Happy Mother’s Day!

Our church had a wonderful photo op display for Mother’s Day this morning [above photo]. My two daughters posed with me (Cassie in the blue striped dress on my right, Savannah in the white and navy dress on my left). My son wasn’t there but if he were, he’d have towered over me, as he’s the tallest of the three. All three are taller than I am, but that’s not because they’re tall. They are average height. I’m just short, not much over five feet.

I hope you all enjoyed your Mother’s Day. We had beautiful weather here in Savannah, Georgia and ate lunch in a park. We saw a mama goose with her fuzzy tottering babies out for a swim and a stroll. It was a nice surprise to celebrate the day!

2023 Painting Collection Update: I’ve had trouble getting back to my painting projects after Easter. If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you’ll know that we moved last spring- almost exactly a year ago- and the property needed a lot of fixing up. It’s felt like a full time job at times, and I’ve been giving most of my energy to it. We want to get back to everyday life and are trying to finish these big jobs quickly so that we don’t feel unsettled, in progress, and unfinished (spiritually and literally) for too long. Being finished with something tangible helps us feel more settled spiritually. It’s been a long journey and we’re ready to live a “normal” life again, as close to normal as one can be. So, rather than putter at a slow pace, I’m driving myself hard to finish the work as fast as I can.

But, there’s really no such thing as being completely settled. Life is always in a state of change and will never be done, perfect, or safe from disruption until we reach those heavenly gates. And even then, it seems we may be given interesting work to do that keeps us joyfully alive on the other side.

It helps if I retrain my mind to see life’s journey as having rest stops and forks in the road, detours, and pleasant new paths – but not finished. We’re not in a race. We’re on a pilgrimage. That mindset helps when change seems too slow, when it suddenly leaps forward too abruptly, when things happen beyond my control, and when it feels as if I can never get to the finish line, where life just flows like a gentle stream. The gentle stream doesn’t happen at a finish line, but at points along the way, like today, when I was with my family at the park and we saw mama goose and her babies.

“Jesus in the Garden”

Here’s the short (2 minute time lapse) version of my latest oil painting of Jesus called “Jesus in the Garden”. If you missed the full length video, or want to see it again, the Easter show is posted here.

The lighting effects you see- where it looks like cross shapes of light or other washes of light- were not put in there by me. They aren’t added special effects, but real light passing over the canvas while I was painting. It was slow and not noticeable while I was working (except for having to squint at the canvas from time to time if the sun hit the oil paint, or having to squint because the room was getting darker when natural light was either behind a cloud or because the sun was setting soon). But, when the video is sped up, the light seems to pass quickly over the painting and sometimes makes shapes. I hope the light was meaningful to you while watching it. When unexpected acts of nature insert themselves into my painting videos, I consider it God’s contribution to the art.

May God’s face shine upon you this day and always. Blessings to you and to all you hold dear.

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Happy Easter

Blessings to you on this day! Today I’m sharing things that are stripped bare and honest. No formal gowns. Nothing fancy. Just authentic sharing from the heart. First, a clip (in the video below) that I’ve shared here before of a regular day at home when my daughter agreed to sing the hymn “In Christ Alone” with me spontaneously, no music, reading the lyrics I pulled up on the screen in case we’d forget the words. I can’t remember why I wanted to film this song for my blog that day, but sometimes it’s nice when all the music is stripped away. There’s no stage, there’s no audience. It’s just the words and human voices. Lyrics at top of the screen so you can sing along.

Next, one of my early paintings. There is no video for this one, and it’s a bit strange, so I have seldom shared it. But, since I’m sharing raw and authentic things, honest things, I’ll share this one today and talk to you about what it means. Here is the version I added text to, to help explain it.

This is how it felt when I was Mom’s caregiver and she asked me to scrub her feet for her. I thought I would talk about this at length but I realize I’d rather not put too many private details about the family on this public space, so I’ll have to try to communicate without the full story. Imagine if pushed to your limits on what you think you can do, feeling humbled to a breaking point, feeling alone in that point of despair. Does anyone see you? Does anyone know what you do for others, when you feel you can’t go on another minute? I felt in that second (washing her feet) that Jesus was there. No, I didn’t see Him, but it was a certain and strong impression, as if I’d see Him if I turned around (and it felt like I was not allowed to do so). I tried to paint what I saw in my mind, what I felt I’d see if I turned around. Sad eyes, full of empathy, and it felt like a message “For the least of these you do for Me”. It wasn’t a voice, it wasn’t an image, but the message and face was kind of like when we see and hear things in a dream as we’re about to wake up- when we know we are dreaming but the dream is finishing as we’re coming into a wakened state, so the conscious/unconscious merge. As if we can see things that are behind us, even though our dream self is not looking behind, we just know what is there. That’s the best way I can think of to explain it. Of course, one could argue that I was so emotionally stressed that I imagined this, or that I induced a dream-like state. That’s certainly one way to look at it. But in my heart, I know what I experienced, and I believe that I was given encouragement that we are never alone, and He sees what we do for others when we feel broken and weary. We matter, and we are loved. Just after I felt that impression, Mom looked at me in a very unusual way, as if she’d just seen Jesus too- but a stern scolding Jesus, not the empathetic one I saw. She immediately said, “You don’t have to do that, Natalie” and she never asked me to scrub her feet again.

Last, I’d like to share one of the first paintings I have video of. It’s called “Dove in a Forest”. The dove is an important symbol of Christianity and Easter, and it brings peace to us in ways that are personal to each of us. I selected this one because I painted it from imagination. I didn’t have a big website presence then, or thousands of social media followers. It was before I was targeted by hate groups, before anyone knew who I was. It was when I simply painted what I felt in my heart to share. Sometimes what we share when we are being most ourselves, alone, and trying to connect our solitary thoughts with the greater family of humans is our best work. Is it my most detailed, experienced and artistically best work? No. But I believe that that’s not what God asks of us.

Redemption isn’t about perfection or pleasing mankind. The beauty of Easter is freedom through mercy and grace. We cannot earn that kind of supernatural love. It is a gift. And that gift brings us peace.

God bless you and your family on this Easter Sunday and always.

Note: I will be starting the next round of projects for the 2023 collection called “Joyful Living”. Some of those will be short and light, others will be detailed and will take longer to complete. I hope you will enjoy this year’s series. Please subscribe if you want to be notified when there’s something new here (if you haven’t already).

The Old Rugged Cross

Sharing a few clips of favorite Easter shows and events from the past few years – the above was from Easter show 2021, singing beloved hymn “The Old Rugged Cross” with my two daughters. Scroll down for highlights and short clips of previous painting and singing specials.

2 minute time-lapse in the above video (moves very fast, then slows down at the end so you can see the painting) of “Easter Sunday with Grandma”, a special memory of attending church with my Irish grandma. It was important for me to dress up fancy, like Grandma. This painting was photographed and then separated into two different paintings, one of them focused solely on the robin and the nest.

The next videos are from Easter church choir in 2019. The first song (above) is “Messiah Comes” and the one below is “Precious Lamb”. You can see that my daughters and I are the entire soprano section in that little choir. The woman on the end is the pastor’s wife, she’d sing soprano with us sometimes (like in the above video) or help out the others (like in the bottom video). The big man on the end is the pastor, who retired shortly before our move. He worked in disaster relief and at the local hospital, very good man, and his wife as well. I’m better for having known such kind and loving people.

These are special memories of singing with all of my children before we moved from our temporary commuting area last May to our house in Savannah, where we plan to make our “forever” home. My oldest daughter still sings with me, but my son and youngest daughter are both knee-deep in school now and working toward their degrees, so neither of them joined choir in our new church. They do still perform with me in some of my painting shows. I appreciate and enjoy that very much.

I’ll share more memories with you tomorrow, but last for today is from the first Easter painting show I did for you here on this site. It is a panoramic, 3-panel oil painting representing Easter and the trinity. It was my first taped show and the start of what I expect will continue for many more years to come. You might notice that I used “The Old Rugged” cross instrumental track that the girls and I later used to sing to (in the video at the top of this blog). So we’ll end today’s blog post the same way we began. May you feel the power of Easter, redemption, forgiveness, mercy, grace, love and everything that it means to you personally. God bless you and your family.

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EASTER SHOW 2023! New painting of Jesus

My Easter show is done early this year (the video above), plenty of time for you to please share it with your family and friends. The new oil painting is called “Jesus in the Garden”. The hymns my daughter and I are singing have the lyrics on the screen and you’re invited to sing with us. God bless you and yours as we approach the joyous Easter season ahead.

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Easter Painting Show

I’ve started working on the 2023 Easter Show. The painting is planned, the music is chosen, and I’ve ordered this year’s dress. The art will be powerful. I hope you will remember to tune in.

Here are my past shows: Painting Shows if you’ve not already seen them, or if you want to watch them again. Also, I’ll share a few of the shorter videos below:

See my oil painting “Jesus at the Table” come to life in 2 minutes (time lapse video above). I chose a monochromatic color palette to focus more on the emotion and textures. With little color in this art, the fish and silver stand out, and the contrasts in light and dark are stronger than usual.

For the next art of Jesus (the 12 minute video below, slower film speed and some of it in real time), I decided to use no color at all – only black and white (with shades of gray). I was emotional while painting this, and while singing. This painting is called “Jesus at Calvary”.

This next painting is called “Cross and Lily”. See it come alive in less than 2 minutes (time lapse video below).

If you’d like to see more faith paintings, click here.

Subscribe to be notified when I post something new. This is where I share my new paintings. Have a wonderful first day of spring. God bless you and your family.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Watch my Irish art oil paintings come to life in 2 minutes or less (time lapse videos), or watch my full St. Patrick’s Day show with live painting and surprises. Three of these paintings were inspired by living in Ireland, and one of them was painted while I was there. Click the images to see more.

Photos while living in Ireland:

I was thrilled to finally stand at the Celtic sea coast in Ireland. I had amazing boots that allowed me the freedom to enjoy the coast regardless of rain and tide. I use those boots now for heavy landscaping and gardening jobs.

And there I am, standing under what was a double rainbow in Ireland. The second bow was too faint when this picture was taken. I have another picture that shows both, but I’m not in it, so you’ll just have to imagine the second bow for this. 🙂

Husband on left, firstborn daughter, son in middle, me, youngest daughter on right. That was our last big day out before we had to leave. It was heartbreaking to go before my art show and my son had a scholarship to University Cork that he left behind, but we couldn’t get permission to remain beyond our visa, which had already been extended.

Long story, but we returned to the States without doing what we came to do, but we got an adventure that changed us forever. We came back as different people, and prepared for more changes yet to come. Sometimes in life, the biggest journey we take is just the beginning. Happy St. Patrick’s Day – may love, strength, peace, hope, and blessings be yours today and always!

New Painting – “Piano Portrait”

Just finished the next project in the new 2023 collection “50 Oil Paintings Inspired by Joyful Living”, for the first section called MUSIC. These are quick projects to kick things off. “Painting Portrait” (in the video above) was done all in one session, about an hour or so. As the collection progresses, the paintings will become more profound, more challenging, bigger in size (larger canvases), more detailed and will take more time and energy. So, we’re building up as we go this time around.

That’s an imagined self-portrait, if you’ve not already guessed. I imagined myself playing at an old piano we once had. These stories behind the paintings will be a blog series later on, but for now I’m focusing on cranking out as many of these short projects as I can to make room for the more intense paintings that will come later. I hope you’ll stick around and enjoy the 2023 painting journey with me.

Stay tuned and don’t forget to subscribe to be notified when I post something new to the blog. Note: this site is best viewed on a computer with a nice sized monitor, so if you have trouble viewing the videos, please try again on a faster connection. Also, there are over 200 art, singing, and free class videos on here. Browse through the menu or do a search by subject of your choice (examples: “lion”, “angel”, “art class”, “Christmas”).

New Painting – “Celtic Harp”

I sold my Celtic (Irish) harp when I knew my husband was losing his job and we decided to move to Ireland. I was supposed to have a month long solo art show there, but we couldn’t extend our visas long enough to stay. I was unfortunately unable to get an earlier time slot and we were denied permission to remain. So it’s bittersweet to paint this harp, as I remember that I bought it because I thought it would give me peace to learn how to play it after Mom died, and while trying to get close to Dad’s memory (Irish roots), and feeling such hope about my new life in Ireland, that turned out to be less than six months.

I did learn to play it at a very basic beginner level. It hurt my shoulder and neck a bit to play because of the way the small harp is to be tilted toward the shoulder (I have an old injury from a car accident that flares up in certain positions). I’d like to one day get the tall version, with the hope that a different body posture would help. While it makes me feel sad to think of the loss of my beloved harp, I still include it in my new collection inspired by “Joyful Living” because if I didn’t find such joy in this beautiful instrument, I’d not mourn the loss of it.

And one day I shall have another harp and learn how to play it better. When painting this I felt a longing to have a Celtic harp again. I didn’t realize that I missed it so much. I’ll blog about it when I get one. It will be a long while yet though. Maybe next Christmas?

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New Painting – “Ballet Shoes”

This is the third oil painting in my new series for 2023 “50 Oil Paintings Inspired by Joyful Living”, for the section called MUSIC. The first painting was “Mountain Dulcimer“, the second was “Tap Shoes” and now this third one is “Ballet Shoes”. I’ll share videos of me playing the dulcimer, tap dancing, and teaching ballet in the near future on this blog.

The journey through joyful living will bring stories about life events, hobbies, and beliefs that make me happy, but are also universally joyful for humanity in general (such as music, even if you don’t share my specific areas of interest). Some chapters are light and basic, others heavy and spiritual. Some projects are fast/short, others are longer and more intense. There will be a mix of highly detailed, realistic and powerful art, as well as loose, easy, watercolor-like pieces (like these first three in the MUSIC section).

Most will be painted at home with only the camera as my audience, others will be for live shows. As in the past, the plans for this collection will change when inspired by something unexpected. A joyful life is flexible and open to new directions.

I hope you are enjoying the approach of spring. I’ve been busy landscaping and gardening, but still fitting painting in. I plan to pick up the pace and make faster progress on this year’s collection. I have to work fast if I want to make my lifetime goal of 1k finished oil paintings!