Irish Angel Revisited

See oil painting “Irish Angel” come alive in 2 minutes (time lapse)

Continuing with the ongoing project to upload my painting videos to YouTube, today’s upload needed more work. The raw footage is from my old camcorder and I’m blocking the canvas in a lot of it (tripod wasn’t positioned very well). So, the solution was to edit those parts out, which resulted in deleting and skipping most of the painting stages. It’s always been a disappointment that this special painting didn’t have much of a video for it. But, I have new software now that I thought I’d try. I decided to go back to the original footage and use as much of it as possible, even if my head is blocking the canvas. I was able to use most of the footage by cropping in (technology I didn’t have before). I also found different music.

The end result is a much better video of a painting that was a favorite project of mine. I’m happy to have re-worked this. I didn’t expect to ever get a good video out of it and had chalked it up as lost. Let this be a spiritual metaphor for all of us. Sometimes we hope, plan, and invest in something that doesn’t seem to succeed. Years later, we may have more experience and society may have progressed to a point where our efforts in the past may now succeed in the present (what was then the future).

I believe that this painting will mean more to people at this time in history (and a bit more into the future) than it did when I painted it. People respond differently to a certain type of creative energy than they did before. We are making new choices, better ones. I feel that my work may be appreciated by more people, as if I was born to share art at this particular time, and not a moment sooner. So, no matter how badly I wanted to, or how hard I worked, or how many events I attended, I wasn’t going to succeed then, because it wasn’t my time. But, it was my time to be prepared for the future and I’m glad that I never gave up. If I had, I wouldn’t be ready.

Every day we are blessed to be alive, we must believe that today or tomorrow may be our time. Surely next year, or the year after. Perhaps it will take a lifetime, and if it does, we will live long enough to fulfill our purpose. For it is this kind of perseverance, resilience, determination, and most of all, hope, that brings success at the right time and the right place, when we are ready for the world, and when the world is ready for us.

Natalie putting the finishing touches on oil painting “Irish Angel”

Heaven Again

Watch “Flying to Heaven” oil painting come alive in 2 minutes (time lapse)

I’ve been telling you about my ongoing project to upload my oil paintings to YouTube. This has resulted in editing some of my older work, changing copyright-claimed music, and/or tweaking a few things that could be improved. In this case, I found the original footage (the raw files from the camera) and I re-did the video from scratch, adding a little bit about the context of this painting (why it was painted and what it was for), a painting used as an illustration in children’s book “Grandpa Smiles” about grief, the loss of a grandparent.

The footage is more grainy than you’re used to seeing from me. That’s because I still had our old home camcorder then. I wish I could go back in time and give my past self a better camera, but what’s done is done. I had no way of knowing that it would be important to me in the relatively near future to have clearer (HD) footage of my work (not that I have a fancy camcorder now either, but it’s much better than before). When we start out, staying within our budget is sometimes not only important, but we may not have any other choice at the time. As we change and grow, we can upgrade how we do things. But it makes for a bit of a mess if we’re hoping to have a consistent look and feel to the collection of our work. And here’s where today’s metaphor for life comes in…

We may wish for our lives to be nice and tidy, consistent, with clarity from the start. But that’s not usually how life goes. We may be out of focus, living on a shoestring budget, taking one day at a time- not knowing if what we do today matters for the future, not knowing which things will succeed or fail, and not able to secure anything with absolute certainty. We never know what tomorrow may bring. The best we can do is live our lives one day at a time.

If at some point in the future, we wish we’d had it all figured out sooner, then we are truly blessed. It means that we’ve lived long enough to look back. It means that we learned how to be better.

God bless and keep you, this day and always. “See” you tomorrow.


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MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Singing with my kids (several years ago) on Christmas Day at a free charity community dinner

This remains one of my favorite events with my kids. Husband is taking the video. This was the first year after Mom died and we had to fill the time we would have spent with her on Christmas. It was also the year that my husband was losing his job and training his replacements (the company was moving out of the country). We had recently sold the house we’d built, meaning I too lost my job because my teaching studio was in the home. We were spending Christmas in a house we’d rather not be in, for what we knew was a temporary arrangement. It did not feel like home, and we had no family members to visit.

I planned, and the kids agreed, that we would volunteer to perform at the free community dinner on Christmas Day. So, my son played guitar for some songs and we sang several carols. But the best was this song in the above video, as it was our last one and we felt such relief that we’d made it through the emotions of the morning.

As you can hear, it was very noisy in there, an absolute din from robust conversation. The vulnerable and needy were surely joyful on that Christmas morning! They were enjoying food and a happy atmosphere. It was hard to even hear us, but we did our best. After we finished, the family that was sitting only a couple feet away from us and had been riveted the whole time, came forward gushing as if we were famous celebrities, “We had front row seats!” 🙂 Behind them, few seemed to even be aware that we were singing, yet this family felt so special; as if they had the best seats in the house for a packed theater!

I will never forget how that felt. Then, we went back to our quiet place, our first Christmas without Mom and our home, and we saw our cheerful tree and our nice presents waiting to open. We had plenty of food in the kitchen, and we had each other. We were truly blessed.

I hope that no matter what your circumstances, that you are able to look around you- even if the place is not your home, even if you can’t be with your loved ones- and you still find the parts of your life that are truly blessed. For if we are alive today, it is for a reason. We are all precious, and we are loved by God. Peace be with you. Merry Christmas!


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.

Garden Walls

Watch this oil painting come to life in under 2 minutes

(time lapse)

In June, I talked about this painting in a blog post called “Solitary Roses“. The part of that post I’d like to highlight today is this: 

“It’s healthy for brains to occasionally build garden walls, where we can retreat into a creative, spiritual, reflective space. ‘Unplugging’ is about much more than simply unplugging from the Internet, cell phones, televisions, or any other electronic gadget or screen. If our mindset is still controlled by the world’s pacing and agendas, we haven’t truly unplugged- we’ve merely paused the stream. What we need is garden walls inside our minds, a place we go when we need to connect our minds to our spirit and body. In that space, we are at peace: undisturbed, unhindered, and unburdened.”

It can be challenging to take time to simply be still, without letting our thoughts race, without staring at a screen, without multi-tasking, and resisting being occupied every second of the day. But if we do this, we can slow down time. Time passes from one hour to the next, one day, month, and year to the next, in a blur of mostly insignificant events that we don’t remember later. When we focus on the passage of time and reflect on who we are, who we want to be, and who we can be for others, we stop the manic pace that makes time race forward without any awareness of it. When we feel gratitude for every moment and pause our lives to notice, time slows.

It is when time slows that we learn the secrets that children, the elderly, and people under emotional crisis (such as grief, post-trauma, disability, etc.) already know: all that matters is right now, this very moment. If only we could feel this way, think of what we’d do with our blessed moment, our most priceless treasure! Time is what we all want when the end is near. Why wait until we’ve lost what we most desire and can never buy? We have time now. Tell your dear ones that you love them. Do something that makes you happy. Build garden walls inside your mind.

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Peace to You

Watch this “Dove of Peace” oil painting come to life

in under 2 minutes (time lapse)

This was a short project that I hope felt relaxing and calming to watch. May you have a blessed weekend of good positive moments, no matter how alarming and stressful the state of the world may be. Do something you enjoy.

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You are Worth More

Watch oil painting “Sparrows” come to life

in 2 minutes (time lapse)

The last time I shared my sparrows painting was in April, in a blog post called “More than Sparrows“. But today I’m thinking about the “don’t be afraid” part of the scripture that inspired this painting:

Matthew 10:29-31 “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”

There are dire warnings of all kinds of upcoming calamities and a predicted dark winter, and indeed, we are facing many fearful events in this age. It’s important to control our fears and learn how to not be afraid. It’s normal to feel afraid, but the act of being afraid is a matter of spiritual choice. We can choose to be courageous even when we feel afraid.

We will never be able to eliminate all of the dangers that life throws at us, especially if powerful forces are intentionally creating terror and suffering… and throughout history, this has always been true to some degree. But if we allow our fears to consume us, we will not thrive, and we may even make ourselves ill. Survival isn’t about just barely making it through the ordeals of life, but ensuring that we are strong enough to endure it with such determination and resilience that there is a beautiful life stretched ahead of us.

To make it through to the beautiful life ahead of us, we must find the beautiful moments within the hardships. We can’t wait until life looks like we want it to, as we need peace and joy every day. Like nutrition for our bodies and wisdom for our minds, we need happiness for our spirits. It’s possible for humans to give up the will to live in their sleep and never wake up. That’s how powerful our spiritual self is. Despair is dangerous. We must fight against it!

May the common sparrow encourage us. They seem to have an insignificant life, yet they are wonderfully made to instinctively know how to find food and survive the challenges of nature. They do more than survive, they thrive. As in, they lead a full bird life, the best that a sparrow can do. I see them flying about, gathering socially with their fellow birds of a feather, and settling in on the platform of our bird feeder. Their needs are met, by nature and by mysterious interactions with others (like me, putting food out there for them to eat).

We too experience more moments in which our needs are met than moments when we are in lack. This is easily proven by the fact that we are right now still alive. If we had too many moments of lack, we’d- to put it bluntly- be dead. But we are not dead, and we mustn’t ever let our soul feel deadened when we are clearly very much alive. May our blessed condition of living be enough to desire to not just survive, but to thrive. Seek joy in every little thing. Do not be afraid.

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Thankful Anyway

Watch this oil painting “Prayer of Praise” come to life

in 2 minutes (time lapse)

It may be hard to feel like this today, a joyful prayerful state of praise. But when we don’t feel joy, be thankful anyway. “Be”, as in the verb, the willful, mindful choice “to be”, an action. We may not feel thankful emotionally, but we can choose to BE thankful. We can choose the intentional act of gratitude. Sometimes that’s the best we can do. It may be impossible to feel thankful when we are struggling with hardships, anxiety, worry, grief, anger, or fear. 

But if we commit to the action of thankfulness, we may be surprised at how our action affects us. Even when our hearts are weary and our minds are stubbornly clinging to depressing thoughts, picking at all of the worst case scenarios until we’ve convinced ourselves that this world is dark and hopeless, standing in gratitude can lift our spirits despite our emotions and our circumstances. Being blessed with one more day on this planet is a gift that so many others didn’t have today. Why us?

We are here for a reason. We have a destiny to fulfill. We are chosen for this time, we are special, and we are loved by God. When we believe these things, it is easier to feel thankful even if we can’t quite reach “prayerful praise” in the moment. Gratitude for what we do have, for our loved ones, for the life we’ve lived, and for our very breath can outlast any hardship, loss, or fear. And one day, we will stand before the spiritual ocean once again, feel the salty breeze upon our skin, and the sun on our face, and we shall feel joy. Until that day, may we be thankful even when we don’t think we can be.

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BAD DAY

Well, there must have been a bad moon a’rising because today was a horrible day. The close on our house was cancelled, and then thankfully

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Happy Day!

Today we had the opportunity to bring the kids to the house we’ll be closing on. Until now, they’d only seen the pictures and video.

Read More »

Bandits!

These birds have been coming around and stealing our strawberries! What a disappointment! I was enjoying a fresh berry with Cool Whip as a snack

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Easy Going

This painting was a “free paint” project, in which there is no reference, plan, or agenda other than to let the paints flow. I start

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My Son’s Birthday

Watch me paint “My Son Praying“, time lapse video

Today is my son’s birthday, so I thought I’d share one of my oil paintings of him. He’s also part of a special book called Grandpa Smiles, and a video of him is in this blog post: “I’m Superman!”

We celebrated with cake, presents and pizza. Another year done, and another year blessed to have him as my son. Every day is precious. Hug your loved ones tight.

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BAD DAY

Well, there must have been a bad moon a’rising because today was a horrible day. The close on our house was cancelled, and then thankfully

Read More »

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).

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

BAD DAY

Well, there must have been a bad moon a’rising because today was a horrible day. The close on our house was cancelled, and then thankfully

Read More »

Happy Day!

Today we had the opportunity to bring the kids to the house we’ll be closing on. Until now, they’d only seen the pictures and video.

Read More »

Bandits!

These birds have been coming around and stealing our strawberries! What a disappointment! I was enjoying a fresh berry with Cool Whip as a snack

Read More »

Easy Going

This painting was a “free paint” project, in which there is no reference, plan, or agenda other than to let the paints flow. I start

Read More »

WOOT!

“Fred” was my dad’s nickname for me. This painting was inspired by a black and white photograph he took to complete an assignment for a

Read More »

Wild Days

Ever feel that you live your life with reckless abandon, like these wild horses? What do they care about consequences or the worries of tomorrow?

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aww

My daughter brought me one of the boxes she packed herself for our move, for me to load onto the POD container. She said it

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Ooh, Pretty!

These flowers are probably the closest thing I have right now to what my new “Freedom Rose” looks like, but imagine the buds and open

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Bearing Up

The PODS container was dropped off today. I spent hours packing the first round of our household, mostly by myself. I felt victorious, like this

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HAPPY NEWS!

Thought this joyful hymn was a good choice to celebrate my good news update: WE GOT THE HOUSE! We still have the inspection and the

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Missed it?

If you missed last year’s Easter Show, here it is. It’s quite different from the 2022 show in many ways, but yet the general format

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Show Update

I finished the final taping segment for my Easter show today! When the video is finished I will launch the show, giving you time to

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Packing Up

I spent several hours today packing up my art in preparation for our unexpected move. You can probably recognize ones I’ve shared with you (in

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Gator Tale

Something interesting happened yesterday at the sale. It was the last day of the 2-day event and I was discouraged because we still hadn’t had

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What a Day!

I’m so exhausted, I feel like this jellyfish painting- surreal and floating. Guess what? Day one of the sale (I mentioned this yesterday) already exceeded

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No Word Yet

Our weather here is now beautiful, after being cold or raining for quite a stretch. I’m feeling like my tree landscape oil painting above- clear

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Whirlwind Day!

Mellow music, marshmallows on a stick, and dancing flames – a fire can be welcoming and sentimental – childhood memories, family vacations, and warmth on

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They’re Back!

The hummingbirds are BACK! LOL, I’ll tell you how I encountered their return. I was preparing for our unexpected move, and taking down the garden

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It’s a No

The update to yesterday’s post “Feeling Froggy?” is: no. No, the home owner is not willing to extend our lease by one month so that

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