Out of our Control

Watch oil painting “Dove in a Forest” come alive in about 2 minutes (time lapse)

Tonight I’m disappointed that the houses we contact a listing agent about are already spoken for, before we even get a chance. Listings have dozens of contact inquiries after being freshly posted. So, it’s discouraging and I have to will myself not to panic. It will all work out, this unexpected move that we were blindsided by. The housing spike will hurt us, but we’ve been through worse things and we can get through this.

There are times in life when there are things that are out of our control personally, and also world wide. When those days are upon us, it helps to think of the consistency and stability of seasons and nature. They don’t worry. The animals and plants grow and thrive, while the sun rises and sets and the winds storm and calm.

A dove in a forest- if we don’t see it, does it not give us peace? We can imagine it. We can choose to be peaceful instead of anxious. It’s difficult. I’m not saying I’m getting it right every moment because I’m definitely not! I’ve already had some snitty tantrums and weepy moments. I have to work at the calm.

Whatever you’re facing, may you allow yourself to be human. But knowing that it’s not healthy to let adrenaline-pumping emotions surge for too long, be a little less human, and more like a dove in a forest. There we are, just gliding through the cool trees on a sunny day.



Letting Go – Again

See angel releasing dove oil painting with real beach shells come alive in 2 minutes (time lapse)

I’ve used this same painting for a very similar blog post called “Letting Go”. In that post I said these wise words “We may not have control over time, and future events, but we always have a spiritual choice about how we respond to change.” Ha! I better take my own advice to heart, lest I be a hypocrite. The past couple of days I was in a sour sullen snit about the shocking news of learning that we have to move in about two months, when we intended to continue renting this house until after my husband’s graduation (he’d gone back to school after losing his job when the company he worked for moved out of the country, and he’s nearly done- graduates in June- but too late to get us out from under this predicament).

Today I pushed myself to start the taping of the Easter show even though that was the last thing I wanted to do, as I need to start packing! But I’d already committed to doing the show and had invested in it. Yesterday I finished making my dress and I finished the set design this afternoon. Taping has begun! The first segment is done- and it went much better than I thought it would. No matter what’s going on in our lives, we have to choose whether or not to let those temporary circumstances paralyze, discourage, or destroy our purpose. I could have canceled the show, but that would have been wrong.

Letting go of worry, anxiety, dread, fear, resentment, bitterness, despair, and anger is a perpetual experience. Life will never be perfect and if we allow our human condition to stop us from acting on our plans, we will leave things unsaid, inspirations never created, places never traveled, and destinies never reached. So, we must plow through and do the things our heart is stirred to do, even when we don’t feel like it. “Fake it ’till you make it” is real. Not only will we get to where we want to be if we keep doing it, regardless of how close to the bottom we are when we start, but we’ll also become joyful if we fake feeling joy.

Today’s work on the Easter show included dressing up in an outrageously festive gown and singing songs that are truly joyful. I may have started out faking the joy, but shortly after I forced myself to be joyful, I really was! I had a happy time today. I am glad I gave up my stubborn attitude and chose to let go.

My stressful circumstances will change, with or without my cooperative attitude. I can stomp my feet and tantrum my way through this ordeal, or I can aim for high energy to work at a smooth transition. I can look for positive serendipitous events that fall neatly into place. If I look for these things, I will find them. If I work for a smooth transition, I am likely to have one. Change is often difficult. We can hate every minute of it and be no better off. Or, we can rise to the challenge and fake joyfulness until we feel the joy.


Breathtaking Nature!

See this eagle and dove oil painting come alive in 2 minutes (time lapse)

I haven’t done a falcon oil painting yet, so this eagle will have to do. About an hour ago I was at the glass patio door, just about to step outside, and there was a sudden flurry of wings as a falcon took off from where he was perching on my potting table, only about three feet from where I was! Last week there was an eagle nearby, so this painting isn’t too out of line, but the falcon was very near. Nature is breathtaking when something wild is so close, and maybe we don’t even know its there until we see it fly away.

I also saw a gorgeous yellow butterfly, a flock of tiny sparrows, and a chickadee. The cardinal family is also still living nearby. They have trained me to refill their bird feeder when they’ve run out of sunflower seeds. They certainly won’t starve without their favorite seeds, but they have become picky and will demand their favorites when all that’s left is the other kind of seeds that the smaller songbirds like. They’ve made a habit of picking at my salad greens near the glass door, because they know it will get me on my feet and out the door fast to fill their feeder. But today they found that the salad green trays were empty, ready for a new planting, and they couldn’t cause mischief. So instead, one of them sat in the tree when I came out and cheeped in an outraged tone, over and over- making his complaint quite clear.

I love the personalities of the wild birds and it’s always such a wonder when a predator like a falcon or eagle makes an appearance. We also see ospreys and water birds like egrets and herons. The Canadian geese have made a few returns, but since they pooped all over the area by the patio on their last visit, we’d prefer those guests not come back – at least not so close to the house!


What does Peace Mean?

See oil painting “Dove of Peace” come alive in just over 1 minute (time lapse)

“Peaceful” is a word used often lately in a way that bends, twists, and propagandizes the meaning. What does peace mean to you? Do you imagine a legal usage of the word? Do you visualize mockery, lies, cover-ups, and agendas? That’s a sad state of affairs. Turn off that dark noise and reject the chaotic world where up is down, and down is up. Virtue is malice, and hate is love.

Believe what you know, not what you are told.

Peace to me is a beautiful space where tranquility, calm, acceptance, closure, and letting go exists. It is a spiritual realm where we can choose contentment even when despair is the easier choice. Peace is what it means to be forgiven, to receive mercy, and to be set free.

Let no one alter what is uniquely yours alone, your private sovereign journey. Peace can’t be changed to fit a narrative or to coerce others to submit to their will. Spiritual peace is a gift that can never be denied to those who accept it. What enslaves is not peace, for peace is deliverance.


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Update

Watch this angel and dove oil painting “Autumn Angel” come alive in 2 minutes (time lapse)

First, the above oil painting is one that I’ve shared with you several times before. I’m happy to report that this one was already on YouTube and the music had no copyright issues, so all I needed to do is add the subscribe and video links at the end. I got off easily today! Now for my update:

The vlog show is still a GO, but it is slightly delayed. I discovered that I needed to order a new tripod that can extend taller. I tried balancing my current tripod on some soup cans, but that was, predictably and obviously, problematic and an accident just waiting to happen! Rigging something rather foolish is not the right way to launch the new show. So, there’s that. But also I learned that my green screen is a little bit too narrow. I need to buy a second one so that there is no shortage of screen on the edge.

These little tweaks are causing a small delay, but that’s not a big setback. I have a lot of other work to catch up on, like the ongoing project to upload my painting videos to YouTube and edit those that trigger copyright issues. I also had a backlog of things I didn’t finish before the Christmas break, like leaving a holiday themed painting unfinished and my palettes full of heaped up dried up paint that is proving tedious to clean. I’m not a very good assistant to myself, good thing I don’t have to pay myself for such shoddy work. 🙂

Are you also struggling to get back into a smooth routine? It’s been cold and dreary here, as it is in many parts of the world. Usually February brings longer days with more sunlight and that tends to help. Hang in there, winter never lasts forever (those of you who are going through winter right now). Of course even if this is your summer, “winter” can have a spiritual meaning. This is a challenging time for humanity. May we hope for spring days to come!


Peace be with You

See oil painting “Dove in a Forest” come alive in less than 2 minutes (time lapse)

This is one of my earlier paintings. It remains a favorite for some of you. I’ve worked hard today and I’m tired- are you? This art expresses how I feel at the moment: subdued, yet expectant (hopeful), quietly confident (letting nature and time take its course, faithful), and peaceful.

My work on the show is wrapping up. It will be delivered on schedule. My goal is to launch it several days before Christmas to give you time to share it with your family and friends. Until the show is finished, I’ll be putting in long days. It will all be worth it and I hope you enjoy the show!


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.

Letting Go

Watch this Angel Releasing Dove painting come to life in 2 minutes (time lapse), using broken pieces of shells I found on the beach, and a tiny “dove” from inside a sand dollar I also found there, at Tybee Island, Georgia.

There are times when we must let go, and let our hearts say, “Go in Peace”. This may be a spiritual letting go, a time of grief, or a physical letting go. It’s back to school time for many families and those of us who are facing this transitional time may be feeling more anxiety than usual. After deferring college or other situations, we may have expected a better situation for this year, only to find that the situation has escalated.

Letting go is difficult under ordinary circumstances, but when we are pushed harder than anticipated, it can be more challenging to reach spiritual acceptance of the change of seasons. School is just one obvious example, as it affects so many of us at around the same time every year. But all of us are touched by the change of seasons, as we see summer end and the passage of time has brought new things into our lives that may have been expected or wanted, or may be unexpected or unwanted. Either way, change is difficult.

Even good and happy changes bring a strong degree of stress. It may help to imagine our spiritual self as this angel, and the dove may represent the peaceful outcome of letting go, accepting that life is changing. If the change involves another person, we may wish blessings and a glorious, happy, prosperous, hope-filled flight into the unknown. May we rely on the strength of our love for others to see them through to the other side, if they have passed, or to see them into the future if they are launching into new experiences.

Perhaps the process of letting go is about ourselves. When life changes for others, it impacts us. Even if no one in our personal circle has a major life event, the seasons still pass. Time itself brings changes that cause us to reflect upon our lives and adjust to our new self. As we see July slipping into August, we may feel the change of seasons closing in. We may not have control over time, and future events, but we always have a spiritual choice about how we respond to change.

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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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Painting Imaginary Places

The reaction to my art is very individual, as is art in general. What is “meh” to one person, may be emotionally powerful to another. I sometimes paint from real life scenes, photographs, or memories, but other times I invent the entire concept from start to finish- just letting my imagination flow. It’s fascinating when people connect deeply to a place that only existed in my mind, but once painted, now exists in the natural world as if it were a real place. The place is real to the person who connects with it.

Someone told me (after seeing my “Mountain Landscape” video, below), “I want to go there!” The trouble is, this place doesn’t exist other than in this painting. I didn’t even look at anything to paint it. I just put music on and let the scene take on a life of its own. 

The water is a moving, active element. I let the flow of the water direct the painting. In this way, the scene fell into an organic sense of order, as the scene mimicked the natural world. Water often shapes our landscape.

In the first painting I shared, “Dove in a Forest”, the scene looks less natural because it is rigid and orderly. The trees are like columns. But this style appeals to many, and that piece is a favorite of one of my dear friends. I tried to learn what people like about it, but they find it hard to describe.

Maybe it has something to do with the contrast between the still and wooden quality of the unnaturally orderly forest and the beauty of the living dove, who is in flight? The greens, odd blues, and browns of the forest are in stark contrast to the bright white dove, who seems to glow. Contrasting elements that share the same space can be felt as “balance”. Balance and harmony are peaceful.

Let’s talk now about the third painting I shared, “Rose in a Moonlit Forest”. This one is more about an imagined emotional and mental space, than about a fantasy imaginary place. First, I’ll share the video.

You may have noticed that this piece originally had a different title- “Blooming Through”. This art was painted for a charity auction to benefit families with children who have autism.

(autistic mind is) like a solitary rose growing against all odds inside a stone wall, surrounded by an environment that is quiet, dark, and yet when the moon shines- a brief, perhaps rare, light- is mysteriously beautiful.

Natalie Buske Thomas, “50 Oil Paintings Inspired by Nature”

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Some may claim that I have glorified or downplayed autism, but this painting was meant to express the profound love that families have for their children who have autism. Art is a language. Sometimes we understand each other perfectly, and other times we don’t. A grandmother of an autistic child was greatly moved by this painting. She understood what I was trying to say, and felt the empathy.

The rose represents a child, alone in a tranquil woods, yet also trapped there- in a stoned wall, where it’s difficult to grow, or connect. Yet, there is always hope, and moments of blooming through, when the moonlight shines upon this precious loved one. And that is beautiful.

Technique note: This was my first experience using a pre-painted black canvas. I was pleased with the illusion it gave my paints- that the colors were glowing, or metallic- especially when the oils were wet. This worked out well for the video, and for the emotions I was expressing in this piece.