This blog isn’t really happening, is it?

I’ve now opened a Twitter account, which I think I’m rather more likely to keep up.

It’s called @LampBible

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PowerPoint bundles

Lamp-Bible-Pictures-PowerPoint-bundles b

There’s now a new section of PowerPoint bundles.
Currently there is Joseph (which was available before), Jesus’ miracles, and a selection from The Sermon on the Mount.
Handy and cheaper if you’re likely to need them all.
Expect more!

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The set of pictures I’m working on just now consist of: rocks, sand, dried grass, dead bushes, bread, sticks, stone walls, and mud plaster; and characters with olive skin, brown hair or black hair, wearing dull black clothes, haircloth and leather.

Just as well there’s some sea, sky, and a beautiful Phoenician glass jug* to break the monotony a little.

*slightly incongruous in the poverty-stricken setting, but I want to draw it so I’ve decided it’s a family heirloom they couldn’t sell 🙂

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5 years ago…

5 years ago today, a friend emailed me asking if I knew of anywhere she could find clipart of Bible stories. She was trying to make PowerPoints for school assemblies, and was searching for suitable illustrations with little success.

I gave a couple of suggestions, but they weren’t what she was looking for.

It seemed like there was a gap in the market, and I said that maybe one day I’d do something about it… Later in the month, I realised that, if there really was a gap in the market, I could do something about it. If I drew the pictures she was needing, I could also sell them to other people. I suggested a simple style, as that would be quick, and she was thrilled.

So she gave me her rota, and I got to work. The first ever lesson, for the start of the new term in January, was The Boy Jesus. I was enjoying the freedom of illustrating for PowerPoint (where you have unlimited pages, unlike print) so much that I drew 14 illustrations! I have to say I didn’t keep that up 🙂



It wasn’t until mid 2013 that I felt I had enough illustrations to start a website, and I made my first sale in November of that year.

But 6th Nov 2010 is when the Lamp Bible Pictures story really started.

So, to celebrate, I’m offering my very first PowerPoint presentation, The Boy Jesus at half price until the end of December this year.

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Black or white?

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could research ancient people without getting tangled up with white supremacists (who insist that all the great ancient civilisations were white) and black supremacists (who insist that all the great ancient peoples were black), and someone who appeared to be asserting that every single ancient civilisation (except the black africans) had the identical mid brown skin colour to her son.

They sling insults and racial epithets at each other, assume bad faith of everyone of ‘the other race’, selectively choose only the pictures that might seem to support their assertions, and are completely incapable of analysing ancient pictures rationally.

It’s so silly. Your value as a human being does not rely on people of your skin colour ruling the world in ancient history.

Plaster cast of a relief from the temple of Beit el-Wali, 1279-1213BC. In the British Museum.

Plaster cast of a relief from the temple of Beit el-Wali, 1279-1213BC. In the British Museum.

I’ve seen this picture used as ‘evidence’ that Egyptians were ‘black’. I don’t doubt that some of them were, but in the context of the whole painting these ladies are clearly from further south in Africa.

I wouldn’t be surprised if someone some time tries to claim that the right-hand lady proves the Egyptians were blond aryans with a bit of a suntan – stranger claims are made 🙂

What it does show is that the Egyptians were well aware that – shock horror – there can be a number of different skin colours in a single civilisation.

That’s how I approach my illustrations. I use a large mix of skin colours – in which I am more fortunate than the egyptian artists who had a very limited pallette. Most people are brownish/olive. Egyptians tend to be darker than Israelites, but there’s no hard dividing line, and a fair bit of overlap – both Moses and the apostle Paul were mistaken for Egyptians. Outdoor people are darker than people with indoor, sedentary jobs – meaning poor people are darker than rich people who can keep out of the sun. Women on average are paler than men – which was exagerated greatly in ancient pictures, adding to the confusion.

We know there was migration, slavery and intermarriage, meaning you can add a bit of a mix. Moses married a Cushite (african) wife. David happened to have a Cushite in his army. Ebed-Melech the Cushite happened to work in the Israelite palace, and rescued Jeremiah. By the time you get to the New Testament, you can add in the results of Roman slavery, making black africans, blonde scandinavians and ginger celts all reasonable gentile minorities. Herod had a Gaulish bodyguard. Haven’t drawn any of these yet.

I do tend to lean towards the darker colours for my Bible people – when you look at real people, you can easily get a white person who is much darker than a middle eastern person. But in a simple style of drawing, you don’t have the subtleties, so I use skin colour. Strikes a balance with all the illustrations out there that seem to think Bible people were just europeans/white americans in funny clothes.

Oops – I’m supposed to be researching the widow of Zarephath (Phoenician) – I didn’t mean to get waylaid!

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Most popular

It’s interesting to look at which stories are the most popular:

Of course some stories have been available longer than others, which will skew the statistics.

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Psalm 23 book

Look what a customer sent me!!!

They used my Psalm 23 PowerPoint in their service, and then printed this book out for the kids to take home after the service. Looks really professional.

It’s fun seeing the text in Dutch. I’m glad I decided to use editable text on all the PowerPoints.

Look at the wee sheep on the back 🙂

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Boy angel costumes

I wrote an article on my personal blog about nativity play angels. If you’re interested, click on the image below.

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Jairus’s daughter’s outfit

I recently added a PowerPoint presentation about Jairus’s daughter.

It was a wee bit tricky designing her outfit. You want the colours and design of the scene to in some way reflect the mood of the illustration, or, at least, not clash wildly with it. This will, of course, include the clothes worn by the characters

Fine – except if the same outfit has to be used in two consecutive pictures, one showing her dead (which would be best complemented with dull-ish colours, and a cool palette) and one showing her alive (as vibrant as possible)!

Here was my solution:

The purple top works fine with the sad picture. However,  when you combine it with the orange skirt, it’s certainly bright – not to say garish! (But I think a 12-year-old can get away with it.)

I also gave her straightish hair because it could either lie limply or swirl about a bit.

I got her outfit from the wall-paintings in the synagogue at Duro Europos in Syria. (They’re a slightly later period, but some clothes are certainly the same as 1st century, and it’s better than nothing.)

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Goliath (Life size!)

Last week my church did a Holiday Club about the life of David, and they wanted a life-size Goliath for the children to see – and get their pictures taken with.

Here’s how we did it (sorry the pictures are a bit pale):

Plan First I drew Goliath on A4 paper and added a grid of squares on the computer – each square to be 6 inches when scaled up. I also added some faint lines half-way across the squares to help when copying.

(You can get the template free if you buy the David & Goliath PowerPoint.)

Grid I drew a grid of 6-inch squares on the wall in pink chalk. 
I needed a tall step-ladder and even then I was worried I’d not be able to reach – 10 1/2 foot (top of spear) is higher than you think! And I’m not tall. But I managed to reach – just.
We situated him at the bottom of the stairs as it’s the only suitable place with a high enough ceiling.

Pencil I copied each square from the paper to the wall. This picture was as high as I could reach without the ladder.

The pencils finished. It was hard to get the lines smooth when drawing this big.

Inking I used black acrylic paint and a flat brush about 8mm wide. I think I used another pointy brush for the finer lines (details on armour etc). Interestingly, it was easier to get smooth lines with the paint than the pencil – for which I was glad. 

And then I had to wash the chalk off the wall – I used a furry dusting thing with a long handle I found in the cleaning cupboard.

From chalk lines to this point took 2 hours, and my work was done.

Colour Finally, the talented Jenny Hamill did the colours (acrylic also) – and here’s the finished result.
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