Form is powerful.  Form engages our curiosity and evokes, both outrageous feelings and tranquil attitudes.  The porch and patio are home to various 3-dimensional forms of furniture, vegetation, food, and drink which collectively invite the viewer to enjoy a garden fresh salad for lunch.  These forms are comforting. 

On the other hand, these architectural forms evoke feelings of uncertainty.  They are discomforting. Their unconventional bulging contours tower over the pedestrians and seem to defy gravity. The diagonal installation of the metal siding likewise implies movement.  Is it safe to walk beneath these forms?

The Golden Gate Bridge is sharply contrasted within an immense negative space.  We are compelled to experience the gentle undulation of its form.  Thinking perspectively, its traversing reach is engaging.

Artistic forms such as sculpture, architecture, jewelry, shoes and even hairstyles exist in the three-dimensional space.  We don’t usually think of space as anything in particular because it seems empty, when it’s actually the empty space that articulates the mass of a form.  Viewing the negative space that surrounds a form is as important as the form itself.  In the optical illusion below we find an equivocal interplay of the positive and the negative spaces.  Which is the foreground subject, the black or the white?  The point is that they are equally important.


Form is the three-dimensional volume and tactile surface of an object.  It occupies space with height, width and depth.  We could say that a form displaces space.  A circle is a shape, while a sphere is a form.  Likewise a square is a shape and a cube is a form.  Rather elementary but essential in our study.

Such objects communicate by occupying a volume of space.  We once had a beautiful red maple tree growing close to our house.  We enjoyed its beauty and learned much by observing its cycles of life and integral role in the backyard ecosystem.  Then, I chain-sawed the leafy form to the ground and planted grass in its former space.  It no longer occupies space; it’s gone; it’s firewood.  It no longer exists in its former space.  

Some forms live and die, while others continue.  Scripture tells us that the foundations of the earth are forever, while our earthly lifespan is like a vapor (Ps. 105:4, Jam. 4:14).  We’ll not always live in our bodily forms, although we will take on heavenly forms.   

I can’t help but think of my dear loved ones that have gone home to be with the Lord.  I miss them.  Their earthly forms are buried in the ground from which God created them in Adam.  We have this current treasure of life in earthen pots - three-dimensional forms that God graciously provides.  We have different forms because of His intentional creative work.  The Scripture tells us to cherish these bodily forms and honor His design.  We are His—His temples (1 Cor. 3:16-17). Wow!  


The form of the Bean dominates the city square in Chicago.  Its curved reflective surface captures a grand panoramic and slightly distorts reality.  It playfully dominates and tickles our curiosity.

What does the form of a person tell us?  What do we pick up about people by the way they decorate their forms?  Is there a message in fashion design?  Why the hype concerning name brands, and how do these brands become so popular?  Perhaps the fashion gurus have found a way to reach into our pockets by meeting our need to express ourselves through decorating our bodies, which God has created as His house.  Does God have any thoughts about fashion design?  Has He ever designed body coverings?  Read Genesis 3:21 and Exodus 28.  Does God have an opinion about fashion accessories?  Why would He?  Check out Isaiah 3:16; it’s rather amazing.  Yes, God has definite opinions about clothing.

We understand that God reads human behavior and human form as it moves under its own God-given power.  The daughters of Zion, in Isaiah 3:1, communicated “sassy” through fashion and body language.  Let the words of the prophet in the above Scripture create a little video in your head.  God wasn’t pleased with what they were saying with fashion in motion.  Their walk talked!  Mischievous girls they were!  Ouch! Clothing and adornment can be an indicator of one’s heart condition.


We may never meet the people in this photo, and yet we read their looks, their form and surface decorations.  It’s instinctive.  We do it all the time.  What do you know about these people by looking at them?

In what style of clothing do you dress your personal form?  What is the form of your hairstyle?  What effect do these these things have on how people read your personality? 


Form can be one of the most influential visual elements due to its attributes of mass, size and position.  Now then, in creating realistic images of forms, we create the illusion of three dimensions on flat surfaces like cave walls, paper products, and fine canvases.  

Contrast the two subjects in this image.  Poised to hammer the ant, the elephant wields his form (including his mass and weight) against the defenseless form of the ant.  The ant’s death is believably imminent.

In this second image, the entire event is a spoof, unbelievable and disturbing.  Our perception of reality is antagonized.  It makes no sense that a checkered floor should float in space while sustaining the weight of an elephant.  Come on!  Although an elephant’s massive weight and threatening size should evoke fear and trepidation, we dismiss this pictorial event as ridiculous and unbelievable.  Sure it tickles the eyeballs, and that’s a great visual snack-eye-candy.  The quirkiness of the image is attributed to the power of the forms, which communicate through their weight, massiveness and position.

Size matters.  How big is the engagement diamond?  Is bigger better?  How about that massive tree branch that reaches over the roof of your house?  Is bigger always better? How big are the armies in the book of Revelation?  Of course size matters when it comes to matters of the heart and survival.  Use this principle to say what must be said when creating graphics.  Play with size and proportions.  It’s fun. 


A good Christian artist always bears in mind his intended audience and crafts his message accordingly.  There’s a time and purpose for all sorts of visual communications that impact lives for Christ.  There’s a time to be funny, a time to be serious and a time to be whatever is essential to say what must be said to shock and challenge an audience in good ways.  Yes!  Jesus’ word pictures astonished His listeners into a new reality. 
How graphic!   

Kitty Eat Me by Chas

How big, how small, how weighty or how weightless we create our subject matter determines our viewers’ responses.  Size, mass and position can evoke fear or laughter, comfort or pain, peace or tension, or any other emotion that spans the gamut of human sensibility.  


The early designers of the Coca Cola bottle purposely created a bottle form that would stick with consumers.  They purposely wanted the consumer to remember the tactile experience of handling a bottle of Coke.  One could awake in the middle of the night; reach inside of a refrigerator and feel for that familiar form of the Coca Cola bottle.  In those days, refrigerators did not have lights in them.  The Coke Company knew that its customers enjoyed the total Coca Cola event, which included the taste, the visual and the tactile sensory experiences.  The midnight yearning included fond memories of former Coke encounters.  See how powerful form can be!  Millions of dollars are being made because of this one visual element. 


Yes, we instinctively transfer human qualities to the things we create.  We can’t really stop ourselves.  The only thing we have ever been is human; therefore, everything we create passes through our humanity. We intuitively infuse human attributes into whatever we design.  We have always lived under the influences of weather, of color, of light and dark, of big and little, and of course gravity.  

Think for just a moment about automotive design.  What styles of cars do you like, and why?  Often times, our choices are based on the forms.  Cars range from strictly utilitarian forms to sensual forms.  SUVs say something about their owners as much as alternatively fueled vehicles say something about their owners. 


Pottery is one of the most exciting creative processes.  Watching a lump of clay spin on a potter’s wheel and take form is mesmerizing.  God knows this, and one day He told Jeremiah to go to the Potter’s House to hear the word of the Lord.  Jeremiah watched the potter’s hands carefully, but the form was marred.  The skillful craftsman reshaped the clay into a new form.  Perfect.  At that moment the Lord spoke to Jeremiah: “O house of Israel, cannot I do with you as this potter?... Behold as the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are ye in mine hand. O house of Israel” (Jer. 18:6). 
The potter, our Potter, has a goal, a mental image of how the final product will look and function.  The process of formation makes this possible.  Let’s consider two important truths here:

1.  Although God is supposed to be the Potter in our lives, others have a hand in shaping us as well.  Parents are the first and most significant shapers of our lives.  Then friends become increasingly more important and influential.  How about celebrities? They are like the constellations of stars, by which sailors set their courses in olden times.  Do the “stars” influence our formation so much so that we decide to emulate them? 

2.  Jeremiah witnessed a failure.  The pot flopped just like Israel; she had fallen into wretched sin.  At that very moment God spoke a great word of encouragement for His people, who thought there was no hope for them.  “I can fix you, just like the potter reformed the clay.”  Trusting God with our failures is crucial to our formation.  Learning to fail successfully is the key to spiritual formation.  We are on the road to perfection. 


CONCEPTUALLY:  Let’s use Kitty Eat Me, by Chas, and the elephant and ant images for our inspiration.  Each of these graphics is composed of two unlikely subjects combined into one composition.  The elephant and ant are not commonly engaged in a battle for survival.  I doubt that an elephant ever notices an ant.  Chas’ kitty and self portrait are way out of proportion.  These forms are incongruent and startle viewers. 

Clifford’s ingenious collision - animal forms in human attire

Our challenge is to take two or more unlikely forms and combine them into one composition.  The key word here is collision.  Collisions occur when two objects or ideas moving in opposite directions meet.  Visual collision is obvious in Kitty Eat Me.  What about a psychological collision of two concepts?  What about a collision with spiritual impact?

Wherever Jesus spoke collisions happened – collisions of lifeless traditions and life-giving truth - unrighteousness demolished by righteousness, and so on.  Jesus often juxtaposed liberating truth and the bondages of sin.  His light obliterates darkness.  He showed His audience pictures of spiritual purity next to cultural pollution.  For example, He illustrated the visual similarities of the Pharisees dressed in white robes side-by-side with whitewashed tombstones - both white and both filled with dead men’s bones.  Ouch!  “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For ye are like unto whited sepulchers, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness” (Mt. 23:27).  

The collision factor exploded when the reality of godliness faced-off with the empty religious traditions.  In 2 Timothy 3:1-5, Paul describes the heart condition of certain religious folks, who have a form of godliness, but deny the power of the truth.  We find the ongoing struggle between a true form of relationship with the Lord and the detached form of religious practices.  This battle continues.

This graphic project packs a visual punch like few others.  While your work will be visually exciting, be sure of its spiritually relevancy.  Bring biblical reality to life through your graphics.  Yeah!  Use the concepts of size, proportion, mass, and position of unusual forms to drive home truth with a holy punch.  Jesus did!  

Photoshop	    200 resolution
Canvas size	    Pick one of these standard canvas sizes; 8.5x11, 8x10, 16x20, 22x28.
Choose one of the following:
1.  Illustrate an English idiom with a biblical spin.
2.  Illustrate a Bible verse that has colliding mental images.

Dive In by Brent

This is a great example by Brent.  He took the common idiom, “Dive In,” and succinctly illustrated an encouragement to do so in our approach to Scripture.  Collaborating with fellow students and the teacher further developed Brent’s ideas into a strong visual statement.

The following list of idioms will spur all sorts of pictures in your head.  Many of the thoughts contained in these phrases stem from Bible truths.  Have fun with this. 

“A blessing in disguise”
“A drop in the bucket”
“A fool and his money are easily parted”
“A picture paints a thousand words”
“A piece of cake”
“A taste of your own medicine”
“All in the same boat”
“An arm and a leg”
“An axe to grind”
“Barking up the wrong tree”
“Bite off more than you can chew”
“Bite your tongue”
“Chew someone out”
“Crack someone up”
“Don’t count your chickens before they hatch”
“Don’t put all your eggs in one basket”
“Feeding frenzy”
“Get up on the wrong side of the bed”
“Gut feelings” 
“He lost his head”
“Keep an eye on him”
“Lend me your ear”
“Nest egg”
“Off the hook”
“Over my dead body”
“Pull the plug”
“Raining cats and dogs”
“Rule of thumb”
“Smell a rat”
“The ball is in your court”
“The best of both worlds”
“The bigger they are the harder they fall”
“Tie the knot”
“Under the weather”
“Variety is the spice of life”
“When pigs fly”

“You are what you eat”
“You can’t judge a book by its cover”
“You can’t take it with you”

There are no examples of this challenge for your reference.  This is a new project.  We will populate this site with your creations.  

Visualize these words of Jesus.  See the colliding visuals He purposefully created in the minds of His listeners!  Read His word below and allow images to form in your minds - pictures of truth!  Select one of these verses as your inspiration and illustrate its truth.

“Take up your cross and follow me.”  What does this look like in the 21st Century?

“Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand...” Mat. 12:25  This verse also applies to an individual with a divided heart.  What does this look like?

“For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.” Mat. 16:25 

“Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For ye are like unto whited sepulchers, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness.” Mt. 23:27 

“Love your enemies” Mat. 5:44

“And if your right eye offend thee, pluck it out...And if your right hand offend thee, cut it off...” Mat. 5:29-30

“Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth...But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven...” Mat. 6:19-20

Revisit these Scriptures in context to be sure you understanding is complete.  See what commentators have to say about these verses in light of the audiences’s understanding, in the day in which Jesus spoke them.  That’s big!  It’s best to allow the Word to work in our hearts and minds so that we understand the truth we hope to illustrate.  


-	Form can communicate powerful feelings, even threatening feelings.
-	Form is the 3-dimensional volume and tactile surface of an object.
-	Our bodies are the forms we currently occupy.  One day we will have heavenly bodies.
-	We have different forms according to our God-given genetics.
-	We make assumptions about people by how they accessorize their bodily forms.
-	God has definite ideas about fashion design.  He reads what His people wear. 
-	 Clothing and adornment can be indicators one’s heart condition. 
-	The illusion of weight, mass and position of forms can be manipulated to say what needs to be said by the graphic artist (the elephant and the ant).
-	Size, mass and position of a form can evoke fear or laughter, comfort or pain, peace or tension.
-	The form and touch of a Coca Cola bottle is recognizable even in the dark. 
-	Jesus’ words created mental collisions in the minds of his listeners.  He juxtaposed liberating truth and the bondages of sin. 
-	Spiritual formation happens through parents, friends and sometimes celebrities.
-	Leaning to fail successfully is a key to maturing.  
-	Jesus contrasted the form of religion against the power of truth.


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