Painting Your Bible Step-by-Step

One of the top questions I am asked is “What Bible do you have and how do you paint in it?”

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One of the top questions I am asked is “What Bible do you have and how do you paint in it?”

My BibleMy Bible is the New Living Translation “Reflections” Bible. Other than having wide margins it’s nothing special. The pages are thin like most Bibles.

Many people say that you must prepare the page with Gesso before painting. I tried this and did not like it as it made the paint resist and stand on the page in little beads. I took the risk and tried painting directly on the page and was happy with the results. It did not bleed through the back of the page. There is some light ghosting but no more than what the print in most Bibles has. In fact, I successfully paint on both sides of a page.

The products I Use
I made two-page protector sheets by taking thin plastic folders and cutting them to the size. I cut them about two inches bigger than the page in my Bible. The first set I made was too stiff. Make sure whatever you use is flexible as it needs to contour to the shape of your Bible while open. The page protectors not only hold the paper in place they also prevent imprinting and paint splatters on the pages beneath.

I use professional grade watercolor but used cheaper brands when I began. If you don’t invest in professional paint at least avoid anything chalky. Chalky paint is the number one killer of pens when adding lettering to your painting.

For lettering, my favorite pens are Prismacolor Premier fine line markers. They are archival quality, acid-free, and lightfast. I started out with Micron pens but found I was going broke from having to toss dried out pens that I had hardly used. Faber-Castell pens put down a nice line but I found that the flare on the bottom of the pen hurts my hand.

The Process:

I take masking tape and stick it to something (my pant leg) a few times to take some of the sticky off then tape my page to the plastic sheet. This not only keeps the page flat while it’s wet, but it also gives a crisp border to your painting.

Next, I sketch out what I will paint with a pencil.

Once I’m happy with the sketch I take a kneaded eraser and lightly press it onto my drawing repeating this several times until the lines are dark enough to see but light enough to disappear under the paint. Note: Water sets pencil markings so be sure to erase any lines that might be seen BEFORE applying water.

I personally will not use nontransparent paint over any of the words in my Bible. If you find that the paint is pooling or has been applied to thick making it hard to read you can lift some of the pigment off the page with a paper towel while it is still wet.

I mostly use the wet on wet technique however it’s tricky on thin pages. I dampen the page where I want to add color and drop the wet paint into it with a brush. At first, your page will stretch and look lumpy, hang in there this is temporary and will shrink back while drying.


Note: Never remove the masking tape until your painting is fully dry. Removing early will tare your page and cause the paper to wrinkle up destroying your work. If you get impatient you can shorten the waiting game by drying it with your blow dryer. I personally am impatient and store my blow dryer plugged in by my desk.

The last step is removing the tape. Be VERY CAREFUL! If this is done too quickly or the paper is still damp it can easily tear.

Your page will shrink a bit and be a little wrinkled but over time this will flatten out some. Again if you don’t have the patience to wait, you can always iron it. I found a quilters iron at an estate sale that I use. It doesn’t make it completely smooth but it helps a lot. You will soon learn to love the soft new feel of the pages in your Bible and will look forward to the day when every page is painted.











Written by Shawna Wright


This is an updated version of a post originally published on Shawna Wright Art – God Tweets


Featured Image by Debby Hudson

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