Friday, October 27, 2006

Bible Research

Continued from the 'Gathering Bible references' post./

Once you have gathered together references for figures, buildings and landscape etc, It's time to start some serious research!

The basic tools for this are, the Bible, (obviously), Bible Atlas, a good commentary, Concordance, Bible dictionary and a parallel New Testament. But even then, there are sometimes questions left unanswered. So, It's also helpful to have a book on 'Bible customs' to hand. The one I use is 'Manners and Customs of the Bible' by James M. Freeman.
If you have to illustrate a custom such as 'Casting lots', books like this can help you to understand how it was actually done.

Much of my research is now done on the internet.
Websites like are a mine of information! If you are serious about Bible illustration, I would highly recommend this site to you. Todd Bolen's blog will also keep you up to date with all the latest news in Bible archeology. I could spend hours on this site!

When illustrating 'The healing at the pool of Bethesda' in John ch 5, (sample above). I was informed by Professor Bolen, who's based at the university in Jerusalem, that most of the pools in Jerusalem at that time were open air.
Many children's Bible artists, and some of the 'Old Masters' (see Carl Bloch), show this as an enclosed pool. Information like this cannot always be gleaned from the study aids mentioned above.

When you're happy with your references and research, It's time to start drawing!
At the end of the day, a lot of what we draw will be guesswork. But, if we use all the research tools available to us, at least we will be making an educated guess!

Related posts:
Illustrating a Bible Story
More Biblical costume reference!
Which Bible clothing colors should I use?
Easy mistakes to make!
Bible study aids
Gathering Bible References

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Noah's Ark?

We all know what Noah's Ark looked like, don't we?
It was a big wooden boat with a big house on top! .......Wasn't it?

We've all gotten so used to seeing images of Noah's Ark in children's Bibles, (with all the animals waving through the leaded glass windows to Noah, who is busy watering all the hanging baskets of flowers), that we seldom question if those images actually resembled the ark at all!

The nearest Ark I've seen, (to the Biblical description),appeared in John Cross's book, 'The Stranger on the road to Emmaus'. It was basically, a long black box floating on the water! I know it's not as pretty as the traditional version, but our job's not about illustrating fairy tales!

Remember that the Ark was probably black in color as it was coated in pitch! When you look at the actual dimensions, (I built a small scale model in wood), It's surprisingly long and slim! In-fact, in black, it almost looks futuristic! Remember also that the Ark was HUGE! To see some models of Noah's Ark, click here.

So if we know what the ark looked like, why do we keep going back to the fairy tale version? Well, tradition is hard to break! I think that's the problem. Tradition! (It's the fault of Bible artists, yet again!)
So, full marks to all the artists like Nestor Redondo and others, who spent the time to research the subject, and had the guts to draw what they saw!