The Flag was Still There

Watch me paint “Flag on Tybee Island” in 1 minute (time lapse)

“This is a special roadside American flag on the only way to/from Tybee Island. It was saved from flood waters by police officers after Hurricane Irma, on the anniversary of 9/11 known as Patriots Day. The flag, attached to driftwood, had been a familiar landmark on that stretch of Highway 80 since the 1980’s. The officers knew that evacuees returning home after Hurricane Irma would find their beloved flag to be a comforting sight. They were especially grateful to residents who took care of the weary officers with coffee and encouragement, while first responders were working 12 hour shifts before and after the storm.

I had no idea of the history of this roadside flag when I was inspired to paint it. All I saw was our homeland’s flag waving on that stretch of highway, and I was stirred with emotion. I imagined someone had put that there with love and passion for our country and our people. It was only later that I learned about the story behind this flag. Now it is even more special and I’m happy to have painted it.”

-from book “50 Oil Paintings Inspired by Savannah, Georgia” by artist Natalie Buske Thomas

I’ve lived and traveled in other countries, and while in those nations I enjoyed making dear friends and embracing their flags, customs, and shared values for good food, good friends, and the passion people have for their homes. The people are not the government. Citizens love their flags because they love their homes and their families, their culture and their lives. This is healthy and normal. 

If we hate where our spirits reside, we must make plans to leave that space. Malice toward an entire nation for the sins of few, some, or even many- past, present, or future- is hatred nonetheless. There is no valid justification to hate others. “Activism” does not provide an excuse to hurt people. Change does not require disrespect, destruction, criminal actions, and frothing contempt.

Never take on shame that doesn’t belong to you. The evils of powerful governments are not ours to bear, nor must we destroy our history in order to atone for the wrongs. Communism, fascism, and totalitarianism are not compassionate, but enslaving. Enjoy your home, where your feet are planted. Never let anyone steal your joy. You were born in the right place, at the right time. Wave your homeland’s flag without guilt or fear.

Humanity has its good and bad, but always striving to be better is about creation, not destruction. It is good to love our communities, our homes. We can’t solve all of the world’s problems, but we can be good stewards of the place we live. We can love who we are, so that we may love others. We can appreciate our past so that we may let go of it, live fully in the present, and have hope for the future.


Here’s a clue… (the above photo)

One of the variety acts in my new upcoming painting show – coming soon! Don’t miss it! July is just around the corner!!!

Quiet Presence

Watch me paint “Blue Heron” in under 1 minute (time lapse)

He’s back! If you’ve been following me for a while, you might remember this story:

“Astrikingly beautiful blue heron appeared at the lagoon one day. I quickly took its picture to paint later. This is a different style from how I usually paint. It looks like a watercolor because I was trying to get away with using cheap paints that turned out to be watery and hard to work with. This was a happy accident, because the watercolor-like effect captured the mood.

He has only made one more appearance that I know of, but I hope he will return next spring. On the day he arrived, he just happened to be standing at the water’s edge when the light reflected the colors of the trees in a streaky wave of color. He was all alone, with no other birds or creatures in sight, which only added to his mysterious presence.”                                                                    – from book “50 Oil Paintings Inspired by Savannah, Georgia” by artist Natalie Buske Thomas

He has since come back a few times. He has a quiet presence, but somehow we become aware of him. His energy is so peaceful. It inspires a hopeful feeling, as if good things are soon to come.

Day of Rest

Watch me paint this art of a candle and a Bible in 1 minute (time lapse)

Do you give yourself a day of rest every week? Allow yourself to feel the weariness of your mind, the fatigue of your body, and the heaviness of your soul. Sink into it.

Then release it all. Let yourself be aware of how tired you are, and how good it feels to know that we’ve finished a job well done. Another week has ended and a new one has begun!


Watch the teaser for my next live painting show! Coming soon!

Hidden Risks

Watch me paint “Savannah Tree” in 1 minute (time lapse)

“One of the most identifiable features of Savannah is its trees, many of which are covered with Spanish moss. The moss truly changes the shape of trees, and if simplified- like in this painting- the effect is almost umbrella like. When many trees align the city streets, the effect is dramatic and romantic.

These trees appear in the landscaping of many parking lots, making even a simple trip to the grocery store a beautiful experience. This is more true of the island shopping areas, but overall there are more trees in commercial zones in the Savannah area than I’ve seen in other parts of the country, and when so many are flowy and lightly billowy in a breeze, there’s a calming effect to what could be stressful errands. It is the trees that slow the pace down, a Southern sedative.”

“Spanish moss drapes from many tree branches. Don’t touch the moss. It looks soft and inviting, but apparently there are bugs that live in it. Enjoy with your eyes!”

-from book “50 Oil Paintings Inspired by Savannah, Georgia” by artist Natalie Buske Thomas

The bugs inside the pretty Spanish moss are tiny red chiggers whose bites can cause itchy red welts, rashes, and may even cause severe allergic reactions such as nausea, vomiting, tightness in chest or throat, faintness, dizziness, hives, and difficulty breathing. Because the bugs are tiny and completely obscured by the ornamental Spanish moss (which isn’t really a moss at all, but a different type of plant that lives on trees), this is a hidden risk. 

In nature, as in life, we consciously and subconsciously survey our surroundings for threats. We assess risks and dangers based on what we sense, see, and hear. But some risks are hidden, like tiny red bugs. Programs, movements, policies, people, trends, or ideas may be like Spanish moss. A collective mindset might seem attractive, harmless, or even beneficial, but may secretly harbor a dangerous hazard to our lives, health, freedom, or spiritual happiness.

Sometimes Spanish moss drapes a tree so completely that we no longer see the mighty oak underneath, yet it’s still there. No amount of chigger-infested moss can change what’s underneath. No matter how engulfed we may feel, may we be as trees that stand firmly rooted. 

Fish for Life

Watch me paint this bear catching a salmon (time lapse)

This is a recent painting that I shared last month. It’s said that if we give a man a fish, he eats for a day, but if we teach a man to fish, he eats for life. There’s a third option: a man who doesn’t wait to be given what he needs, or shown how. He doesn’t stagnate, wallow in ignorance, hesitate or follow. He’s like this bear. He sees what he wants and dives in to grab it with his bare teeth!

When we depend on others for nourishment, we submit ourselves to a weak position that is vulnerable to abuse, poverty, enslavement and victimhood. When we’re independent, self sufficient, ingenious and brave, we are in a strong position that frees us. “Nourishment” is literally food for our bodies, but is also a metaphor: “food for thought” or “food for the soul”. When we feed mind, body, and spirit in balance we are like this wild bear- healthy, active, and free.

Fish for Life

  1. Feed your body with good nutrition.
  2. Educate your mind about everything that impacts you, anything that interests you, and never stop learning how to do things, live better, and enjoy life more.
  3. Look for answers to your spiritual questions, act in faith even when you’re uncertain, pray even when you’re cynical, and believe in the impossible.

The rights of humanity should be as great, or greater, than the rights of wild animals, don’t you agree? We too should be free to nourish our bodies with fresh healthy foods, free to roam beyond our cages, and free to live our lives independently, without restriction. A wild bear lives as if he knows he is free.

A wild bear doesn’t wait for others to give him permission to live a full, healthy, active life. He doesn’t hesitate. He sees what he wants and grabs it for himself.

Be a wild bear. Know that you are free!

Are you an angel?

Watch me paint “We are the Angels that He Sends” in 1 minute (time lapse)

“This art was inspired by coincidence, fate, serendipity… or divine intervention, depending on your belief system. A casual friend I knew from many years ago contacted me out of the blue. She was traveling through the state I lived in- which was a long way from where we went to school together, and where she still resided. Knowing I lived in Minnesota at that time, she asked me for advice on best routes. Well, it turned out that she was going right by me.

It would only be a small detour to drop by our house for a coffee break. So, while she’d never been to my home when we knew each other, and we’d never seen each other outside of a few classes at school, decades ago… she was happy to accept my offer of coffee. I wondered if we would even recognize each other.

Of course we did! She greeted me with a big smile and I invited her into our quiet home. My husband had just had surgery and he was recovering in the bedroom. I was taking care of him on my own and I felt drained, overwhelmed. The stress of the surgery was over, and now I was exhausted, yet still anxious.

Most of all, the quiet of the lonely house felt loud. But my friend was there- an angel at the door. She talked to me for hours. I gave her advice on something she was dealing with, and it was with reluctance that we finally hugged good-bye. God sent her to me, straight to my doorstep, right when I felt so alone and overwhelmed.

Well, later on, when I thanked her and told her how she was an angel appearing at the right time, she was stunned, because it was she who felt that of me! Pouring her heart to me about the things she was struggling with, and receiving what she felt was authentic helpful advice, was me being HER angel, who just happened to live near where she had to pass through…with a listening ear, hugs, and coffee ready to pour.”

-from book “50 Oil Paintings Inspired by my Christian Faith” by Natalie Buske Thomas

Natalie painting “We are the Angels” 2014

There are times in our lives when we have an opportunity to be an angel to someone, and we might not even realize our role in that moment. When we remain open to serendipity and connections, we find them. When we have a trusting and vulnerable heart, angels find us in return.

It is said that “no good deed goes unpunished”, but that’s a cynical view of this beautiful life. The truth is, no good deed goes unrewarded. We may not see the blessings right away, but they are stored ahead for us.

Are you an angel? I’m trusting that you probably are. ❤️

Are you feeling beachy?

Watch me paint “My Kids at the Beach” in 2 minutes (time lapse)

“Beachy”, according to Urban Dictionary, means something that reminds us of the beach, something beach-like. But Dictionary dotcom defines beachy as “covered with pebbles or sand”. And that’s the definition we’ll ponder in today’s blog post.

After a day at the beach, we come home covered with sand. It’s with mixed emotions that we accept this part of the bargain: when we have a seaside outing we’ll get messy. Our bodies literally carry the evidence of how we spent our time. Using this as a metaphor- because I love metaphors!- we can think of carrying sand in a figurative and spiritual sense.

When we’re feeling beachy, we’re ready and willing to accept the mess that a full life creates. It’s spiritually tidier to stick with what’s familiar to us and reign our thoughts and actions in, at a pace that is comfortable for us. But when we push ourselves outside of our comfort zone, where the waves of the sea are unpredictable and wild, and emotions get a bit messy, we experience passion and energy that we’d otherwise miss out on. It is this passion and energy that fuels enlightenment. Without it, we may stagnate. 

Ever wonder why some people seem older than they really are, while others glow with such energy that they seem much younger? Passion creates energy. Passion + Energy = Fountain of Youth. We are a product of what we produce, and we produce what we are. Passion in, Energy out. Energy in, Passion out.

When I ask myself and YOU if you feel “beachy”, I hope the answer is yes! YES, we choose the spiritual wild sea, the glorious sun- and equally the risk of storms, our reflections on the wet sand, and time spent with those we love. We choose to live a full life that is messy. We feel beachy!

Are you home?

Watch me paint this house in Savannah, Georgia in 1 minute (time lapse)

I took pictures near a park square in Savannah one day, and this particular view inspired me to paint it. Most of the house was obscured by trees. It was as if nature and humankind had melded into a new world.

I feel that way about my patio garden, as critters and birds are quite welcome to hang out in the new space I’ve created. Indeed, they seem to think that they own the place and everything I put out there is for them. It seems we’re all at home.

Are you home? Do you feel welcome in your space? Do you feel compatible with nature, your neighbors, your community, and your surroundings? Being at home is less to do with others and more to do with ourselves.

Sometimes when I’m living in a temporary place it’s difficult to feel as if I’m home, so I have to work hard to create that connection. I remind myself that my wild birds and living trees are with me everywhere. Of course these are not the exact same creatures and plants I’ve seen in previous backyards, and many are different breeds of birds and different types of trees entirely, but some are the same as other places I’ve lived. A red cardinal in the Deep South in Georgia brings me just as much peace as a red cardinal Up North in Minnesota.

I’ve lived abroad as well as various places in the United States. They say “people are the same wherever you go”, and that is fundamentally true. There’s nothing unique or shocking about human nature. Everything we see has been seen before, for thousands of years. The only differences are in the way our human nature plays out due to progress and technology. But at our core, humanity carries the same mix of “good” and “bad” as we have since the beginning.

Home is not necessarily where our heart is, but we can put our heart into wherever we are. As we work and journey toward the place we want to be, we can embrace where we are today. So, when I ask myself- and YOU- “are you home”, I hope that your answer is YES.