Picturing Hymns With Chalk

Why does the chorister supply a duet or quartet, a violin solo, or some other "special music," when he could just as well treat the congregation to the recorded music of Caruso or Kreisler?

By MRS. FREDERICK HARDER, Missionary Appointee to Europe, S. D. A. Seminary

Why does the chorister supply a duet or quartet, a violin solo, or some other "special music," when he could just as well treat the congregation to the recorded music of Caruso or Kreisler? Is it not because Christ can speak more directly to the soul of one indi­vidual through that of another, than He can through a mechanical phonograph, even though the artistry displayed on the latter may be more nearly perfect?

I believe the same principle applies to the stereopticon. We all recognize the added effectiveness of a gospel song when it is accom­panied by appropriate and beautifully colored stereopticon pictures. But might it not be that a still deeper impression could be obtained if the picture is created before the audience during the singing of the song? In the evangelistic program or in the church the "chalk talk" artist may make a real contribution. Anyone with average artistic ability can learn to do very effective work with chalk and an easel.

Besides the evangelistic services, there are other opportunities for chalk talk illustrations in the Sabbath school, M. V. meetings, Christ­mas programs, Sunshine Bands, etc. Such work is very interesting. To hear the "Amens," and to see tears stream down the faces in the home for the aged, are more than ample com­pensation for any effort exerted. The appeal these illustrations make to children and youth can scarcely be overestimated.

I use the best talent available to sing the words to be illustrated. A solo, duet, quartet, chorus, or choir is effective only as hearts are touched with the words sung. A poem fitly spoken can take the place of singing, if suitable musical talent is not available.

What are some of the materials needed? For one thing, an easel—either tripod or folding—which is sturdy enough to hold a large board steady. You cannot work effectively with a light board or fragile easel, as you must be free to concentrate your mind and heart on your work. The board should not be heavy, but smooth, as any rough places on it are exag­gerated by chalk. It should be large enough to be seen by the audience. I would suggest 31" x 42".

Unprinted newsprint, I find, is the cheapest and easiest to use. The chalk does not stick to it as readily as to some rougher finishes ; yet greater speed may be attained on it. Lecturer's crayons, 1" square and 3" long, are the easiest to use. They come in nearly all colors and shades. Their large flat side enables one to cover the surface of the paper rapidly. If the background is to be in only one or two colors, colored calcimine put on with an eraser, cuts down the time even more. Surgeon's rubber gloves will save the hands. They are more easily removed than is the chalk, especially where washing facilities are not conveniently located.

Colored lights focused on the picture after it is finished reveal and intensify colorings. The transparent appearance which certain colors lend is extremely intriguing. I've had many people, unable to believe it was focused from the front, look closely at my equipment and ask how the light penetrated my board and paper. A trough reflector, with space for six to eight bulbs, is perhaps the best way to light the picture. Mine fastens to the easel under the drawing board so that the light shines from the bottom of the picture. During the process of drawing, the light trough is covered by a ply board on which I lay the chalk. I remove this with one hand as I manipulate the switches for the various colors with the other. Since differ­ent colors create different moods, one must choose colors in harmony with the mood of the song.

The lights may be attached above the picture, though it is then more difficult to keep the mechanics inconspicuous. With various colored cellophane used in conjunction with a projector, and focusing its beam upon the picture, one may obtain very pleasing effects ; however, some effects achieved by the blending of colors might not be possible by this method. Any num­ber of different effects can be worked out with a little effort and ingenuity.

Illustrations of this type differ from ordinary pictures in that they are drawn to look better at a distance than at close range. Instead of blending the colors together, light and dark colors are put on near each other to create a contrast. The main objects of the picture must stand out so they can be clearly seen by those in the rear of the room. This can be achieved only by contrast.

Choose simple pictures. You should not try to draw attention to yourself but to impress the truth of the song more deeply upon the hearers. Be as inconspicuous as possible. Pick up colors in the order of their use on the picture, and try to make all the strokes of that color at one time. The picture should be as thoroughly memorized as a reading would be. You should be able to finish the picture, frame and all, in six to nine minutes. Many of our hymns take even less time than that. In such a case let the pianist play the piece through before the singer starts, and perhaps again just before the last stanza. By all means time the picture with the music so that both will end at the same time, else the effect of a climax will be all but lost. Make up pictures to fit the songs. Watch for simple designs to incor­porate into your pictures, and do try it, won't you?

A book which contains some good illustra­tions for beginners is "How to Picture Hymns With Chalk," by William Allen Bixler. This and the materials needed can be secured at Balda Art Service, Oshkosh, Wisconsin, or at any good artist supply store. (For further particulars see page 36.)


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By MRS. FREDERICK HARDER, Missionary Appointee to Europe, S. D. A. Seminary

December 1943

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