Gospel Chalk Art: For Such a Time as This? By James H.


“One picture is worth a thousand words.” So goes the old proverb.

While that adage may not always be true, it certainly highlights the power of visual communication. In 2 !2, we live in a culture dominated by visual media. If you don"t believe that, try an e#periment. $a%e a wal% down any city street or visit a public place and count how many seconds you have to wait before you see someone using a smart phone, tablet, or laptop.

&ou won"t have to wait long.

Our society is increasingly visually oriented, which may be why an “old” art form, 'ospel chal% artistry, is ma%ing a comebac%.

I"m glad about that. I"ve been a gospel chal% artist going on thirty(four years, and I"ve found it to be an ama)ingly powerful way to communicate the truths of 'od"s Word.

'ospel chal% art, also called chal% tal%, chal%ing, performance chal% art, and chal% drawing, is an art form that has been around for a long time. In the late !* s and early !+ s it often too% the form of cleverly drawn line pictures. ,n artist would draw a picture and tell a story at the same time. Often, at the conclusion of the drawing there would be a “surprise.” $hrough clever manipulation of the lines, the artist could “transform” the picture into something totally different. $his generally was the application or “punch line” for the artist-spea%er"s message.

,s the years passed, a greater range of colors became available and, ultimately, fluorescent chal%s and blac% lights were added to chal% artists" toolbo#. .ow it was possible for artists to create “invisible” pictures that remained hidden until a blac% light was turned on. /hal% art evangelists such as 0arl Steele, 1hil Saint, 2sther 3rye, 'eorge Sweeting, 4ing $euling, and a host of others used chal% art to touch many lives for 5esus /hrist.

/hal% art ministry reached its )enith in the !+6 s and 7 s, but during the latter half of the twentieth century, materials became more and more difficult to obtain. $his was largely because lecturer"s chal% and bogus paper, the chal% artist"s primary tools, were e#pensive to produce and had a very limited mar%et. /ompanies stopped manufacturing the chal%, and it became almost impossible to purchase the paper in the large dimensions that chal% artists

use. 2ven blac% lights became scarce after the psychedelic fad of the 8 s and early 9 s faded.

In the !+* s, when people as%ed me about the state of chal% artistry as an art form and ministry tool, I told them it was a dying art. ,rtists such as 4ing $euling, and later :att ;owman, had stepped up to the plate and had begun hand(ma%ing regular and fluorescent chal% and selling paper, but because none of these items was sold in art supply stores, it was all but impossible to get supplies unless you already %new a chal% artist.

2nter the Internet.

$he arrival of the Internet in the nineties was a game(changer for chal% artists. ;ecause it was possible to networ% online and find suppliers with a simple Web search, chal% art began to ma%e a comebac%. .ow with the advent of 4<4(based instruction, more and more people are discovering chal% art as a potent means for sharing the 'ospel.

=ow powerful> /onsider this.

I spo%e at a camp in the summer of 2 ! . $he last time I"d been there was in the summer of 2 . ,t that particular camp, several teens who were now seniors came up to me and told me that they remembered me being the spea%er when they were first( and second( graders. ;ut what really impressed me was that they remembered specific details about the pictures I had drawn.

,nother time I received an email from a young lady who is now an adult, wor%ing with the young people in her church. She told me that she had come to faith in /hrist through a picture I had drawn at a summer camp. She also remembered the picture I"d drawn and said in her email, “I saw /hrist through you.”

What"s the point>

It"s not that I was a particularly great spea%er or even a great artist. $o be honest, bac% in those days my pictures were pretty rough, technically spea%ing.

$he point is that there"s something about seeing a picture unfold before your eyes that cements it in your memory. When that picture is combined with Scripture, a dramatic blac% light effect, and a 'ospel presentation, the effect is even more stri%ing. $he combination of

the senses of sight and hearing ma%es an impression on those who are watching. Indeed, it can even cause the most unwilling to pause and ta%e notice.

, year or so ago I went into a prison in .orth $e#as to do a chal% art program. $he bac% rows of the chapel were filled with gang members who had come, not for the service, but because it was the only time they could get together to conduct their gang business. When I"m drawing, I"m so focused that I rarely have any idea of what"s going on in the audience. So, after the service, I as%ed one of the correctional officers if the gang(bangers had been disruptive during the service. =e shoo% his head and said? “.ope. $hey were all watching you.”

$hese hardened gang members will rarely pay attention during a sermon, but they sat attentively during my chal% art program. $hat"s no credit to me. It merely highlights the fact that, for whatever reason, chal% art can be so captivating that it @uiets people down and focuses them on the message. =opefully it does so long enough for the =oly Spirit to spea% to their hearts.

It has never been easier to become a chal% artist.

,s you plan your homeschool curriculum, if you have a child who is artistically oriented, I would encourage you to seriously consider including 'ospel chal% artistry in his or her educational plan. In today"s media(dominated society, I can"t help but believe that chal% art has come along “for such a time as this.”

James H. (Jim) Pence is a man of many talents. He is a former homeschooling dad, a published author, an accomplished singer and speaker, a performance chalk artist, and in his spare time he teaches karate, writing, and art to homeschooled children. You can learn more about Jim at his Website jamespence.com. James also represents and blogs for See the Light (www.seethelightshine.com). Watch Jim draw 5esus the 1ilot at

http://www.thehomeschoolmagazine-digital.com/thehomeschoolmagazine/201206#pg79 (scroll down and click on the video link).

Side ar

Sources !or Chalk Art Supplies and Curriculum

!. 2ternity ,rts A """.eternityarts.com Bchal%, paper, e@uipment, 4<4 tutorials, live classes and moreC 2. /hal% Illustrated A """.chalkillustrated.com B@uarterly chal% art e()ineC D. See the Eight A """.seetheli#htshine.com Bart instruction and chal% art 4<4s, video blogC 6. 'olden /hal% /lassics A #oldenchalkclassics. lo#spot.com Bchal% art historyC

/opyright 2 !2, used with permission. ,ll rights reserved by author. Originally appeared in the 5une 2 !2 issue of !he "ld #choolhouse$ %aga&ine, the family education maga)ine. Fead the maga)ine free at www.$OS:aga)ine.com com or read it on the go and download the free $OS apps at www.$OS,pps.com to read the maga)ine on your 0indle 3ire or ,pple or ,ndroid devices.

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