A Gift for You!

First, do you remember this one? Watch my oil painting of geese come to life in just over 1 minute (time lapse).

And now, I’ll explain the gift that came to me this afternoon (relating to geese!), and I’ll share my gift with YOU. Yesterday I talked about how I needed to do strenuous landscaping in a hurry so that we don’t get fined for not having the property edged, trimmed, etc. It was a heavy job because we have had alternating extreme heat and tropical rains, a combination that makes it difficult to keep up with the lawn care while at the same time making invasive plants grow like crazy, very quickly.

My husband is scheduled to work long hours, so it was up to me to get it all done. My oldest daughter was available to help and the two of us did a mammoth job. I was a bit sulky and resentful because I didn’t think the tone in the email from the property manager was called for, nor was the threat of a fine upon very first notice of this necessary. We have never had any violations before, always pay our bills on time, and are never a problem for anyone. I think the courtesy of a notice that simply asks us to do it would have been sufficient instead of going straight to “you have a violation” and if we don’t fix it before the deadline we will have further violations and fines. Good grief, it’s just a yard! Stuff grows, then you cut it. We caused no property damage, and this urgency is ridiculous.

So the past two days my daughter and I have worked together to cut and remove branches, trim hedges, clear weeds, and edge the sidewalks. We probably overreacted and did more than what was expected, but I didn’t want any more problems. I try to do MORE than expected in everything I do. We cleared all of our things off from the cement surfaces and swept everything. We bagged up the debris. All of this, and my daughter never complained. Instead she said, “I really enjoyed working with you.” And I realized, I really enjoyed working with her too.

 

Now, for the thing that made the experience surreal and magical:

The entire time we were working today, under gorgeous sunny skies, there was a flock of geese enjoying an afternoon with us! The serenity energy of these large beautiful birds created peace, and reversed the feeling of being judged, punished and treated unfairly, (as a pattern in life, not just this specific landscaping situation); unmerciful when I commit the smallest offense, when I’m already trying as hard as I can to balance all the challenges that come my way… No. Even when people don’t extend grace to us, God always does. I had a rare cool morning to do the heaviest labor, and a warm pretty day for the lighter load. And that’s when the geese shared the afternoon with us. These are wonderful things!

Before I show you your gift, I want to talk about perspective. There was a woman who showed up, a frequent trespasser whose family treats the property behind our row of houses (the area by the lagoon, which none of us own, and is restricted) as her personal park, even though there are “no trespassing” signs and she doesn’t live in one of the houses on our row. She’s an annoying rude person who is obnoxious, yells and then ignores her child, drives off-road vehicles through the property, brazenly fishes with her family even though that is not allowed, and so on, sometimes for hours, late at night, and even on holidays like Christmas and Easter. So all of us who live on this row are forced to see her and her rude family spread out doing whatever they like, as the sole view from our back patio windows, the only windows we have on that side of the house. In other words, there is no escaping seeing this awful group (sometimes they bring friends as well!) spread out having their own loud gathering. I’d report her if it felt like the the thing to do, but it doesn’t. It feels like I should simply close the curtains and ignore what they do. So, that’s what I do.

Well, she was sitting there on the bank near the geese for part of the time we were working outside. She was looking at and then yakking on her phone the entire time. Why bother going to a scenic place if you’re just going to look down at your phone? Did she even see the geese? She eventually left, with the phone still on her ear. 

Another woman was outside, a neighbor. She was apparently alarmed by the large flock of geese getting too close to her yard. She sprayed them with a hose and yelled at them. Then she went inside. So, I guess she didn’t see what I saw. The thing is, these are migratory geese. They won’t stay long. We can choose to appreciate their beauty or not.

There are many bad things happening in the world today. And on a personal level, we all have challenges that are large, and small ones like my manic race to get the landscaping work caught up. So when we see something beautiful, that literally lands in front of us, it is a gift. It was a gift for me, and now a gift for you. I video taped what I saw and dropped music in. And now it’s like you were with me, seeing this too. Enjoy, and God bless you.

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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

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Pests

Watch this raccoon painting come to life in under 2 minutes (time lapse)

Our experiences with nature are often wonderful, sometimes mysterious, and occasionally pure joy. But other times dangerous, destructive, or annoying. Our experiences with raccoons have been frustrating, but not as frustrating as our encounters with squirrels. I don’t have a squirrel painting so I went with the raccoon. But my blog post is about squirrels and a VICTORY over them!

The squirrels were eating all of the bird seed and running our lovely cardinals, finches, and other bird friends away. It was also getting too expensive to feed the squirrels, who have insatiable appetites! But we have a victory! (see the video below that I took today!) Now, you’ll notice that the squirrel actually broke the baffle in the end, but it’s an easy fix to put it back up. I’ve already done that and can secure it better later. So, I think we’ve won this battle! Right now there are two cardinals at the feeder looking mighty smug, as if they know that the feeder is all theirs now. 🙂

Play Video
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Today is my Birthday!

Watch me paint “Autumn Angel” in 2 minutes (time lapse)

Since today is my birthday, I searched for an oil painting I’ve done that represents who I am. At first, I thought of the most obvious choices, such as ones where I make a cameo appearance, like “Come to the Garden” or “Natalie at the Fountain“. I also thought of paintings that others say represent me, or my most popular signature pieces, but in the end, I decided to go with the one above “Autumn Angel“, who doesn’t look like me, and has not been seen by many people.

At the time, the piece was just to fill a project slot for the collection “50 Oil Paintings Inspired by Savannah, Georgia“. It was inspired by the statues and monuments of angels that tourists like to visit in Savannah’s historic cemeteries. I love the beauty and hope of angels and I decided to paint a “real” one based on likenesses and poses I saw in statues.

I wanted to connect with this oil painting, but I was surprised when I actually, deeply, did. The music especially had a profound effect on me. I watched my own painting video over and over. Something about it feels so sad, so bittersweet, yet loving, peaceful, and kind. Why? Why did I feel this way about this particular painting, when I’ve done so many pieces that were just another project to tick off my list?

Interestingly, this particular painting video was one of the ones attacked by a mob who sought to cancel it because the angel is white. They said she is an “Aryan angel” and therefore racist. Am I not allowed to paint figures who might look like my own heritage? (Irish) I have very fair skin that I cannot change. I had blonde hair when I was a young child that turned light brown, then very dark brown (nearly black) like it is now. I have green eyes. This is just the coloring I was given. I was not born “wrong”.

I have painted diverse skin tones over my career. I do not paint exclusively fair skinned persons. But that’s not really something I have to say. I’ve volunteered it because I want to show that I am experienced in a range of portrait styles, but not to defend myself against something I am not guilty of.

The unprovoked attack by the mob against my artwork was seen only by me. I simply disabled comments and stopped using that platform for new work. It was not a big ordeal involving crimes committed against me, like other situations were. This really was nothing at all… only a few anonymous hateful trolls. It could have become something more if I’d engaged with them, but I didn’t.

However, the incident stirred an expected response in me. I felt violated, as if my personal diary had been read and condemned. I felt protective of this art and didn’t share it much. Why did I feel such a personal connection to this particular painting? I’ve had to reflect on this to write today’s blog post.

While this angel doesn’t look like me, and while no one has given any attention to it as a signature piece of mine, nonetheless, it is this one that I connect with the most. It makes me feel powerful emotions and brings tears to my eyes. This is how I feel about the beauty of life in an ugly and hostile world, a world where joy and grief exist alongside each other.

I love my family so deeply that I cannot bear the thought of them in pain, in fear, or gone from me. The joy of loving them, juxtaposed with the fear of losing them (or them losing me) is what living full out is all about. We cannot have joy without an awareness of grief. Yet every day that we are blessed to share life’s journey is full, happy, and even if woven with trivial irritations or concerns- ultimately beautiful when we are brave enough to love.

Love is like this angel. God’s creation, the elements of nature, surrounds her; ivy is a shelter above her head and autumn leaves cushion her feet. She is not consumed by fire. Though the flames may rage, she remains beautiful and kind. She holds peace of spirit in her hand. 

When I looked out my patio glass at this very second, I could see three, no FIVE, birds right now. Two of them are cardinals. The other three look to be finches. They were perched peacefully alongside each other, occasionally fluttering to change positions. They are still there, but continuously flutter and move, so by the time I finish this blog post they will have moved on. A hummingbird has now joined in, had a nip, and is already gone. This is how fast things move in the bird world of nature.

But there are times when I am among them, when I dare not breathe lest they fly away… when they trust me to stand very near them, sharing space in the natural world, where nothing matters except this moment. We are truly living when we stand in love, extending peace, when the flames of this world can’t consume us, and when God’s protection is over our heads and beneath our feet.

We are blessed to be alive another day, and for me, I’m marking another year. May we have many more years together, as you journey with me to reach my lifetime goal of 1k finished paintings. Happy Birthday to me.

🎂

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Quiet Presence

Watch me paint “Blue Heron” in under 1 minute (time lapse)

He’s back! If you’ve been following me for a while, you might remember this story:

“Astrikingly beautiful blue heron appeared at the lagoon one day. I quickly took its picture to paint later. This is a different style from how I usually paint. It looks like a watercolor because I was trying to get away with using cheap paints that turned out to be watery and hard to work with. This was a happy accident, because the watercolor-like effect captured the mood.

He has only made one more appearance that I know of, but I hope he will return next spring. On the day he arrived, he just happened to be standing at the water’s edge when the light reflected the colors of the trees in a streaky wave of color. He was all alone, with no other birds or creatures in sight, which only added to his mysterious presence.”                                                                    – from book “50 Oil Paintings Inspired by Savannah, Georgia” by artist Natalie Buske Thomas

He has since come back a few times. He has a quiet presence, but somehow we become aware of him. His energy is so peaceful. It inspires a hopeful feeling, as if good things are soon to come.

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New Painting – Parrots

Watch me paint “Parrots” in 2 minutes (time lapse)

Some of you may be following my blog to be the first to see my new paintings, if so- today’s your lucky day! No talking, just painting. 😊 🎨

If you haven’t yet subscribed, please do so below. I use my oil paintings to blog about the beauty of life, philosophy and faith (I love metaphors), and this mysterious world we share. At the core of everything I share is a genuine wish for your prosperity and happiness, that the sun shine upon you and you are richly blessed. However, if what you’re looking for is art training or technique, you may find them here (blog series Compare 3) and here (free 12 week art course, take as few or as many classes as you like).

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New Painting

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Lion of Judah oil painting by Natalie Buske Thomas

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Melancholy

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History

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Things we See

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Inspiring

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Sunday Rest

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Not Much to Say

This oil painting is called “Silenced”. I originally painted it to express what it feels like to be censored, blacklisted, etc., but as it often

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Unfinished

If you missed my new painting video that I shared yesterday, here it is again. I did something different this time… I took pictures at

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Bad days

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Pests

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Serendipity

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“Parrots”

Watch Natalie paint these parrots in 2 minutes (time lapse)

This art is included in the collection “50 Oil Paintings Inspired by Nature

“Parrots” by Natalie Buske Thomas

Small Print “Parrots”

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

$33.50

Medium Print “Parrots”

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

$65.50

Parrots oil painting by artist Natalie Buske Thomas

Large Print “Parrots”

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

$98.50

“Geese”

Watch Natalie paint these geese in 1 minute (time lapse)

This geese art is included in the 2021 collection “50 Oil Paintings Inspired by Nature” by artist Natalie Buske Thomas. Below are options for purchasing prints of this art.

Oil painting “Geese” by artist Natalie Buske Thomas

Small Print “Geese”

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

$33.50

Medium Print “Geese”

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

$65.50

Large Print “Geese”

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

$98.50

Cardinal Promise

First the oil paintings then the stories behind them. Don’t miss the beautiful real life video update filmed just yesterday! Grab a cuppa, settle in and enjoy. 

The first cardinal I painted was for Grandpa Smiles, a children’s book about my son and my late father who died long before he was born. Dad was only thirty seven when he died from cancer after serving two tours in the Vietnam War. He didn’t live to see me grow up. And yet, his life made a significant impact on mine, and on my son’s.

When I was a child attending Dad’s memorial service I remember thinking, “Who are all of these people, and why are they coming to our (private) service?” The church was packed. The speaker said things about Dad that sounded like he led a whole life that didn’t include me, and I wasn’t aware of.

Years later when my husband was deployed to the war in Iraq, I left Germany where he was stationed and came “home” (I don’t really have a home, as I’ve moved around so much, but I went back to the town where I spent most of my school years). I got a job at the same factory where my father had once worked. Except he had been a manager in the offices and I was working second shift as a factory worker in assembly (a story for another day).

While working at the factory, I ran into people who had known my father. They were eager to tell me stories about things he had done. I had never known any of what they were telling me. Hearing it for the first time was as if they were talking about a stranger. It was a strange feeling to realize that Dad had been living a secret life.

 

It was clear that these people not only remembered my dad, but held him in high esteem, with an almost hero legacy. They told me stories of good things he had done, how he’d helped people and even financed getting someone back on their feet again (Dad was not a wealthy man). All of this was kept secret because Mom would have been livid if she’d known that he used some of the family finances on other people. 

I wish he’d have told me, but he DID tell me. He told me through the good things that he did in his life, that remained to be shown to me long after he died. That’s what happens to goodness and truth: it remains. It becomes a legacy to follow.

Watch me paint “Cardinals” in under a minute (time lapse)

The next cardinal I painted (in the video above) was years later, a pair, male and female. This was for the children’s book “Bird Days“, my last children’s’ book. I later left children’s book illustration behind as I launched into my “inspired by” oil painting series for the adult market. “Cardinals” was included in the book “50 Oil Paintings Inspired by my Christian Faith“. 

 

 

The painting “Cardinals” became one of my most popular paintings, especially as it has deep personal meaning for people who have lost loved ones. But even without that profound connection, others see cardinals as a symbol of hope, faith and promise. Still others simply enjoy the quiet beauty of cardinals and feel peace at the sighting of one, whether in real life or in paint.

My third cardinal painting features cardinals on my patio feeder in “Come to the Garden“, which I blogged about recently in the post called “Quiet Joy“. Now I’ll pull a quote from this painting’s description from the book, because it’s time for a real life video update.

"The birds don’t usually come around all at once... ...The tree on the right is the butterfly tree that I showed you in a previous painting. The shepherd’s hook is there, with the bird feeder below it. The cardinals sometimes pose exactly like this. We’ve changed things up a bit since I did this painting. We’ve added a red tower for smaller birds, that’s supposed to attract the elusive migratory Painted Bunting I showed you earlier. We’ll see, come spring!"

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

So, as you know… the elusive Painted Bunting DID return, and has been a regular visitor every season since! I’ve blogged about him several times, including just yesterday:

 

Well, after I blogged yesterday I saw the painted bunting again, and tried for (and got!) better footage, which I’ll show you… but this isn’t the video I was excited about… that’s coming later! But watch this short clip first.

Oh and this one too… very short, only 24 seconds.

THIS is the video I’m excited to show you. Remember when I said, “the birds don’t usually show up all at once”? Well, sometimes they DO, and when that happens, it’s GLORIOUS! 

Graced by the promise of a cardinal, overwhelmed by the beauty of an elusive painted bunting, and cheered by a diminutive chatty hummingbird, how can one not feel certain of a divine plan after seeing this? Surely we are loved, by a Father who keeps many secrets, but reveals them in truth. The goodness we see is the legacy that teaches us how to live. The pursuit of happiness begins with openness, continues with kindness, and is fulfilled in acts of love.

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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

Read More »
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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History

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How are you?

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Things we See

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Inspiring

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Lizard & Elusive Painted Bunting

First, the oil painting, then the shameful story behind it… make sure you don’t miss my bonus video- real life new footage of the elusive Painted Bunting!

Watch me paint this lizard in 1 minute (time lapse)

“During our first summer in Georgia, the thing I feared most happened: the air conditioning went out. We had to deal with the intense humid heat with no AC [air conditioning, cooling]! The days and nights dragged on as we waited for the situation to be resolved. The weeks before this happened, I’d made a new friend: a cute lizard on the glass patio door. He kept me company while I was working on my computer nearby. I named him Henry. On one of our sweltering nights without air conditioning, I left the glass patio door open, which exposed a small gap in the seal of the sliding screen door. The hour was late night, nearly midnight, and my husband was working the night shift. That’s when Henry got IN. I chased him until I was overheated and sweaty. Finally, with the help of a spray bottle of water, I corralled him out the open door, while yelling, 'Get out, Henry, you bast-rd!' I realized too late, that our new neighbors didn’t know 'Henry' is a lizard. Since then, I’ve rekindled my friendship with our patio lizards, as they keep the doors free of bugs. I’ve watched a lizard eat an entire pesky moth in two seconds time. As long as they stay on the other side of the door, we are good pals.”

- from the book "50 Oil Paintings Inspired by Savannah, Georgia" by artist Natalie Buske Thomas

Update to the above story…

If our neighbors heard me in my crazy fit of heat-induced delirium, they’ve politely never mentioned it. No air conditioning while knee deep in the humidity of a scorching Georgia summer is akin to boiling one’s organs while draining the brain of consciousness. When chasing that slippery little lizard, I was near the brink of delirium.

Fortunately, the air conditioning is working just fine so far at the beginning of this new season. We saw the first sightings of the return of the lizards. One tiny lizard was declared the cutest one she’s ever seen by my daughter, and then she spotted another lizard that seemed to change colors (like the lizard in my oil painting video, which is inadvertent due to changes in lighting while filming, but it gives the illusion of the real life way that lizards change hues from green to brown and back again).

 

 

The lizards have a much higher favorability rating since they’ve not come back indoors, but they can’t beat the popularity of the birds. The cardinals are active and seem to have a nest nearby. Hummingbirds are crazy with hunger at all times of the day. But, it’s the elusive one that most catches our breath…

The painted bunting is back!!! There seems to always be just one each season (and sometimes his female companion). I call him the “elusive” painted bunting because it’s hard to get photos and video of him. He’s skittish of any sign of movement. It’s difficult to adjust the camera or zoom in to follow his movements, or even be quick enough to capture him at all.

I was able to get fantastic footage that I shared previously in the blog post “Bunting is REAL!“. I captured that during last season, from inside the house. This time, I was outside, from a different angle. The new footage isn’t as nice, but it’s fun to see anyway, as it puts you in the moment.

When I was processing this video for you this morning, I saw a flash of light from the patio window. I had a feeling… yep, it was the sun hitting the tower bird feeder because someone was in it and made it sway… YES! It was the painted bunting, back again this morning for breakfast. I tried to grab my camera, but he flitted off.

Here’s the glorious footage from last season, in case you missed it and didn’t want to bother clicking on the link I shared earlier… or if you just want to watch it again to compare. Notice how bright his colors are? It’s very difficult to get the breathtaking vivid hues to show up on camera. I’m glad I painted him. Oils do this bird justice better than my camera does. But, this footage here is pretty close!

I’ll continue to try to capture the elusive painted bunting. It would be nice to catch him when he’s perched on a more natural habitat, like when he’s waiting in the trees for the bird feeder to be free of pesky threats like other birds or women with cameras.

Not every blog post has to be a metaphor for loftier thoughts, but I do see one in this post. Why do my husband and I gush over this elusive bird, while largely ignoring many other types of birds, and never filming the lizards at all? Is it because the painted bunting is so exotic and beautiful, or because he is rare, his season with us very short, and he’s difficult to catch sight of?

Our human nature is to value more the things that are fleeting and rare, the moments that are difficult to obtain, and the experiences that require work and luck to achieve. It seems we’re always chasing after that mysterious combination of destiny and control. So while the common lizard may zip past our feet, we’ll barely glance at him when the painted bunting flies overhead.

But when winter stretches on too long, as this one did, and the first lizard makes his appearance, the sighting of his tiny green crawling, climbing, and leaping body induces relief and delight! So happy to see you, dear Lizard! For when we are without the joys of abundant life, we miss the lizards equally as the elusive painted buntings. All creatures great and small, we appreciate them all!

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Quiet Joy

First, the oil painting, then the story behind it… Put the kettle on, then lose yourself for a few minutes in this blog. Don’t miss your invitation to quiet joy.

Watch this garden come alive in 2 minutes (painting time lapse)

"That’s me, on the swing. My real life swing is actually a rather cheap, much smaller, version of this, but I enjoy my time on the patio. The morning glory vines along the top were real, but we later yanked them out because birds were perching on it and pooping on the swing! The birds don’t usually come around all at once, but all of these do visit our patio in the places I’ve painted them. The bluebirds visit seldomly, while the cardinals and hummingbirds are here every day and I’ve begun to think of them as my friends!"

- from book "50 Oil Paintings Inspired by Savannah, Georgia by artist Natalie Buske Thomas

Updates to the above story…

 

My potted red roses are already growing again this season. The roses that I painted in this picture have turned out to be a surprise. Apparently this plant is a climbing rose variety, very hardy and blooms abundant flowers all season!

 

A couple of weeks ago I “trained” the climbing rose vines to grow through the arc and neighboring lattice (where the bluebird is perched). Now the vines have fresh spring leaves on them and the rose buds will quickly follow. The roses will be very tall and sprawling this year, some will rise above the arc and lattice! That will be such a beautiful sight. I didn’t expect any new surprises, yet here we are. Of course I’m taking this as a positive metaphor for how life is going (“growing”).

 

I invite you to let this metaphor about my roses settle into your spirit. Could it be that something you’ve started years ago could become more than you expected? Is there something you could “plant” now that will surprise you in the near future?

 

I meant this as a spiritual boost, but I also meant this literally… why not plant something new? May I suggest a butterfly tree? I’ll share with you the kind that I have:

Notice the potted “butterfly tree” on the right?  It has the hummingbird feeder on a shepherd’s hook in the same pot. Why? Because this bush really does attract hummingbirds and butterflies, as the advertising tag claimed it would. When I saw a hummingbird snacking on these flowers, I knew we’d be able to keep these delightful little birds as our patio friends if we put a feeder in that same pot.

 

And it worked! From the first return of the hummingbirds until fall settles in, they visit us every day. This little tree can remain in a pot, and it’s apparently easy to create new plants from it (I’ve not done this yet but I plan to).

Watch me paint these butterfly tree flowers in under a minute (time lapse). Visit the butterfly flowers art page to learn more about this type of tree.

This is how my work station looked when these bird paintings were in progress: bluebird, hummingbird, cardinals, goldfinches. We also get the ruby throated type of hummingbird, the glorious painted bunting, blue herons, and even the occasional eagle!

 

The herons and eagles drop by because of the lagoon in line of sight from our little yard. We don’t feed them, they go fishing for themselves. It’s always exciting when we see them catch a big fish!

 

Feed the birds, you’ll not regret it. Many of you probably already do this, and need no encouragement. It’s one of life’s quiet joys that we can have even if our circumstances are humble, stressed, or infirm. All we need is a window, and someone to help stock the feeder if incapable of that task.

 

We see other types of wild birds, but I won’t give any spoilers because I haven’t yet painted those.