Update

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

I’ll be working on new projects this week. These projects require that I be in high energy, full of light and positivity, and confident in what I’m sharing. This can be hard to live up to when I’m feeling worn, discouraged, demoralized, and doubtful about the future. Any vocation is harmed when we don’t put our full and best selves into it. Our energy goes beyond careers or projects and into our homes and relationships as well. A big part of our future success, fruitfulness, prosperity, and influence for inspiring others requires that we live a life of healthy balance.

A great deal of my painting schedule is the time that I spend when I’m not painting. My choices affect who I am, and if I can be the person I need to be to produce the kind of work that I’m meant to share. Or, if I’m so consumed with my small life that I can’t create beyond my own needs and inner circle. And sometimes that’s all that’s expected of us: there are times when we must prioritize ourselves and our families. No one has regrets about work on their death bed. It’s the people we love and the dreams we didn’t act on that really matter, those are the things we may regret.

We all have a role in the bigger picture beyond what we can see; and our personal dreams may be important to the age we’re living in. Work must be a vocation; everything should have meaning. I’ve worked many other types of jobs, and I felt the same about those jobs as I do about being an entrepreneur, even when I hated those jobs. It’s something my dad used to say: “if it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right.” He was pushing for integrity and excellence, but I’d like to think about this as something more. Whatever we’re given to do, if we don’t do it well, it is not worth doing at all, as it wastes our life’s energy and brings our spirits into a rut that can be hard to come out of. 

Whether seemingly trivial projects or something more meaningful, everything we share becomes a part of something bigger. When we contribute goodwill, we add to the collective positive energy that helps humanity. When we fail to contribute, or when we contribute negative, fearful, and unemphatic work or actions, we hurt humanity. Our lives are bigger than ourselves; we must strengthen who we are so that we can fulfill the purpose for why we are here.

So, while it doesn’t seem related to my goals as an artist, when I spend time gardening and feeding the wild birds, I am putting work into my spiritual self, which is a big part of whether or not I succeed in my vocation. When in healthy balance and feeling strong, we can better handle the demands on our time, whether it is home related or work related- or handling unexpected crises events. 

After a flurry of other things to focus on and manage, I’m ready to re-focus on the painting schedule. One of the paintings on the schedule is a long term project, the other is a short term one that I’ll likely share with you by the end of the week. These will put me two more oil paintings toward my lifetime goal of 1k finished paintings. I’m also working on the next show, the 2021 Holiday Show (another variety show featuring live oil painting, but also singing and dancing). 

My goals are to be joyful, encouraging, and a reminder that you are loved, that you were born to love others, and that love is the greatest blessing we shall ever have. When we focus on the love from those we lost, from those we nurture, and from those who love us, we live in gratitude. No darkness can swallow this light. It is a gift that shines in the deepest pit. It is a light that pulls us through excruciating pain, intense anxiety, and the starkest of fear. It is my hope that my work inspires you.

Some of my work is casual, average, mediocre, or unfinished and rough. Some of it is just a frog or an odd composition for a project. But every now and then, I paint a masterpiece, as defined by the person who connects with it and feels understood. When my work becomes something bigger than myself, I have done what I’m meant to do. It is with this in mind that I paint the next project, and the next, knowing that not all of my art will hit the mark, but each painting is one painting toward the ones that do.

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New Painting

Are you enjoying autumn treats? My daughters love the specialty coffee and snacks that come out this time of year. They especially love their sister

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Autumn in 2021

Watch oil painting “Autumn Tree” come to life in under 2 minutes This short project began with an abstract background. Next, while it was still

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New Painting

Watch my new painting “Pumpkin Carving” come to life in just over 2 minutes (time lapse) Father and son enjoying an autumn custom of cleaning

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Worn

Watch this “Armor of God” oil painting come to life in 2 minutes (time lapse) There’s a lot going on in the world today, and

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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

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

Watch this oil painting of the day (July 23, 2020) that the Statue of Liberty in New York City looked to have been struck by

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Things we See

Watch this jellyfish oil painting come to life in just over 1 minute (time lapse) You might remember when I shared this one in April?

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Inspiring

My oil painting of my daughter reading in the butterfly garden… this one doesn’t have a video because I painted this before I started filming

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Sunday Rest

Watch this Irish Angel oil painting come to life in about 2 minutes (time lapse) The image in the video above is a photograph of

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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

Watch this deer oil painting come to life in 2 minutes, and then see below for the real life video I took today! Even when

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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 faint optimism and bittersweet sentiment, and a gloomy premonition that something bad is about to happen. This sense of doom is partly an empathetic response to the way the wind is shifting on the world stage on a particular day, and partly a personal, individual perspective that is complicated and unique to me (although my own emotions are often astonishingly in sync with other fellow humans, even with people I’ve never met). 

Melancholy can be channeled into beautiful things. I tend to be more introspective and lost in my art when I’m feeling a bit blue. Depression or a funk is a different state, and I find no benefit to emotions so low as to be unproductive and damaging to one’s health. So I’m definitely not advocating for sadness that causes a person to have difficulty leading a normal life. What I mean is the kind of sadness that put us in a quiet, restful state that may evolve into empathy; a profound connection to fellow humans and our shared plight. This state of being is a good foundation for creating art.

When you’re feeling a bit blue, embrace those emotions by channeling them into a project you can escape into, as if alone at sea on a peaceful cloudy day, in which you can just see the comforting glow from a lighthouse. You won’t lose your way home. Stay in the cold murky waters for a while. Take in the beauty of the moment; as our joy is defined by our sadness. When we don’t know sadness, we may struggle to fully appreciate joy.

When we are weary, the lighthouse will lead us back to the shore. We can rest, and let our breath flow out, relaxed, letting go of all of our concerns. As we lay our heads on our pillows that night, we sleep deeply; our fears lose their grip, our sadness lifts, and when we waken in the morning our energy is restored. 

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What is fun?

Watch this oil painting of my son jumping in leaves come to life in 48 seconds (time lapse) You might remember when I shared this

Are you Safe?

See oil painting “Guardian Angel” come to life in 2 minutes (time lapse) I last shared this painting here with you in August, in a

New Painting

Are you enjoying autumn treats? My daughters love the specialty coffee and snacks that come out this time of year. They especially love their sister

Roaring, Snarling or?

You might remember when I painted the snarling lion in the video above, as it was fairly recently (August). Perhaps you see him as growling

Seasonal Perspective

Watch oil painting “Trees and Stream” come alive in 2 minutes (time lapse) When I shared this painting with you in July, I was thinking

A Rose by Any Other Name

Watch this rose oil painting come to life in 2 minutes (time lapse) The old saying “a rose by any other name”, derived from Shakespeare,

Grace Will Lead me Home

When we were planning our move to Ireland, I was grieving the loss of my only remaining parent, my mom (Dad died when I was

A Month Ago

I painted this just over a month ago, you might remember when I shared it. It feels like much longer to me. Does it to

Orchard Season

Watch this oil painting of an apple tree branch come to life in 1 minute (time lapse) Have you been enjoying pumpkin spice goodies and

Seeing the Future

You might remember when I painted this and shared it on the blog in August. At the time I predicted that I’d want to share

Autumn in 2021

Watch oil painting “Autumn Tree” come to life in under 2 minutes This short project began with an abstract background. Next, while it was still

New Painting

Watch my new painting “Pumpkin Carving” come to life in just over 2 minutes (time lapse) Father and son enjoying an autumn custom of cleaning

Experimentation

Watch this owl and rabbit landscape oil painting come to life in 2 minutes (time lapse) You might remember when I blogged about this. I

Art Imitates Art

Watch this oil painting of a little girl in a tree come to life in under 2 minutes (time lapse) When my dad was stationed

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

Worn

Watch this “Armor of God” oil painting come to life in 2 minutes (time lapse) There’s a lot going on in the world today, and

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

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

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

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

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

History

Watch this oil painting of the day (July 23, 2020) that the Statue of Liberty in New York City looked to have been struck by

How are you?

Watch this oil painting of a bird in a forest come to life in about 2 minutes (time lapse) You might remember when I first

Another New Week

Watch this vase of flowers oil painting come to life in 1 minute (time lapse). Did you have a restful Sunday? I hope that today

Things we See

Watch this jellyfish oil painting come to life in just over 1 minute (time lapse) You might remember when I shared this one in April?

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

Goodnight, dear Friends

Watch this oil painting from the children’s book “Grandpa Smiles” come to life in just over 1 minute (time lapse) I painted this art for

Inspiring

My oil painting of my daughter reading in the butterfly garden… this one doesn’t have a video because I painted this before I started filming

Too Much Talking

Watch this parrot oil painting come to life in about 2 minutes (time lapse) These days it feels like there is too much talking, not

Forced to Slow Down

Watch this oil painting illustration for children’s book “Grandpa Smiles” come alive in under 2 minutes (time lapse) This part of the book was inspired

Sunday Rest

Watch this Irish Angel oil painting come to life in about 2 minutes (time lapse) The image in the video above is a photograph of

Art I Don’t Like

Watch this yellow butterfly painting come alive in about 2 minutes (time lapse) What we see and feel about art is highly individual, personal, and

End of Summer

Watch my tree swing painting come to life in about 2 minutes (time lapse) You might remember when I first shared this one when I

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

See What Happened Today!!!

I shared my sunflower oil painting with you before (2 minute time-lapse video above to watch me paint this). Well, now I have my own

New Painting – Moonlight Landscape

Watch me paint “Owl and Rabbit” in 2 minutes (time lapse), a landscape that is also available as two separate works “Owl” and “Rabbit“.

You may have seen my previous new painting announcements when I finished “Owl” and “Rabbit”. The final touch was adding the moon. Keeping the landscape simple allows the viewer to write their own story, giving the piece an air of mystery. The art is divided three ways (each animal as a separate work and the landscape as a whole as shown here). If one is a fan of owls, but not rabbits, for example… they can order the print that features just the owl. This was an experiment for me, and I liked how it turned out. I may do a 3-in-one landscape again in the future.

If you’re keeping track, I now have only 3 paintings left for the 2021 collection “50 Oil Paintings Inspired by Nature“. I’m getting excited now, as another set of 50 will be a wrap and I’ll start the new theme! Also, I got my new dress for the final show of 2021… it’s AH-MAZE-ing, darling, AMAZING!

Be passionate in all that you do. Let’s push ourselves hard to feel joy even when the world is doing its best to crush us with darkness. Spiritual and emotional strength leads to mental and physical protection from illness, exhaustion, and defeat. May we be powerhouses of energy and light, protecting ourselves as we shine for others. God bless you this day and always.

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New Painting

Are you enjoying autumn treats? My daughters love the specialty coffee and snacks that come out this time of year. They especially love their sister

Read More »

Are you feeling beachy?

Watch me paint “My Kids at the Beach” in 2 minutes (time lapse)

“Beachy”, according to Urban Dictionary, means something that reminds us of the beach, something beach-like. But Dictionary dotcom defines beachy as “covered with pebbles or sand”. And that’s the definition we’ll ponder in today’s blog post.

After a day at the beach, we come home covered with sand. It’s with mixed emotions that we accept this part of the bargain: when we have a seaside outing we’ll get messy. Our bodies literally carry the evidence of how we spent our time. Using this as a metaphor- because I love metaphors!- we can think of carrying sand in a figurative and spiritual sense.

When we’re feeling beachy, we’re ready and willing to accept the mess that a full life creates. It’s spiritually tidier to stick with what’s familiar to us and reign our thoughts and actions in, at a pace that is comfortable for us. But when we push ourselves outside of our comfort zone, where the waves of the sea are unpredictable and wild, and emotions get a bit messy, we experience passion and energy that we’d otherwise miss out on. It is this passion and energy that fuels enlightenment. Without it, we may stagnate. 

Ever wonder why some people seem older than they really are, while others glow with such energy that they seem much younger? Passion creates energy. Passion + Energy = Fountain of Youth. We are a product of what we produce, and we produce what we are. Passion in, Energy out. Energy in, Passion out.

When I ask myself and YOU if you feel “beachy”, I hope the answer is yes! YES, we choose the spiritual wild sea, the glorious sun- and equally the risk of storms, our reflections on the wet sand, and time spent with those we love. We choose to live a full life that is messy. We feel beachy!

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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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New Painting – Something Playful

Watch me paint “Girl on Tree Swing” in 2 minutes (time lapse)

Remember what it felt like when we were kids? Swinging carefree like this… do you still like to feel like you’re flying? Whenever you need to tap into positive energy, imagine yourself like this girl, playful and free. You are surrounded by clear beautiful skies, the green shelter of nature, and reflective waters.

 

This is your spiritual place that you can visit in your mind whenever you need to remind yourself of what it feels like to be free. Fight for your past, present, and future self, that you may always have the wind in your hair and the sun upon your face.

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New Painting

Are you enjoying autumn treats? My daughters love the specialty coffee and snacks that come out this time of year. They especially love their sister

Read More »

Censored Spirit

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

This is one of my art videos that was routinely censored on social media. The video would appear with a sensitivity warning that it may contain objectionable content. It did not! It is only a painting of a wild rabbit among yellow roses, as you can see for yourself.

Our spirits are censored when the very act of painting natural images is blacklisted, marked with a warning label. When I share my art, I share a vulnerable human energy. That energy is mine to keep or share. No one has the right to judge my energy as worthy or unworthy of viewing. Even if this particular occurrence was a “mistake”, the algorithms that allowed this to happen were intentionally crafted to censor material that was predetermined- without verification or representation- to be objectionable.

It may have happened because I talked about my Mom’s death when sharing the video. The word “died” may have tripped the algorithm, as it could have indicated the possibility of a violent and graphic video. But of course it was no such thing. The story behind this painting is meant to share my experience with grief, to provide hope and comfort to others. The video itself is simply a painting of a rabbit.

The word “rabbit” may have been the triggering word. I don’t want to explain why that is, as it would involve a much larger issue. Regardless, my reference to “rabbit” was literally an actual rabbit. Algorithms don’t see intent or context, and apparently can’t yet recognize that the video image was that of a rabbit, and not what that word may refer to in the criminal world.

When I shared my art video, I desired to be a source of healing and encouragement. That desire, combined with the creative energy that I freely shared, is a spiritual commodity. Imagine this commodity like a physical product or intellectual (digital) property. Sabotaging it is property damage. Preventing it from being seen (taking the video upload and hiding it away from the intended audience without permission, representation, explanation or just cause) is theft. 

It is a form of fraud when a service claims that the uploads of your intellectual property will be delivered/viewed in the manner that they describe (shown to your followers and potentially to the general public should your upload be discovered by them via hashtags, searches, etc.), but is instead secretly or openly censored for reasons that do not violate the stated terms of service. We must understand that our time, energy, and sharing has value. Our data is not meant to be used against us, to elevate some while suppressing others… and for worse motivations.

Some say that we have no rights when platforms are free to use. But we DO pay. We pay by registering for an account, participating on the platform (even if only scrolling through the feeds), and especially if uploading original intellectual content/property. These platforms generate profits when shareholders are happy with the popularity of the platforms. WE produce the data that shareholders judge when deciding to open up their wallets. Without us, platforms fail. Therefore, it is untrue that we don’t pay them. It may be more accurate to say that we work for them, without pay.

Even if you’ve never purchased an ad to boost your visibility, you have paid them with your participation. Every scroll, click, share, post, and upload are recorded as engagement- especially when we click on ads. So, in this way, we are customers even if our payment is more difficult to see. The customer relationship is so dysfunctional, it is as if we are indentured servants. We work for the platforms without pay, and must obey arbitrary rules (and secret rules) lest we be punished, banned, or even removed indefinitely. There is no representation for us, no union, no legal protections. Some are given a global online marketplace and free speech, others are denied.

I am no longer active on any social media for many reasons. I’ve been throttled, marked, hidden, threatened, listed, and “canceled”. But I don’t want to focus on these extremes, as they may not be a common experience. I want to focus on the small ways we are censored, the ways that most people don’t think about, but are nonetheless damaging… the negativity that creeps up on your spirit and causes you to SELF censor, by not sharing what you have the potential to contribute, if welcomed by a civilized society.

I would like to encourage you to give some thought about how free you feel spiritually. Do you have a Censored Spirit? No one but God has the authority to judge your heart. If you have broken no laws, no one has the right to cancel you, deny your voice, or label your art with a warning. We should not have to defend ourselves or explain our reasons for sharing what we do. 

In a free society, the burden of proof is always on the accuser, not the accused. Under mob rule and communism, we are guilty unless we can prove our innocence. That standard is unjust and often impossible, especially if the mob wants to purge you from their world. Listing, silencing, libeling, harassing, threatening, and actively seeking to sabotage and ruin another person through their reputation and business/job/income, is a crime.

It’s possible that you’ve never been a victim of this type of crime, but you probably feel the effects of it. With every post you share, you may feel the weight of the risk you take- the risk that someone will find fault with you and want to punish you.

I’ve been a blacklisted person since at least January 2017. I am no longer interested in being treated fairly in the art world or on social media. I have chosen to go my own way. Even if it means that I will never be widely seen, it is more important to me to protect my spirit. It is damaging to second guess my every utterance, my every paint stroke. I have no strings on me and I’m happier for it.

Because, when my art is censored, or when I’m rejected for unfair reasons unrelated to my abilities, the seeds of doubt are sown. I waste precious resources- my time and energy- on rebuilding my confidence and restoring my focus. The joy of creating is tamped down, sometimes to the point where I procrastinate doing new projects. I can’t afford to let that happen. If I do, I’ve voluntarily let outside forces stop me from reaching my lifetime goal of 1k finished paintings.

Whether you open yourself up to subtle criticism such as uncomfortable silence when no one responds, or backhanded compliments (small insults disguised as praise), or much bigger harm such as being blacklisted by tech companies and targeted by “activist” mobs for ruination and terror, the effect on your spirit can be immense. Limit where you share, how often you share, and take control of the feedback you receive. Set boundaries for how much interaction you allow. This isn’t about being cowardly and unable to handle authentic critique. This is about protecting your greatest resource- yourself. You have only one spirit, and you must guard it as the treasure that it is.

You don’t have to be an artist to have your creations disrespected or stolen. When you share your heart, you share your energy. In a civilized society, a certain level of politeness was expected. Today, people cast truly vile responses to people they don’t even know, and this rampant crudeness has made the typical pettiness and catty behavior from people we DO know slip under the radar, completely unchecked. 

Often, “friends” and family are emboldened to say unkind things in response to public posts. I personally don’t allow this to happen to me, as I quit those sorts of platforms years ago. Please consider how much hold this type of negative energy has on you. Is it time to cut back or quit dysfunctional habits that instill an anxious, addictive compulsion to check, check, check to see what you’re missing? Because what you could be missing is YOU… your natural organic self… the person you’d be if others weren’t influencing you.

I’m much freer, lighter, more focused, higher energy, and happier since I quit social media. I started by cutting back on how many platforms I was on until I was only active on one. Then I dropped that one as well. Most platforms I’ve deleted my account, but a few I keep open so that people can still see the art videos I posted in the past. I don’t visit those, so in my mind they are closed. You too might have to leave a few loose ends open, but as long as you resist the urge to go back to those platforms, it’s fine not to go scorched Earth. There may be a reason you want people to be able to contact you.

I urge you to cut back on the dysfunctional dynamic of social media if you haven’t already done so. Manipulated packaged contrived ways of socializing stifle the organic authentic nature of how we are meant to communicate as human beings. I think you’ll find that you are more harmed by this than you realized. We are not products to tick a like button on, or vote up or down. We are not gladiators thrown into a spiritual pit for the entertainment of mobs. We are precious human spirits.

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Display or Field?

First the oil painting, then the story that inspired this art and the update. Are YOU at a “display or field” crossroads in your life?

Watch me paint “Natalie at the Fountain“, 5 minute time lapse

“This iconic fountain is at Forysth Park in Savannah. It is a well photographed, well painted tourist attraction that appears often on postcards, websites, and gifts. Many who visit Savannah don’t leave the city without taking a souvenior photo of themselves and loved ones by the fountain. Forysth Park is a large, active park. Many events are held in that location, as well as recreational activities and a good place to take a fitness walk. Some events are planned by the city, such as ones sponsored by the library system. I was a participating author/illustrator for a large children’s book festival held in the park. Before the big day, I painted the fountain to display it on a large standing easel, just a few yards away from the actual fountain. It was fun to watch people do a double-take, as they realized that the painting was of where they were currently standing. The day I took the photograph that I used as a reference (this particular perspective of the fountain, as seen from the vantage point of an adjacent sidewalk), I was completely unaware that my husband was taking pictures of me, taking pictures of the fountain. This was suprisingly endearing, so I decided to paint myself into the picture. I realized later that this made my art a self-portrait, which wasn’t intentional, so we can think of me as simply 'the lady in red', even though I call myself out in the painting’s title. If you look closely, you can see my camera in 'lady in red's' hand. Spanish moss drapes from many tree branches. Don’t touch the moss. It looks soft and inviting, but apparently there are bugs that live in it. Enjoy with your eyes!"

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

Update to the above story…

I was cleaning and organizing my work space last week. It was a bittersweet experience. I stumbled upon the event merchandise, banner, giveaways, badges, and other investments I’d made for the event in the park. My daughters were with me, and as they have artistic aims of their own, I displayed under a family logo that included them. We had T-shirts made up and everything. There’s much more to say about this, but I’ll save it for the next blog series, which will be called “The Real Stuff”.

 

But for now, the relevance to the update is that the event fell flat for us in ways that I didn’t understand at the time. About three years later, it’s coming into focus for me. For the event, I purchased a field easel to display my oil painting. I was the only artist there who brought original art on canvas. Most illustrators used digital, pencils, pens, or watercolor, and displayed their art as books only (did not bring any original art with them, just reproductions). I may have been the only oil painter there- I don’t know. We didn’t get much chance to mingle. My point is that I was a square peg at this event. I was trying to make the experience something that it wasn’t.

 

I could have purchased a commercial display easel for the event, but that was an expensive option and I found a great deal on a field easel. So, I bought an easel meant for active painting outdoors, for display purposes only. I wanted to keep it pristine for events- meaning I can’t use it or else I’ll get paint on it.

My field easel in its rightful place

Often, things are obvious in hindsight, and you already know where this is headed… especially if you saw yesterday’s blog post “New Painting! Plein Air“. Yes, after sorting out the sad unused event material from years ago, I decided it was time to use that easel I’d invested in, for what it was designed for. It wasn’t a “display” easel, but a FIELD easel. It was meant to be used. It will get dirty. It will be stained with paint. It will be mine.

 

So, I added it to my work schedule. The next sunny and glorious day, I’d set up my field easel and paint outside.  And, as you know, I did exactly that. The display easel now has paint on it, and thus the transition is complete. Display or field? The answer is unquestionably “FIELD”!

 

I’m sure you sense where this is going. “Display or field?” is a metaphorical and spiritual question. Do we passively tick off the boxes we’re placed in, putting even ourselves in expected locations, and our true talents and desires sitting… waiting for permission to act? Who was going to invite me to step up into the bigger life that I wanted? How long would I choose “display” over “field”?

Successful people don’t wait for permission to shine. They go after what they want with their full energy. We don’t have to be a bold, aggressive, highly competitive type of person to have this mindset. It’s a matter of changing our way of thinking to one that prioritizes positive thinking and applying energy to the right places. 

It’s an easy metaphor…

  1. Display Easel: imagine me (who I hope feels like someone you know by now, a friend), standing behind a table with my display easel behind me at a groomed park, heavily populated by tourists and school groups attending the event. Sometimes park regulars zipped by on bicycles, skateboards, or wheeled shoes. I was engulfed by crowds flanking me on all sides. The din was hurting my ears and my throat was sore from trying (and failing) to be heard over it. I stood for hours, with nothing to do but attempt to interact with strangers. I kept a close eye on my watch. I feared I wouldn’t have enough patience to stay until the end, and I was obligated to do so. It was part of the contract I’d signed.
  2. Field Easel: you don’t need to imagine me standing behind my field easel, as you’ve seen it in yesterday’s blog post. I was peacefully painting in solitude. Only my cherished family members interacted with me, and that was welcome. For most of the time, I was alone in nature. I lost all track of time. Normally I listen to music while I paint, but I felt no need for that when painting outside. I hadn’t signed any contract. I had no obligation to anyone. Yet I achieved more in that afternoon than I had at the event at the park.

Let me clarify… I can’t measure your achievements, nor can you define mine. Mine are always evolving and I don’t always know my destined plans myself. I stay open. So, perhaps such an event would one day work for me, or for you… that’s not the point. The point is recognizing when we are at a crossroads and it’s time to choose the “field easel”.

 

I won’t be painting outside again any time soon. I’m still swollen with bug bites and I have a lot of worthy projects in progress on my indoor art table. It’s much easier to make my videos in a controlled environment with stable lighting. But spiritually and metaphorically, I’m “in the field”. My field easel has the battle scars of paint on it. I have made the choice to commit my full energy to the areas of my life that matter most. I will not stand behind a table (barrier between me and what I want), but behind an easel (actively working toward my goals).

 

While I’ve always been a trail blazer who doesn’t really wait for permission, there are crossroads in my life in which I recognize that I’m meant to take spiritual and creative freedom to the next level. Much of this relates to my personal and intellectual decisions, but every small better decision leads to greatness. Love more. Live more. BE more. Choose the field easel.

Wooded Lagoon” by artist Natalie Buske Thomas

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Painting Dynamic

Dynamic painting is kinetic; the act of painting it, the subject, and the composition exude high energy as it relates to movement, change and vigor. In “Painting Colors“, you can see in the video that the physical act of painting the abstract paint splotches is active exercise, high energy. So much so, that at one point the canvas is nearly knocked off the easel. The effect of physical energy on the energy of the composition is directly proportional. To see energy in art, we need energy in the artist.

In “Painting Colors” dynamic is aided by the variation of intensity in the music and the brush patterns as paint splotches are applied to the canvas. There is also an energetic contrast between the linear paintbrush that seems to control the paint, and the abstract free-flowing colors. Likewise, in “Peach Tree Hurricane“, a vigorous contrast exists between the ominous and heavily textured storm swirls and the daintily painted upright peach tree.

Art themes are also dynamic. In “Painting Colors“, the theme is the action of creating and painting, while actually creating and painting. In “Peach Tree Hurricane” the action is a representational story from the past, but the painting style still depicts action.

The vigor of the aftermath of a hurricane that has devastated most of an orchard while leaving some trees completely untouched, is a show of force that produces change. When the sun returns, resilience provides hope for the future. The contrast between fear and hope mirrors the dynamic of the painting style.

Waterfall Flowers” is dynamic through the intensity of its colors. The painting moves with high energy and robust contrast. The composition directs and controls the viewer, corralling our eyes into the “V” shaped open waters for a satisfying splash from the waterfall. The colors of the flowers seem to spring up in front of us. Turn sound on for full “Feel Good” vibe.

Dynamic painting requires a dynamic artist. Move, move, move! Life is a dance and if we don’t feel the music, we miss the energy and strength that gives meaning to action, and action to meaning.