As an art teacher at a Christian school, I face the challenge of incorporating a Christian worldview into my subject matter. At first that seemed like a daunting task, but God has been good, and little by little I’ve made some amazing discoveries. After all, if God created the visible world to reveal His invisible qualities as Romans 1:20 says, there should be some good stuff to find.
Over the last six weeks I’ve shared those insights. Today I thought it might be helpful to put it all together into a summary so we can see what we have.
I teach art by stressing the seven visual elements of line, shape, form, value, texture, space and color. As we use each element in art we discover that they perform a function which in turn has a spiritual significance.
LINE: The use of LINE in art gives direction just as God provides direction and purpose and destiny.
SHAPE: SHAPES determine boundaries. God, too, has established boundaries. When God’s boundaries are ignored, chaos will result as surely as ignoring the boundaries of an object that you are painting will result in a chaotic composition.
FORM: When we recognize the three-dimensional substance of an object we are seeing its FORM. Seeing a FORM is dependent upon a light source. Similarly our lives will only have true, eternal substance when seen through God’s Light.
VALUE: The lights and darks in an art project are determined by the light source. Scripture tells us that Light is one of the many symbols for God and light and dark represent good and evil. Notice, then, that as light and dark is determined by the light source, so good and evil are determined by God. They are not determined by a poll or an election. In this present world both light and dark (good and evil) must be present because each gets its identity by seeing it in contrast to the other and in relationship to God’s revelation.
TEXTURE: As texture in art can be delightful, it can also overpower and obscure the form and substance of objects. All of the activities, responsibilities, and relationships of our lives add wonderful texture to our time on earth; they too can overpower and obscure the real purpose and meaning of life. In art, we make sure that the light and dark values of an object are still apparent so that the texture only adds to the basic structure. Likewise, we must be sure that the light source of life (God’s presence) is always apparent in our lives in spite of all the busyness.
SPACE: SPACE in art is about developing harmonious relationships between the various objects. It’s also about implying depth and creating a sense that there is a continuation to reality when it disappears beyond the horizon. Just as every object in a composition is important and has a function to perform, so too everything God has created has dignity and purpose. Just as we can be confident that reality continues beyond the horizon, so too we can have faith that life will continue beyond the grave.
COLOR: Perhaps COLOR should have been mentioned first because it reveals the very essence of God. As light can be refracted to see the various color bands, so too God, while ONE, consists of many qualities or attributes. Artists know that you cannot mix anything to achieve the colors of red, yellow, and blue. Likewise, nothing makes God. He is at His essence the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit– Three in One. While those three primary colors can be mixed to achieve every lovely hue imaginable, so too God is the source of every imaginable good thing that life has to offer.
And so, through art, we discover the essence of God. We discover that He provides direction and boundaries, substance and meaning, dignity and an assurance of eternity.
Thank you for sharing this series with me.