I forgot to tell you!

Watch oil painting “Cardinal at the Cabin” come to life

in about 2 minutes (time lapse)

In my blog post “New Painting- Peaceful Landscape” that I shared with you in June, I said, “I’ll talk about what this painting means to me in a future blog post. For now, I just want to share it and let you let it speak to you.” But I forgot to follow up! I never did tell you what I was thinking when I painted this.

This was a landscape from my own imagination, in which I didn’t look at anything while painting, nor did I plan it out. I intentionally let the art tell the story and evolve, as I listened to music and let myself feel whatever came to my heart. I meant to paint a scene that is warm and inviting, and would appeal to me as a retreat, but that’s not quite what happened.

Instead, it seems that I painted the deeper feelings; the reason why I wanted a special place to retreat to. Because this place doesn’t look relaxing to me. It’s very remote and a bit lonely looking. Quiet, and pretty, yes, but it looks like someone’s missing from that empty rocking chair, as if suddenly taken from their favorite spot and the tea or coffee cup that never got cleared. There’s probably still a last sip in it.

The cardinal is observing the scene, as if he understands and has empathy. The flowers are still in bloom, the fields reach toward a clear blue sky, and the evergreens are as fresh as ever. But the walkway has no feet upon it. The steps are vacant. The rocking chair is not in motion. The last sip will never be drunk. 

Reflecting on those we’ve lost, and realizing the passage of time, and feeling the weight of the dark world upon our shoulders, sometimes it feels as if we need a retreat from the burden of broken dreams and better days that must wait, or may never come at all. But in imagining a retreat, I instead inadvertently, subconsciously, painted the emotions that were driving me to want a retreat. 

Maybe next time I’ll paint the actual retreat, but by the time I finished painting through the feelings I didn’t even know I had, I felt as if I’d already had my retreat. It was me observing the cardinal in the tree, from my vantage point on the other side of the canvas looking in. Seeing the scene through his eyes was enough to restore my spirit for another day. 

Nature goes on uninterrupted. Seasons change. Flowers bloom. Trees grow. Then all of it repeats. There is something comforting in the sameness, and even more comforting is the pattern of change. This (spiritual) season will change. Meanwhile, we can embrace the quiet, the steady stillness, and the cabin that waits for someone to come back. When we are blessed to be here for another day, may we never leave the last sip to grow cold.

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Peace to You

Watch this “Dove of Peace” oil painting come to life

in under 2 minutes (time lapse)

This was a short project that I hope felt relaxing and calming to watch. May you have a blessed weekend of good positive moments, no matter how alarming and stressful the state of the world may be. Do something you enjoy.

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Take my Hand

Watch oil painting “City of Savannah” (city near me) come to life in 2 minutes, time lapse

I shared this painting here on the blog in June, in a post called “Timeless“. Today I want to share something else, not about the painting itself, but about the music I chose for the above video. I sang the song for you this morning and added the lyrics. It is an old hymn that may be familiar to you:

Natalie singing “Precious Lord, Take my Hand” (hymn used in painting video “City of Savannah“)

I knew most of the song by heart, but I had to peek at the words for the second verse. It helps to memorize comforting songs because during times of crisis, these familiar words may pop into our heads; playing a song that we need to hear. Has this ever happened to you?

It’s a surreal experience to be in an emergency or grief moment of extreme stress, and “feel” a song playing inside our head. Sometimes a song that is meaningful to us will literally play- perhaps in a grocery store while we’re picking up a few supplies during a very tragic day. Whatever is happening to us, when we are open to spiritual “music”, we will hear it.

By music, I do mean any sign of comfort. Music isn’t the only language that reaches us. But, it’s an important one, and I wanted to talk about that with you today. I hope that you are feeling strong and positive, despite these trying times. God bless you and your families.

You are Worth More

Watch oil painting “Sparrows” come to life

in 2 minutes (time lapse)

The last time I shared my sparrows painting was in April, in a blog post called “More than Sparrows“. But today I’m thinking about the “don’t be afraid” part of the scripture that inspired this painting:

Matthew 10:29-31 “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”

There are dire warnings of all kinds of upcoming calamities and a predicted dark winter, and indeed, we are facing many fearful events in this age. It’s important to control our fears and learn how to not be afraid. It’s normal to feel afraid, but the act of being afraid is a matter of spiritual choice. We can choose to be courageous even when we feel afraid.

We will never be able to eliminate all of the dangers that life throws at us, especially if powerful forces are intentionally creating terror and suffering… and throughout history, this has always been true to some degree. But if we allow our fears to consume us, we will not thrive, and we may even make ourselves ill. Survival isn’t about just barely making it through the ordeals of life, but ensuring that we are strong enough to endure it with such determination and resilience that there is a beautiful life stretched ahead of us.

To make it through to the beautiful life ahead of us, we must find the beautiful moments within the hardships. We can’t wait until life looks like we want it to, as we need peace and joy every day. Like nutrition for our bodies and wisdom for our minds, we need happiness for our spirits. It’s possible for humans to give up the will to live in their sleep and never wake up. That’s how powerful our spiritual self is. Despair is dangerous. We must fight against it!

May the common sparrow encourage us. They seem to have an insignificant life, yet they are wonderfully made to instinctively know how to find food and survive the challenges of nature. They do more than survive, they thrive. As in, they lead a full bird life, the best that a sparrow can do. I see them flying about, gathering socially with their fellow birds of a feather, and settling in on the platform of our bird feeder. Their needs are met, by nature and by mysterious interactions with others (like me, putting food out there for them to eat).

We too experience more moments in which our needs are met than moments when we are in lack. This is easily proven by the fact that we are right now still alive. If we had too many moments of lack, we’d- to put it bluntly- be dead. But we are not dead, and we mustn’t ever let our soul feel deadened when we are clearly very much alive. May our blessed condition of living be enough to desire to not just survive, but to thrive. Seek joy in every little thing. Do not be afraid.

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October Morning Surprise

Do you remember when I shared my outdoor painting experience this spring? Watch my Plein Air oil painting experiment in this 2.5 minute time lapse video.

This week, I saw a beautiful October morning sunrise over this same wooded lagoon, where I was painting in the April video above. I took this video footage (2 minutes, normal real life speed), because I just had to share it with you! I dropped in some music, and you really must stay tuned to the end, where two surprise guests make an appearance.

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What is fun?

Watch this oil painting of my son jumping in leaves come to life in 48 seconds (time lapse)

You might remember when I shared this painting previously here on the blog, I asked the question “What do people say about you?” It was one of my longer blog posts, about why we shouldn’t let criticism or praise influence us too much, that we can be distracted from our purpose and our own voice. Today, I was reminded of this painting because it is autumn and the painting is about the fun of jumping into a pile of leaves.

Most people reach an age when it’s not physically fun anymore to jump into a pile of leaves. It still looks fun when we see children doing it, doesn’t it? We may be willing to rake leaves into a big pile just to see children jump into it, laughing, and playing.

But, we probably don’t want to do much jumping into piles of leaves ourselves. So what DO we think is fun? What is fun? According to the online dictionary Merriam-Webster, “fun” is a verb: to indulge in banter or play, and “fun” is also an adjective: providing entertainment, amusement, or enjoyment. We might describe this as “what makes us laugh”.

We may not laugh while running and jumping into leaves, but we’ll laugh when someone else does it. We’ll laugh when we hear a funny joke, or when caught by surprise by witnessing something silly. A milder form of fun may be entertaining, like doing a project we enjoy, or listening to our favorite music.

Maybe we have fun dancing, cooking, and visiting with family or friends. Maybe we feel so positive after a job well done that we actually think that work is fun, especially the kind of work that benefits us personally, such as renovating a home or organizing our living space. Perhaps we love how it feels to surprise others with a generous or kind act, and we think that giving our time, energy, or money to others is “fun”.

Fun is the carefree, wild playfulness of a child jumping into leaves- a type of energy that creates a strong, healthy, happy life. May we find ways to have fun. Joyful living elevates ourselves and all those around us.

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Are you Safe?

See oil painting “Guardian Angel” come to life

in 2 minutes (time lapse)

I last shared this painting here with you in August, in a post called “Protected and Loved“. Today I’m thinking of the concept of safety, and what it means to be “safe”. Who decides what is safe for us, what protects us, and what we must do to be protected? Is this protection motivated by love, or by something else?

A sovereign human seeks of their own free will: love and protection, safety from harm. No one needs a propaganda campaign, threats, or enforcement to be compelled to move toward safety. So if those methods are used to force humanity to comply, one must question the motive. Goodwill and benevolence have no profit or power motive; therefore, coercion is not an act of kindness or virtue.

What does it mean to be “safe”? Is enslavement safe? For whom? True deliverance is like this Guardian Angel leading a child out of a city on fire. She is not pulling, pushing, or threatening the child. The child recognizes this angel as a source of help, and intuitively, willingly, gratefully takes her hand.

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Red Flower is REAL

See oil painting “Dancer in a Floral Forest” come to life

in 2 minutes (time lapse)

I painted this as an imaginary landscape, but it turns out that those red flowers are real, and I may soon have one in my possession! The flower looks remarkably like it to me, anyway. My daughter took a photo of a red flower that looks very similar to these red ones I painted and said that she always sees hummingbirds near those flowers on campus. Later, she texted that there will soon be a plant sale on campus. So we’re hoping that they’ll be selling those red flowers!

If not, we’ll track down where to buy them, and eventually we’ll have new red flowers for the hummingbirds. I love it when there’s a new surprise quest to find an elusive (elusive to me, the flower doesn’t seem uncommon for this area) new nature treasure. Sometimes my paintings seem to foreshadow future events in ways that are quite mysterious. In this case, it’s just a simple red flower that becomes a joyful treasure hunt and special memory with my daughter, but it’s interesting nonetheless.

When I one day have this red flower, I’ll take a picture of it- hopefully with a hummingbird near it at the same time. Small quests give us something to look forward to. The more quests we accept, the more we are given. When we expect to be surprised by serendipity and joyful connections, we are!

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Take my Hand

Watch oil painting “City of Savannah” (city near me) come to life in 2 minutes, time lapse I shared this painting here on the blog

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New Painting

Are you enjoying autumn treats? My daughters love the specialty coffee and snacks that come out this time of year. They especially love their sister

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Autumn in 2021

Watch oil painting “Autumn Tree” come to life in under 2 minutes This short project began with an abstract background. Next, while it was still

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New Painting

Watch my new painting “Pumpkin Carving” come to life in just over 2 minutes (time lapse) Father and son enjoying an autumn custom of cleaning

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Worn

Watch this “Armor of God” oil painting come to life in 2 minutes (time lapse) There’s a lot going on in the world today, and

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New Painting

Watch me paint this “Autumn Leaves” oil painting in 2 minutes (time lapse) No matter what is happening in the world or in our personal

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Lion of Judah oil painting by Natalie Buske Thomas

Quiet Lion

Watch me paint this lion oil painting in 2 minutes (time lapse) I changed the music for this video today. Whatever you’re experiencing, you probably

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Not Again!

Watch this oil painting about the dark side of the animal kingdom come to life in 2 minutes (time lapse) I don’t have a painting

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Happy Grief?

Watch this hedgehog oil painting come to life in about 1 minute (time lapse) You might remember when I painted this one and shared it

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Melancholy

Watch this lighthouse painting come to life in 1 minute (time lapse) I share this one when I’m feeling melancholic, flitting back and forth between

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More Coffee

See oil painting “Breakfast with Friends” come alive in 2 minutes (time lapse)

I last shared this one with you in my June 1 blog post “Are you my Friend?“. Today, I’m sharing it for a different reason: the warm coffee and breakfast. Now, this is a good breakfast (egg and bacon), but I look forward to tomorrow morning’s treat, the coffee cake I made today. It’s a from-scratch recipe that I used to make throughout my young married days, and while the kids were little. I hadn’t made that cake in a long time, it’s been years. 

I never had a bundt pan, except for a brief frustrating experience with a cheap one that made my cakes stick to the bottom (or actually the top in the case of a bundt pan). I’d make the cake in a regular pan, which was a bit disappointing because the streusel didn’t turn out looking fancy. I finally bought a nice bundt pan and I was excited to make my old coffee cake in it. It turned out beautifully! And it looks fancy too! Well, it did before I cut it all up and my family devoured most of it.

When I wake up tomorrow morning, I’ll stir resentfully until I remember my coffee cake. Then my eyes will fly open and I’ll spring out of bed, anticipating how wonderful it will taste with a cup of coffee. Or tea. I drink more tea than coffee these days. 

The cake tastes the same as I remembered, but having been baked in the special pan feels symbolic of progress. Funny how we can go through most of our lives without having the right tool for the job, and when we finally try the same task again with the right tool, suddenly it call comes together with the finishing touch, like the experienced professional that we have become. My fondness for metaphors brings me to this: the act of living is like baking my coffee cake. 

We begin with a desire for something good, something to share with others, something that makes us happy. And we bake a delicious cake that everyone loves, and we think it’s the best that life can be. But we haven’t seen the best of us yet. The best is yet to come.

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New Painting

Watch this “Pumpkin Latte” oil painting come alive in 1 minute (time lapse)

Are you enjoying autumn treats? My daughters love the specialty coffee and snacks that come out this time of year. They especially love their sister breaks on campus when they meet up for a pumpkin latte between classes. I love that they have such a special relationship. No matter what’s happening in the world, family, faith, traditions and seasons bring joy to life’s journey. Happy October!

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