Proverbs 30 art: a surreal series of drawings
Select Page

Proverbs 30 Art Series

The Proverbs 30 Art Series is a visual exploration of a piece of biblical text. The series includes over 40 graphite drawings, all made with a hint of surrealism.

Proverbs 30 is a strange and somewhat dark chapter in the Bible written by an obscure author named Agur—one of 35 known authors of the Bible. This chapter is the only bit of writing Agur contributed to the Bible.

Note: Proverbs 30 is not to be confused with Proverbs 31. That chapter is extremely famous and quoted often in regards to biblical womanhood (which, incidentally, I don’t believe that chapter is really about womanhood, but about a particular woman—the author’s mother).

All that aside, if you were looking for art on that, you’re in the wrong place. ;)

I started creating this series in January of 2015. Each piece of paper is seven inches tall, and I use a hard (and very well-sharpened) pencil for each drawing.  I’ve broken the proverb down into small chunks; each unique concept gets its own drawing.

This series is a work in progress, and will end up containing about 48 unique drawings.

Gallery of the Proverbs 30 Art Series

Here’s a gallery of all the Proverbs 30 drawings; keep scrolling down to learn more about each one.

1. The Weary Man

The first drawing in the Proverbs 30 art series comes from Proverbs 30:1, which is translated in several different ways.  I chose the interpretation from the ESV to base my drawing on.

Proverbs 30:1

The words of Agur son of Jakeh. The oracle.
The man declares, I am weary, O God;
I am weary, O God, and worn out.

Proverbs 30 art verse 1-1See a blog post about the making of The Weary Man.

2. Too Stupid to be Human

For the second drawing in my Proverbs 30 art series, I used the second verse as inspiration. It goes like this in the NASB:

Proverbs 30:2

Surely I am more stupid than any man,
And I do not have the understanding of a man.

Proverbs 30:2 surreal drawing by Laura KranzThis guy’s writings are in a book of wisdom, yet he’s calling himself dumber than all the other humans.

I wanted to know what kind of stupidness we were talking about here before I tried to draw it, so I started by taking a quick look at other translations of this verse.

The first line in the ESV says it a little differently:

Surely I am too stupid to be a man.

And the ASV has its own interesting take on it:

Surely I am more brutish than any man.

I looked up the Hebrew word that was being translated “stupid,” or “brutish,” and it seems to represent the concept of an animals’ inability to reason compared with human intelligence.1

This makes sense of the ESV translation, as the author is talking about the type of intelligence that makes people human in the first place. The author is referring to himself as some kind of sub-human.

All that being said, here’s how I came to illustrate the concept in Proverbs 30:2.

1Oswalt, J. N. (1999). 264 בָּעַר. R. L. Harris, G. L. Archer Jr., & B. K. Waltke (Eds.), Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (electronic ed., p. 121). Chicago: Moody Press.

3. No Knowledge of the Holy One

In the third drawing, based on Proverbs 30:3, I used a blind eye to illustrate the lack of knowledge the author claims to have of the Holy One. Here’s the verse:

Proverbs 30:3

I have not learned wisdom,
nor have I knowledge of the Holy One.

Proverbs 30 drawing 3-1At first, I wanted to just skip over this verse since it could arguably have already been illustrated by the last drawing. But since the writer focused so much on it, I continued exploring ways to communicate a lack of knowledge or learning.  I actually pulled open a thesaurus to explore other words people use in the English language to represent this idea, and “perception” showed up on the list.

I liked the idea of communicating the absence of knowledge via an absence of ability to perceive; I focused the frame in on a stylized blind eye.

4. Ascension/Descension

Up to now, I’ve been creating one drawing per verse in the Proverbs 30 art series.

Verse four is packed with multiple distinct concepts:

Who has ascended to heaven and come down?
Who has gathered the wind in his fists?
Who has wrapped up the waters in a garment?
Who has established all the ends of the earth?
What is his name, and what is his son’s name?
Surely you know!

Instead of trying to cram all these concepts and metaphors into one drawing, I created four or five drawings for this verse alone—one on each of the first three lines, and one or two on the rest.

I started by visually interpreting the very first line:

Proverbs 30:4a

Who has ascended to heaven and come down?

Proverbs 30:4 "Ascension and Descension" Bible drawing by Laura Kranz

It’s an abstract question, and required an abstract visualization. I doodled with ballpoint on an old notepad for a while until I settled on a depiction I liked.

5. The Wind in His Fist

The second line of Proverbs 30:4 was a little easier to conceptualize into a drawing. It says:

Proverbs 30:4b

Who has gathered the wind in his fists?

Proverbs 30:4 drawing by Laura Kranz

As usual, I started out with a rough sketch to give myself some clarity on the composition of the art piece.  I used my own hand as a reference.

The verse used the plural, “fists,” but I didn’t want to overcomplicate the drawing too much since I’ve been sticking with rather minimalistic subject matter so far for the series. I stuck with a single hand, and depicted the wind with a wispy, slightly transparent hair-like substance.

The composition of the final drawing is remarkably similar to my initial sketch. Usually I tend to deviate a good deal from initial sketch to final drawing, but hands are one of the objects I’m most comfortable drawing, so the piece required less revision.

This turned out to be the most detailed piece in the series so far. The layered lines in the wind give it a more complex look than the other four artworks.

6. The Water as a Garment

This piece of Proverbs 30 art comes from the third  line of verse 4, which says:

Proverbs 30:4c

Who has wrapped up the waters in a garment?

Proverbs 30:4c drawing by Laura Kranz

I used some watery texture to create a sort of liquid cloak.

7. The Ends of the Earth

This drawing comes from the fourth line of Proverbs 30:4, which says:

Proverbs 30:4d

Who has established all the ends of the earth?

Proverbs 30:4d art by Laura Kranz

8. His Name & His Son’s Name

The final few lines of verse four say:

Proverbs 30:4e

What is his name, and what is his son’s name?
Surely you know!

Proverbs 30:4e drawing by Laura Kranz

9. A Shield to Those

This drawing is based on what is possibly the most famous verse in the whole chapter of Proverbs 30.

Proverbs 30:5

Every word of God proves true;
he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.

Proverbs 30:5 Bible art by Laura Kranz

10. Do Not Add to His Words

Proverbs 30:6

Do not add to his words,
lest he rebuke you and you be found a liar.

Proverbs 30:6 Bible drawing

11. Two Things

Proverbs 30:7

Two things I ask of you;
deny them not to me before I die:

Abstract pencil art-Proverbs 30:7 drawing by Laura Kranz

12. Neither Poverty Nor Riches

Proverbs 30:8

Remove far from me falsehood and lies;
Give me neither poverty nor riches;
Feed me with the food that is needful for me:

Proverbs 30 bible art by laura kranz-12 Proverbs 30.8

13. Too Much or Too Little

Proverbs 30:9

Lest I be full, and deny thee, and say, Who is Jehovah?
Or lest I be poor, and steal,
And use profanely the name of my God.

Surreal drawing proverbs 30:9 by Laura Kranz

14. Slander a Slave to His Master

Proverbs 30:10

Do not slander a servant to their master,
or they will curse you, and you will pay for it.

Surreal pencil drawing Proverbs 30.10

15. A Kind of Man

Proverbs 30:11

There is a kind of man who curses his father
And does not bless his mother.

Proverbs 30:11 art by Laura Kranz

16. Pure in His Own Eyes

Proverbs 30:12

There is a kind who is pure in his own eyes,
Yet is not washed from his filthiness.

Surreal bible art, Proverbs 30:12 Clean in His Own Eyes

17. Lofty Eyes

Proverbs 30:13

There is a kind—oh how lofty are his eyes!
And his eyelids are raised in arrogance.

Surreal pencil drawing-17 Proverbs 30.13 Lofty Eyes

18. Sword Teeth

Proverbs 30:14a

There is a generation whose teeth are as swords, and their jaw teeth as knives,

Surreal pencil drawing Proverbs 30.14

19. Devouring the Poor

Proverbs 30:14b

To devour the poor from off the earth, and the needy from among men.

Proverbs 30:14b Devouring the afflicted

See more about the drawing, Devouring the Poor.

20. The Leech and Her Daughters

This piece of Proverbs 30 art is a little more surreal—but given the text I’m working with, I’m sure you’ll understand.

Proverbs 30:15a

The leech has two daughters:
Give and Give.

Bible art-20 Proverbs 30.15 The leech and her daughters

See a post with more about The Leech and Her Daughters.

21. Things That Never Have Enough

Proverbs 30:15b

Three things are never satisfied;
four never say, ‘Enough’

Bible art-21 Proverbs 30.15 Things that never have enough

See a post with more info on Things that Never Have Enough.

22. The Open Grave and the Barren Womb

Proverbs 30:16a

Sheol, the barren womb …

22 Proverbs 30.16 the open grave and the barren womb-1

23. The Dry Land and the Hungry Fire

Proverbs 30:16b

Land, which is never satisfied with water,
and fire, which never says, “Enough!”

23 Proverbs 30 16 The dry land and the hungry fire

See a post with more info on The Dry Land and the Hungry Fire.

24. The Eye That Mocks

Proverbs 30:17

The eye that mocks a father
and scorns to obey a mother
will be picked out by the ravens of the valley
and eaten by the vultures.

Proverbs 30.17 the eye that mocks

See a post with more info on The Eye That Mocks.

25. Wonderful and Unknown Things

Proverbs 30:18

There are three things which are too wonderful for me,
Four which I do not understand:

Proverbs 30.18 Wonderful and unknown things-7109

See a post with more info on Wonderful and Unknown Things.

26. The Way of the Eagle

Proverbs 30:19a

The way of an eagle in the air;

Proverbs 30.19 The Way of the Eagle

Check out more info behind the making of The Way of the Eagle.

27. The Way of the Serpent

Proverbs 30:19b

The way of a serpent upon a rock;

27 Proverbs 30.18 The Way of the Serpent-1

See more on The Way of the Serpent.

28. The Way of a Ship

Proverbs 30:19c

The way of a ship in the midst of the sea;

28 Proverbs 30.19 The Way of a Ship at Sea-1

See more on The Way of a Ship.

29. The Way of a Man with a Maiden

Proverbs 30:19d

and the way of a man with a maiden.

29 Proverbs 30.19 The Way of a Man with a Maiden-1

See more on The Way of a Man with a Maiden.

30. She Wipes Her Mouth

Proverbs 30:20

This is the way of an adulteress:
she eats and wipes her mouth
and says, “I have done no wrong.”

30 Proverbs 30.20 She Wipes Her Mouth

Find out more about the drawing, She Wipes Her Mouth.

31. It Cannot Bear Up

Proverbs 30:21

Under three things the earth trembles,
Under four it cannot bear up.

It cannot bear up

Learn more about It Cannot Bear Up.

32. A Servant Who Becomes King

Proverbs 30:22a

A servant who becomes king …

A servant who becomes king

Get more info and progress shots of A Servant Who Becomes King.

33. A Fool Stuffed with Food

Proverbs 30:22b

A godless fool who has plenty to eat …

33 Proverbs 30.22 A Fool Stuffed with Food

Check out more info on the drawing, A Fool Stuffed with Food.

34. A Contemptible Woman

Proverbs 30:23a

A contemptible woman when she gets married …

A Contemptible Woman

34. Displacing Her Mistress

Proverbs 30:23b

… And a servant who displaces her mistress.

Proverbs 30 drawing Displacing Her Master

35. Four Small Things

Proverbs 30:24

There are four things on earth that are small but unusually wise:

proverbs-30-four-small-things

36. Creatures of Little Strength

Proverbs 30:25

Ants are creatures of little strength,
yet they store up their food in the summer;

proverbs-30-art-creature-of-little-strength

37. Creatures of Little Strength

Proverbs 30:26

Hyraxes are creatures of little power, yet they make their home in the crags;

proverbs-30-hyrax

Note: a hyrax is also translated “rock badger.”

38. The Locust Has No King

Proverbs 30:27

Locusts have no king, yet they advance together in ranks;

Proverbs-30-Locust-Has-No-King

Take a look at more on The Locust Has No King here.

39. A Lizard Can Be Caught with the Hand

Proverbs 30:28

A lizard can be caught with the hand, yet it is found in kings’ palaces.

Proverbs 30-28 A lizard can be caught by the hand

Take a look at more on A Lizard Can Be Caught with the Hand here.

Related pages:

3-laura profile photo

Want to know what I'm up to?

Join over 1,000 others to hear about my latest projects and giveaways. You might even have a say in what I make next. I’ll send you something no more than once per week.

Oh, hey. Now that you're here I'd better go think of something interesting to say.

Pin It on Pinterest