Friday 16 June 2017

Faith & Creativity: Valerie Sjodin

The second guest post in the series on Faith & Creativity comes from Valerie Sjodin, a longstanding guest contributor to my blog and the art challenges.

I am an artist, workshop facilitator, and certified spiritual director. My passion is encouraging people to connect with God through creativity. Teaching Art Journaling and Art & Faith workshops in person and online are ways I live out that passion and connect with other like-hearted people. My hope is to inspire people to believe in their creative ability, and to connect with God through the creative process. Taking time to listen and respond to God through art making is a natural part of my life and faith journey, a combination of being and doing, a collaboration and conversation with God. I am blessed to be living an artful life in Hillsboro Oregon, in the beautiful Pacific Northwest with my husband Keith. We have three grown married children and four grandchildren.

When Bernice asked me to write a guest post about how my faith and creativity interact, and then quoted one of my favorite books, Walking on Water, by Madeleine L’Engle, I knew it was a good fit. To be honest, I can’t separate my faith and creativity. I believe every person is creative because we are all created in God’s image, the Great Creator. For me personally, painting and praying often go hand in hand. When I paint, I find myself praying, listening, yearning for more of God in my life. The subject I paint or draw may or may not be overtly “Christian.” I don’t really like the term “Christian” artist, musician, writer etc. I believe if a person’s heart is intent on following Jesus, and creating from the heart, then what the person makes will reflect Jesus, no matter what the subject matter. Basically, what’s in comes out and because God’s creativity is unlimited, the Holy Spirit can speak through so many things in addition to the Bible, such as nature, beauty, the golden mean, color, people, story, etc. I love how Jesus used stories to explain truth, expose the heart of the hearer, with an invitation to encounter God. He approached individual people differently, often defying the cultural norms.

The limitless creativity of God inspires me to trust Him more, to risk creating outside my box, and to learn new things, therefore improving my skill. Sometimes I know what I am creating and have a plan. Other times, I just start painting or doodling. Knowing God loves me helps me to give myself permission to make mistakes instead of judging my falling short as failure. God speaks to me through the process regardless of the product.

If I had to reduce my faith and creativity down to one word, it would be GRACE: experiencing God’s unearned goodness. Grace is the God given ability to grow and flow with the Holy Spirit and do the impossible, to overcome and accomplish the purposes of God by the power of the Holy Spirit. I want more of that!

Faith, like art-making, often requires stepping out without knowing exactly what the outcome will be. Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”

This painting hung around my studio for months, and I would work on it now and then. I needed to paint something without a deadline or expectations. I started it as a prayer of longing to hear God and follow. I painted by faith, not knowing what it would look like. I started with color and without a plan. It wasn’t until it was finished that I knew what it meant to me: “The Beginning” when the Spirit of God hovered over the waters creating.

Most of the things I’ve learned about art making require experimenting, risking what I perceive as failure. No matter what the outcome, I move on as a more educated and experienced artist. In faith and in art, sometimes I just trust God as we walk through the process. In this season of life, I am challenged to hold on to God closer and harder than ever while trying to let go of my expectations and outcomes.

I cannot imagine my life without my faith in Christ and I cannot imagine my life without art-making. It seems like I’ve only scratched the surface of faith-filled creative expression. So exciting!

Cheers to you and your grand creative faith-filled adventure!

Thank you Valerie .
Find out more about Valerie's art and online line classes on her website.


  1. thanks for including the art and story of this amazing sister of faith

  2. Great series, Bernice! I enjoyed hearing from Susan and Valerie. :)


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