Resources for a budding teenage artist


(Andrew Shaw) #1

My niece is 13, and shows a very strong aptitude for drawing. Like a lot of teenagers her main influences are from secular culture and particularly anime. I am not an artist but appreciate art. Can folks give me some ideas on how to encourage my niece to use her gifts to glorify God? Below is a sample of her work when I commissioned her to do a copy of Dürer’s Praying Hands.


(SeanO) #2

@Andrew_Shaw Wow, what a gifted young person! I am not an artist, but I do enjoy well done artwork related to Scripture. The two things that come to my mind automatically are The Bible Project and The Action Bible. Both have some really cool artwork depicting the Bible and are impacting peoples’ lives. The Bible Project has behind the scenes videos, like this one, which are very cool and show how the behind the scenes process works.


(Andrew Shaw) #3

Thanks. I love The Bible Project. Very cool.


(Kathleen) #4

I love that you gave her a commission, @Andrew_Shaw! (And what a great job she did. :slight_smile: ) I guess one thing to think about is that her art doesn’t necessarily have to have a religious theme to it for it to glorifying to God. The things she is drawing now may help her develop her technique, but I imagine that as she matures, part of what will also mature with her will be her eye…that is, what she observes and how she decides to depict it. In my mind, that’s where the real seat of the God-glorifiation in art is. Durer’s Praying Hands aren’t just God-glorifying because they’re in a prayer posture; for me, it’s in the stunning detail. It makes me wonder what those hands have touched and what they’ve done.

Just out of curiosity, would she call herself a Christian?


(Andrew Shaw) #5

Thanks for the response, @KMac, yes she would identify as a Christian, attending church with her mom and having a good friend that takes her to youth events. My one concern is her older sister would not identify as a follower of Christ and is a strong influence on her too. She draws on distinctly un-Christian sources including pretty offensive grotesque art.


(Warner Joseph Miller) #6

Andrew!! I so appreciate your desire to encourage and guide your niece in furthering her artistic talents. Truly, man…it’s an amazing thing to have the support and sincere interest from a parent, grandparent or close adult family member. It means more than you may think.

Full disclosure, I myself am an artist and am able to make a bit of a living “doing art”. I work, predominantly, in secular environments on secular projects. I actually rarely do anything that is overtly or purposely Christ-centered with the exception of a Christmas play or Resurrection Sunday presentation at my church. That isn’t necessarily by choice or anything. However, I rarely ever have felt the tension of having to reconcile being a Jesus-follower with also being a professional actor. I’ve never felt a dichotomy in that way because:

  • I was a Christian way before began a career as an actor. So there’s never been any competition or conflict between the two.

  • Being a Jesus-follower is my identity and I express this identity through (though, not exclusively) the artistic talent that God has allowed me. The former informs how and why I do the latter AND what projects I agree to do.

There are other reasons why there has never really been a tension between the two (my identity in Christ and my art) but essentially, it can be boiled down and summed up in this quote by A.W. Tozer:

Let every man abide in the calling wherein he is called and his work will be as sacred as the work of the ministry. It is not what a man does that determines whether his work is sacred or secular, it is why he does it.
The Pursuit of God: The Human Thirst for the Divine

Additionally, verses like the one quoted below and ones like 1 Peter 4:10,11 serve to give clarity on the purpose of God’s giftings and given talents:

Whatever you do [no matter what it is] in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus [and in dependence on Him], giving thanks to God the Father through Him.
COLOSSIANS 3:17 AMP (emphasis mine)

I love this translation of that verse:

Let every activity of your lives and every word that comes from your lips be drenched with the beauty of our Lord Jesus, the Anointed One. And bring your constant praise to God the Father because of what Christ has done for you!
Colossians 3:17 TPT

“Whatever you do…”. “Every activity…” Every talent that we have been given is ultimately for the purpose of serving God via serving His people. Making His Name great; expanding His kingdom; encouraging other believers to maturity, devotion, holiness, loving works, etc. — are all acts of service to God. That service may take place inside the church congregation or out in the marketplace. @KMac made this point when she said,

There’s this quote by Olympian and Christian missionary, Eric Liddell that Ravi Zacharias often quotes with regard to purpose. Liddell said this:

“I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast! And when I run I feel His pleasure.”

Eric Liddell echoes the sentiment seen in Colossians 3:23-24:

Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.
Colossians 3:23‭-‬24 ESV

Whatever you do [whatever your task may be], work from the soul [that is, put in your very best effort], as [something done] for the Lord and not for men, knowing [with all certainty] that it is from the Lord [not from men] that you will receive the inheritance which is your [greatest] reward. It is the Lord Christ whom you [actually] serve.
COLOSSIANS 3:23‭-‬24 AMP

Working at your task – whatever it may be – in excellence and correct motivations honors our God and brings glory to His name.

My work, for example, allows me access and audience to groups of people that may not otherwise step foot inside the four walls of a church. They respect my work ethic and the way in which I conduct myself on and off set/stage. That respect (and God’s Holy Spirit) gains me audience and a listen, at least. I can say with a certain amount of confidence that rarely do many of my colleagues get to speak with evangelistic Christians and certainly not ones with apologetics training. I frequently look for and take opportunities to share, expound on and live out the Gospel to people who live exclusively in secular contexts. My job…my art, in a sense, serves as a means to an end – the ‘end’ being the glorifying of God by communicating His truth and pointing people to the cross. Now obviously, that doesn’t mean that EVERY artistic opportunity can or should be accepted because not every one is acceptable or redeemable. I often jokingly (but with serious intention) make this point by saying that God didn’t give me the talent I have to act in porn movies or something similarly as distracting. Whatever may distract or prohibit me from effectively communicating His truth; His Gospel OR that may kill my witness is something that I cannot do. However, He has given me (and your niece) these gifts and talents to be lights in dark places.

If there’s any counsel I could extend to you, it would be to continue to encourage her identity apart from being an artist. Art is what she (we) do; NOT who we are. That line can become blurred for us and stepped over if we’re not lovingly checked and reminded. That simple distinction serves to take the weight and obligation off of being an artist and creating art for art sake versus identifying primarily and predominantly with Christ and allowing art to come from that foundation. It seems like a small, insignificant distinction. However, over time, it truly does encourage right perspective and priority.

In addition to that, continue to show sincere interest. This earns you the right to ask questions and sometimes to lovingly challenge her with regard to her art. Why is she doing it? What motivates her? What’s her objective? Etc? These conversations can serve as reminders for her as to why she does what she does and for Who she, ultimately, does it for.

As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. ~ 1 Peter 4:10‭-‬11 ESV

Hope this serves to help you in some way, brother. God’s every grace and blessing to you and your niece.


(Andrew Shaw) #7

Thank you for the guidance @WarnerMiller. In particular I appreciate your advice to love her for who she is and not for what she does. That’s great advice for any vocation!


(Warner Joseph Miller) #8

You got it, man!

Also, I meant to pass on this last little tidbit and a quote by Olympian and Christian missionary, Eric Liddell. Ravi Zacharias often quotes him with regard to purpose. Liddell said this:

“I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast! And when I run I feel His pleasure.”

Eric Liddell echoes the sentiment seen in Colossians 3:23-24:

Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.
Colossians 3:23‭-‬24 ESV

Whatever you do [whatever your task may be], work from the soul [that is, put in your very best effort], as [something done] for the Lord and not for men, knowing [with all certainty] that it is from the Lord [not from men] that you will receive the inheritance which is your [greatest] reward. It is the Lord Christ whom you [actually] serve.
COLOSSIANS 3:23‭-‬24 AMP

Working at your task – whatever it may be – in excellence and correct motivations honors our God and brings glory to His name. Blessings, my brother!


(Mike Sweeney) #9

I believe that the failure to want to be close to Jesus lies in the lack of understanding of the depth of His love. Try to show His love to your daughter. There is a book by George Gilbert, Return from Tomorrow. It tells his story of his brief death and one on one communication with Jesus. You should read the section around pp 54-55 with your daughter. I have found it to at least to begin to appreciate the love Jesus has for all.