Monday, November 19, 2012

Acts 13 Paul on Cyprus

The first part of Acts 13 follows Paul on one of his missionary journeys to Cyprus. The story is told in 5 pictures. Picture 1 shows the church at Antioch laying hands on Paul & Barnabus sending them on their way to preach the good news in Cyprus.
Picture 2 (left) shows Paul and Barnabus boarding ship at Seleucia.

Picture 3 shows Paul preaching in one of the synagogues of Salamis. After traveling across the island they came to Paphos where they were summoned by the proconsul Sergius Paulus who desired to hear the word of God. In picture 4 (right)
we see Barnabus, Paul and John, who had now joined them, arriving at the proconsul's seaside villa. Stood to one side is Bar-Jesus, (or Elymas), who was a Jewish sorcerer, false prophet and attendant of Sergius Paulus. He's clearly not pleased to see Paul and his companions!

As Paul explains the Gospel to Sergius, Elymas the sorcerer tries to discourage him from listening. The final picture shows Paul rebuking Elymas who has now lost his sight and is groping around. Sergius Paulus is amazed at what he sees and hears.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Acts 12 - Peter's Escape.

Acts 12 describes Peters miraculous escape from prison. We've retold the story in 5 pictures. Picture 1 shows Peter asleep in a moonlit cell while chained to two guards. Picture 2 shows the cell now filled with angelic light as an angel stands before Peter.

Picture 3 (left) shows Peter being led across the prison courtyard by the angel as the gates open before him. We can see the shadow of the large iron gates beyond these also opening. A Roman guard is dozing by the fire. If you've read 'The Heavenly Man' you'll recall that Liu Zhenying (Brother Yun) had a very similar experience to this when escaping from Zhengzhou Maximum Security prison.

Picture 4 (right) shows Peter knocking at the door of his fellow believers. I've done this picture like a split-screen to show both Peter knocking and the reaction of the girl who recognizes his voice. The final picture shows Peter reunited with his friends. He's sharing with them the story of his miraculous escape!

Saturday, November 03, 2012


Acts 10 covers the conversion of the Roman Centurion, Cornelius, and his family. This is retold in 6 pictures. Picture 1 shows an angel appearing to Cornelius while he's in prayer. Picture 2, (left), depicts a Roman courtyard and shows Cornelius sending out two of his servants and a soldier to the seaside town of Joppa to bring Peter back. Joppa, (known as Jaffa today) lies 30 miles south of Caesarea. Across the courtyard and beyond the facing villas we can see the elaborate lighthouses which many believe were positioned at the entrance to the port of Caesarea. The paved courtyard was drawn from a photo of an actual Roman pavement.

Picture 3 (right) shows the servants arriving at Simon the Tanner's house. Stretched animal skins are drying on frames outside this seaside house. Simon has one of the tanners curved bladed tools in his hand which were used in Bible times to remove the skins from carcasses. Picture 4 shows Peter on the rooftop seeing the vision of the 'unclean' animals being lowered before him. Picture 5 shows Peter, now at the rear of the house in the main tanning area, listening to the servants request.

The final picture shows Peter at Cornelius' villa presenting the Gospel message to all present. I've tried to reconstruct the interior of a Roman villa with it's frescoed walls, mosaic floor and Roman shuttered windows.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Shanah Tovah!

Rosh Hashanah is here again so I'd like to wish "Shanah Tovah" to all our Jewish readers. As we enter into the Jewish Year 5773 this is the perfect time to promote the new book by my good friend, and fellow Bible artist, Nahum HaLevi.
Nahum is a regular contributor to the B.I.B. and his new book 'The Color of Prophecy' contains 15 reproductions of his beautifully colorful oil paintings along with incredibly detailed descriptions of each, giving the reader a deeper insight into Jewish religious thought.
By way of introduction I'd like to share with you part of the write-up from the back cover.
This book addresses those who have an interest in the visual arts, the Bible, or both. Although it is a Jewish-inspired book, it strikes a universal chord and broadly appeals to Jews, Christians, and those of all faiths who share a common love of the Bible and art.

Top marks to Gefen Publishing House for the fine reproduction of Nahum's paintings and the excellent print quality. They've done a superb job. You can order 'The Color of Prophecy' from Amazon or directly from the publisher here. 

I was very honored to be asked by Nahum to be one of those to write a comment promoting his book. If you want to check out my comment - you'll have to buy one!

Friday, August 31, 2012

The Ethiopian Eunuch

I'm presently working my way through the Acts of the Apostles. I've calculated that the whole of Acts will be completed in 130+ pictures divided into approximately 25+ sets. (That's a very rough guess!)
A few weeks ago I finished illustrating Acts 8, (the Ethiopian Eunuch). The story is retold in 6 pictures. Picture 1 shows Philip approaching the Eunuch's chariot. Picture 2 (above right) shows Philip speaking to the eunuch. Picture 3 shows them traveling and reading the Torah scroll. Picture 4 (below left) shows the chariot stopped at some water.

When I began research for this set I really struggled to find references of an Ethiopian chariot. There was nothing in my book collection, or in my local library, or on the internet! I finally decided to take a look at how other artists had tackled an ethiopian chariot. Some artists had stuck to the traditional, high fronted, Roman type chariot that was entered from the rear. I admit that, when you think of a chariot, it's hard not to think of this particular type! The problem here though is where would the eunuch sit in a Roman chariot? One artist who has used this design showed the eunuch sat on the floor at the rear of the chariot facing backwards with his legs dangling over the edge! This doesn't quite seem appropriate for an ethiopian dignitary!

I eventually came across a depiction of the Ethiopian Eunuch's chariot in a picture by Wilhelm Ebbinghaus. His version of the chariot was particularly interesting - similar to an oxcart in design, (although far more elegant), having two large wheels, forward facing seats, room for a servant stood on a platform at the rear and a driver up front. What was also interesting was that the elaborate ornamentation decorating the chariot was Egyptian in style - as was the clothing worn by the Ethiopian servants. After a little more research I discovered that, after centuries of trading together, there were strong cultural influences shared by the Nubian & Egyptian Kingdoms. I'm not quite sure who influenced who first as I've read conflicting accounts, however there's no doubt that these neighbors had much in common including architecture, (pyramids etc), and the style of dress. I decided to go with Ebbinghaus' basic design but add more of the Egyptian features that I've used in the past.

When drawing the ethiopian eunuch himself I used photographic reference of an ethiopian man as there are distinct differences in the features when comparing Ethiopians to those who inhabit other parts of the African continent. Picture 5 shows Philip baptizing the Ethiopian Eunuch and finally picture 6 shows the eunuch alone with his servants. They're all looking around surprised as Philip has been caught away.

More chariot trivia: Apparently early chariots had four wheels, more like a carriage with larger wheels to the rear. These were used for ceremonial use whereas the, more recognized, two wheeled chariots were used for racing or in battle. The Egyptian ones were very light and could to be carried over rough ground when needed. Look forward to your comments!

Monday, August 27, 2012

The Joys of Blogging!

I think all bloggers will agree that one of the great things about blogging is the friends that you make from all around the globe! I'm really thankful for all the amazing people I've met through the B.I.B. Every now and again I get sent something in the post from A blog reader - which is the icing on the cake! This last week, (actually it was a few weeks ago when I wrote this post), I've had two such parcels.The first came from Dr Sandy Brewer who sent me all her duplicate Elsie Anna Wood posters. I've never seen these posters in-the-flesh before and they really are superb! Many thanks Sandy! If you've never come across Bible artist Elsie Anna Wood before, then I would recommend the posts below:
Elsie Anna Wood.
More Elsie Anna Wood Bible Art.
A Gift Returned with Love.

The second (very large) parcel came from John and Sheila Wastie in Shrewsbury.John sent me almost the entire collection of 'The Bible Story' magazines published by Fleetway Publications Ltd in the sixties. John also included some 'Look and Learn' magazines. What was really exciting about this was that he had included the issues from 26th September 1964. This is when the Bible Story was absorbed into Look & Learn. I always wanted to see these issues to see how much of the Bible story magazine survived, and for how long it lasted.Following the amalgamation only three pages were dedicated to the Bible story. This soon dropped to two, then one, and sadly by the 26th December 1964 'The Bible story' magazine was no more! Many thanks to John for helping me fill in this gap. I explained to John by email that, although I already have the full collection of 'The Bible Story' in it's original binder, I've not been able to use them as the whole thing is so big and heavy and I don't want to risk taking any of the magazines out in case I damage them. Now that I have all the loose magazines I can easily use them for reference.John also sent me some 1968/9 issues of 'Tell Me Why' magazine that I hadn't seen before. All these magazines for children were in the same large format and all published by Fleetway and all boasted an incredibly high standard of illustration. The only other one I remember from childhood was 'Treasure' which also included a 'Stories from the Bible' section. Many thanks again to Sandy, John and Sheila.

Sunday, April 08, 2012

Pictures of Jonah

One thing you might notice about our pictures from now on - we've changed format! We've gone from portrait to landscape which is something that some of you have been asking us to do for a while now (as the Powerpoint format is landscape). Why have we changed? Well, we started with the portrait format because we always intended that our pictures would be used in a children's Bible, (which hasn't materialized as yet). We've now changed to landscape as we have an upcoming book project comprising of 15 books that are all going to be in a landscape format. There's also going to be some film work done using the illustrations and the landscape format is more suitable for this too.

Our first completed picture set to appear in landscape format is Jonah which has 10 pictures.
The first picture shows a disgruntled Jonah leaving town to catch a boat departing from Joppa for Tarshish. II Kings14:25 tells us that Jonah's home town was Gath-hepher, (3-5 miles north of Nazareth). It's well known that Tarshish is in the opposite direction from Nineveh, but the journey from Gath-pher (if that's where Jonah set off from) to Joppa was in the opposite direction too! I checked out some photos of Gath-hepher on the Bible places website - a great place to look for photographic reference!

Picture 2 (above) shows Jonah boarding the ship. Further up the coastline you can see the beach where Tel Aviv is today! Picture 3 shows the terrified sailors casting lots - Jonah picks the short straw! There's no information given in scripture that tells us exactly how lots were cast. We know that the Romans used dice, and in earlier times a jar, containing wooden discs, was filled with water. The wooden discs would float, but only one could be pulled out through the narrow neck of the jar at a time. One of the discs would be marked. I chose the long/short straw method as this was easier to see.

Picture 4 shows Jonah being thrown into the sea. Picture 5 (right) is an underwater scene showing the great fish approaching Jonah. I know that traditionally the great fish is shown to be a whale, (and I've stuck with this), but there has been some discussion about whether a man could live in a whale for three days. The Bible says that "the Lord provided a great fish" so I would argue that this prepared fish, whatever it was, was ideally suited for the purpose it was designed for. It may not have been a whale - then again it might have been. could it have been a One-off? a fish that only existed for the purpose of carrying Jonah to land? I'm thinking about the Jewish tradition regarding the Tachash: According to Rashi's commentary the Tachash is a "kosher, multi-colored, one horned desert animal which came into existence to be used to build the Tabernacle and ceased to exist afterward".
Maybe someone would like to comment on this?

Picture 6 shows Jonah inside the fish praying. I couldn't find reference of what the insides of a large fish looked like so I'm afraid I've had to use some artist's license-!! Maybe one of you fishermen out there could put me right? Picture 7 shows Jonah washed up on the beach. Picture 8 (above left) shows Jonah preaching to the Ninevites. Fortunately we have some excellent resources that tell us exactly what the fashions were like in Nineveh. These highly detailed references are in the form of clay tablets which have been perfectly preserved from the time of Nineveh. Most of these are in the British Museum but thankfully we have a few in Manchester Museum too, and I was able to make some sketches from these a few weeks ago.
Jonah dressed in his now shabby clothing stands in contrast to the grandiosity of the Ninevites. We also know from the clay tablets that the Assyrians were a blood thirsty bunch so preaching to them wasn't a job for the faint-hearted!

Picture 9 (right) shows Jonah sat on a hillside overlooking Nineveh. Nineveh was the capital of Assyria for a time and so a very important city. Jonah's sat on the Eastern side overlooking the Shamash Gate which has recently been reconstructed. There were 15 gates in the wall that surrounded Nineveh and each gate was named after an Asssyrian god. We can't see the River Tigris in this picture as this lies on the western side of the city. Again, thanks to those ancient tablets, we know how the great city of Nineveh looked with its lions of bronze, massive sculptures, glazed brick paneling and relief carvings of winged bulls etc - Nineveh really was a lavishly adorned city. The British museum has many of the bas-reliefs that were taken from the city walls.
Jonah is sheltering from the sun in the shadow of a large plant or gourd. Many Bible dictionaries suggest that this may have been the Ricinus Communis, or the castor-oil plant so this is the plant I've illustrated.

Picture 10 shows the plant now withered and Jonah once again angry at God. The book of Jonah is traditionally read out in synagogues around the world at Yom Kippur reminding people of God's Grace and Mercy.
I'll add a link to the Jonah picture set as soon as its uploaded to our website.

Friday, April 06, 2012

Happy Easter and Passover!

Happy Easter to all our readers.
Jesus took the Twelve aside and told them, “We are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written by the prophets about the Son of Man will be fulfilled. He will be handed over to the Gentiles. They will mock him, insult him, spit on him, flog him and kill him. On the third day he will rise again.” Luke 18 ; 31-33
Happy Passover to all our Jewish readers also. Last week we had a presentation of the Passover Seder at our church titled 'Christ in the Passover' it was really interesting! When I was a youngster we had Jewish neighbors who always bought us a box of Matzo crackers at this time of year - they were huge but not very tasty! It was really interesting though to hear how the Matzo (which means "unleavened bread" in Hebrew) were used in the Passover Seder.

3 Matzo crackers were placed into a Matzo cover which is like a bag that had 3 separate compartments in it. One Matzo cracker went into each compartment. The top and bottom Matzo remained out of sight but the middle Matzo was taken out, broken and part of it was hidden out of sight until later in the Seder. Before the significance of this was mentioned, my mind had already jumped to the Incarnation, atoning death, burial and resurrection of Jesus!

I've been getting into apologetics recently and there are some excellent resources out there dealing with the evidence and the Historicity of the Resurrection. I would highly recommend that readers visit the Reasonable Faith website where you can find the resources of philosopher, theologian and apologist William Lane Craig. I had the privilege of hearing Dr Craig in a debate at Manchester University a couple of months ago. Great stuff!

The picture above is from our website where you can download sets of Bible pictures covering the Trial, Crucifixion, Resurrection and Ascension of Jesus. The picture above is from our Passover set, (18 pictures), and shows the blood of the sacrificed lamb being applied to the doorposts and lintel with a branch of Hyssop. All our picture sets are available for immediate download!

May I wish you the peace of the risen Lord Jesus Christ this Easter.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

My favorite Bible artists #10

Charles Edmund Brock (1870-1938). Henry Matthew Brock (1875-1960)
A few years ago I purchased two old books (1950's) of Bible stories that were illustrated mostly in black & white. One illustrators work stood out from the rest, his name - H.M.Brock. Henry Matthew Brock had three other brothers, two of which were also talented artists/illustrators -Charles Edward (C.E.) and Richard Henry. (R.H.). The brothers shared a studio together in Cambridge and sometimes collaborated on projects. C.E worked mainly in oils while H.M worked mostly in watercolours. Both C.E and H.M were well known for their excellent line illustrations and they were both skilled cartoonists contributing to Punch magazine! The Brock brothers are best known for their illustration work on the famous novels by Charles Dickins, Jane Austin, Arthur Conan Doyle, Rudyard Kipling etc, but I wanted to take a brief look at their wonderful Bible illustrations!

Not so long ago I came across an old (board backed) copy of H.M Brock's 'The Bible Story'. (See right). This was the first time I'd seen H.M's Bible art in colour - and it left me wanting to see more! The Bible Story is a very thin book having only 16 pages with 8 colour illustrations and is one of a set of 4 books, the first two covering the Old Testament - the second two covering the New. As you can imagine this was a very concise edition covering the entire Bible in 32 short paragraphs!
A few weeks ago I was searching, (on the Amazon website), for more of the Brock brothers Bible Art and I came across an excellent copy of 'Through the Bible' by a Theodora Wilson Wilson, illustrated by C.E and H.M Brock! Charles Edmund illustrated the Old Testament while Henry Matthew worked on the new. The book was first published in 1938 so it must have been one of the last projects C.E worked on as he died in the same year. My only criticism of the book is that the b&w line illustrations were provided by a J.B.Ayto - the book would have been so much better had they used the Brock brothers line illustrations. I've scanned two samples from this book (see below) showing both H.M's and C.E's art for you to compare! (Click image for a bigger picture).

'Through the Bible' also contains some really nice black & white photography taken in the Holy Land presumably in the late 1930's or earlier.

At the end of the first World War the younger brother, Henry Matthew who worked almost entirely in pen and ink, began a career in advertising and illustrating boys adventure comics. You can see from the picture (above left) how his style suited this genre. Take a close look at the picture (above right) by Charles Edmund - can you spot the mistake? Click here for the answer.

A collection of artwork by H.M.Brock, including 70 originals, was donated to the University of Reading in 1994. This collection included the drawing board used by Charles Edmund. It's still possible to pick up an original picture by one of the Brock brothers (mostly C.E's) here!
Like William Hole and Harold Copping the Brock brothers kept a large collection of costumes that were modeled by willing members of their family and friends. Similarly also to artist Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema, the Brock brothers built up a large collection of curios, antiques and furniture that also featured in their pictures.

I've not mentioned much about Richard Henry Brock as, from what I can gather, he didn't produce any Bible art but worked mainly on boys annuals. Look forward to your comments!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Painting Holidays in the Holy Land

Jewish Bible artist Darius Gilmont is considering organizing painting holidays in the Holy Land and is asking for feedback from readers of the Bible illustration blog as to what they think of the draft itinerary below. The photo above shows the tombs of Rabbinic sages in the Galilee, very near to the Kibbutz where there would be very good accommodation and an art studio.
If anyone is in any doubt to how wonderful the experience of painting in the Holy Land is - they need to read the inspiring diaries of Bible artists Elsie Anna wood and Margaret W. Tarrant.

Please take a look at the 'First Draft Itinerary' below and leave your comments for Darius in the usual comment box.

First Draft Itinerary for a Painting Holiday in the Holy Land.
This tour is Galilee-based, but there could equally be a Negev desert-based tour, or a Jerusalem-based tour. The idea is for a non-tutored painting holiday, with a strong tourism element due to the nature of the location.

Arr. Monday evening, Ben-Gurion Airport, Tel-Aviv. Transfer to Kibbutz Parod, Galilee. This kibbutz has excellent accommodation, swimming pool set in beautiful grounds, a good art studio space, and great views of the surrounding area including the Galilean Hills, the Sea of Galilee, the Golan Heights and Mount Hermon (on the border with Syria).

Day 1: Breakfast. Welcome, followed by Kibbutz Tour incl. Art Studio. Trip to Capernaum on the Sea of Galilee, to the Mount of the Beatitudes where the Sermon on the Mount was given, to Tabgha to see the splendid mosaic about the miracle of the loaves and fishes, and to the nearby Church of Peter's Primacy. Lunch and afternoon painting at Tabgha. Dinner at Kibbutz, evening in Studio.

Day 2: Morning in Studio, painting views of the Galilee and Golan, or finishing yesterday’s work. Lunch at Kibbutz, followed by a visit to the Basilica of Annunciation in Nazareth, Mary's Well and the Church of the Angel Gabriel. Evening in Studio.

Day 3: Early drive to Jerusalem, visiting the Old City and selected Holy sites. Afternoon painting the panoramic view of the Old City from the Promenade Park (Tayelet) to the south of Abu Tor. From this point see much of what makes Jerusalem such a unique city to the three major religions – Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Evening free in Jerusalem. Late return to Kibbutz.

Day 4: Morning painting in and around the Kibbutz or in the studio. Afternoon trip to the Bahai Temple and gardens, Haifa. Evening at the Kibbutz with lecture/discussion/workshop with eminent art or religious academic or cleric (in short –a cultural event)!

Day 5: Trip to the Monastery of St George at Wadi Qelt in the Judaean desert. Walking, and painting, in the desert. Evening in the studio.

Day 6: Morning trip to Tiberias. Lunch at Tiberias. Afternoon painting in studio. Evening closing event and celebratory dinner (and dancing?) on the Kibbutz.

Day 7: Morning transfer to Ben-Gurion Airport and departure for UK.

NOTE: All trips to scenic locations will include ample time for painting. Non-painting partners and children will also have plenty to do, including organized tours and activities.

Above is one Darius' paintings. To see more of his Bible Art visit
© Darius Gilmont 2012

Friday, January 06, 2012

JŌB Movie project

Bible artist Chris Koelle has just sent me some information about a movie project of his on Kickstarter. Chris has illustrated a book titled JŌB which is basically a poem written by John Piper based on the biblical story of Job. The book has now been turned into a movie animated by Danny McNight and narrated by John Piper. (Click the word 'Movie' above to view).
To read an interview with Chris Koelle about another book project of his - a graphic novel titled 'The Book of Revelation' click here

Let me also tell you a little bit about kickstarter as it might be of interest to readers of this blog.
The following text is 'an introduction' from the kickstarter website

"Kickstarter is the world's largest funding platform for creative projects. Every week, tens of thousands of amazing people pledge millions of dollars to projects from the worlds of music, film, art, technology, design, food, publishing and other creative fields.

A new form of commerce and patronage. This is not about investment or lending. Project creators keep 100% ownership and control over their work. Instead, they offer products and experiences that are unique to each project.

All or nothing funding. On Kickstarter, a project must reach its funding goal before time runs out or no money changes hands. Why? It protects everyone involved. Creators aren’t expected to develop their project without necessary funds, and it allows anyone to test concepts without risk.

Each and every project is the independent creation of someone like you. Projects are big and small, serious and whimsical, traditional and experimental. They’re inspiring, entertaining and unbelievably diverse. We hope you agree... Welcome to Kickstarter!"

A spokesperson for Kickstarter, Cooper Troxell, told me that although Kickstarter only handles projects based in the US at present, they are hoping to go international soon. Watch this space!
There are a number of other christian projects on kickstarter so check it out.

Sunday, January 01, 2012

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year to all our readers! As I type out this blog we're surrounded by exploding fireworks as people welcome the new year in. This annual tradition of setting off rockets at new year really took off here in the UK in the year 2,000. Since then it's been growing in popularity. The rockets around here go on, (or off), for well over an hour!

As we think back over the last year there's been many changes taking place especially in the Middle East. The dust still hasn't settled yet and there's a lot of uncertainty about how things are going to develop in the region in 2012. Some are worried that the Arab 'Spring' will lead to a 'Fall' for Israel! Although we don't know what the immediate future holds - we do know who holds the future! So keep praying!