“Art doesn’t require long theological explanations to express emotion and truth; it just touches something inside of us. I love that.”
If you were to bump into Trisha Stern in your local coffee shop, she would be the first to tell you that there is more to her than meets the eye. “I am a passionate Christ-follower, worshipper and prayer warrior,” shares Trisha. “I’m a wife and a mom, I’m “Nonna” to two beautiful grandkids; I’m an artist, a writer, a teacher, a gardener, and an avid reader. I love to travel (except for the whole getting on an airplane thing). Chocolate is one of my favorite food groups and autumn is my favorite time of year. I am no-nonsense, often too plain spoken for my own good, and I am fiercely loyal. I tend to be personally intense and have a very dry sense of humor.”
Along with all of this, Trisha is also a Christian artist, something that has made a profound impact on her own life as well as others. “I became a Christian artist because the process of creating, drawing and painting draws me closer to the Lord,” she explains. “Because the Good News needs to be communicated to everyone, and because people who would never otherwise darken the door of a church will often willingly view art. Art doesn’t require long theological explanations to express emotion and truth; it just touches something inside of us. I love that.”
Trisha is the founder of a Facebook group called Scripture Art Journaling, which currently has about 280 members. This is an online meeting place where members gather to share Scripture-based artwork from their personal journals. “I look for biblical truths and themes that can be developed and illustrated in pictorial form, yet be amplified by the written word,” Trisha says. “My work incorporates images AND words – Scriptures, definitions, lyrics, phrases, and sayings – in an effort to underscore the message and meaning of both components. Together, they result in new shades of meaning.”
While Trisha admires the work of fellow artists such as Valerie Sjodin, she credits her Christian faith as her primary source of inspiration. “My faith is the very heart of my work,” shares Trisha. “I am trying to live out and reflect what The Creator placed inside me. I am created in the image of a creative God so I want everything I create to be a reflection of Him. Art touches people’s hearts and carries truth they might not otherwise receive; it’s my hope that people view my work and receive His truth revealed there. Drawing and painting are a huge part of my worship and my prayer life. When I am creating I feel incredibly connected to Him and incredibly comforted by His presence. My faith is my source of inspiration.”
Not only does her personal walk with Christ provide her with subject matter, but Trisha feels it has also made her a better artist. “Not only do I connect with what inspires me and then connect with the process involved, I also connect with the very One who created it,” she reflects. “That allows me to find deeper shades and layers of meaning, I think. A lot like baklava!”
After facing deep personal tragedy, this artist has experienced firsthand the powerful way art can help wounded hearts find healing and restoration. “Art changed my life,” shares Trisha. “A number of years ago I experienced deep, personal trauma that impacted almost every facet of my life. The resulting pain and wounding nearly swallowed me; I couldn’t pray or worship or read my Bible – or even read Christian fiction, for that matter. I was emotionally and spiritually frozen. I went back to school for a Masters in Counseling, and while there took an art therapy course as an elective. That first night we were asked to draw ‘pain.’ The flood gates opened! On the way home that evening, the Lord showed me that if I could draw pain, I could draw my prayers – and that was the beginning for me. It was a transforming moment.”
Many artists find their work to be such a personal experience that they struggle with sharing it. This is something that Trisha can relate to. “At first my art was deeply, intensely, incredibly personal,” she explains. “I really thought it was meant for me alone, as part of my healing process. But then others did see it and shared how it spoke to them. It grew into something that I now share. Really, it has only been the last two years that I‘ve been comfortable identifying myself as an artist rather than as someone who happens to ‘do’ art. I have formed and administrate a Facebook group called Scripture Art Journaling with about 280 members right now. At this point, I sell by commission only, but am looking into having prints made.”
Trisha’s artistic journey has taught her a great deal. When asked to share some of this wisdom with her fellow artists, she responded with this advice: “This probably sounds trite, but to me it is absolute truth. Draw, paint, and create for The One. Don’t worry about who likes or doesn’t like your art. As long as you find yourself drawn closer to the Lord through the art you produce, you are doing what you are called to do. Remember that the process is more important than the result – and don’t let yourself get mired in striving for perfection. Grab your medium and crank up the worship music and just start worshiping!”
“As long as you find yourself drawn closer to the Lord through the art you produce, you are doing what you are called to do.”
Are you a Christian artist or writer who would like to be featured as part of this Christian Artist Series? Simply send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org for a brief list of interview questions.
Do you have a friend or fellow artist who you would like to see featured here? Let me know, and I’ll be glad to reach out to them!