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Expressing faith in art
OCT. 28, 2013

Darwin artist illustrates Christian children’s book

By Kristen Miller
News Editor

DARWIN, MN – Seeing the positives in a negative situation can be difficult, but one local artist helps illustrate how important it is to give thanks in all of life’s circumstances.

Rachel Korhonen, a 2010 Dassel-Cokato graduate and recently a junior at the University of Northwestern in St. Paul, was able to combine her two passions of ministry and art to make the pages come alive in a new childrens book, “The Thankables.”

Korhonen had grown up wanting to be an art teacher, but while attending the International House of Prayer in Kansas City, she found her desire lay in ministry.

It was a struggle for her at first, she said. “How can I reconcile these seemingly opposing passions?” Korhonen questioned of her faith and love of art.

It was at the House of Prayer where Korhonen was introduced to live painting ministry. As worship teams would perform songs, she would be a part of an art team that would draw or paint, creating a visual for the songs.

“It was a really cool experience,” she said, explaining that this also introduced her to others with the same passion for art and theology.

Korhonen said she enjoys the depth of worship that can come through visual art, which can go far beyond the sometimes simplistic images in Christian artwork.

While a part of the art team, Korhonen was introduced to Nayomi Thomas, who was working on publishing a Christian children’s book and was in need of an illustrator.

Korhonen enjoys representational art and drawing people, and thought illustration might be a good fit for her.

She was a bit apprehensive, however, with the level of commitment she thought it would take to complete a book, especially in conjunction with a busy schedule between work and school.

Though Korhonen was hesitant at first, after meeting with the author and hearing the premise of the story, “I was immediately on board,” she said.

In “The Thankables,” readers – young and old – are reminded that “in every season of our lives, God is greatly to be praised and we can always give thanks for everything,” Korhonen said.

Even in bad times, “there is still good in everything and there’s always something we can give thanks about,” she added.

The story centers around a family that is going through some hardships in its life. “Our car was broke and money spent; there was no hope in sight,” the story reads.

Then, as the family is sitting around “griping and complaining,” the door flies open and in comes “three little creatures with very large features,” resembling mice.

The Thankables, as they are named, then begin singing a song reminding the family to be thankful for what they have. “Oh, thank you for the big, blue sky. Thank you for Grandma’s apple pie. Thank you, Jesus, you died for me. Now forever, yay, I am free . . .” The song in its entirety can be heard online at www.thethankables.com.

The family then has hope once again.

Whenl trouble comes back, the creatures come back, too singing the same song, and joy returns to the family.

The book reminds readers that “Difficulties will come and go, but the joy that Christ is always with us – that never changes,” Korhonen said. “That’s what we give thanks for.”

Illustrating the book took six weeks, with Korhonen using the styles the author had in mind, such as bright colors and expressive faces.

“She had many ideas [of what the book would look like] because she had been stewing over it for the last five years,” Korhonen said of the author.

For example, the author envisioned the mom in curlers. “So, I had to take what she described and bring it to life,” Korhonen said.

Korhonen used computer software Photoshop and an electronic tablet and pen to sketch the artwork.

Drawing it digitally also made it easier for her to send the sketches via e-mail to the author for approval since Korhonen had moved back to Minnesota in the midst of the project.

Having a digital document also made it much easier to make adjustments, such as changing the color of an object.

Korhonen also found “The Thankables” song to be uplifting to her during the sketching process when she, too, became overwhelmed and anxious.

“It’s such a catchy song,” Korhonen commented, adding that even as a college student, she has been blessed by it. “It was such a fun project to work on.”

Currently, Korhonen is working toward a major in theology and a minor in art.

She is also working on another illustration, this one less simplistic than “The Thankables.”

It’s a series of pictures about the fall of mankind, set in the Garden of Eden.

With this series, Korhonen hopes to give the story of Adam and Eve a “fresh look” and bring it back to life for audiences.

“I love art, and I’m so excited to share this with other people,” Korhonen.

More about ‘The Thankables’

For more information on “The Thankables,” to purchase the book, or listen to the song, visit www.thethankables.com. The book is also available on Amazon.com and Westbowpress.com for $10.99.

Korhonen challenges people to join in the campaign, War on Grumbling, reminding people to always give thanks regardless of life’s circumstances, by finding “The Thankables” on Facebook.

For more about the artist, visit her on Facebook at Rachel Korhonen Art.

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