Update

Watch oil painting “Painting Colors” come to life in about 1 minute (time lapse)

I like to use this painting for my updates. The music in the video is an instrumental version of “Be Thou my Vision”. The lyrics are appropriate for how I feel as an artist.

My update: Well, today isn’t going to work out for painting. I do plan to have the next one ready to share soon, but it probably won’t be tomorrow. I’d planned tentatively in my head for tomorrow, but I’m fine with a delay. I’m ahead of schedule, as I’ve been working on the 2022 collection for a while now. This gives me leeway to take my time if other things pop up or if lighting conditions aren’t great (natural sunlight coming in through the windows is preferred over solely artificial lighting).

In other news-

The holiday show is coming along. It’s a Christmas one, and will be the last live-taping event show I do for 2021. You’ve met my whole family by now in the videos I share, but this will be the first painting variety show in which all of them will make a guest appearance at the same time. I hope that you tune in when I share it and please share it with others. There are so few of us producing original shows that are positive and authentic. I want my work, and my family’s gift of their time and talents as well, to make a difference. For a short half hour, may we bring hope and smiles to you through our singing, dancing, art, and happiness (and one surprise act that I’m not telling you, as it would be a spoiler!).

In the end, it’s not about the talent, work ethic, or social power of what we create. It’s about the lives we touch and the love we share. These are challenging times. We need for every lit candle to light another. So, please do share my special show when I share it with you. And if you could also hold supportive thoughts for us as we begin to tape this show soon, I’d appreciate that as well.

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Are you worried?

Watch me paint this puffin in 2 minutes (time lapse)

We have many reasons to feel worried. We worry about our personal circumstances that few (or maybe only we) know about. Private fears keep us awake at night: fears about illness, tragedy, work, financial crisis, grief, and trouble concerning our families. We also worry about things that the world tells us to fear; things that may be real or built upon deception in whole or in part. These worries may never come true, but life has its share of heartache and hardship, so we can never be completely safe from the things we fear. 

In my video of the puffin, you may notice:

  • As I’m painting, you can see glimpses of other paintings in the background. You see not only this single painting session, where I’m sitting there in my comfy red work shirt painting at home, but the evidence of several others. This represents hours of my energy and focus directed toward creating art to share.
  • If you’ve made it to the end of the video, you saw the music credits. Can you picture someone recording that happy guitar music to share with others? That musician invested energy and focus into making music. It was probably after years of playing the guitar, perhaps a lifetime.
  • And… the puffin is investing time and energy into simply being a puffin.

When we invest our time and energy into CREATING, MAKING, and BEING, we occupy ourselves with the act of living. We have filled the spaces of our minds with positive thoughts, leaving little room left over for worry.

  • CREATE: We don’t have to create art to be creative. I feel the same peaceful awareness of the goodness of creativity when I garden. Planning and growing my garden creates a new living world that is a masterpiece. Creativity can be in the kitchen, the garage, or any other place. An “artist’s studio” is wherever we feel creative.
  • MAKE: I’m grateful when musicians offer their music. I have a tight budget as a one-person enterprise, yet I need quality talent for my art videos. My art is made better when music sets the mood for my videos. But we don’t have to make music to contribute our talents to this world. Not everyone was born to be a musician. We all have our own gifts and talents, even if it seems we don’t. Making the effort to make life better for others, especially our families who love us, is one of the greatest roles we can have. What we make of our lives matters. Each of us has an opportunity to make a difference.
  • BE: When we are busy creating something new or making a difference in the lives of others, we have little energy leftover for worry. But, the true state of peace is when we don’t need to busy ourselves with positive distractions to fill our spiritual spaces… when we are unworried while in a state of simply “being”.

When I was learning about puffins to create that painting, I discovered that the puffin is a social creature who seems to love hanging out with other puffins. Yet there were plenty of instances in which the puffin was fine to be alone while flying, swimming, or simply being. The body language of a puffin suggests a relaxed, content spirit. 

Do you think that the puffin is aware of what an inspiration he is to humanity? As he goes about his animal life, with his funny stature, color block body, and unusual lifestyle combination of flying and swimming, does he worry about anything? This interesting little bird was given a singular purpose to live the life of a puffin. He was given gifts and talents to make that life possible. He was blessed with the company of other puffins for the journey.

Is the puffin immortal? No. They live an average of twenty years. But during that time, they protect each other from predators by forming groups when they are feeding at sea. They are highly social animals and deeply loyal, as they mate for life. To protect themselves, puffins nest high on top of cliffs and burrow deep under the ground. Instinctively, they understand their vulnerability and they take measures to keep themselves safe. But do they “worry” as we humans do? Probably not. It doesn’t seem to be the case.

Puffins are mysterious. They spend a lot of time at sea, where it is difficult for researchers to study them. In a world where every living creature is spied upon, analyzed, and intimately known, the puffin has managed to keep part of its life relatively private. I’ve blogged about how important it is to be mysterious.

If you’ve made it to the end of this post, you may have noticed that I’ve mentioned activities like painting, playing music, gardening, cooking, socializing, swimming, and flying (unlike the puffin we obviously need planes, but we too can escape to far away places). Nowhere did I mention filling our time with a devotion to media, the Internet, or packaged passive “entertainment” scripted with an agenda to steer us toward a faux reality, and away from our natural intuitive lifestyle. When we reject that which is fake and choose those things that are real, we live an authentic life. It is easier for us to just “be”.

Our life expectancy is much higher than that of a puffin, yet we waste so much of it in worry. May we strive to invest our time and energy into making and creating until we evolve into “being”, at peace while standing still. Whenever you start to worry, think of my puffin painting. Be a puffin!

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Peace or Hate?

Why do people destroy what others create? First the painting, then the inspiration behind it and an update. Do you choose peace or hate?

Watch me paint this angel and dove in 2 minutes (time lapse)

"Bonaventure Cemetery was made famous when one of its sculptures, a statue known as 'Bird Girl', was featured as a book cover and in the movie 'Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil'. The statue was such an attraction that it needed to be removed to preserve it from the many hands of tourists, and damage from vandals as well. It was relocated to the art museum (Telfair Museums’ Telfair Academy), where I was able to view it. Angel statues in the historic Savannah cemeteries inspired me to paint an angel in a similar pose and style to the stone sculptures. My angel is in full color with a fantasy landscape as if giving life to what was cold and dead. As fall represents death yet contradicts itself in color, forecasting an impending stillness yet change, visiting the memorials felt much like the changing of seasons. There was peace and beauty yet bittersweet, as endings and loss permeate the grounds."

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

Update to the above story…

When I wrote that description and gave mention to the angel statue needing to be moved so that it would not be destroyed by vandals, I had no way of knowing that I too would need to move my angel (from virtual- but nonetheless real- spaces) to protect her from being destroyed. Worse, I needed to move her to protect myself from being destroyed, attacked and “cancelled”. For what was meant to be a gift of peace to anyone and everyone who wished to view my oil paintings, became a target for acts of hate.

Sometimes I am attacked as a person. Sometimes it’s over something I’ve written, posted, or shared. Other times, the attacks are over a specific work. In this case, a mob took issue with the race of my angel. I make no apologies for painting a classical style angel, nor for painting figures who resemble people in my family. I will never accept guilt for things I am not guilty of. However, since it was clear that this mob had no intention of ending their hate campaign, I disabled all comments and moved my art away from platforms that give these despicable people access to me and my work.

Just like the original statue that inspired me to paint an outdoor-nature-scene angel featuring a bird, I had to “move” my angel to protect her from being destroyed. Why do people destroy things that others create? Why do they want to hurt artists and others who share words, music, or art? These things do no harm to anyone, even if the content feels hostile or unwelcome. The answer to disagreement is to create counter arguments, not destroy what others create.

I’ve many experiences with hate, and some of those involve legal crimes committed against me. For this and many other reasons I’m no longer active on social media. Because I removed myself from that world, my work is seen by only a few (for now; I expect that to change). As a blacklisted person I was censored on all major tech platforms anyway, and I’ve had to learn how to navigate these digital means of communication around the many blockades set before me. At this point, I have let go of these concerns. Whoever is meant to see my art will see it. It is more important that I refuse to let people destroy me.

For whatever we intend for peace, we must protect from those who wish to destroy it (us). It’s not enough to create and then cower as passive victims. Never let hyenas surround and attack you until you are destroyed. Be the lion who walks away from them all, with nothing but a few tears to his mane. We are at spiritual war with those who want to control expression; with those who have installed themselves as arbiters of what is acceptable, what is good, and what is evil. 

When we know the intentions of our hearts and we are not guilty, we must not act as if we are. When unjustly attacked, do not argue your case. Move your spirit and your work to a protected space. We validate the mob when we defend ourselves, as we validate that there is an argument to refute. Lies, smears, character defamation and slander/libel are not valid arguments. Do not consent to hate.

I used the word “peace” in my blog title instead of love. Often, we hear the false dichotomy of “love or hate”. This idea that we have only two choices is not true. There are other options we can choose. It’s unrealistic to expect us to love each other, if using a definition of love that requires too much of ourselves. The type of love for one’s enemy is more like “peace”. 

We must not choose bitterness, resentment, and a vengeful nature, as it will consume us as our enemies desire. But we are not forced into an illogical fallacy of love or hate. We may choose peace.

I choose peace for my enemies. It’s a type of love that I can offer authentically. Peace releases me from the anger, resentment and despondency that I may otherwise feel if I cannot let go and forgive. Loss of hope and loss of courage are what the enemy wants. 

Depression of spirit can destroy creation. And that is what the true end game is! Enemies seek to destroy not only what has been created, but the creators themselves, and ultimately the act of creation.

It’s difficult to understand this type of pettiness, evil and desire to control others, and perhaps it’s too horrible of a reality for some to believe. Therefore people hold fast to the idea that such evil and thirst for control does not exist. But if one believes in love, one must acknowledge hate and a raw malice that has no respect for human life, not even the helpless and vulnerable, not even children and babies. 

We hope for peace when we know war. Never deny the dangers of this world, but always stand firm in courage. Even the smallest acts of standing our ground lead to big movements, in which peace wins over hate. Let no one stop you from creating what is in your heart.

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