A piece of truth for you (and a free printable)

It's been almost a month since I finished school for the summer. Entering the summer has brought forth both excitement and relief to be finished papers, exams, and assignments. But for me this summer has also opened some wounds that feel fresh and raw and achy, which has allowed me to enter a period of healing.

Fear is a constant struggle for me. Even, two years ago, when I started a concept called The Year of No Fear, I still consistently felt afraid. This summer I am focusing on breathing truth into my core, which often circles around to embedding scripture and words Jesus says deep inside of me.

This hunt for truth has revealed to me what the definition of truth really is. St. Augustine said, "All truth is God's truth". If that's the case, I'm starting to recognize just how many things point back to God. 

It has almost become a sort of scavenger hunt. I get into my car in the morning, put my sunglasses on, and search for truth. What will be true today? I think. What truth will I find that will point me back to God? 

When I search for truth, I end up finding it. Sometimes I find it in people and places I never even thought to look. 

"The truth will set you free," Jesus said. And of course he's right. But I'm learning it can hurt to get there.

Today, on Mother's Day, we gave each woman in my church this print I painted. I wanted to also share it with you. I wonder how you are today. I wonder how you are this summer. I wonder how, even when the flowers are blooming and the birds are chirping and the sun is beating down on your shoulder blades, if maybe you feel some sadness entangled within all of that too. 

But no need to fear.

Here you go. 

We can breathe in truth together. 

On opening your hands and releasing your truth


We learn about telling the truth in school. My professor says, "I think the most important thing you need to remember is to seek to tell the truest stories."

I'd like to be a truth seeker, and the similarities of what I'm learning about seeking the truth in journalism, and what I know about seeking the truth in Jesus, do not escape me. Now I try to seek those truths everywhere I go: in the Christmas lights, and the commute to school, and the way my nephew Noah can say "Liza" now. All of these truths fill me up -- wide-eyed wonder I keep grasping onto.

Advent is beginning, and with it the active waiting that comes from this month long search for truth. But I don't want to stop searching when Advent is finished. I want to keep finding truth in all the places I go.

I decided, then, to write my final assignments about the things that matter to me -- the truth that matters to me. So I write papers about maternal mortality in Uganda, and sex trafficking in Toronto, and what it looks like to be a voice for someone who may not be able to speak yet.


I was upset with God six months ago.

"Why did you make me an artist?" I asked him. I had been thinking about Uganda, about the mothers who are dying there. "Why couldn't I have been a doctor, or someone who can do something? I do not want to make art that someone will simply pin on Pinterest. I want to make things that have meaning."

I entered college and promptly stopped making art.

Journalism seemed to be more meaningful. At least I could write about what was happening in the world.

Soon my soul felt cluttered. I stared at my paints longingly, the watercolours that reminded me of streaky sunrises, and the brushes that bent between my fingers and rested on the pad of my thumb. My canvases were blank and staring up at me. I found myself writing down the art I would make, if I would allow myself to make it.


When we were learning about truth in school, I kept thinking about my artwork, and my blog, and the novel that's sitting on my desktop. What if those things were my truth? What if I wasn't meant to tell the truth through being a doctor, or a scientist, but through letters on a canvas, and words on a tiny blog?

What if the way God created me, and the gifts he purposely and intricately tangled around my lungs and heart and membrane, could in fact offer meaning?

I chose to believe this. I booked myself an art show.


I buy a new book for Advent this year, and so far I've missed more days than I've read. I try not to feel like a failure because I can't seem to commit to reading daily. My mind feels very full these days -- I think mostly because multi-tasking and I don't work well together, and with three weeks left of the first semester, and my second art show coming up on Friday, multi-tasking is unfortunately inevitable.

I start to get scared for Friday. I dream no one comes. I dream I ruin all of my artwork before the show. I wake up and decide my art show is a release of my truth: that this is something I love, and that I can tell the truth through art, not just words.

I practice opening my hands and pretending my art and my words and my passions are flying from my fingertips. I tell myself, When you hold on tight, you benefit no one. When you release, you have no idea how far it might go.


I'll practice releasing my truth this Friday. I'll choose to believe that it's meaningful. I'll think about the Truth that I love, and the truth that I'm learning. My professor said, "I think the most important thing you need to remember is to seek to tell the truest stories." I write this down and decide not to forget it.

On the day of your first art show


13169806_1187713074581886_1259034791_o On the day of your first art show, you wake up smiling. Literally. You're surprised by this because all week you've been worrying: worrying you don't have enough art, worrying no one will show up, worrying you might have the date wrong. Your brain sometimes goes a bit nutty when something important is about to happen.

So you wake up grinning, and you get up and survey the artwork that's threatening to swallow the entirety of your bedroom. Eighteen canvases, hundreds of paper prints, even more cards, over a dozen notebooks, two globes, and a map. Your fingers have worked on all of these, and soon they'll be hung on a brick wall and people will come to see them. Or so you hope.

You go with your mom to the nail salon, because you bought high heels which show off your toes. When you return home, you go back to your room and gather together the materials you'll need to set up. For the past few weeks you've continually thought that no one will come to your show. You think it will flop, crash and burn, and every other sad cliche you can grab hold of. Positivity hasn't exactly been your forefront, and suddenly, as you're putting together your crates of prints, and piles of canvases, you feel the breath of God within you whisper, "I am giving you favour. Aliza, I am giving you favour."

You could cry because your faith is so small, so pitiful in spite of the goodness that has been poured over you. Your fickle human heart felt as though it would be far easier to doubt than to hold onto hope that God has good, kind plans for you. You were wrong, as per usual. You've sucker punched yourself in the chest, and when you retrieve your breath it's withering and fragile. You straighten your spine and thank God earnestly for his kind favour.

And then you go to your art show.






On the day of your first art show, God opens his arms wide and parades his grace through the loveliness of humans. When, what you estimate to be around ninety people walk through the doors to see your artwork, you are stunned. Stunned is an understatement, actually. If what you are feeling within manifested into actuality, you would have fallen flat on your face on the floor, unable to get up.

You are blown away by how much it means when people show up. God is always there, it's true, but he so visibly shows up when people show up for each other.

The next day you wake up smiling again. Your heart is so full, so grateful, so near exploding you wonder if you were to add anything more to your soul, it would overflow and brim over, and brim over, and brim over some more.


5 hand lettering tips and tricks

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1. Never underestimate the power of the basics.

I'm talking the basics of the basicsIf hand lettering tools were people, your pencil is your favourite sister and your sharpie is your boyfriend (and he is fiiiiine). What I'm saying is, there's no need getting caught up in buying fancy markers or pens when the basics are what you'll always come back to.

2. Be a cheater.

I know there are a lot of hand letterers out there who don't sketch out their phrase in pencil first -- they've trained themselves to form their letters freehand, not needing a sketch. That's great for them! But most of the time I'm a cheater and I'm not ashamed to admit it. You shouldn't be ashamed either, particularly if you're just starting, and even more so if this is just supposed to be a fun release of your creativity.

So cheat. Sketch your phrase out in pencil first. And then dive in with that fine-sharpie-boyfriend of yours.

3. Down strokes thick, up strokes thin.

This is key to making your letters look rich and full. It'll take a little bit of time to get used to, but slowly start to draw out a letter and visualize: which part of your letter does your pencil stroke down? which part of your letter does your pencil stroke up? On those "down" strokes, fill it in with a little more thickness. Your letter will have so much more dimension!

If you look at this picture of how I lettered hosanna, you can see that my "down" strokes are thick, and my "up" strokes are thin.


4. Don't copy -- instead, make it your own.

There's no sense in blatantly copying someone -- where's the art in that? Inspiration is different than copying. I'm inspired by many artists, my most favourites being Ali Makes Things, Lindsay Letters, and Kal Barteski (a good old Canadian girl!). I never copy them, but instead become inspired by their lettering, which allows me to pour more of myself into my own art.

5. Quit worrying and have fun.

Stress isn't fun. Worry isn't fun. Becoming overwhelmed because your letters may not look like someone else's isn't fun.

Art is fun. Tapping into who you are is fun. Hand lettering because you want to try something new and exciting and creative is fun.

So don't get stressed. Just let loose and chill out, and dive into something you may fall completely in love with.

When you look beyond the art and into the artist


I am a fan of all art everywhere. I am even more a fan of the artists. I remember when I went to New York City the summer I turned 18. We had coupons and were able to go to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. They were showing Monet's watercolour lilies. They're huge, one piece spanning across entire walls and I stood back and just looked at them for minutes and minutes and minutes. Tears formed in my eyes and I wondered what Claude Monet was feeling when he painted them.

Recently I realized something: I want to try and look beyond the art and into the artist. I think I've realized this because that's what I hope people might do for me. Look beyond the things I produce and instead look into who I am.

Without further ado, this is some of my favourite art -- but even more than that -- some of my favourite artists.


Annie Barnett of Be Small Studios. I see Jesus in Annie's art. I have this print hanging on my wall and I look at it every day. It reminds me there is beauty in brokenness. It reminds me sometimes things break before they become free. Annie is a tremendously beautiful artist, but her art is more than that. The best way I can describe it is this: her art is not about selling, it's about a story. That's a breath of fresh air for me.


Hope*ologie (by Emily Freeman and Myquillyn Smith) is one of my favourite treats I give myself. (It's even better served with a big bowl of ice cream -- this month of course being candy cane.) It's a place where I can simply rest. And laugh. It makes me laugh a lot. It's the best kind of art -- the kind where nothing is expected of you. You can just show up, right as you are. And isn't that the most refreshing thing? Each month I look forward to seeing what these incredible artists will hold out as no-strings-attached offering for me.


The Passion of Mary-Margaret by Lisa Sampson changed three things for me: 1) my faith 2) the way I write and 3) the way I view the world. In my life, those are three fairly profound things. I've read this book innumerable times and each time have come away restored, inspired and transformed. I'm grateful Lisa put her art out there. (I should say for the most part I am not a super fan of Christian fiction, but this blew me away. Oh please read it. And then please tell me what you think.)


Something In The Water by Carrie Underwood has given me shivers and tears every time I've heard it. I feel proud of her -- for this prayer, this art, she's so graciously extended to the world. Oh, my most favourite part is when she sings Amazing Grace at the end. Just. Shivers.

This is what I'm going to try and do today, and perhaps you'll try it too: instead of focusing on the art, the product, the process, we might look past all that to who really matters, the artist, the person. Maybe when we stop focusing on what they can do for us, and begin to focus on who they are, that is when we can love them. Who knows what we might discover?.

Making art for just me

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset It is snowing as I write this. It's as if Christmas is here already.

I'm tucked in my house, warm, with a scarf wrapped around my neck, and I'll put on the carols soon. I'll let them play throughout the rooms and I'll paint and I'll be still. I'm trying to teach myself that being still is alright. I often think if I'm not constantly doing something -- producing art to sell, or words to publish, or work to be paid for -- I must be thought of as lazy and unable to prove my worth.

I desperately want to stop trying to prove my worth.

I desperately want to start making art for me.

As you probably already know, I'm scared of what you think of me. I wish I wasn't. I try not to care. I want to be strong and independent and able to shrug all the opinions in the world off my shoulders.

But I'm not able to do that just yet. I'm most scared you'll think I'm selfish or arrogant. I'm doubly scared you'll think I'm both.

I think that's why I'm fearful to make art for me. Because if I do that for myself, I must not be offering you something. And in my head, I always want to be offering the world something. Where will I get in life if I don't offer the world my all?

But my soul is tired. Perhaps a bit unsettled, too. I've been feeling this for a long time, and I wish I could go somewhere alone for a few weeks -- without my phone or the internet or possibly even my mind.

I'm going to make art for just me. I don't know what that looks like yet. Maybe tangible art like painting or lettering, maybe more walks. Maybe more music and less noise. Maybe more hand written letters and more risks and taking more chances on who I am. Taking chances on who the God of this snow fallen earth designed me to be.

I'm going to go turn on the carols now. I want the songs to fill this room and the holy refrains to echo long after it's been switched off.

I'm going to go make some art for just me. line1

And the winner is...


And the winner of the Giant Christmas print bundle giveaway is... Julie Wilson!! Yay! Congratulations, Julie. Check your inbox for an email from me! Merry (very early!) Christmas to YOU.

BUT, for the rest of you, I put out a special discount for this week only.

Use the code WINNERWINNER for 20% off your entire order at the Choose Brave Shop. This can be for any print in the shop, not just the Christmas collection.

Just click here to start shopping!

Thanks so much for participating!


Giant Christmas print bundle giveaway!



We are having a giant Christmas print bundle giveaway!

One lucky person will win over $100 worth of hand lettered prints that were just released yesterday! Perfect for decorating your house this Christmas (and giving away to a friend!).

Someone will win ALL of these prints from the recent Christmas collection from the Choose Brave Shop.

Canada and US residents only. 

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Follow these instructions for SIX ways to enter this giveaway! You can choose any or all of them. This giveaway closes at 11:59 EST on Sunday, November 9th. The winner will be randomly drawn on the morning of Monday, November 10th.

Canada and US residents only.

Use this Rafflecopter form to enter. Yahoo!

Make sure to check out the Choose Brave Shop where I am selling these hand lettered prints, as well as many more! You can find it HERE.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

junkyard masterpiece


It’s dusk - that perfect blend of night and day. The one half of the sky is lavender purple and cobalt blue, the other half a mix of fiery pinks and oranges. The sun is behind me and the moon is in front and for one sweet instant they stare at each other longingly before changing shifts. I linger at a stop sign for a moment, enjoying the spectacle being painted in the sky, and I notice an old pick up truck on the side of the road, garbage and junk surrounding it.

I slowly drive past and realize that it’s not trash around the vehicle, instead garden art, that the old man in the pick up truck must have created.

Long necked birds with strong beaks, small fish frozen in their jump across the water, delicate animals fastened by old weary hands.

Created from junk, produced into art.

I can’t take my eyes off the fascinating creatures. What once was trash - old tires, broken appliances, recycled pop cans, knotted wires, tarnished metal - all were used to create a masterpiece.

And that old man who made them... he loved them. He loved them because they were his. He created them because he saw them for what they could be, not for what everyone else labeled them as.

While everyone else assumed they were simply garbage and threw them away, he saw their potential to be something great.

It reminded me a lot of... me.

Sometimes my hurt inflicts bruises so deep that I’m left scarred. Sometimes my heart feels weary and my soul aches, and I’m tarnished, and broken, and old. And I wonder if I truly have purpose, or dreams, or aspirations.

But the One who made me... he loved me. Loves me. Loves me because I am His. Created me because he saw me for what I could be, not for what I label myself as.

Because I have the potential to be something great.

I am a recycled piece of garden art. A junkyard masterpiece.

Once was broken, now am beautiful.

And so are you.