5 Ways to Fix Bible Journaling Mishaps

Let’s be honest here: every Bible journaler hopes their page will come out perfect. But this is real life, and mishaps can occur in Bible journaling just as with any other undertaking. With these Bible journaling examples, I’ll show you what to do when problems occur, and how to make the best of them.

Bible journaling examples

{ This post and the photos within it contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase after clicking an affiliate link, my ministry gets a small commission, with no extra cost to you. See my full disclosures HERE. }

Are you afraid to start Bible art journaling for fear of messing up? Or maybe you journal anyway, but you’re always nervous about making a mistake?

Trust me when I say, you are definitely not alone.

When I first started Bible journaling, I really wanted everything to be perfect. I was terrified anyway, but even more so at the thought of “messing up”! But now, I can tell you from experience that mistakes do happen, and it’s not the end of the world!

Over the years, I’ve amassed quite a few Bible journaling examples of what happens when I fumble the pen, smudge the ink, lay the paint on too heavy, and so on and so forth. And guess what? God still spoke to me through His Word, in spite of the screw-ups.

So, does Bible journaling have to be perfect? No way!

We all fall into that trap of wanting everything to look fantastic, with zero mistakes or mishaps. But, let’s be real here. I think you already know as well as I do, that nothing in life is perfect—except God himself! And since the whole point of Bible journaling is to connect with God, and learn from His Word, we need to get over ourselves. Imperfection in God’s hands, can become a beautiful lesson.

Who determines the definition of ‘perfect’ anyway? I believe anything that God touches can be made perfect—whether that means it looks fantastic, or that the lesson found in the imperfection is so awesome that the appearance doesn’t matter.

As always, the most important thing is to devote your Bible journaling time to God, and trust Him to teach you through the seemingly ‘perfect’, and also through the total screw-ups. Because there WILL be boo-boos. The question is, how do we respond when they happen?

Bible Journaling Examples: Common Problems + Solutions

In the four-plus years I’ve been journaling in the Bible, I’ve made numerous errors, and had plenty of mishaps. But you know, God always teaches me something in spite of, and sometimes even because of, the mistake.

I want you to know, that it’s totally okay to make mistakes in Bible journaling. You don’t have to be afraid of it! Here are five common boo-boos that can happen, and some Bible journaling tips to help you make the best of them.

1) Honest mistakes (missing letters, etc.)

First up, is the obvious. What if you’re writing or hand-lettering in the margin of your Bible, and you realize OOPS, I left out a letter! Or maybe, you accidentally switched two letters, or put something where you didn’t want it.

Proverbs Bible journaling examples

Fortunately, there are lots of clever Bible journaling ideas you can use to fix the error. You can use white-out/correcting tape, you can paint over it and start again, or you can stick a piece of washi tape on top of the erroneous word and then write the correct word on top of the washi tape. Another option would be to just ‘insert’ or squeeze in the missing letter above the word. And I’m sure there are more creative tips for Bible journaling you could come up with, to fix those inevitable mistakes!

2) Bleed-through or show-through

Nobody wants bleed-through issues (where the ink, paint, etc., bleeds straight through the thin Bible paper to the other side.) But what happens if something does bleed through unexpectedly? Or what if you used gesso to prep your page (to prevent bleed-through), but the ink still shows on the other side?

For these occasions, my favorite thing is to let it go—for now. Sometime later, when I’m ready to journal on the backside of the page, I try to incorporate the shapes or colors that show through on the back, into the new journaling page.

Bible art journaling

The best Bible journaling examples I have of that, are these back-to-back Good Friday/Easter pages that I did a few years apart. On the front side, a red ink spray depicts the brutal reality of Jesus’ crucifixion. On the back, that red ink showed through as a pink cross (in spite of me using clear gesso, which did prevent full on bleed-through). So, three years later, I turned that pink cross into a beautiful resurrection cross! Problem solved.

Easter Bible journal - at the cross

Bible journaling examples - pink cross before

Bible journaling examples - floral cross after

But no matter what kind of bleed/show-through problem you have, there is one category of Bible art tools I recommend using: colored pencils! They work great, because you can color on/in/around the parts that show through, without worrying about anything showing through on your original page. In other words, they’re the safest option if you don’t want risk something on your new page showing through on your original page.

3) Putting gesso on both sides of the page—is it possible?

Applying clear gesso is one of the most useful Bible journaling techniques you can learn, because it paves the way for you to paint, stamp, write in ink, and so forth, on the Bible page—with very little chance of anything bleeding through to the other side. But for a long time, I thought that if I applied clear gesso on a page and then painted/stamped on it, that it wouldn’t ever be an option to apply gesso and paint on the back of that same page. I figured, it’s safer just to use colored pencils, even if I really wanted to paint.

Christmas Bible journal - blessed is she

Bible art journaling examples

But then, I had this Christmas journaling idea for Luke chapter 2. On the previous page, in Luke chapter 1, I had done this lovely “blessed is she who believes that the Lord would fulfill His promises to her” page (pictured above) with gesso + Distress Ink + metallic gelatos. And then, a few years later, I really wanted to do a page on Luke 2 (the story of Jesus’ birth), and I really wanted to paint the whole page with metallic gelatos. What’s a girl to do?

Christmas Bible journaling tutorial

Well, I decided to take a risk, and just go for it. And what do you know—it turns out it IS possible to gesso on both sides of the page. I will say, though, that if you decide to go this route, do proceed with care. I made sure to paint extra carefully, to ensure that the Luke 1 “blessed is she” page wouldn’t end up with any smudges or bits of ink from the art I was creating on the other side for Luke 2 (Christ’s birth story).

4) Accidental smudges/colors not dark enough

Next up…what do you do when you’ve written something, say for example, in gel pens, and then you’re working on some other part of the page, and you smudge the colors with the heel of your hand? Or what if you apply watercolors after you’ve already written or stamped something, and the watercolors totally blurred the writing or the stamped images?

Both of these things have happened to me (in some cases, multiple times!) And the solution that most often works, is just to go back over the part you smudged with fresh ink or paint, to reinforce it. The same thing goes for if you stamped an image, but the stamp didn’t show up very well—you can always take a pen, like my favorite Pigma Micron pen, and go over the stamped image to make it show up better.

Psalm 150 Bible art

In the Bible journaling examples above, it was literally my first time ever journaling in the Bible, and my very first entry in my brand new NIV Journaling Bible. I made the rookie mistake of stamping the “praise the Lord”, and musical notes and instruments FIRST in pigment ink. And then, I painted with watercolors on top of it. Big oopsie!

I didn’t realize that pigment ink can easily bleed/run if any kind of paint or other wet media is applied on top of it. (PRO TIP: I now know that permanent dye ink, such as Ranger Archival Ink, will NOT run or bleed like that. So, if you want to stamp something, and then paint in/around it, use a permanent dye ink pad to stamp with.)

Thankfully, I was able to just stamp the music notes and instruments again over the top of the watercolors. You can still see the blurred ink (especially around the piano keyboard and the flute), but at least you can tell that what each item is, instead of just seeing a splotch of ink that ran all over. 😉

5) Things that just can’t be fixed (go with it!)

In all the Bible journaling mishaps I’ve experienced, there is one thing that can’t be fixed. And that is, when you unintentionally cover up or obscure the Bible text. I think most of us would agree, that whatever art we add while journaling, God’s Word needs to still be legible. And granted, I’ve never had an incident where I covered it up so bad that it couldn’t be read at all…but I’ve come pretty close to that, as you can see below.

The first time I used acrylic paint in my Bible, was on Genesis chapter 1. I used little-to-no medium to thin the paint, and I didn’t think to test the paint on a piece of scrap paper first either. So I smeared it on, only to realize it was much too dark and opaque, and it made the Bible text very difficult to read. Lesson learned!

Now, I know to blend it with something (I use at least a 1:1 ratio or even 1:2 ratio of FolkArt acrylic paint with Golden acrylic glazing liquid, but water would work too). And you can see the difference it makes, in comparison to this Isaiah 40:29-31 page that I did. At any rate, it’s always a good idea to test first, before putting something on the Bible page…especially if you’ve never used that particular product before.

Bible journaling examples - paint

Since I couldn’t do anything to fix this one, I just left it like that. And in retrospect, I think it’s kind of appropriate when I imagine God creating galaxies and planets and oceans out of nothing. It’s a bit chaotic, like I can picture the swirling of stars and planets, before God settled them all into their respective places.

That’s the key with ‘mistakes’ that can’t be ‘fixed’—to look for the lesson, or symbolism, in how the page turned out. I think you’ll find, as I have, that God can use your artistic creations, to emphasize the things He wants to teach you in His Word.

So, from all these Bible journaling examples, I hope you can see that ‘perfection’ is relative, that it’s totally okay and expected to make mistakes, and that it’s not such a terrible thing when they do happen. God can use anything and everything as a teaching tool, even our mishaps!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top