Sally Snape, who worships at St Michael and All Angels in Bishop’s Cleeve, didn’t think she could paint, but God had a different opinion. Here she shares how her faith inspired her to become an artist.
“I have been a Christian since I was a child and have always been creative, but I had no idea that God could use paintings and sketches until about 10 years ago. I did Art A Level but thought I was no good, so I threw away a lot of my paintings and had no intention of painting again. However, God had a different idea.
“We were living in Corsham, in Wiltshire, and I was ill with chronic fatigue symptom and struggling to manage as a mum with a toddler. After prayer at a local church service, I had a new revelation of how alive the Bible is and started reading it more often. At the same time, I started getting pictures in my mind that simply wouldn’t go away. I knew God wanted me to paint the first picture, but I argued that I was too tired and not skilled. One day, I was so cross with God because I couldn’t sleep while my child napped and all I could see was this picture. So I told God, ‘Fine, if it means you will let me sleep, I will paint it, but I can’t do people and I can’t do water!’
“I painted the picture very simply on a small canvas I had and God gave me words to paint across the top. I then realised I wasn’t tired. The next day, a friend knocked on my door and asked for prayer for something. I realised the words on the painting and the picture matched what she was talking about and the picture was for her. We were both amazed.
“This kept happening, to the point that someone shared what they saw in their mind when they prayed and the picture and colours matched what I had painted at home.
“I started taking notebooks and pencils to church and would draw what God showed me during the worship in the service. Often the pictures matched the sermon before I had heard what the topic was, which would greatly encourage the speaker when I showed them afterwards. Sometimes the sketch was for an individual and I would rip out the page in my notebook to give it to them. The pictures were very basic, my skills were not amazing, but God was using them to encourage people and it was amazing.
“We moved to Scotland and the team at my new church saw me drawing and told me I was a prophetic artist and there were other artists doing the same. I had never heard of it before. They said I would paint up at the front in a service one day, but I nervously laughed and had no intention of doing that. After a year of just me and God, following his lead on how to paint and learning to hear his voice, I went to a conference and God told me to go back to my leaders and say I would paint live in the services. God told me no canvas is blank to Him and I could choose the size of the canvas and He would show me what to paint on it.
“As soon as I got home, I told my leaders so that I wouldn’t overthink it and back out. I was so nervous being at the front but I soon realised that once I was set up and the worship started, it was like I was in a peaceful bubble and didn’t notice anyone else.
“God would show me where to start and what colours to use, sometimes he gave me the whole picture in team prayers before the service and sometimes it was one colour or one detail at a time as I worked. I was astounded at some of the pictures, they were far better than I could paint in my own ability.
“Sometimes I had no idea why I had painted what I had painted until the talk started or at the end someone would come up to me and say the picture was spot on for what God was doing in their life. I would then give them the painting for free.
“Now living in Gloucestershire, I have continued on this incredible journey. I painted live on stage at ReFuel, a conference for Christian worship and creative teams, and have taught seminars. I have also painted live at the Christian Arts Festival in Cheltenham, sometimes at outdoor venues and even during a play. I hold exhibitions at my church and a local retreat. I sell my paintings and am very blessed to have a studio space where I can paint and take my time.
“Every painting, God shows me how to do it and it’s not always the same way, so I have to trust and listen. I’ve gone from thinking I can’t even draw to being the ‘woman who draws in church’, and I love hearing stories years later of how God has used the sketches and paintings that I have done.”
You can see more of Sally’s work at: www.facebook.com/encouragedesigns