To be Hated

See my oil painting called “Jesus at the Table” come alive in 2 minutes (time lapse)

I decided to give YouTube another try. My videos weren’t been seen on there anymore so I gave up on it. My subscribers weren’t getting notified and it seemed as if my account had been (secretly?) turned off. Many of my painting videos had ZERO views on them. None at all. That’s a bit hard to believe because surely someone would have at least accidentally clicked on one of them! Anyway, the platform seems to be different from what it was a couple of years ago so I thought maybe I could start putting my videos there again. Indeed, it seems as though my videos are seen now.

Well, today I put this painting of Jesus on YouTube and it triggered a copyright notice. No problem, I have permission to use the song, but it meant that the copyright holder could monetize my video and therefore profit from my art of Jesus through ads. I didn’t like that idea. I am not monetized and I’m not sure how I feel about ever doing it with particular subjects. I was inspired to paint this and the purpose may be cheapened by ads and the tacky nature of it.

But also, it bothered me that the copyright holder is a big record label, so there was an element of big corp involved too- once again exploiting those of us who actually CREATE things and don’t have the visibility or power that they do to turn our work into wealth. The music was on a site that advertised royalty free music that creators could freely download and use however we wish. What wasn’t understood is that the minute we publish our videos on a site that allows monetization, the copyright holder will claim our videos.

This means we can’t monetize our work now or in the future, and will never get paid for it. So, the music is NOT “free” then. Our work is the payment. It feels like stealing when big business profits from clever tricks like monetization, while the creators don’t earn income from the work that is monetized. I can understand sharing the monetization, that would be fair, but only one copyright is allowed per video. That’s convenient for big business, isn’t it?

So, in the end I quickly deleted the video I’d just uploaded. I removed the copyrighted song and replaced it with a copyright free one. The result is that the new song choice is a better fit for my painting. I’m glad that I listened to my intuition and didn’t give in to the unwanted 3rd party profiteering from my art.

So, there’s that… but it’s not hate. It’s just the cold side of big business. They grow rich from the work of others, and that’s infuriating, but if I let that get under my skin it would only make me bitter. Usually I put it out of my mind and don’t think about it. Today I was pushed to think about it because I had to make that decision about my painting of Jesus.

Now I want to talk about the hate part of what happened. The “syncing” or “mirroring” feature (copying the video to another 3rd party video platform) was still active, so this Jesus painting video was also simultaneously published somewhere else- where it was nearly instantly downvoted. I figured it was downvoted by someone who had an issue with Jesus, and not with me or my art, but I didn’t know. Maybe someone didn’t like my painting. I tried to set it out of my mind. A few minutes later a comment appeared and the downvote mystery was quickly resolved.

The person had an issue with the ethnicity of Jesus. I depicted him to be of historically noted Middle Eastern and Jewish heritage. The comment claimed that Jesus was white and not an “Arab”. I am very suspicious of this exchange because it seemed that this person was trying to bait me into an argument that would make me appear to be racist in some way. I’ve had trouble before with trolls trying to get me cancelled in a setup argument. I did not fall for it then, and I did not fall for it now. I replied simply with a link to an article by historical experts who discuss what Jesus likely looked like. If this harassment continues, I’ll block future contact. This incident was not a big problem, and it’s not why I bring it up.

My point is not this specific incident, but the pattern and cycle of hate. When we pour out love, we will- to a certain degree- receive hate in return (along with love, thankfully!). We must be willing to be hated if we want to do big things. Big things attract hate. That is the price we must pay to be a shining Light of creative energy. No matter what new ideas you may contribute, someone will counter your creation with destruction. There is a yin for every yang.

We cannot avoid hate or control everyone’s actions around us. What I find peace in, is the acceptance that hate exists and I am strong enough to face it. My response is not to uselessly try to eradicate it, or force others to give me a safe space. There are no safe spaces when we choose to expand ourselves. Instead of controlling others, I give power to myself. I can see hate as it presents itself, calmly observe the probable motive for it based on the words or behavior displayed, do a risk assessment of how dangerous the incident is, and carefully consider my response.

My rules of engagement are these:

  1. I do not respond if the attack is stupid, silly, pointless, off track, etc. If it’s simply provocative and meant to get a reaction from me, I do not give that person the attention that they are seeking. I don’t reward abusive behavior or encourage more of it by engaging. So, NO engagement for this type of incident.
  2. However, if the attack can harm my brand, my work, my reputation, my character, or my family, then I will respond. I keep the reply very short, just a simple short explanation in logical defense of myself, or my choices, or my work. I will reply in a way that would hold up well in a court of law if any of these attacks should ever escalate. I am never rude, emotional, or on the offensive. I respond specifically and directly to the accusation or insult.
  3. If the attack involves a criminal offense (slander/libel, character defamation, hacking into secured areas of my site, putting me on a target list for harassment and harm, mob/group targeting, threats upon my life or my family, etc.), then I issue a public legal warning statement that they must cease immediately or the authorities will be involved and I will bring a legal suit against them. Know your rights and defend yourself.

I don’t know if any of you may find those rules of engagement useful, but those are just the practical literal ways to respond. What’s a bit murkier is the emotional, mental, and spiritual response- the private response that the hater will never see, and that we may not even fully realize has happened. Hate is powerful. Its destructive force may settle into our soul, causing us to doubt ourselves, our purpose, and whether or not we are worthy. We may wonder if what we do is worth it. We may crave solitude to hide from how much it hurts to be hated.

When I feel this way, as I did today, I remind myself of how positive, confident, and cautiously hopeful I was before someone burst my bubble. There are two well known stories that come to mind to illustrate how I can mentally/emotionally/spiritually choose to respond to hate. One of them is from the long running Peanuts comic.

Lucy invites Charlie Brown to kick the football while she holds it. Time and time again, good old Charlie Brown gets his hopes up and runs with his full heart to kick that ball high, high, high to the sky! But of course Lucy yanks it away from him every time. He’s never going to kick that ball because Lucy (life) is hateful, and Charlie is a loser. He is stupid to trust her and stupid to get his hopes up. What a fool he is. What a fool I am when I put my heart out there time and time again, only to have life yank the ball away from me!

But the second story is quite different. It’s called “The Little Engine who Could”. In it, a little engine has an impossible challenge that other bigger and more capable engines refuse to accept. A stranded engine needs help and the little engine helps him, never giving up even though the mountain is steep and the burden is heavy. He continuously tells himself “I think I can, I think I can!” When others don’t even try, he not only tries, but he refuses to give up when the journey is difficult. He thought he could, and he did. I am unsinkable! I will take on worthy challenges and never give up!

So, I can choose which story is my response to being hated. Do I respond with, “Of all the Charlie Browns in the world, I’m the Charlie Brown-iest!”, and tell myself that I’m a fool to get my hopes up? Why even try anymore! That ball isn’t that big of a deal anyway. I’ll stop trying to kick it. I’ll stop wanting to kick it. I’ll avoid that horrible Lucy forever.

Or, do I respond with the little engine’s attitude? No matter how hard the journey, how impossible the task, how negative others are, or how heavy the burden, “I think I can, I think I can!” And I will.

I will achieve my lifetime goal of 1k finished oil paintings. I will continue to paint whatever inspires me, and share it freely. No matter how negative the forces around me are, I will persevere with the right perspective and unsinkable optimism.

Jesus at the Table oil painting by Natalie Buske Thomas
Jesus at the Table” oil painting by Natalie Buske Thomas

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.

Subscribe so that you don’t miss any updates, paintings or shows:

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!

Subscribe to Blog via Email

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

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.

Don't miss blog posts and new painting announcements!

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

New Show!

Last year’s Christmas show feels long ago and far away, at least for me it does. So much has changed, so much has happened, and

Read More »

New Painting Finished!

If you’ve been following the progress of my new oil painting “Walking in Rain Puddle”, you’ll be happy to know that it is now finished

Read More »

Today’s Painting

LOL! It looks like my daughter (girl in the painting) is afraid of my fan brush in this still photo I lifted from the video!

Read More »

Go Light your World

This is the song that is featured in my oil painting “Candle and Bible” video. The music in the time lapse video is an instrumental

Read More »

New Painting

See this oil painting come alive in about 1 minute (time lapse video). Note: if you read my blog via e-mail, my videos probably won’t

Read More »

Happy 4th of July!

See this oil painting “Americana” come alive in 2 minutes (time lapse video), or view the longer version in the 4th of July show. This

Read More »

New Painting!

See this osprey come to life in 2 minutes (time lapse video). My new art area is now fully set up and I should be

Read More »

Happy Father’s Day!

I’m finally working on a new painting. I’ll share it on Wednesday. My daily blog has fallen behind since our sudden, unexpected move. I’m still

Read More »