Distorted Reality

Watch me paint “Kitchen Devotions” in under 1 minute

(time lapse)

Surrealism is an art style that combines unusual elements together to produce a dreamlike effect; merging reality with fantasy, simulating the subconscious mind. But sometimes paintings are just “a little bit” surreal. The unexpected, unreal, or dreamlike qualities may be so subtle that viewers of this style of art may not even be aware of it, and yet, they’ll probably sense that something is different that they can’t quite put their finger on.

 

In “Kitchen Devotions“, there are several elements in the composition that are unexpected. Why are the flowers in a food bowl? Why is one side of the curtain moving slightly, even though the window is closed and the other side of the curtain is standing still? Why are the walls that odd color and pattern? Why does the mug look like it was made by a pottery student? Why is the bookmark floating rather than in perspective? Why does the book look “ghostly” and blank? Why are the flowers spaced evenly apart and straight?

 

Artists who paint “freestyle” (painting an idea rather than prioritizing a careful, realistic technique), may inadvertently paint in a slightly surreal style. “Kitchen Devotions” was a freestyle exercise to paint whatever came to mind, without looking at a reference or planning ahead. This type of exercise is beneficial for any skill level of artist and may even emerge to become a favorite work or a signature style.

 

-from blog post “Painting Surreal

What I want to add today, is a different perspective on Distorted Reality. Rather than looking at it from the artist viewpoint of surrealism, what about when life itself feels surreal? These days I’ve been waking up after vivid, disjointed, and disturbing dreams. For a few seconds upon waking I’m not sure if the dream is real or not… and then later in the day, I may still not be completely able to sort the dream state from reality.

For example, yesterday I had a dream that I had flooded the bathroom of a house I’ve never seen before, but in the dream it was my house. I flooded it with clean soapy water, but I was still concerned that water had seeped inside the walls and would be trapped there to mold or cause water damage to the home. 

Later in the day, I was cleaning the real life shower stall of this house, when suddenly I realized that a repaired spot in the stall had fallen out, revealing an open hole that had been apparently plugged with putty at some point. Now I had a real life concern that soapy water had gone into the wall!

Fortunately the hole was very small and I’d noticed the exact moment when the repair patch had fallen off. I cleaned and dried the area, texted my husband, and he stopped by the store on the way home from work to get putty. He re-patched it in seconds. It was really not a big deal, unlike my dream that had me standing in about three feet of water!

But, real life was a smaller version of the dream and it was unnerving to have dreamed something so similar just before it happened. I felt a lot of stress when I saw the gaping hole, even though it was small and turned out to be easy to repair. What a trivial psychic ability! Not much prophetic use for predicting minor anxiety-producing events that are quickly resolved!

However, there have been other times when my portent dreams were not trivial, and it was very sobering when the predictions of my subconscious mind came true. Dreams are sometimes prophetic, but not usually. Many dreams feel like nonsense, or are a boring play about regular life activities. Sometimes dreams are a confusing distorted mix of people and places from our past jumbled together with current places and places we don’t recognize- and maybe don’t even exist!

We might wonder what the purpose of dreams are, but usually we don’t think much about it… until we have an unsettling dream, a vivid dream, or a dream that feels like a portent. I’ve felt lately that life itself feels like we’re in a dream state. More and more, as we merge the surrealism of our sleeping mind with the distorted reality of 2021, it can be difficult to sort out the truth. What is real?

In dreams, we may fear things that aren’t real. Anything can be dangerous in a dream. In our waking life, do we ever fear things that aren’t quite real, or at least not at the level of danger that merits the terror that is conjured up? What is real, and to what degree should we fear the dangers of 2021? Who are the truthtellers? Who are the “experts”? Who do we trust? Who should we fear?

Perhaps my dream of flooding a home, causing lasting damage and dangerous toxins, when the reality was vastly different: one small hole that merely needed to be patched, is an example of a bigger paradigm. Sometimes we fear a flood when the problem is much more manageable. We may even have a fast and easy solution to repair the damage and resolve the problem.

The trouble is, we may not know which way things are going. Life may feel surreal. Is it a flood or a small hole? Does this situation merit a small amount of anxiety and stress, or fear and escalating terror? We may feel confused, disoriented, and exhausted. Conflicting perspectives reach our ears and we may not be able to sort out what is real.

If something or someone is driving fear using hostility, ridicule, and disrespectful, dehumanizing and tyrannical methods that are devoid of empathy, are full of control and manipulation, and possibly even frothing with malice, condemnation and discrimination against those who disagree, then fear isn’t real… not fully real. Because when fear serves a master, the driver is hate (deception), the opposite of love (truth). It is not loving to be unkind, to use bribery or punishment to coerce people (rather than information, patience, and evidence). It is not love that whips up fear. Hate does that.

So when fear hits you from a source of hate, it is NOT real. We must stand against it. Step back, analyze the situation, research it, be patient with ourselves as we sort things out, and treat ourselves kindly. Never take on shame that doesn’t belong to us. Humanity is precious, and our sovereignty is essential. When fear comes through a person, entity, or government that wants us to control us, then we must question its validity.

Emotion and anxiety are not reliable indicators for testing if the things we fear are real. In dreams we may fear things that are not dangerous. That is true of our waking self as well. So we must use logic, facts, accounts from trusted sources, and stories relayed by fellow human beings who have nothing to gain by sharing their truth.

We must also trust ourselves, beyond our emotional self. Intuition is more than a feeling. It is defined as the ability to acquire knowledge without (or maybe ahead of) the evidence, conscious reasoning, etc. to properly analyze the situation as fact. Psychologists recognize intuition as nothing magical, but rather a way in which our minds generate “hunches” in our unconscious minds. It is referred to as a type of knowledge. 

Spiritual people have much more to say about the power of intuition. They may refer to it as the voice of your true self, your highest self, or even the voice of the Holy Spirit. Humans have acknowledged and defined intuition in many ways, and hold dear the idea that intuition is meant to help us know what is true. It is mean to protect us from bad things.

When our intuition seems to shout, “Pray NOW”, stop and pray. When our intuition says, “Don’t go that way today, take another route”, do it. There are so many stories of people who mysteriously felt an urgent tug on their hearts to go a different route and avoided a tragic end. Others tell of going a different route and being on the scene to save a life. We may never know why we are meant to go here, or not go there, but often we recognize immediately why we were “told” in our hearts to do something, or not do something. The important thing is to pay attention to what our intuition tells us, and do it.

When the world feels surreal… when things don’t look quite right… when something is off, and we have trouble sorting out the distortion from reality… when we don’t know who is lying, and who is telling the truth… when we don’t know what to fear, or how much to fear… we must trust our intuition. 

Often, a flood is just a hole. There is a remedy. All will be well. When our intuition says, “Do not fear”, we must remain strong, steady, healthy, and positive. We will endure. We will persevere. We will live fearlessly.

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Fear

Watch me paint “Forest Fire” in 1 minute (time lapse)

What scares you? Fires, hurricanes, storms, floods, criminal violence, car/plane/train crashes, losing a loved one, medical issues, loss of freedom? Open spaces, closed spaces, heights, water, heat, cold? Social anxiety in a crowd, or isolation when not in one? When things stay the same, or when things change? Finding your own way, or being told what to think?

Faith is about believing even when there is no evidence of our belief. We just “know”. Some call it intuition. Others think of this as a spiritual commitment to hold certain truths in our hearts, never wavering or disloyal to a higher calling. Usually this relates to living a moral life, defined by our personal values. For animals, faith seems much less complicated. Little birds may be literally pushed out of the nest by their mothers, but in a few short seconds they believe that they can fly- and indeed, they can.

When we believe in who we are, and the abilities we were born with, we trust that we can do what we were meant to do. Faith comes easier, requiring no proof of our claims, if we make a spiritual, intellectual, and physical commitment to be true to our purpose. If we believe we are meant to be strong, healthy, and positive for our families and communities, we can act in faith to BE strong, healthy, and positive.

Fear can be a mysteriously beautiful thing, just like an out of control forest fire. When we are afraid, we are aware of how fragile life is, and how vulnerable we are. We are aware of how precious time is. We may see our role in this universe as very small, but each of us are a tiny intersection point on a vast web. We matter. Every life connects to other lives. When we lose a connection point, part of the web falls apart. All of this may come to us in a fuzzy sort of way that we don’t analyze, but on a gut level our focus is sharper when we are afraid.

Fear is an opportunity. Do we rise? Do we respond with cowardice, submission, and defeat? Do we abdicate our responsibilities to others, and let them dictate our lives? When we give up our authority, when we surrender our sovereign self, we allow fear to be an excuse to abandon who we are, to lay down our purpose under the cloak of compliance.

When we choose to rise in the face of fear, some may call it choosing faith over fear. But perhaps it’s more fitting to say that we choose faith through fear. Fear can be an exhilarating journey; when we are aware of death, we are aware of LIFE. Our passion to live may be ignited, cultivated, and utilized to provide lasting change. We may “level up” spiritually, intellectually, and even physically. Mind, body and spirit are always connected. When we elevate in one, we elevate our full selves.

Fear can be a blessing. The choice is ours. Fight for your purpose. Never give in, back down, or give up in the face of fear. Embrace what scares you and stand firmly rooted in who you are. May your responses be in alignment with your core values, and never compromised by the demands of other entities, agendas, or people.

I finally started my new painting today, after two days of planning to do so, but getting distracted by family things. I don’t regret going with the moment and focusing on the family. Awareness of time helps us choose what’s most important. Even though my vocation is very important to me, work is work. It is here today, and gone tomorrow, even if I become successful enough to be legendary. One day my art will mean whatever people want it to mean, with or without me. 

But love is forever. What we invest in people lives on spiritually, eternally. When we experience fear, we understand this concept in a heightened way that is a blessing, should we accept. I accept. I hope you do as well.

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Setting or Rising?

Watch my “Trees and Stream” painting come alive in 2 minutes

(time lapse)

Was the sun rising or setting? Was she enjoying the early morning serenity, or was she so absorbed in her book that the sun set on her? Time has no meaning without context. Without it, we choose what it means.

Today, time slipped away and I didn’t paint as I’d pledged to do yesterday. Instead, my daughters had me on a bit of an adventure. At one point I was helping to remove a pine tree that was growing inside a flowering shrub. I transplanted that tree and I plant to decorate it for Christmas. When I do, I’ll think about how my oldest discovered the tree and how excited she was to show it to me. I’ll also remember when my youngest pulled on the root, fell backward onto her bum, while showering me with a cloud of dirt. I’ll recall how she laughed while telling the rest of the family this story.

Maybe I’ll paint the tree. I paint what inspires me. Sometimes it’s not very inspirational, just a project assignment, but I find a way to connect to it. Other times my art is deeply personal, profoundly sad (and I cry while painting it), or a humanitarian statement. But usually, my art is something in-between. It’s the real life moments between the sun rising and setting, when we choose what time means.

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Update

Watch me paint “Painting Colors” in 1 minute (time lapse)

Update: I’m now down to only 5 left in the 2021 collection “50 Oil Paintings Inspired by Nature“! I’ve been busy with the garden but I’ll start the next painting tomorrow. Today I harvested and dehydrated basil. Yesterday I took care of the dill plant. Yesterday went fine, except for smelling dill for hours, and since I’m not a big fan of dill, that was rather unpleasant. But, the project went well and the family is happy to enjoy dill seasoning. However, today’s project went horribly!

Firstly, I was disappointed that, unlike the dill plant, my basil had not done very well. There wasn’t as much to harvest as I’d hoped. Then, after I’d washed the leaves for quite some time, I set them aside to air dry and I saw a bit of dark failed leaf material like the others I’d picked off… except this one moved when I tried to grab it. UGH, a worm! Shortly after that, when I was giving the basil another round of washing because of the worm… a spider suddenly appeared on the top of my hand! ACK! 

So, it wasn’t going well. Then, I finally got the basil under control, all washed and dried (dry from washing, instead of sopping wet), and ready for dehydrating. So I put all the leaves on the tray, unfortunately only one tray because the harvest was poor. I only had enough healthy leaves to fill a single tray. Then, I started the dehydrating process and the basil leaves were so light that the fan blew half of them onto the bottom of the oven, ruined!

In the end, I managed to collect only a small amount of dried basil. Well, darn it. That wasn’t a productive use of my time. I could have been painting! Tomorrow, when I feel sluggish and don’t feel like painting, I shall motivate myself by thinking of my afternoon with basil. Yep, painting sounds fine!

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Are you a child?

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

This oil painting is a self-portrait; me, through my father’s eyes, from behind a camera lens. The painting was inspired by a photo he took for a class assignment for a photography class. If you’ve not been a subscriber for long, you may not be aware that Dad died as a young man (age 37), so any connection to him is precious.

Notice I said that this is me, not “me when I was a child”. We are all the same person inside, from start to finish and beyond. Our true selves operate on intuition, emotion, spiritual energy, and a raw desire to pursue happiness. When we are children we have an easier time with this, but we don’t change into different people when we grow up. The core of us is always there.

Often our childlike unabashed wish to be loved, to be happy, and to be special is hidden deeply within us, as we’ve suffered from rejection, disappointment, and disillusionment. The things we used to want don’t roll smoothly from our hearts anymore, because we don’t want to get hurt again. We “grow up”. Or do we? Don’t we really just GIVE up, instead of grow up?

Life isn’t fair and we all get hurt. Pretending that we don’t want the same things we wanted all along isn’t going to protect us. Why not allow ourselves to be raw, vulnerable, and openly wistful; unashamed of what we want, and believing that we are special?

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Happy Sunday!

Watch me paint “Floral Cross” in under 2 minutes (time lapse)

Peace be with you today as you reflect upon the week we finished and the new week ahead. No matter how exhausting the world feels, may we feel spiritually refreshed to face our challenges with strength, hope, and perseverance. God bless you and your family!

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Distorted Reality

Watch me paint “Kitchen Devotions” in under 1 minute (time lapse) Surrealism is an art style that combines unusual elements together to produce a dreamlike

Read More »

Fear

Watch me paint “Forest Fire” in 1 minute (time lapse) What scares you? Fires, hurricanes, storms, floods, criminal violence, car/plane/train crashes, losing a loved one,

Read More »

Birds of a Feather

Watch this oil painting “Goldfinches” come to life in 1 minute (time lapse) There’s been a lot of propaganda, illogical fallacies, and other mean-spirited, agenda-ridden

Read More »

Big Picture

Watch me paint “Predator and Prey Alike” in 2 minutes (time lapse) Inside this big picture, there are many smaller pictures. Each predator and prey

Read More »

Justice

Watch me paint this historical art in 2 minutes (time lapse) The inspiration for my painting isn’t political (not about this appointee in particular). It

Read More »

Perspective

Watch me paint “Consider the Lilies” in 2 minutes (time lapse) This is a small oil painting, only 10 inches by 8 inches from what

Read More »

Empathy

“He Wept” Feeling sad today. I was reading personal accounts by people going through heartbreaking situations that are caused directly or indirectly by evil actions

Read More »

New Painting Show!

Don’t miss it! New oil painting revealed, variety show acts, surprises, laughter, and a very special shared human experience! Watch this blog tomorrow… or please

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Plant your Flag

Watch me paint “Flag on Mars” in 2 minutes (time lapse) “The excitement of ‘heavenly realms’ has inspired people for hundreds of years. When our

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Birds of a Feather

Watch this oil painting “Goldfinches” come to life in 1 minute

(time lapse)

There’s been a lot of propaganda, illogical fallacies, and other mean-spirited, agenda-ridden denigrating language to malign what was once generally celebrated: the natural social desire for “birds of a feather (to) flock together”. For political and other reasons, the normal need to be around people with whom we have something in common has been labeled as cult-like, an “echo chamber”, small mindedness, and much worse. This is nonsense! 

Unless folks are conspiring to hurt others or are otherwise in a dysfunctional and abusive group, it’s healthy to surround ourselves with people who share values, interests, careers, hobbies, culture, locality, and other factors in common. Isolation can make us physically ill from social deprivation. Condemning the practice of finding a sense of community with those whom we feel connected to, has the sinister result of replacing our natural fellowship with manufactured common “values” that primarily benefit the very entities responsible for shaming us for our normal, healthy social yearning to belong (hence their conscious or subconscious motive for an obsessive and controlling interest in the social networks of strangers).

When we’re pushed into steered social groups through shaming, intimidation, and manipulation, we may feel alone in a crowd. Why? Because birds of a feather flock together. No one can tell us who our bird friends are, as the reasons for feeling a sense of community, connection, fellowship, and empathy are very individual and highly complex.

What could look like an echo chamber to an outside observer is likely not a fair representation of why people connect. Even if the traits that the persons in the group have in common seem obvious, the underlying reasons for connecting are probably intangibles like:

  • Joy: a shared sense of humor (they “get” me)
  • Acceptance and respect for one’s values, faith, religion, culture, lifestyle, etc. (even if folks within the group disagree)
  • Passion for things that individuals in the group are keenly interested in or consider important (same priorities in life, similar focus on hobbies/career/etc., a lifestyle in common such as parenting young children)

Even if a group looks to be connected by politics, the real tether is still likely to be based on the three intangibles above: joy, acceptance, and passion. The people who “take the same side” on certain issues are probably people who share our deepest core values involving how we respect each other, how we “get” each other through humor, and the intensity of our interests. We should therefore push back on the tiresome trend to condemn how people socialize, and let people be free to find their own flock.

Birds of a feather really DO flock together, for good and for bad (unfortunately criminally bent people find each other quite easily it seems). Those of you who follow my blog may feel a connection to me and a deepening friendship, based on shared values in common. You may respect my authentic voice, even when you don’t always agree with me. You may feel that I “get” you when I post something humorous. You may feel understood and accepted when I share something that hits you where you are, something you can relate to. I hope so!

I welcome the concept of finding people who share something in common, as this is how we are naturally wired. It is healthy to find a flock and enjoy the company of birds of a feather. If you are one of my fellow bird friends, thank you for flying with me.

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Distorted Reality

Watch me paint “Kitchen Devotions” in under 1 minute (time lapse) Surrealism is an art style that combines unusual elements together to produce a dreamlike

Read More »

Fear

Watch me paint “Forest Fire” in 1 minute (time lapse) What scares you? Fires, hurricanes, storms, floods, criminal violence, car/plane/train crashes, losing a loved one,

Read More »

Birds of a Feather

Watch this oil painting “Goldfinches” come to life in 1 minute (time lapse) There’s been a lot of propaganda, illogical fallacies, and other mean-spirited, agenda-ridden

Read More »

Big Picture

Watch me paint “Predator and Prey Alike” in 2 minutes (time lapse) Inside this big picture, there are many smaller pictures. Each predator and prey

Read More »

Justice

Watch me paint this historical art in 2 minutes (time lapse) The inspiration for my painting isn’t political (not about this appointee in particular). It

Read More »

Perspective

Watch me paint “Consider the Lilies” in 2 minutes (time lapse) This is a small oil painting, only 10 inches by 8 inches from what

Read More »

Empathy

“He Wept” Feeling sad today. I was reading personal accounts by people going through heartbreaking situations that are caused directly or indirectly by evil actions

Read More »

Big Picture

Watch me paint “Predator and Prey Alike” in 2 minutes

(time lapse)

Inside this big picture, there are many smaller pictures. Each predator and prey pair shows how the natural world operates. Should that not include humankind? Of course it does. But we must not lose heart or surrender to the fate of defenseless prey.

“There are times when it seems the predators always win, but that’s not true. There is a time and season for everything. When we get discouraged, perhaps we can think about the beauty of God’s beasts, fowl, and fishes. His divine plan is mysterious, and sometimes painful…But there’s always a larger picture, and we are part of it. We are not forgotten. Not unwelcome. We are loved.”

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

As our world continues to be a chaotic scene, may we not be so distracted by the many battles, that we don’t see the big picture, the larger scene. It’s hard to see the forest, the mountain ridge, the sea, the green landscape, or the sky when battles rage. But if we step back and look at this world as a whole, we will see that our home is a beautiful place to be.

Not everyone is “bad”, and not everyone is “good”. Most of us are just trying to muddle through, learning how to live and love the best that we can. No matter how much destruction we see, we can focus on creation. No matter how much malice we see, we can focus on love. No matter how many enemies we see, we can focus on friends.

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Distorted Reality

Watch me paint “Kitchen Devotions” in under 1 minute (time lapse) Surrealism is an art style that combines unusual elements together to produce a dreamlike

Read More »

Fear

Watch me paint “Forest Fire” in 1 minute (time lapse) What scares you? Fires, hurricanes, storms, floods, criminal violence, car/plane/train crashes, losing a loved one,

Read More »

Birds of a Feather

Watch this oil painting “Goldfinches” come to life in 1 minute (time lapse) There’s been a lot of propaganda, illogical fallacies, and other mean-spirited, agenda-ridden

Read More »

Big Picture

Watch me paint “Predator and Prey Alike” in 2 minutes (time lapse) Inside this big picture, there are many smaller pictures. Each predator and prey

Read More »

Justice

Watch me paint this historical art in 2 minutes (time lapse) The inspiration for my painting isn’t political (not about this appointee in particular). It

Read More »

New Painting – Owl

Watch me paint this art in under 2 minutes (time lapse)

Oil painting “Owl” by Natalie Buske Thomas

Another one toward my lifetime goal of One Thousand Finished Paintings! Also, there are only 5 paintings left in the 2021 collection “50 Oil Paintings Inspired by Nature“! So, I’ll be formatting the new book soon (ugh! I hate formatting!), and submitting it to start the approval process (and probably fail it the first time or two… ugh, ugh, ugh!). I’m not looking forward to formatting hell, but… it’s all worth it in the end to see the finished collection bound together. And… I can start early on 2022’s collection! Getting a jump on it is a good idea because sometimes life gets in the way and I end up with more pauses in work flow than expected. Well, anyway, that’s my progress report! Have a wonderful weekend, friends.

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Distorted Reality

Watch me paint “Kitchen Devotions” in under 1 minute (time lapse) Surrealism is an art style that combines unusual elements together to produce a dreamlike

Read More »

Fear

Watch me paint “Forest Fire” in 1 minute (time lapse) What scares you? Fires, hurricanes, storms, floods, criminal violence, car/plane/train crashes, losing a loved one,

Read More »

Birds of a Feather

Watch this oil painting “Goldfinches” come to life in 1 minute (time lapse) There’s been a lot of propaganda, illogical fallacies, and other mean-spirited, agenda-ridden

Read More »

Big Picture

Watch me paint “Predator and Prey Alike” in 2 minutes (time lapse) Inside this big picture, there are many smaller pictures. Each predator and prey

Read More »