New Art Journey

See this angels oil painting come to life in about 1 minute (time lapse video)

I’ve lost track of how many oil paintings I’ve done, but “over 200” is possibly right. My lifetime goal is over 1,000 finished oil paintings, so I’m about 1/5 of the way there. When I get closer to the goal (and after I’ve counted to be more accurate) I’ll add a progress bar to this site. Until then, I’ll just keep adding more paintings to the pile. And for that to happen I need to get back to work! The move has set me back, but I plan to start painting in my new space next week. I have to finish setting it up first.

Every time I’ve moved to a new place my life has changed. Sometimes the shift in my art is dramatic, sometimes subtle, but whether conscious of it or not, I begin a new art journey when I change my life. I’m thinking back to when I painted this angels painting and how it reflected what I was going through at that time.

Mom started developing health problems in her 50s but ignored them. By the time she reached her 60th birthday, she was struggling. I became her caregiver which was emotionally complicated beyond anything I can explain here. She passed away after a dramatic event in the hospital at age 62 that I was present for and traumatized by.

Dad died of cancer 25 years almost to the day, when he was 37. When Mom died it was like losing Dad all over again. My grief journey was as complicated as my caregiving journey, and all of this impacted my art journey.

I painted these angels about a year after Mom died, after we had to sell our house and move due to my husband losing his job when the company he worked for moved operations out of the country. I’ve told parts of this story on this blog several times, because it’s how I became an oil painter. Prior to selling our house, I had a home teaching studio, so I lost my job too when we had to sell it and move.

I’d been teaching dance, theater and art for many years and now everything I’d built up had abruptly ended. I no longer had a classroom and my own kids were outgrowing and losing interest in participating in the business. Why not just do it (art and shows) myself? My college age kids join in occasionally- only as they wish to do so. Most of the time I’m flying solo, no longer a backup singer to my kids or my students, no longer teaching art but painting it, no longer directing shows but performing them. For the past five+ years I’ve been an entrepreneur rather than a teacher and small business owner.

It was a big change, but it feels exactly right. Honestly, my students never had the passion, energy and intense work ethic that I do. I’d have stressed them out if I’d pushed them as hard as I push myself. I managed to teach some valuable things but the program was kept light and fun and tailored to meet each student where they are, whether child, adult, someone with disabilities, or someone with a spark of talent. Our shows were never going to amount to much more than something their families and community enjoyed. And that was enough for me. But it wasn’t enough for my life’s purpose and destiny.

My world was too small, and like it or not (and I did NOT at first! I didn’t want to give up the life I had and I felt very insecure about being in front of the camera rather than behind it) I was meant to move on even though moving (physically, financially, emotionally, and spiritually) is hard. You can probably relate to this. When we are pushed to let go of a life we’ve lost, it’s easy to feel that the old days were better. But the past is only a foundation. The future is where hope lies, and it’s in the present where joy lives.

Even when we’re in a season of grief, there’s a quiet joy that exists deep down, and is reinforced when synchronicity and God connections align. Which brings us back around to the angels. The angels painting was inspired by an unexpected visit by someone I knew a long time ago. The fateful encounter gave me hope. The depth of my sadness during that time is reflected in my art.

I can see that for myself now, although I wasn’t aware of it at the time. I’m offering this particular angels painting as a clear example of what I’m trying to say. My paintings reflect my life and change when I do.

I wonder who I am now as an artist. How is my life changing? How will my art journey change? We’ll find out together. Are you with me?


Never Before Seen

See this oil painting of angels come alive in 2 minutes (time lapse)

This footage of “We are the Angels that He Sends” (<-visit page for story) has never been seen before in its entirety because I’d lost it. I only had an edited version that was missing some of the painting sessions, whereas this is now the entire painting (time lapsed to be slightly over two minutes long). I finally found the raw files by doing a file extension search on my old portable harddrive and wading through all of the unnamed files until I found the lost footage. This was from my old camera, which is why only the photographs of the final completed painting is in HD. But, even though the video is grainier than I’d like, it’s still good to have the complete video. I’m happy I found the lost files!


Who we are

Watch “We are the Angels that He Sends” come alive in about 1 minute (time lapse)

Do you ever see yourself in the past, through a photograph, a video, through the eyes of an old friend or relative, or maybe a memory that flashes through your mind after hearing a certain song? Whatever the triggering moment, sometimes we fleetingly see our past selves. It can be a jarring experience. This was the case for me today when I edited this video.

I shared the story behind this angels painting in a June blog post called “Are you an angel?“. When I painted this I was still using my old camcorder and the footage is grainy. I tried to brighten and fix it today, but there was only so much I could do. I changed the music and smoothed the footage out a bit. That’s about all I can do since the raw footage isn’t very good. While I was editing the video, I felt like I was looking at a stranger.

This younger version of me doesn’t look vastly different from who I am now, yet I barely recognize myself. Why? Has it been so long ago that I’ve aged into a different person? That’s unsettling, and a bit of a shock. No, I don’t think that’s it.

I studied the face in the video and realized that I look sad. I painted this before we moved to Ireland. I think it was the year after Mom died, when we sold the house we’d worked so hard to build (I shared some of this with you in a post called “Downsizing our Dreams“), and when our first child went away to college. In such a short period of time I lost my only remaining close relative, my child left home, I lost my job (my home studio and arts program that I had built from nothing and had dedicated so much to), and my husband, who was losing his job, had just had surgery.

No wonder I was sad! But my melancholy wasn’t solely about our circumstances and hardships. In brokenness, we find healing. We learn what parts of ourselves we want to put back together, and which pieces we don’t. This process can feel profoundly sad, as we may be temporarily lost.

When we lose the people, places, and purpose that defined us, we have an opportunity to make different choices. This can be a liberating and life-changing experience. We can be more of who we were always meant to be. But, for a while, we may not know who that person is. It was during this period of brokenness that I painted the angels art. When I saw my sad face in that video, it struck me how far I’ve come.

Have you ever had a period of reflection like this, that hits you out of the blue? May we feel proud of how far we’ve come and the journey it took to get there. May we find joy in endurance, and passion for the road ahead. The journey never ends; we merely find easier paths from time to time, never knowing when the terrain will prove difficult again. When we look back on who we used to be, may we feel blessed to be who we are now, and encouraged that the best is yet to come.

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.

"We are the Angels that He Sends"

See oil painting “We are the Angels that He Sends” come to life in 2 minutes (time lapse)

Story of this angels painting: “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.”

“We are the Angels that He Sends” (full, vertical)
“We are the Angels that He Sends” (cropped, horizontal)

Watch Natalie paint this art (scroll down this page). Order gallery quality prints, here:

Small Print “We are the Angels that He Sends” (full, vertical format)

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

$33.50

Small Print “We are the Angels that He sends (cropped, horizontal format)

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

$33.50

Medium Print “We are the Angels that He Sends” (full, vertical format)

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

$65.50

Medium Print “We are the Angels that He Sends” (cropped, horizontal format)

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

$65.50

Large Print “We are the Angels that He Sends” (full, vertical format)

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

$98.50

Large Print “We are the Angels that He Sends” (cropped, horizontal format)

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

$98.50