Watch Natalie paint this tiger in approx 2 minutes (time lapse video)

This art is included in the collection “50 Oil Paintings Inspired by Nature“; requested by the artist’s daughter who loves tigers.

Small Print “Tiger”

All small prints are approximately 8 x 10. Giclee Somerset Velvet Fine Art paper. Free shipping. No frame.


Medium Print “Tiger”

All medium prints are approximately 16 x 20. Giclee Somerset Velvet Fine Art paper. Free shipping. No frame.


Large Print “Tiger”

All large prints are approximately 24 x 30. Giclee Somerset Velvet Fine Art paper. Free shipping. No frame.


Painting Perspective

Painting perspective involves the placement and shape of objects; objects can be stacked or skewed to give the illusion of space and dimension. Often a combination of those techniques works well. In this first example, “City of Savannah” the illusion of perspective is shown mostly through the stacking of objects, to give the appearance that some things are closer to the viewer than others.

The stacked items in the foreground are textured more heavily than those in the background. Heavier weight and greater detail gives the illusion that the viewer can see these foreground objects better because they are “closer” than the objects in the background, when of course the canvas is flat and all objects are the same relative distance from the viewer. In this way, artists are illusionists.

Oil Painting "City of Savannah" by artist Natalie Buske Thomas

In this next example, “Boiled Peanuts for Sale” uses skewed perspective to give the illusion that the body of the old truck is receding into the landscape. Skewed objects not only give paintings perspective, but also personality and character.

In this last example, “House in Savannah“, we see a combination of stacked and skewed perspective. Layering objects to give the illusion of receding back, combined with skewed perspective, gives character to the piece. Skewed perspective may cast strong feelings of nostalgia, such as in “Boiled Peanuts”. While used in a more subtle way in “House in Savannah”, skewing objects (slanting, twisting, and warping slightly) creates a vintage feeling to this art.

Painting Lions

What STORY do we want to tell? EMOTIONS do we feel? IMPACT do we want to make?

Art is a fluid language that flows from the artist, to the viewer, and back to the artist. Art adapts to the time and place of viewing- ever changing to meet people where they are. What we see and feel from a painting today may be different from how we thought of it yesterday, and how we’ll see it in the future. Therefore, we may have different answers to the questions in the headline above, depending on when we’re asked (What story do we want to tell, what emotions do we feel, what impact do we want to make?). We may also have different answers to those questions from the perspective of the viewer, including the artists themselves who become viewers as well (What story do we hear, what emotions do we feel, what impact is it making?).

Whatever our answers, art is personal, intimate, and we might change our hearts and minds seconds after we’ve settled on a direction. I can tell you what these paintings mean, but not what they mean to YOU. My perception about my art changes over time, so even though I’m the artist, I’m not an authority on art, not even my own. Once a painting is shared, art belongs to everyone.

Eyes can appear kind and wise. It’s all in what we see when we look into them. When painting eyes, it helps to imagine what we want the eyes to show and use our brush strokes to reflect that. Rounded shapes express gentleness, purity, innocence, and goodness; whereas sharp edgy strokes bring a sharp quality that expresses the opposite.

Layering with colors and highlights brings a flat painted eye to life.  A fleck of white in the pupil is a “life spot, according to my dad. He used to tell me to never forget that. Aiming for a small pin-point white dot works, but when the white fleck ends up as an organic, random “splotch” that doesn’t match exactly the life spot in the other eye, it has a more natural effect, so I try to resist making it too tidy. Light is generally not perfectly reflected or evenly cast.

Soft velvety texture on the lion’s face contrasts with the heavy paint strokes that become progressively more primitive as the mane extends to the canvas edge. What story, what emotion, what impact? Imagine running your fingertip down the bridge of that fuzzy nose, or a giving the lion a pat on that heavy golden mane. Is he gentle? Might he be dangerous? Would he hurt you? Would he protect you? What kind of lion is he, and what does he represent? Strength, wisdom, patience, victory over enemies? The story is up to the viewer, but an artist can steer the viewer toward asking questions. Contrasting elements give art a dynamic that is active, seeking, inquiring

This mythical winged lion was inspired by a resin Guardian Lion statue in Savannah, Georgia. I imagined the griffin as made of gold, and “alive” (yet still maintaining the qualities of a statue). Again, it’s all about the contrasting elements, as this second painting also begs inquiring minds to ponder what this art means to them. The rigidity of the lion, its fixed expression, stern lines, and monochromatic coloring contrasts- and almost opposes- the soft terrain, wispy fantasy landscape, streaky brush strokes and colorful palette. The only movement is water spray hitting the cliff edge where the lion stands watch. What is the story, emotion, and impact? Do we feel safe? Is this lion in control, even over the elements, the sea? 

Lion and the Lamb” was inspired by stained glass windows in the historic Cathedral of John the Baptist in Savannah, Georgia. I wanted to paint religious art of my own, even though this isn’t in the style of the stained glass window art. My metaphorical intentions weren’t very deep (precious lamb, sacrifice and meekness; contrasting with mighty warrior lion and King). I guess we could bring that into a greater theological discussion about duality and the divine, but to be honest, I only imagined this art as a peaceful story, like the illustrations I have fond memories of from children’s Bibles when I was a little girl.

My Irish Gran used to dress up in her pink dress and sometimes she’d have a hat. If I was lucky to be at her home when she had a church event planned, I’d get to see her in her Sunday best. These memories are all caught up in my perception of Bible stories, which accounts for my peaceful and nurturing interpretation. However, I have received feedback from several viewers who have put quite a lot of thought into what they see in this metaphorical painting, and even took an entirely different path than I even knew existed. While I find their perspectives interesting, I still only see a gentle strong fatherly lion with an innocent meek lamb. Sometimes I paint on one level, while views take the art to much deeper levels. Art is a language that transcends, even if the artist is completely unaware.

Painting Roses

Happy Valentine's Day!

Enjoy these painted roses.

Rose of Joy

See more blog posts:

Painting Angels

Angels of Protection Help and Comfort Peace and Healing

Painting angels is about more than glowing halos and virtuous smiles. Art is a language. What do we want to say? The oil painting “Turning Angel” was inspired by a monument, a statue that stands watch over the graves of five children. I learned of this beautiful statue when it made headlines because it was vandalized and toppled- broken.

When angels watch over us, what are they watching out for? Perhaps the evil of hate and ignorance, greed and selfishness, and all other dangerous motivations of humankind? Was man (in any way) at fault regarding the tragic factory explosion in the early 1900’s that killed the children? When their graves were disrespected by a vandal, what darkness drove him? I don’t see yellow halos, golden hair, or flesh tones when I imagine this angel as “alive”. I painted for the first time using only black and white- no color at all. When we think beyond what’s expected, we discover a whole new way to look. 

The next example, “We are the Angels that He sends“, was inspired by a serendipitous connection with someone I never knew that well to begin with (and when I did know her, it was over twenty years ago). Have you ever experienced a mysterious person showing up at the exact moment when you needed help, and it seemed like an “angel” was sent to you? In this case, she was literally at my door. She had been travelling across several states and I was a stop on her way. She arrived at exactly the right time, as my husband was recovering from surgery and I was alone. She kept me company for hours as I poured the coffee and she poured her heart out to me. Later, when she returned home, she was amazed that I thought of her as an angel at my door, because she thought I was her angel on her journey!

When the story we want to tell is high-energy and rich with with contradiction (highs, lows, urgency/crisis and calm/resolution), the use of full glorious color works well. Many colors, details among barely sketched areas, sharp lines alongside smooth– all of these contradictions and the sheer business of it all communicates angst and hope existing in the same space (compare with the stillness of the first piece I shared, “Turning Angel”).

In this final example, we have almost a merging of the styles from the two paintings above. The stillness and simplicity of “Turning Angel“, through a solitary figure and minimal background composition, is combined with the the rich colors and living interaction of “We are the Angels that He Sends“. Except, the encounter in “Autumn Angel“, is not communication with another person/angel, but with a dove. Anyone who has felt a connection with a bird or animal knows the peaceful understanding from one spirit to another. In this way, the dove is not just a symbol of peace, but tells the story of peaceful experiences that nature and animals provide.

You may have noticed that these three paintings were painted on different sized canvases. “Autumn Angel” was painted on a small 8×10, while “Turning Angel” was the next size up, and “We are the Angels that He sends” was on an even larger canvas. When photographed, the size of the canvas doesn’t matter, as the art becomes whatever dimension desired. But, it matters when viewing the original canvas live, and when painting the piece. Without realizing it, the tight control of painting small may affect the outcome, and likewise, the vast space to fill when painting large may impact the art. Sometimes artists factor all of these things in when deciding what medium to paint on, but other times, the decision is random- based solely on whatever canvases are on hand, happen to be on sale, whatever size there’s enough paint on hand for, whatever space is available for displaying or entering the piece into a competition, gallery, or display, etc. Whether a planned, conscious decision or a forced or random one, the size and type of medium can make a difference, but in my experience, it doesn’t make much of one. Let nothing hold you back from creating. Constraints and obstacles are challenges that give us an opportunity to learn something new.

Painting on Black

Painting on black canvas is a fun exercise that pushes an artist to try new styles and techniques. The coating on a black canvas is often different, and possibly powdery. The stark contrast between the black background and wet oil paint can make the colors seem luminescent, which may be the desired effect for certain projects. I was happy with how this gorgeous bird turned out on black canvas. He’s called a “Painted Bunting“, and appeared one day out of the blue on our patio. Of course I had to paint him! A glowing vibrant painting effect was perfect to show off his vivid colors.

Painting on black canvas can be a surprising choice for some projects, making old standards fresh and contemporary. “Peaches in a Bowl” has an old school traditional fine arts look to it, with a twist. The glowing colors look almost chalk-like, yet this art was painted with oils. Changing our medium can lead to unexpected outcomes and (perhaps unintentional) renaissance.

This last example, “Miki’s Dragon”, illustrates when the medium is a perfect match for the subject. The project goal was to create a vivid red dragon that personifies the friend I was painting this for. A pediatric ER doctor, she collects dragons and was over the moon to see herself “as a dragon”. The dragon has her purple hair, is holding her initial M, and its tail is the medical symbol, the Caduceus. But, one of the most important elements is what was made possible by painting on black canvas- the fierce quality of the vibrant red, as it honors her strong spirit and captures her bold personality. I painted this art as a thank you gift, and when she looks at it, she is reminded of who she is. 

Oil painting of a red dragon

Experimenting with different mediums can lead to trying new styles and possibly even stumbling upon new methods, ideas, and techniques that will enrich our artistic journey forever. One creative venture leads to another. Do you remember “Eye of the Storm” from my previous blog about Painting Storms? That art was also painted on black canvas and I love the way our planet looks surreal through “glowing” colors. By the way, writing this blog has given me an idea for a future painting on black. This is how it is, when we expand our minds by trying something new… our imaginations are charged up and unstoppable!

Painting Miracles

Miracle Dancer” is an oil painting that tells the story of when I was 15 and recovering from a white water rafting accident. About two hours after I was out of the water I had an odd type of seizure. I didn’t lose consciousness and the convulsions were only from the waist down (just my legs). But the effect of this left me so weak that it was difficult not only to walk, but I had slurred speech and my arms were weak as well. The seizures got worse, daily, and lasted longer. I was hospitalized for weeks, then released with no improvement. Months later (I was then 16) I overheard a doctor say, “One day she won’t get out of that (wheel)chair again.” I refused to believe that. Long story, but I worked hard and danced in my next recital- and earned a trophy too! Life’s stories of hardship and triumph are told through the language of art when words alone can’t express what we feel.

Color expresses the duality of hardship and miracles, as the contrast between somber darks and ghostly lights tells the story. Blue is a color of the natural world, but looks haunting in this painting- as if an unhappy outcome exists in an alternate reality. The dancer’s pink shoes ring out as cheerful in this otherwise gloomy scene. The dancer is moving toward the light, which could mean many things. Some may see her as leaving the pain of this world (eternally), but my intention was to show a return to living an active full life (as if escaping a deadened spirit in which I never dance again). The swirling motion of the paint strokes create action, representing both the movement of the dancer and the change in life circumstance.

Miracle of Life“, has a similar brush stroke pattern of swirling shapes (like “Miracle Dancer” above), as if a mighty wind or supernatural force is interacting with the elements of the painting. But here, there is the addition of earth tones (green, brown, flesh) and very few darks. The duality isn’t between pain and joy, but between the organic, spiritual aspect, and the scientific, logical. Painting rounded shapes and subtle shades represents the spiritual and organic, while rigid lines and stark contrast depicts the scientific and logical.

In this last example, the concepts of “Miracle”, duality, spiritually, life, and death are depicted by heavenly yellows, golden tones, and warmer shades. “The Miracle Dulcimer” exists only as a book for now, but I plan to one day develop this as a painting, probably with the full instrument and a more involved landscape. The current landscape shown on the book cover is cropped from a photograph I took on the hobby farm where I once lived. This sky is what I saw when Mom was still alive, and when my husband made this gorgeous musical instrument for her. That story is one that I’d like to tell in paint one day, but probably not for a couple of years. I’ve painted a lot of that type of work (relating to grief and hardship). I’m now in a resting space of letting go, moving on, and settling in to my new life. When I’m ready to revisit those memories, I’ll create the painting that is in me; it’s just waiting for the right time.

Painting Storms

Eye of the Storm” was inspired by maps that track hurricanes. The dangerous swirls were created with thick layers and vivid white paint (White Titanium). Frantic paint strokes and stark contrasting colors create tension. The danger and excitement of a storm is expressed with confident lines, bold colors, and heavy texture.

Oil Painting "Eye of the Storm" by artist Natalie Buske Thomas

This next oil painting, “Statue of Liberty Struck by Lightning“, was inspired by news photographs of this real occurrence in New York City in 2020. Slightly skewed and unnaturally fluorescent, the effect is somewhat surreal, which lends itself well to the awe and wonder of lightning strikes during a storm– especially when the target of the strike is one of the most recognizable landmarks in the world!

Storms can be depicted through stark contrasts, heavy texture, confident paint strokes, and skewed surreal perspective. This final example shows a different approach. “Waves of the Sea” is about the anticipation of a storm. The waves are painted in an unnaturally ordered way. The sky looks like it’s getting dark. There’s a feeling of the wind picking up, even though there’s nothing in the painting that’s blowing. The lighthouse stands ready to lead sailors home.

Oil Painting "Waves of the Sea" by artist Natalie Buske Thomas

Painting Seascapes

Seascapes are all about light and dark. Shadows, highlights, reflections, and gradients of color are what brings salt air to our faces. In “Lighthouse near Tybee Island“, the mood is set by the melancholic colors of the sea and sky. While overcast and gloomy, nightfall has not fallen, nor have storms blackened the sky. The lighthouse’s light is not on. The reflection of light in the water is representational, much like a lighthouse is a symbol of hope.

Short, choppy lines create a more realistic effect for both the waves of the sea and for the weathered look of structures, such as in “Lighthouse near Tybee Island” above. Changing the mood from wistful melancholy to bright optimism can be done through a change of color scheme and style. In “Steamship Savannah“, the looping continuous lines of the waves are more representational than authentic, and the tones are bright- as if lit by full sunlight on a glorious day. What a difference these changes can make! In the first painting, we feel the life of the sea hardy and the lost. In the steamship painting, we feel the excitement of discovery and pioneering adventure.

In this last example, we turn our attention to the coastline and happy sunny days at the beach. The tones here aren’t stark and vivid like the steamship painting, or murky and gloomy like the lighthouse painting. The mood is set through a soft gradient of pleasant neutrals contrasted by a bright red swimsuit that is repeated in the reflection on the sand. The result is a peaceful, joyful seascape. “My Kids at the Beach” is an oil painting that people tell me makes them want to go to the beach. A change in brush style from choppy or loopy to smooth and shapely, and a change in color scheme can dramatically and radically alter the mood of a seascape.

You can probably see the hopefulness, adventure, peace, and joy leaping off the canvas when I paint a seascape. Some art projects flow easier than others. When we paint what we love, it naturally shines through.

Painting Fire

Fire is a natural element that pushes an artist to take on the qualities of the element: powerful unrestrained organic force. When painting fire, oils and colors take on a life of their own, as it is effective to paint quickly and without overthinking the thickness, direction, or shape of the wild paint streaks and dabs flying from the brush. When painting as if directed by the energy of flames, the illusion of fire naturally appears. The degree of realism varies, but fire is understood from the gradients of reds, yellows and blacks. Often, subtle and blended shapes create a more natural looking fire, such as in “Forest Fire“, a tribute to fire fighters.

Fire can also be depicted in a more symbolic way, such as in “Eagle takes down Owl“. Through exaggerated shapes and stark colors, rather than subtle tones and blending, the flames look almost as if cut from paper and pasted in. When producing a metaphorical or storytelling representation of fire, heavy lines and sharp angles bring drama to the piece. Action is loud, and when the colors and style are bold, action is conveyed. Also, bending the fire like waves mimics a second natural element of water. Combining the two elements creates an outer-worldly fantasy image.

Fire is recognized by the color scheme and energy that comes from gradients competing for space on the canvas. Colors jumping in and out of a block of dark reds and oranges create an illusion of fire. Whether the flames jump in wild, active, sharp lines and shapes, or if the darting of color is subtle, blended, and smooth, the energy of fire is what brings emotion to the piece. In this last example, “Guardian Angel“, fire may even convey profound sadness.

Fire may be depicted as a quiet (and strangely beautiful) danger like in “Forest Fire”, as frenzied action like in “Eagle takes down Owl”, or as a moving story like in “Guardian Angel”. The direction the fire takes is up to the artist, and how a person feels while viewing the art is up to that individual. Painting fire is an emotional artistic challenge, and viewing fire in art is an emotional human experience.