30 Seconds

Watch me paint this tree in Ireland for 30 seconds

A lot can happen in 30 seconds. Here, through the magic of time lapse, this tree that I painted when we were living in a rural area of Ireland, gets some finishing details.

30 seconds can be the longest seconds of our lives when a baby is born with the cord wrapped around his neck and we’re waiting for him to breathe. That was how my son entered the world. Longest seconds of our lives. He was blue and lifeless. Then, he cried. Fear and impending grief turned to joy.

Life can change in an instant. 30 seconds is 30 instants. It’s a long time. So in that context, a full day is an eternity. Whenever I think I don’t have enough time, I try to remind myself of how time is our perception of it. When we are propelled by adrenaline, emotion, pressure, social energy, or other factors, suddenly we can pack a lot of activity into a short period of time. When we feel sluggish, discouraged, defeated, bored, or frustrated, we can drag our feet and make relatively simple chores seem like impossible burdens, missions we can’t possibly complete. We procrastinate and make excuses for why we can’t do what we really CAN.

I met all the taping goals today for the Easter show! Now I can turn my attention to the unexpected move we have to make in 2 months. It seems like an impossible task at the moment, but do I need a full minute? A lot can happen in just 30 seconds. In 30 seconds I can go from a resigned spirit to high energy. It’s really my choice. The pep talk I gave myself (and you) yesterday was similar to this one and it really helped! Some of you gave me great feedback and I was encouraged to stay the course (THANK YOU! <3 ). Now I can feel proud of what I accomplished today and I know that I can handle the challenges ahead.

Whatever you’re facing these days, I hope that my ongoing saga motivates you to join me in manifesting the outcome we want by powering through with full passion, energy, and hope. Obviously it will be difficult to maintain the full wattage of that power at all times, but if we think in terms of “30 seconds” we may be able to switch our mindset for just 30, and then 30 more… before we know it, the day is gone and we’ve done what we wanted to do!


Tired?

Watch oil painting “Sheltering Tree” come to life in 2 minutes (time lapse)

You might remember when I shared this painting in a May blog post called “Are you Weary?“. It seems a lot of us are struggling with fatigue that happens when seasons change and when the wait for other types of change feels too long. Students get restless this time of year, counting down the days to the holiday break and end of term. World events may seem to drag on endlessly, with only Christmas as a hope and diversion. We wouldn’t be human if we didn’t struggle with feeling weary of the work and sameness of our everyday routines, and the things we cannot change.

It helps when we commit to doing something new, and then follow through with doing that new thing. In fact, it can be so helpful, it can be addictive! Because, each new thing creates more energy, to inspire doing more new things. The list of things we’re going to learn, make, do, see, and share may grow longer and longer. I’m teaching myself how to sew, play instruments, and container garden. All of these things generate energy that is real, no screens! That alone generates more energy. Instead of focusing on things we cannot change, we are energized by the new things that change us.

When I invest my time into changing what I do and who I am, I’m more often the “good kind” of tired, rather than weary. My days are full of productive work and meaningful changes, such as growing my own food, making my own clothes, and playing music rather than just listening to music that others have made. Being active rather than passive naturally manifests more activity.

I don’t always manage this high level of engagement in a good life. I’m guilty of spending hours looking at a screen, worrying about things, and accomplishing very little. I also get buried under the mundane aspects of life that won’t be remembered a week from now, let alone a year, and have no chance of being meaningful to myself or to others. I can also invest too much of myself into my vocation or my household, ignoring all other parts of a healthy balanced life.

Sometimes we live what we intend to, other times we don’t. We aren’t meant to be slaves to a ridiculous perfectionist standard, mania, or obsession to do more, more, more. Sometimes we just don’t have it in us. But if we are feeling weary, perhaps we need to do MORE. Then, at the end of the day, we are too tired to be weary. We are tired enough to fall into a deep restful sleep. Good night, dear friends!

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 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

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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

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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 »

New Art Journey

I’ve lost track of how many oil paintings I’ve done, but “over 200” is possibly right. My lifetime goal is over 1,000 finished oil paintings,

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I’m HOME!

All moved in and my Internet is up. Did you miss me? I missed you! I’ll catch up when I can. Just wanted to post

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Moving Day!

This looks nothing like the house we’re closing on, but our house IS in Savannah. I had no idea when I painted this several years

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MOVING TOMORROW!

WHEW! The issues are finally resolved and our delayed close on the house will happen TOMORROW! Tomorrow is moving day! I shall fly like this

Read More »

S T R E S S E D

Today was a highly stressful day. We still haven’t closed on the house and we are now running out of time for the moving pods,

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BAD DAY

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

Read More »

Super Laundry!

My son is college age now, not a little boy like in this art for children’s book “Grandpa Smiles” (about my dad, who died before

Read More »

Happy Day!

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

Read More »

Bandits!

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

Read More »

Easy Going

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

Read More »

Joyful Memories!

Moving is so hard and bittersweet. The passage of time is on display with every box that is packed, every room that is emptied. Today

Read More »

WOOT!

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

Read More »

Wild Days

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

Read More »

aww

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

Read More »

Nature’s Music

This painting was an experiment. A talented indie composer shared his work online and I asked if I could use it to paint what I

Read More »

Ooh, Pretty!

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

Read More »

LOL, Pumpkin

I planted a couple of pumpkins in grow bags and decided that I’d take those to the new house. Well, one of the pumpkins decided

Read More »

Bearing Up

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

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Lead me HOME!

When I painted this city of Savannah oil painting, I had no idea that I’d one day live not very far from this fountain square.

Read More »

Strawberry Mine!

Guess what’s ready to eat already? I had the most delicious vibrant red fresh strawberry with a bit of whipped cream, MMMM! But you know

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Moving Soon!

Oil painting “Autumn Cottage”, time lapse video to watch Natalie paint this art, journey of move during housing crisis

Read More »

Be Thou my Vision

I hope you are enjoying this Easter weekend with loved ones and are feeling peace in your spirit. I’ve uploaded the Easter Show 2022 in

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HAPPY NEWS!

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

Read More »

Missed it?

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

Read More »

Show on YouTube

My Easter Painting Variety Show is now on YouTube, for those who prefer that platform for easy sharing. The best video quality is here on

Read More »

Holy Week Begins

On this Palm Sunday, may you feel encouragement for the week ahead and the hope that Easter and spring instills. Today we put down an

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Show Update

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

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Faith over Fear

Well, we finally got our pre-approval, but the house hunting news is bleak. First of all, we couldn’t get the loan type we wanted, and

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They’re Back!

Today was a horrible day- seeing a painted bunting was one of the few good things about it, so I’ll focus on that. Painted buntings

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Packing Up

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

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Gator Tale

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

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What a Day!

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

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No Word Yet

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

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Whirlwind Day!

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

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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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New Painting – “Alabama Landscape”

Oil painting by artist Natalie Buske Thomas “Alabama Landscape”. Watch Natalie paint this art in less than 2 minutes (time lapse video). New painting for September 2022.

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

Back to Work! Session 3

Well, it’s time to get back to work on the new painting in progress. Normally I wait until the painting is finished before sharing, but

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!

New Painting in Progress

I don’t often show my paintings until they are done, but I thought you’d like to know what I’m working on since there’s been a

New month, new direction!

Did you click on the image above? I’ve painted enough art now to re-design this website and sort by categories! This will be more fun

Hymn for Cardinal Painting

As promised, I’ve put together a singing video with the lyrics for the instrumental hymn that was in yesterday’s painting video. Maybe you already know

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

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

Hymn for Lighthouse Painting

The painting video I shared yesterday included a piano instrumental version of “In Christ Alone”. My daughter (standing behind my chair) was kind enough to

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

New Painting – “Lighthouse”

The song in the video is a piano instrumental version of the hymn “In Christ Alone”. “In Christ Alone” In Christ alone my hope is

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

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

New Painting, Finally!

I’m finally back to work after our big sudden, unexpected move. The move took wild turns and we ended up buying a house at least

Want to go to Church?

If you watched the above video (a clip from this year’s Easter Show), you saw how emotional I was while singing the cover of “I

New Art Journey

I’ve lost track of how many oil paintings I’ve done, but “over 200” is possibly right. My lifetime goal is over 1,000 finished oil paintings,

New Cardinal Friends

New birds have already found us at our new home. These cardinals are different, as I knew they’d be. When I was sad about leaving

I’m HOME!

All moved in and my Internet is up. Did you miss me? I missed you! I’ll catch up when I can. Just wanted to post

Moving Day!

This looks nothing like the house we’re closing on, but our house IS in Savannah. I had no idea when I painted this several years

MOVING TOMORROW!

WHEW! The issues are finally resolved and our delayed close on the house will happen TOMORROW! Tomorrow is moving day! I shall fly like this

S T R E S S E D

Today was a highly stressful day. We still haven’t closed on the house and we are now running out of time for the moving pods,

BAD DAY

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

Super Laundry!

My son is college age now, not a little boy like in this art for children’s book “Grandpa Smiles” (about my dad, who died before

Happy Day!

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

Bandits!

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

Easy Going

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

Joyful Memories!

Moving is so hard and bittersweet. The passage of time is on display with every box that is packed, every room that is emptied. Today

WOOT!

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

Wild Days

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

aww

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

Nature’s Music

This painting was an experiment. A talented indie composer shared his work online and I asked if I could use it to paint what I

Ooh, Pretty!

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

LOL, Pumpkin

I planted a couple of pumpkins in grow bags and decided that I’d take those to the new house. Well, one of the pumpkins decided

Bearing Up

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

Lead me HOME!

When I painted this city of Savannah oil painting, I had no idea that I’d one day live not very far from this fountain square.

Strawberry Mine!

Guess what’s ready to eat already? I had the most delicious vibrant red fresh strawberry with a bit of whipped cream, MMMM! But you know

Moving Soon!

Oil painting “Autumn Cottage”, time lapse video to watch Natalie paint this art, journey of move during housing crisis

Be Thou my Vision

I hope you are enjoying this Easter weekend with loved ones and are feeling peace in your spirit. I’ve uploaded the Easter Show 2022 in

New Painting “Jesus at Calvary”

On this Good Friday of Holy Week, 2022, may we reflect on the beauty of deliverance, redemption, forgiveness, mercy, and hope- and manifest these things

HAPPY NEWS!

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

New Painting “Easter Lily”

This video is a segment from the Easter Show 2022. It shows live painting in real time and then the footage is sped up via

Missed it?

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

Show on YouTube

My Easter Painting Variety Show is now on YouTube, for those who prefer that platform for easy sharing. The best video quality is here on

Holy Week Begins

On this Palm Sunday, may you feel encouragement for the week ahead and the hope that Easter and spring instills. Today we put down an

EASTER SHOW LAUNCHED!

HERE IT IS! Launching my new Easter Painting Show now, to give you time to share this special video with your family, friends, and social

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

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 »

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 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

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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!

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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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