Faith seeking understanding #020: A return to illustration and graphic design

Faith seeking understanding, my personal journey towards a deeper knowledge of and intimacy with God, the cosmos, humanity and myself through thoughts, words and (occasionally) images, is a series of [hopefully] daily reflections I’m writing with the purpose of publishing something on a regular basis for others to read, either here, at joncarllewis.com or among my writings at Medium.com.

Today is the 2nd day of Christmas, the feast day of St. Stephen, and Boxing Day in England and Canada. And it’s the day I realized that I have been neglecting a part of my life. And I’ve been doing it for years.

You see, once upon a time I was a graphic designer and desktop publisher. I used to layout books and pamphlets and newspapers and church bulletins. I enjoyed sketching layouts and images, especially for illustrating texts that my heart resonates with. Among these are my favorite collects, the Magnificat and even a few psalms.

But—for one reason or another—I stopped. And I could go back and make excuses and invent reasons, but I basically caved in to resistance and stopped the creative flow in that area of my life.

Today, however, as I was wondering who I was and what was my particular calling in the world, I realized that visual storytelling is as important to me an activity as telling stories verbally. For many years I worked on the script and sketches for a graphic novel, but, realizing that I had neither the skills to draw it nor the finances to hire the caliber artist I wanted, I set the project aside. I turned instead to writing and determined instead to paint pictures with the written word and capture nuance with the perfect turn of phrase.

However, as writing has increasingly occupied a role in my life which I approach like a profession, I realize that I need a hobby. Of course, I sing, and I consider that a hobby as well as a spiritual discipline. My much-neglected and dusty viola and harpsichord might reward me if I paid them some attention. But I found myself wanting something very specific, today: I needed something to do with my hands while listening to podcasts and music with lyrics too captivating to write by.

Because, sometimes, I just get into moods where I want to reflect without words, or where I listen to the interesting and sometimes masterful words of others. Today, I spent much of the day smiling and watching YouTube videos of various renderings of songs and scenes from musicals. I especially enjoyed watching Sierra Boggess and Julian Ovenden sing the balcony scene from West Side Story. And I tapped into grief I hadn’t remembered I had until I listened to the last, Broadway cast performing Rent. And I felt silly just sitting there on the verge of tears with nothing to do with my hands (except, perhaps, clean the office and do some filing—both of which I rejected immediately as too practical for the day’s mood).

The beginning of an illustration for Mary singing Magnificat.

As I was listening, I happened to find myself browsing through old images in Google Pictures, some of which were photos I had taken, some of which were sketches, some of which were pretty evocative and good. And unfinished.

And, so, I resolved today to indulge that part of my creative mind. I signed up for a trial version of Adobe Animate CC, installed it, imported a sketch of a pregnant Mary reciting the Magnificat, and got to work illustrating.

Time flew by, and it felt like a long-lost piece of my heart had returned.

Thank you for your time and attention.
I’d love to know your thoughts on what you’ve read.
Please comment, below, or email me at joncarllewis@gmail.com.
May God richly bless you on your journey.

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Faith seeking understanding #020: A return to illustration and graphic design

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