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Illustrating Audacious Ignatius: Behind the Scenes!

“First, know well that I’m loved even though oh so flawed.
Next, spend time with the Lord and walk where he trod.
Offer all I possess, beg for my stony heart thawed,
And act from a deep love, the love that is God”

From Audacious Ignatius, page 15

One of the questions I got asked yesterday at an elementary school “Meet the Illustrator” Day was which page was the hardest to make. No question– the page depicting the Spiritual Exercises! Paul and I both sweated over this scene. Paul rewrote the words multiple times, and I struggled with showing the idea of the exercises with images. It’s such an important moment in the book; it’s the scene I thought about first when I read Paul’s words, and I returned to it again and again during the illustration process.

I had originally thought I would divide it up into four different panels, since there are four weeks in the Spiritual Exercises. One panel for each week. But the layout looked strange, the first picture looked too much like St. Ignatius hugging Santa Claus… it just wasn’t right.

The breakthrough happened one day (June 28th, to be exact– thanks, technology!) when Paul texted me a picture he had drawn of a layout. I know– Paul is the writer, not the illustrator! But he has a knack for thinking of good layouts. Here’s the picture he sent me:


Awesome, right?? Love those eyebrows.

It soon became this:


Having a strong visual connection between Ignatius in prayer and the images of his baptism and walking with Jesus was the key! We knew we had our layout.

The video at the beginning of this post shows my process of combining the images digitally, after they had been painted and scanned. I am so happy with how this page turned out, and I love asking my kids what they think about St. Ignatius’s imaginative prayer exercise!

Now if I could only learn to work as fast as the time-lapse video shows…

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Form and Function

The crayons in my son’s toddler classroom are shaped like large pebbles. This form serves the crayon’s function: to teach him to productively hold a pencil.

Watch out, Jackson Pollack.

It is our sincere hope that Audacious Ignatius has a similarly productive form. We hope that its beauty and joy offers a simple reminder to productively hold the stuff of one’s life as Ignatius did, enabling attentiveness to the Spirit and freedom to participate in the work of God in the world.

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Workplace community

Both Katie and I are grateful to be able to able to work from home on projects like Audacious Ignatius, though the workplace is not always the most efficient. I found this text conversation from the morning of a big deadline day.

(Ñaño is the most prized comfort object. He actually makes a cameo in the “Preaching in Spain” page of Audacious Ignatius!)

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Family feedback

We struggled for some time with the layout of the cover of Audacious Ignatius. We went through our bookshelves at home and perused the local libraries. From these ideas, Katie eventually created a few demos and we sent it around for feedback, starting with our families. Here is a snapshot of how it went in her house. 😀

Andrew ended up voting for the “On the Way” in the end.