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Makers by Nature

Letters from a Master Painter on Faith, Hope, and Art

by Bruce Herman

Makers by Nature
  • Length: 224 pages
  • Dimensions: 6 × 9 in
  • Published: January 21, 2025
  • Imprint: IVP Academic
  • Item Code: A0980
  • ISBN: 9781514009802

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An Artist's Look at Theology, Art, and Philosophy

Dear Tom,

Thanks for writing again—and for this unusually philosophical response to my letter! In response: my theology of art is my theology. Period. I think of God as the Artist and all human artists as eternal apprentices. Consequently, all my thinking about God involves the centrality of beauty and the act of making. As I’ve said many times, we were made by a Maker to be makers. . . .


In a series of fictional letters, respected artist and educator Bruce Herman passes on wisdom to a younger generation. He explores a wide array of practical, philosophical, and theological issues, such as:

  • What is art versus craft? What is good art?
  • What is the calling of an artist? Of a Christian artist?
  • What do you do when you're stuck in your creative process?
  • How should Christians relate to the contemporary art scene?
  • What is beauty, and how is it relevant in our world?

Full of personal stories and behind-the-scene looks at Herman’s own artistic process, Makers by Nature also features full-color artwork by Herman and several of his former students. Artists and art lovers will find insight, wonder, and encouragement to consider the Maker’s invitation to creativity, however it takes shape.

"Over many decades, Bruce Herman has gifted us with a huge range of paintings that combines subtlety and profundity, along with a theological richness all too rare today. Here he adopts the role of the letter-writer, and with characteristic insight and compassion, leads us deep into what he calls the 'holy terror' of making art."

Jeremy Begbie, Thomas A. Langford Distinguished Research Professor of Theology at Duke Divinity School and coeditor of The Art of New Creation

"Bruce Herman has given us, and future generations of makers, an invaluable gift. Years of wisdom and advice given to countless young artists and those who care for culture have been compressed into this book. I am indebted to Bruce for what these letters teach me as an artist."

Makoto Fujimura, artist and author of Art and Faith: A Theology of Making

"'Make out of love, not fear.' 'You must unmake in order to make.' 'Time to bring out the dynamite.' These gems of artistic counsel—the antithesis of cheap praise—have enhanced the lives of students, colleagues, and friends fortunate enough to know Bruce Herman. The epistolary wisdom in this volume ensures that more lives will be ornamented with such rugged counsel as well."

Matthew J. Milliner, professor of art history at Wheaton College, author of The Everlasting People


1. Art and Craft: Letters to Ella
2. Glory: Letters to Bryn
3. Paradox: Letters to Elisa
4. Vocation: Letters to Bradford
5. Style: Letters to Angela
6. Spirituality and Art: Letters to Tom
7. Process and Risk: Letters to Steve
8. Tradition: Letters to Brent
9. Prayer and Painting: Letters to Andrea
10. Color and Design? Letters to Matt
11. Desire: Letters to Jamie
12. Failure: Letters to Matthew
13. Hope and Facing: Letters to Jonathan
14. A Servant of the Work: Letters to Katie-Joy
15. Irony and Sincerity: Letters to Mako
16. Loss: Letters to Bobby
17. Hallowing the Everyday: Letters to Katelyn
18. Discouragement: Letters to Jesus
19. The Anxiety of Influence: Letters to Ted
20. Is a Theology of Painting Possible? Letters to Katie


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Bruce Herman (MFA, Boston University College of Fine Arts) is a painter, writer, and speaker. His art has been exhibited internationally and is in public and private collections worldwide. He taught studio art for nearly four decades at Gordon College, where he held the Lothlórien Distinguished Chair in Fine Arts. He enjoys sailing, hiking, and carpentry and is married to Meg and has two children and five grandchildren.