Using art and drawing to inspire worship and personal reflections. Ideas inspired by the art of James Smetham.
James Smetham was a Victorian artist, poet and critic whose commitment to Methodism played a vital part in his creative, social and inner life. (Read more about him here.)
One of the ways his faith and art came together was in the very simple technique of using little squared drawings. He used these to help notice and record the details of God’s creation – the small things that make up our lives. Often, his squares were as small as a postage stamp, and might appear in the margins of his Bible or in his notebooks.
Squaring like Smetham
An activity developed for young people but a good starting point for anyone wanting to journal (or doodle) their activities and thoughts. This worksheet is a way to start recording a week, day by day.
Bible stories in squares
During the Covid lockdown of spring 2021, Deacon Alison McCauley (right) produced a video that explored using Smetham’s Squarings to tell Bible stories. She also looks at another therapeutic drawing technique – Zentangle – as a way of processing thoughts and reflections.
Bible by EMOJI
Like Alison McCauley, above, Jenny Harris participated in Sarah Middleton’s art and faith course, "Lifted", run in 2021 and focusing on James Smetham and other artists of Christian themes. Here, Jenny re-tells a story from the Old Testament using EMOJIs.
Some more general suggestions for using art as a starting point for crafting worship/reflection
Names on the journey
Another of Alison McCauley’s lockdown Lent videos – this time with a way to represent those who we’ve encountered on our Christian journey.
Eularia Clarke's “Living Gospel”
Eularia Clarke (right) was a convert to Catholicism. She painted many biblical scenes and Christian events using a style that helps us re-experience them in a fresh way. Two of Eularia’s paintings are included in the Methodist Modern Art Collection (below).
Methodist Modern Art Collection
You can discover all the artworks included in this important collection on the Methodist website’s MMAC pages. You may recognise some of the images from Methodist publications – others will be new to you. Do they help you reflect on biblical stories or Christian experience in a new way?
See Creative prayer ideas for other ways of developing the use of all our senses in worship.