Depicting God in Art

Pillar of Fire

The pillar of fire that protected the Israelites from the Egyptians

How do you depict God in art? I’ve wrestled with this for years now… ever since I created my first Progress of Redemption Pictorial Bible Chart for a college class at Columbia International University.

I needed to show God as active and involved in the events in the artwork for each story, but–how?

In the Old Testament, the Spirit of God hovers over the water in Genesis 1:1. But…how would you depict the Holy Spirit? As a rushing wind?

God appears in the Garden of Eden, walking in the cool of the day (Genesis 3:8). He appears to Abraham as a smoking firepot and a flaming torch. If I used those two together, no one would draw a connection from that to God.

He comes to Moses as fire burning–yet not consuming–the bush in the wilderness.

And God appears as a pillar of fire, protecting the trapped Israelites from the Egyptians; a pillar of fire that traveled with Israel and rested above the tabernacle when the Israelites wandered in the wilderness.

He speaks from the top of the mountain when He gives the Ten Commandments to Moses, he whispers to Elijah… but how do you show a whisper or a shout.

No one ever said it would be easy, but…depicting God in art is hard!

There are all those appearances of ‘the angel of the Lord’ to Abraham, to Hagar, to Joshua, to Samson’s parents, to– Is the ‘angel of the Lord’ another instance of God making Himself physically present? Or…not?

And then there’s the Old Testament command not to make any graven images…

God is hidden from view for most of the people in the Old Testament. The Israelites in the desert saw the cloud on the mountain, but couldn’t come up to see Him. Even Moses couldn’t look upon His face.

Depict God in art–how?

To quote Jan Verhoeff, “God in art shows up as a relevant depiction of the artist’s symbolic representation of concepts. Often this symbolic representation is a sort of signature of the artist, in much of their work.”

I wanted my depiction of God in my artwork to be relevant and respectful. I also wanted the depiction I settled on to be consistent for each Testament.

Going back over the list, I realized that aside from appearing as a person, as wind, and a whisper, God seems to like appearing as fire. I’m pretty good at drawing fire…

For the Old Testament story-line, I decided to depict God as holy fire.

But… What does holy fire look like?

I wanted my design to be recognizable as fire, and not look creepy or weird–like something out of a science fiction movie.

Holy fireI settled on this design, with golden yellow, blue, and red flames coming up from a fluffy white cloud for several reasons:

I figured that holy fire would burn really hot. The hottest flames are blue, even almost white. I added the red and yellow to make it recognizable as fire, so it wouldn’t look like a cloud pretending to be fire. These are also colors God ordered the Israelites to use in the construction of the Temple (gold covered altars, posts, walls, and utensils), the red dyed covering of skins, the curtain protecting the Holy of Holies).

I also wanted the fire to be a symbol of the Trinity, three Persons in One, and the three main colors work for that too.

The fluffy white cloud also shows that this flame is self-sustaining, like our Creator.

Not everyone likes my depiction. I think Mom was even a little offended by it because she didn’t understand it. But it isn’t intended to be one hundred percent historically accurate. It’s intended only to be a picture-symbol. But I think it works!

And that, my friends, is how this artist depicts God in art…


I’m redoing my Progress of Redemption pictorial Bible story chart. As I finish the new artwork, you’ll be able to find it here. When the artwork is all updated, I plan to turn it into a book.

Check out my other books here.

Light your writing on fire…

Have you ever wondered what it would take to write a hit story? If you get a spark going, will it ignite? Light your writing on fire with these cool as a cucumber writing tips, and then YOU can be the coolest writer lit up on the web too!

That’s what they said when they started the writing seminar.

light your writing on fire

And I bought it.

Somewhere in that first five minutes I caught on, and I realized anyone can write a hit, BESTSELLER if they have the right marketing ready to sell their book. It isn’t even about the editing – have you ever read the Twilight series?

If you captivate a market, and pull in buyers from your specific market your book CAN and will take off running like a forest fire out of control. You can light your writing on fire, just by being in the right place in the right time.

I think right now is the right time…

The key is to look around and see what’s going on in the world and then write for the audience that’s going to start reading your book. Reading offers a sort of escapism, for those who turn the pages. When the world goes to hell in a basket, people open the pages and find substantive value between them. They cling to the spark they find in the book.

Light your writing on fire with these:

  • Characters that fulfill the needs of your readers. Who couldn’t use a Superman right now? Or a Batman, determined to win out against the evil thugs of current political adversaries? Your reader may even need to feel like that hero, saving the world!
  • Winnable conflicts and battles that can be overcome. We all need reassurance that life as we knew it won’t disappear in the current political phase of destruction. We need to know this too shall pass and we’ll live happily ever after. Reassure your readers.
  • Solutions to the evils of the world. Spiritual or real, we all need to know there’s a solution and it belongs to us. We can hold onto the solution during trying times. We need to know there’s bad in the world, but good overcomes bad. And we need to know we’ll be better people in the end.
  • Settings that offer respite as well as conflict. Pull in the glimpses of perfection from a rose garden at sunset, along with the raging fires of the forest that might overtake the rose garden. Be sure you save some roses to grow again.
  • Happily ever after only happens in movies and fairy tales. Be real. Wear the edges off your corners, include some transparency and fear from your own world, and the soften the edges with some cushy emotional satisfaction. We just want to know we can survive it all.

Write your story as if you’re going to read it.

Writers, you define the world in your book. Be sure it’s a world we all want to live in, but sell it to the reader who needs it most. Invite them to write reviews and sell your book for you.


Visit this writer on Amazon.

Or escape into the shadows to find happiness again, and buy one of Krystine’s Books:

Is your character an introvert or extrovert?

Medieval Warrior

Who is your character?

When developing a character for a new book, it helps to think about the people we know and real facets of their characters that make them interesting or challenging to deal with. Their strengths and weaknesses, how they relate to other people, who they really are down deep inside as opposed to their public faces. Is your character an introvert or extrovert?

There’s a lot more to being an introvert or an extrovert than the usually perceived differences between being shy or being outgoing.

You can have a character that is initially reserved and wary, but as he gets to know people and warms up to them, can become the life of the party.

Or you can have a character who is attracted to outgoing personalities, but whose own personality is very retiring. This juxtaposition in character can make for great conflict to drive your story forward.

A major determiner of a character’s personality is whether they’re more introverted or extroverted.

To help round out your character’s personality traits, I’ve created graphs dealing with introverted versus extroverted behavior.

1. How does your character respond physically to being with people?

Introverts versus Extroverts

Does your character:

  • become energized by being around people?
  • become fatigued by being around people?
  • have a response somewhere in between, like becoming overstimulated and energized while people are around but having an exhausted, let-down response after they’re gone?

2. How does your character respond emotionally to other people?

Is your character an introvert or an extrovert?

Emotional response can range from:

  • Not caring what other people think. For example: the classic “tough guy” or “independent woman”
  • Caring too much what others think to the point of being desperately needy for approval. For example: a girl whose feelings are easily hurt, or a “yes man”
  • Most people’s emotional response to social friction falls somewhere in between, and can even fluctuate from one day to the next. Describing that fluctuation, and how and why it happens, can build nuance and subtlety into your story, and bring your character to life.

3. What is your character’s personal preference as a result of their emotional and physical responses to other people?

Personality traits

Is your character a loner or do they always need people around them? Does your character thrive on having company stop by, and live for the next big get-together, group event, or party?

Or does your character take to their heels rather than have to deal with people? Maybe your character has such a strong negative emotional response to dealing with other people that they’ve chosen the life of a hermit.

Or maybe they would be a hermit if they could, but that choice has been denied them, and they struggle to come to grips with a loved one’s need for a constant flow of people through their lives.

4. One-on-one introvert versus crowd extrovert

Introvert vs Extrovert 4

Or maybe they like people, but they need to take the time to get to know them one on one, because crowds overwhelm them.

Maybe your character prefers having fewer, but deeper friendships to spending time with lots of superficial friendships.

Or maybe they fall somewhere in between: they like having crowd time, but they also need their few close, intimate friends as well.

More questions to ask as you develop your character’s personality:

  • What challenges would the demands of leadership place on an introvert? on an extrovert?
  • Can you have an extrovert who lives successfully (if only for a short time) as a “lone wolf”?
  • How would you write a character that is very introverted, but must deal daily with many people? What sort of “personality mask” would they wear?

Application Example: Bjorn Horsa

A Shadow on the Land

Click through to purchase

Bjorn Horsa is an extrovert.

He has seldom if ever found himself completely alone since early childhood.

He loves to be in the middle of a crowd of people. He enjoys being the life of the party.

Being with people energizes him, but he also has a need to spend time one on one with his closest friends and associates. He has a best friend: his cousin Trehan; a trusted mentor in Sir Kyle; a small but very trusted circle of friends and companions, and a wider circle of people whom he likes and enjoys spending time with, but aren’t part of his inner circle.

While he wants to be liked, he doesn’t have a burning need to be liked. He doesn’t need the approval of other people, except as it helps him accomplish his goals.

Christian Values – How to Impart Morals in Literature

Guest Post by Jan Verhoeff

Do words impact your reader with Christian Values? The most important aspect of writing is moving your audience with words to make a difference. Christian values seep out of literature only when they’re included in the fabric and content of the story, the characters, and the settings that make up the material.

As a writer, I get excited when I read a piece of value driven literature with moral values and a message that can drive my reader to better life choices. In fact, I’ve found even in the least likely genre. With a Christian message, any story makes a big impact on the reader.

1 – Character Development

book writer Every character has both good and bad character traits and how your characters develop in the story impact the overall outcome of the book. Is your book successful? Is your character developed throughout the book? Or do your characters feel flat and bland?

In a recent project a specific character lacked depth and purpose throughout the book, because his motives were unfocused. When a character is focused, he becomes real. Have you ever noticed, even in real life, people who lack focus are boring? Maladjusted individuals can’t quite meet the real world social requirements because they lack substance. On the other hand, people who are focused, purposeful, and have moral fabric woven through their being, provide plenty of social interest. Subsequently, as an author, you’ll want to find the direct focus for each character that you want your reader to remember.

Yes, of course, there will be some casually mentioned characters who have no real personal value in the book. Because your book will include a variety of well rounded characters, the overall moral structure will impact your reader.

2 – Scene Setting Descriptions

Christian ValuesWere you aware that color has moral value? God appears vividly apparent in the brilliance of His blessed creation when Christians describe daybreak, or sunset. Have you ever heard a Christian lament the power sunrise has over their emotional well being? Christian values are found in all of God’s creation. Nature sings His praise and victory.

Color defines moral values. A dark night implies evil, restless, sin. A bright morning imparts God’s blessing, love, and abundance on His children. The incredible power of God’s love exists in the very breath of life, because all life is likened unto God.

The dirty little secret of Christian Values? Even NON-Christian writers can’t avoid impact of creation on their world view, because the descriptions of almost every setting reveals the God-like characteristics of nature. That’s impact.

3 – Story Line Flow

Christian ValuesThe ebb and flow of your story, largely reactive to the character development and action in your story becomes either classic, or reactive, because of the direction of your characters focus. When the character has a specific goal in mind, and applies his attention and determination to achieving that goal, chaos reigns, because anytime you’re right with the Lord, the devil gets active. The challenges, chaos, and strife faced by your character can generally be directly attributed to sin in their past, sin in their present, or sin they’ll commit in their future. Those moral actions make a huge impact on the ultimate goals and success of your character.

In almost no situation will your main character ever overcome the destruction of challenges in their life without proving themselves worthy with moral values. The story of Christianity may not be a part of your story line, but I’ll lay down cash that your characters ultimate good is a direct result of God, or a God-like influence on his or her life. Why? Because that’s how life happens.

Mark my words, it’s all true.

4 – Purpose, Meaning, and Focus

In a romance, the guy wants his girl. The girl definitely gets her man. The end result is love, sweet love. That’s just how a romance rocks. The purpose of your book will have a definite meaning based on the genre of your book. But the overall outcome of your book is determined by the challenges, chaos, and undoing of the overwhelming despair of your main character. If he can’t get it together in your book, your book won’t sell, it won’t market, and nothing you can do will put that book in front of the right people, if you can’t achieve the ultimate purpose of your efforts.

The meaning, spelled out pretty easily in a few paragraphs of your book, introduces the next characters. In most instances, the meaning of your book will be apparent to the reader soon after they start reading.

write your storyPure Entertainment – the book will be chock-full of laughter, humor, and other fun events, but may have little in the way of an actual ”reader lesson” because this book is meant to entertain. While you may teach your readers something of value, they won’t know they learned a valuable lesson right away.

Good and Evil – everyone recognizes the clear values and attributes of good and evil. No lesson could be as clear as the lesson that says Plan A is RIGHT, and you should go there, your decisions should result in Plan A, or Plan B is bad and you should NEVER do it. No matter what.

Conceptual Lesson – some books are intended to teach you one lesson, such as wear your seat belt. The author will nix the entire book at the end to share with you that one measly action that will make no difference to anyone other than YOU. Or him. The idea is that each lesson learned takes a story line, therefore your book may teach several lessons using more than one story line.

Stay focused.

5 – Christian Values

Honing your Christian values as you write is always a good way to bring them out in the open, add discussion, and invite people to ask or share their testimony in your blog posts or on their reviews. What better way to focus on Christian, moral thinking? Increase your conceptual discussion, by having a talk about sinful behavior, or why one should have integrity in a business transaction. However you choose to introduce Christian values into your book, the story should be told including those items, rather than the items be shared to tell the story.

Adding any extra precepts to your story should be an afterthought rather than the prime purpose of the story.

For instance, many years back a writer shared her story – but nobody realized until toward the end of her story that she had lost an arm just below her elbow to a childhood accident. She hadn’t made her inadequacy the main pillar of the story but rather included it as a part of the story somewhere near the end of the book. That’s what your purpose, or values, or concept should be – a part of the whole story, but revealed as an afterthought.


Jan Verhoeff is a writer. She occasionally shares concepts and ideas about writing as a guest blogger on a wide variety of blogs, writer websites, and networks online. If you’d like to discuss something about your book with her – you may contact her for a “coffee chat” by clicking on the link below.

Come chat over coffee

Bubble Tea for Maria

Boba tea or bubble tea

Do you know what ‘bubble tea’ is?

Maria decided that, for her birthday, some boba balls (the ‘bubbles’ in the bubble tea) would be the perfect birthday gift!

Maria with her homemade bubble tea.

We discussed the merits of popping boba versus the large tapioca pearl boba. I prefer the popping boba, especially after having been served a drink (once only, thankfully) where the tapioca boba weren’t properly cooked and the consistency was off.

I did some research. Popping boba come in small expensive tubs that don’t last for more than a few drinks, but I could buy the ingredients to make them (this is a fairly time intensive project), or I could buy the tapioca boba.

I decided to put the popping boba project off till fall, and buy tapioca boba now.

After reading the customer reviews, I discovered that not all tapioca pearls are created equal. Some have a better success-rate at plumping up into boba balls. I also discovered that the ‘rainbow’ boba are rainbow-colored thanks to dyes. I wasn’t able to find any plain white boba. Apparently that isn’t a thing?

Because of the chemical sensitivities, I wish it was…

I ordered a bag of black boba and a packet of bubble tea straws. I wanted fewer straws, but I couldn’t find the translucent straws in a smaller package, and–for that number, they were fairly cheap, so–150 fat bubble tea straws later…

They arrived on Thursday. On Friday we had time to play, so we experimented!

I wanted to see if we could cook the boba in apple juice instead of water, or water with added syrup.

Here’s our recipe:

  • 1 cup tapioca boba
  • 3 cups apple juice

boil on high for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Turn temp down/off for last 5 minutes, put on lid. Don’t forget to stir! (this is not a project you can walk away from the stove and ignore).

Allow to sit/rest off the burner for about 5-10 minutes more.

Drain/rinse using cool filtered water, then drop the plumped balls into more cool water, swish around, and rinse again. Drain thoroughly, add to the tumbler of your choice, add ice, tea (sweet tea concentrate works best), and milk or coconut milk, add a straw and serve.

A few notes: this package of boba balls has a hint of a smoky fragrance about it that reminds me somehow of molasses. Maybe that was the caramel flavoring?

Boiling in the apple juice didn’t diminish this odor or the flavor as much as I’d hoped. I want to try again with a conventional recipe, boil in water, and store in the fridge overnight in water and alternatively, a much stronger flavored syrup to see if either one makes a difference.

On the plus side, these boba were, however, as fresh and soft as guaranteed coming out of the vacuum pack, and they plumped up very quickly in the boiling juice.

You may not notice the flavor as much as I do, because I’m hyper-sensitized to flavors as well as everything else, but I do need to mention that I also had a very unfortunate reaction following drinking that glass of tea, and I’m not sure I want another one any time soon.

And these are Maria’s boba… I think I need to purchase more for me, and see if I can’t find some without that smoky flavor to them, even if I do have to boil them for longer.

Epilogue: last night the cats had a party in my cupboard! They found the straws, trashed the opened pack (72 remaining in it), and strewed them across my kitchen floor! I’ve had to hide the rest in a high cupboard they can’t get into…

Ah well… everyone’s had their fun now!

Turn off your ad blocker to view the Amazon links below for the tapioca boba and straws I bought, if you’d like to try them:

Large tapioca pearls (boba) for Bubble Tea

Large tapioca pearls (boba) for Bubble Tea

150 fat bubble tea straws

150 fat bubble tea straws