Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Venner for altid (second post): Making the book

We are working on another issue of our magazine. And when I´m not working on the magazine, I´m making drawings for an 31 day drawing challenge we have started with a few friends here at Grimerud. Lots of fun, and a nice challenge.

In this post, I wanted to show you some of the sketches and drawings that I made for «Venner for alltid», the christian book about relationships, love and sex. In the whole process of making the book like this, a lot of ideas are started, developed and eventually discarded. Improving on ideas is as good as coming up with good ideas. The difficult part is to know how to decide which idea is better than the other, and the long and short communication-bits in-between those decisions.

These were the first sketches I did for the book. In the introduction, Gunnleik talks about how he wanted to jump off a roof, but his friend warned him that he would break his leg. Gunnleik does´t listen, jumps and breaks his leg. Moral of the story: listen to good advice before someone gets crippled for life. I thought it would be fun to draw both guys as pirates, and then the Gunnleik-pirate would end up with a peg-leg. I think, in the end, the whole funny pirate-idea diverted too much fromt he story.

These were sketches for the chapter that talks about the importance of being good to everyone around us, opposite to being selective, and just be good to the people that we like to be good to. I´ve tried to make a schoolyard version of story of the good samaritan, where the outsider is shown as the right example of charity. Interestingly, they answer Jesus gives to the question of: «who is my neighbour», is «you are the neighbour, you are everyone´s neighbour».
I forgot why this idea did´t make it in, but in the end we ended up with a picture of an old man tying the shoelaces of a random young boy int he street. That´s also a nice thing to do.

These are a few pages of sketches I made to figure out the right angle and composition, for the two drawings that show the bible-story of Jesus and the woman caught in adultry. As you can see in my previous post, one of the sketches made it into the book. Thecomposition I was looking for was one that would involve the reader in the story, so that they would not only see a picture, but feel that they were present in the same story themselves.

The initial idea was that there was going to be an full colour illustration on the cover of the book, of a young boy and girl who are doing fun stuff together, just being good friends. But then, when the cover-picture was done, they thought it made the book look like a children´s book or a novel, instead of a thematic book for teenagers about relationships and love and stuff. So, the drawings got dropped and a stock-photo got used instead.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Venner for alltid: A christian book about relationships (first post)

This winter I did illustrations for a christian book about relationships. Gunnleik, the author, is a friend of mine who I have worked together with at the youth café in the city. The book got published through YWAM Norway´s own publishing house Prokla Media.

The book has gotten it´s own little website, and you can see an excerpt of the book down here.

I only had very little time to make the illustrations, but still I wanted to do a god job. The initial idea of the author was to have an eighties style of cartoony illustrations in the book. But we dropped that style quite quickly. Luckily.

Fine lines

As we worked on the book, we saw that we had to draw fine lines on quite a few places. The biggest challenge was to visualise the whole subject of relationships, love and sex in a way that would not be too boring or watered-down on the one hand, while not trying to cross the line of christian-decency on the on the other hand.
We discovered that this line was at a bit of a different place with me than with the others, who were all fathers of teenagers themselves. So, they were thinking as fathers and teachers, while I was called in as an illustrator who wants to make good pictures that get the message across in a best way possible.

To illustrate that the devil trying to destroy society´s cornerstone, the family,
we got very graphic and drew an ugly little devil that is blowing up a house,
there is also a drawing of devils that are sawing the thumb off of someone´s hand.

I got to work some of the chapter-titles into the first big picture that comes with every chapter.
This chapter-title reads: What is love

After I sent all the drawings to the designer, he put them with every chapter,
I am really happy with how this ended out over two pages.

My favourite picture is this one of Jesus and the woman caught in adultery,
I really like the look of mercy in Jesus face.

In the meantime, me and a number of others at Grimerud are on a 31 day drawing challenge. Every day for a month, we all draw the same topics, and share them with each other on our pinterest-board.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Studio to Street: What I have learned

The most important and most obvious thing I´ve learned (again) is that the most important thing is to keeping in close step with Jesus every day of the year, no matter what. That´s really what it always comes down to.

Smells of Europe

To travel europe in four weeks and a weekend has been a very special experience for two reasons. Firstly, we changed country and culture very quickly. One week is enough to get an idea of what the city-culture smells like, but nothing more than that. So, with only one week in each country, we easily compare the one place with the other, but also got a bit of an general experience of western Europe.
Secondly, because we shifted through the western continent so quickly, we had to learn to stay on our toes and keep adapting some of our work methods to the different cultures. Starting over again every week can be a frustration, but it was a good lesson in innovation and being dependant on God.

I was often thinking of how the apostle Paul changed his methods when he was on his mission-travels. While visiting remains of the Berlin wall, I had to think of the story in the bible where king David is unable first to break into the city of Jerusalem, until found out he could sneaks in through the city-well.
When we´re desperate enough to reach a city or cross a wall, we will find the most creative ways to do so.

Still not happy until …

One of my biggest motivations for joining the internship, was to get out my office and use my creative skills to share about Jesus. Working from the office, I felt I was limited in how much I could share of my life as a christian. I would definitively say that I got what I came for, even though I had to reach for it myself many times. Traveling Europe with the Arts Internship has gotten me into a lot of situations where I would share Jesus with people that I met that day. Mostly I have learned from others how to do this, and some times I have found my own way.
Looking back, the internship has not been the first «attempt» of mine to break out of my own creative comfort-zone. I have been wanting to make the same break with my drawing diaries of 2012 and 2013. I don´t feel I´ve gotten to make the break that I wanted to have made. And that´s probably because it´s something continual, rather than a one-time thing.

I am still not happy with how broken the image is that I show of who God is, both in my drawings, ans in my life. I am still depending on God´s grace, and that is perhaps the best picture that my life can show.

The next little project I´m on is going to be a 30 day drawing challenge that I´m going to do with a few friends here at Grimerud.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Mot Målet #1 2015

In the time leading up to the Arts Internship I had been working hard on this year´s first issue of our Norwegian YWAM-magazine Mot Målet. Most of it I got done before I left, and some of it I finished while in London.

By request of the missions-department of YWAM Norway, we dedicated this issue on the Middle-East. We wanted to put a light on the hopefull things that are happening in the middle of the refugee-crisis and the extreme violence of fundamental muslims. While only very very few muslims (less than 0,01%) actually support the wars we see in the news, all of the muslim need Jesus. 

This is an article that shows historical roots of today´s extreme violence in Islam,
it spans over five pages, and is the longest article we have made for our magazine.
We are hoping to have the time to make a nicer illustrated info graph of this timeline.

We expected to get a lot of response on the whole section about the Middle-East. Strangely enough, it´s the backside that we got the most critical comments most on. Here we had a picture of Loren Cunningham, the founder of Youth with A Mission, together with the pope. Loren had met with the heads of three churches (the catholic, the anglican and the coptic church) to encourage them for a global effort to get a bible in every home in the world.
Even though we stand in very different church-traditions, we all agree that the Bible is Gods word and that it should have a living part of our lives as followers of Christ.

Loren Cunningham and the pope are sharing our back-cover.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Studio to Street: the Art Exhibition

Firstly, I want to say that I am really happy that I have take three months out of my schedule for this Arts Internship in London. It´s been great to have taken a break from my regular kind of work, and do the kind of work that we as a mission-organisation say we do: Telling people about Jesus.

The exhibition-space in the church that we are using,
my three painting are in the middle in the back, they form one story.
I´ve tried to unify this story by the flower-petals on the floor.

Photo: Johanna Liste Vargas

First piece: Her perfect idea

The first piece is a collage, I made it after we came back from our  outreach. Our experiences of the Internship have gotten a place in this picture. People we have met, and places we have travelled. The ink-drawings of the buildings are all drawn on location in the cities.
In this picture, a girl on the red backgrounds is picking up petals everywhere she goes, from those petals, she wants to make a living and perfect flower.
At the bottom-right corner, the girl has given up her search for petals, she sees that she never able to get her perfect flower together from dead petals. She needs the something much greater than petals in a jar.
With this picture, I firstly want to express my own process of coming up with the best possible idea for the things I work on. I set high standards for myself, and see often that I cannot realise them myself. I need help, and I need another way of thinking and work. But most of all, I am dependant on God´s grace. Secondly, It´s a story that everyone can relate to, we are all putting a lot of effort into realising our own dreams.

Photo: Johanna Liste Vargas

Second piece: Kindness carries

With this picture, I wanted to visualise how it is God´s kindness that leads us back to Him. I imagined God´s kindness to be a big horse that he sends out to physically carry straggling people back to Himself. It´s like the scene in the Lord of the Rings, where Brego picks up Aragorn from the water. When and how this kind black horse will come for someone, is always a different story.
In my personal experience, I have not been picked up by God´s kindness before after I had surrendered my own efforts to right my own wrongs.
The black horse represents Jesus, he alone can carry us back to God. The only thing we need to do is to keep holding on to Him.

Photo: Johanna Liste Vargas

Third piece: Love fulfilled

In the last picture, the girl and the black horse meet with another huge horse. It is an image of what the Bible says our relationship with God can look like. When God´s love is completed among us through Jesus, we can stand before God unashamed and with full confidence. I think that we all long to know that they are completely loved, and to be sure that all our wrongs have been taken away.

Why horses?
I painted horses because I like to paint horses. Horses have a very different nature then us people, in the same way God is very different from us. The girl is saved by something other then her own kind. The same goes for God´s saving grace, it is something very different and better then any solution we can find here on on earth. Another reason I have used horses, is that they are very relatable animals, they have personality. God is personal, and not a force in the sky.

For those interested, I put a big part of my Arts Internship-sketchbook online. It mostly has sketches for the visual arts that I did, but also some teaching notes and random doodles.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Studio to Street: The ending (finished, not perfect)

Sketching in Prague
Photo: Carrie Hardy

Spontaneous street-art on walls in Milan
Photo: Carrie Hardy

Group street-art on the square in Vienna.
Photo: Carrie Hardy 

We are back in London, and at the moment we are in full swing with the preparations for the final exhibition that we are going to have in the church in Notting Hill tomorrow. I think that it´s the first time that I am actually being part of an arts exhibition.

On the photo´s above you can see some of the street-art we have been doing in the last four weeks. Besides making drawings and paintings, we also did a lot of singing, praying and walking. In fact, we did so much walking, that my legs still are hurting.

Group song in Milan.
Photo: Carrie Hardy 

The Arts Internship finishes tomorrow, and on friday I fly back to Norway. I will write posts later about the exhibition and Arts Internship as a whole.

Below are a few peeks of what I have been working on today:

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Studio to Street, Milan

The door to the cathedral

The last city on our mission-trip is Milan, where it is warm and the people have time to talk. We are staying in a church-building, at the far east side of the city. We are well received by the church where we are staying. Together with the church and the YWAM-ers in the city we do evangelism in the city on most of the days through music and performances.

The cathedral in Milan that took 500 years to build

At the very prestigious academy of arts,
we were there on a sunday, so no students were there.

I don´t really have pictures of when we talk with the people here, but here are some drawings I made in the park behind the castle. I love the parks here and all the big trees in the city.

Italian restaurants,
drawn on location.

Next week I will be back in London for the final week on this Arts Internship.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Studio to Street, Vienna

We are in Vienna this week, the capitol city between the Alps and the Carpathians. 
During this city-trip, the book of Acts has become very real to me. Like Paul´s mission-trips, we are traveling from country to country and from city to city. And every time we get to a new place, we need to change our approach a little bit.

Vienna, seen from the Leopoldsburg

Nine years ago, when I did my DTS, we did evangelism with an Australian guy called Vince Esterman. He worked in Paris at that time, and would use a sketch-board with words and pictures on the streets. The Parisians, who are very intellectual and distant, are hard to reach through conversation, but would pay attention to something that was funny and witty. 

Music, dance and sketching are often great ways to start a conversation, but people´s hearts are reached a little differently in different cities.

The first night in the city we played under the St. Stephan´s cathedral. It caught a nice big crowd.

Playing worship songs at the St. Stephan's square.
Photo: Taboo Arts

And all of the sudden, we drew a huge crowd.
Photo: Taboo Arts

Joy danced into the quiet city night.
Photo: London Arts

Sketches of the team-members performing while we were at the museum-square.

The city has many cathedrals and churches, but all the tall and imposing buildings are starting to tire me. All the high towers point up and away from the people, like long noses of the disciples who looked up after Jesus´ ascension.
But God is not far away, perched on the top of a church-spire. He has sent his Spirit to be with us, to work in our hearts and teach us everything Jesus taught.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Studio to Street, Prague

On friday we took the buss from Berlin to Prague, our team is going to be here for one week.
In the time that we have been here, we have been out on the street a lot to pray, to talk with people about Jesus and to worship to God together in this city.

The New Town Hall of Prague,
from the very top of the tower you have a great view over all the city.
This tower was important in the Hussite wars,
that followed the protestant reformations of Jan Hus.

Prague is an impressive and beautiful city, everything is decorated everywhere. This city has a very vibe than a lot of the places I have been before. Even though it is a beautifully artistic city, It is not a place I would like to live. I prefer the countryside over big cities. I was so happy to see German forests and fields passing us by ont he road between Berlin and Prague.

The astronomical clock at the old square in Prague,
in the evenings we did evangelism around the clock and around the statue of Johan Hus.

A few times I was able to sit down and draw the architecture in the city. It was quite cold, so I could not spend more than half an hour on each sketch. While sketching the city like this, I also get into fun conversations with people, and opportunities to share the gospel.

Happy Easter, my next blog-post will be from Vienna.