in all colors of the rainbow, and painting to her heart’s content. You can find her at @muchloveilly via Instagram and Snapchat. 





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