Calligraphy on Church Walls

In the Spring, Associate Pastor Nancy Ross-Zimmerman approached me with the idea of lettering and illuminating phrases from Romans 12, in Northminster Presbyterian Church’s Commons room. After meeting with the art committee-Rich Schafermeyer, Gary Lord and Helen Haberstroh, I was off and lettering! First I sketched 3 styles on graph paper.
Uncial was their choice, so on a long roll of brown paper I lettered the words, in a first attempt to see how the words might look.
Next, I traced over the letters on a 12″x 50′ white tracing paper, refining them as I went.
While standing on a rolling scaffold, compliments of Gary Lord of Prismatic Painting Studios, I taped the 50′ long sketch along each of the two soffits in the Commons Room.
Fifteen to eighteen feet off of the ground.
After tracing it onto the walls, the painting began. I used eight colors of Sherwin-Williams paint. Each letter was painted twice and a highlight was added.
Ten illuminated letters were also a part of the project, one at the start of each phrase. 23k loose leaf gold was applied as well.
After about 123 hours of work, the last flourish appropriately was put on the word ‘Love’. Then, it occurred to me how much this project was food for the soul. Matthew 4:4 says “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God”. How fitting that my palette was a church dinner plate!  
My hope is that those who read these Romans 12 words will find encouragement and strength. A big thank you to the dear people of Northminster Presbyterian – it was a delight and a gift to work with you on this project!

23 thoughts on “Calligraphy on Church Walls

  1. I feel just the same asI letter scripture, Holly, what delicious food, the best. My shoulders ached as I thought of the 123 hours of holding those arms up. the finished product is so lovely, thank you for sharing. Pam Brown, Nashville

    • Pam, the actual painting took a little over 80 hours. So some of those hours were lettering on the brown paper, sketching to refine, meeting with the committee, etc.

  2. Dear Holly:

    Beautiful work!!!!!!!!!

    But then you always do – but the lettering is scrumptious.

    Hope all is well.


  3. So very beautiful! What a lucky congregation to have your talent in their midst. I have a question… once the letters were traced onto white paper, how did you then transfer them to the wall to begin painting? Thanks.

    • Hi Ann,
      I traced onto a roll of tracing paper and then used Saral transfer paper (white–they have 4 other colors, I chose white for this project). It is erasable. You can see some of it as the closeup for the illuminated letter was taken ‘in progress’ and I had not erased the white Saral from it at that point. Best to you! Holly

  4. Beautiful work, Holly! You have and will touch many lives with the words and your dedication, hard work, and respect for God’s Word.. Thank you for sharing.

  5. Thank you Holly for sharing your beautiful work. Ditto to what others have said…I do appreciate the effort of working at such a height. Stay well, Elaine

  6. Joyful! Holly, the freedom you breathed into your letters and illustrations are priceless. Congratulations on such a fine job.


  7. Holly, This is Outstanding!! What a tremendous joy for all to see. Yes, thank you for sharing. I’ve written on walls too, but not so high up and not to this magnitude. Kudos my friend. It is really spectacular. Love it!!

  8. You did an absolutely amazing job, Holly! I am so impressed with your talent and the enormous under taking of this project. You rock!
    Renee Troy

  9. I have long wanted to write on a wall ( or walls!) your piece has inspired me to DO something about it!! I think I’d like to write something on the beam in my kitchen but it has to be something worthwhile 🙂 ie: scripture 🙂 Thanks again for the beautiful calligraphy xx

  10. Thank you so much for posting this beautiful piece of work. It is at times like this that the internet serves us so well. Even from the ‘bottom’ of the world I can see and imagine this stunning work and I keep coming back and back to see it.
    I have found it truly inspirational. God’d word displayed!! Praise Him!

  11. Beautiful work. This was a task only for the brave of heart to be painting at 15 feet up on the wall, I admire you for seemingly taking on the job with great ease. Your lettering is always beautiful. Thank You.

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