See oil painting “Walking to Piano Lessons” come to life in under 2 minutes

Sharing my latest painting, as it is a snowy cold memory of living in Minnesota, which is how South Georgia felt today, if comparing this to a rather mild Minnesota day. Georgia can never be as cold as Minnesota, where it often drops below O Fahrenheit. I remember one frightening day when the temperature dropped to -25 F, -31 Celsius actual temperature, and that doesn’t even include the “real feel” wind chill factor! But, when our bodies are accustomed to warmer temperatures a sudden drop can feel miserable, like a bone-chilling flu has settled in. So, while Georgia isn’t “Minnesota” cold, it felt brutal today.

We had wind gusts of 35 miles per hour and a frost advisory is in effect until late morning. So I was out there with my daughter trying to clip plastic over our potted plants and garden. Much of our plants have already germinated and our beautiful peach tree has gorgeous pink flowers. Frost will damage our plants and might mean no harvest or a lackluster harvest. I think we’ve managed to save our trees, shrubs and edible garden plants, but I’ll know more in the morning.

I’m chilled and only very slowly warming up. It helped to have some tea, ironically it was peach tea, which is quite fitting since saving the peach tree is part of the reason why I needed the tea. The plastic was flapping in the wind, fighting against us as we tried to wrap the tree. The tree is much taller than I am so I rigged a telescopic “back scratcher” (novelty item, cost about $1, usually a stocking stuffer type of gift, looks like a tiny monkey hand or many a bear claw, so I call it my monkey claw and I use it to grab stuff) by tying one end of the plastic to the claw end and then we could extend our reach and pass the claw over the tree to the other person. My husband came home from work as my daughter and I were wrestling with this. He got the step stool, thinking he was doing the obvious, but nearly face planted off the step stool- quickly confirming why I didn’t do that. He’s fine, corrected himself before he fell. He found my improvised telescopic grabber useful after all. 🙂

What an adventure- reminds me of why we don’t want to live in places that have long brutal winters anymore. All it takes is one windy chilly day and I’m miserable. I do have wonderful memories of beautiful snowy days though, and the sense of accomplishment when surviving bitterly arctic environments. Perseverance is something to be proud of.

Leapin’ Lizards!

See oil painting “Lizard” come alive in 1 minute (time lapse)

It will get cold again, as it’s still winter season here in SE Georgia, but today was beautifully warm and spring like- which means that the lizards were out enjoying the sun. There were literally leaping lizards when I’d move a garden pot that they were squatting in. But what was fun (once I stopped being startled by the little guy’s sudden appearances) was the lizard friend who hung out with me on my potting table.

He lay sprawled out on the warm table top, watching what I was doing. When I moved where he couldn’t see me, he’d stand up on his back legs and pull himself over the edge of the table to peer over the top to see what I was up to. When I potted a plant he’d climb onto the bag of soil. When I set down my trowel, he’d get right into the scoop of it.

Next time I have a warm gardening day I’ll try to remember to film this little friend of mine interacting with me. Unfortunately it will be cold and dreary for the next stretch of days, so this little detour project of an indie reality show starring a color-changing lizard will have to wait. I won’t know if it’s the same lizard as today, but if he acts the same way, we’ll just pretend that he is.

Happy Friday everyone!

Different Perspective

See this oil painting of a house in Savannah, Georgia come alive in just over 1 minute (time lapse)

I remember the day that I wandered around a park in Savannah, the one where the iconic fountain I painted is located, and took extra pictures for painting inspiration. This is a house I saw nearby. I was captivated by the way the trees obscured the view. Now when I see this, I wonder how life has changed for the people who live in that house. Do they even still live there?

That street probably looks different. I don’t want to see it. I haven’t been to the city in a long while. 2020 wasn’t a good time to go. 2021 wasn’t either. 2022 doesn’t look good so far. When I see my pre-2020 art, I feel a touch of melancholy.

Photographs and Memories

Watch this Savannah, Georgia fountain and park landscape come alive in 5 minutes (time lapse)

This oil painting features a cameo of me- it’s an unexpected self-portrait. That’s me in the red dress with my camera, taking a picture of this fountain to paint later. I took pictures from this faraway perspective and also up close. What I didn’t know is that while I was doing this, my husband took a picture of me at the fountain that he shared with me later. This made what I thought was just a task for work into a sweet memory. So I added myself into the scene, as seen through the eyes of my husband.

I hadn’t intended on adding any people, especially not myself! But now when I see this art, I think of how my husband does spontaneous things on occasion that surprise me. This art, for me, has become more about that memory (a real life action) than the fountain (a tourist attraction that thousands of people have photographed and hundreds of artists- especially students- have painted).

I’ve been sorting through photos to choose some to frame. Photographs can be an important influence on mental health, as the careful selection of which memories to focus on can be healing, empowering, and motivating. When we have few photos or only photos from the past, it can be easy to believe that our best days are behind us, gone. And if our photographs are nearly exclusively of times when we are on vacation, at a photo studio, or at special events, we see only our social or public selves, not our “everyday” authentic selves. The message we may inadvertently send ourselves it that our true selves are not valuable, as this side of us doesn’t make the cut for displaying in our space.

It’s important to occasionally re-assess the photos we display, and update our space with current, real memories that encourage us to live in gratitude for the present and hope for the future. Our chosen photographs can be part of a private selection, displayed only in our bedrooms or other non-public areas of our homes. It’s not important to share our favorite memories with others. But it can be significant to display these photos to ourselves and those who live with us.

Who we are in our real lives is enough. Although the best-of-times photos are important to celebrate (and will likely compose the majority of our framed collections), we do not need to be our vacation selves, our special event selves, or our social selves to feel alive. Just be. Honor real, ordinary, everyday moments as highly as the days we’re “supposed” to commemorate.

More important to me than the iconic fountain and famous landscape is knowing that my husband thought the lady in the red dress was worthy of photographing. May we still be surprised by those who love us, and live in wonder that we are so blessed to live another day. While special moments are perhaps few in comparison to everyday actions, it is the average day that is uniquely ours alone, and extraordinarily special. May we create lives worthy of remembering.

God bless and keep you, this day and always.

Invasive or Beautiful?

See oil painting “Cherokee Rose” come alive in 2 minutes (time lapse)

This beautiful white rose is the state flower of Georgia. But due to their thorny and hardy nature, they are considered an invasive species when they take off on their own in the wild. If being philosophical, this situation can be a metaphor for occupations, lifestyle choices, and relationships in our lives. Sometimes our circumstances seem very appealing, but are nonetheless destructive, growing ever too fast around us, and are difficult to break free of. January is a good time to reflect on the invasive white roses in our lives and do what we can to change what entangles us. May you break free of anything that is holding you back and look to 2022 with hope.

Beach Weather!

Watch oil painting “My Kids at the Beach” come alive in 2 minutes (time lapse)

It was a high of 82 degrees today, here in Coastal Georgia! Goodness, we could have gone to the beach. And just a couple of weeks ago we had frost that killed off several of my garden plants! So, that’s about a 50 degree difference in temperatures. Funny to reconcile this weather with the Christmas decorations in the neighborhood.

Short post, I’m tired from pushing myself hard to get a lot done today and now it’s dinner time. Don’t forget about my Christmas show coming up. I’ll need your help to share it. Thank you!

Do you See what I See?

Watch oil painting “I Love Life” come alive in 55 seconds (time lapse)

After we moved to Georgia, we visited the same beach on Tybee Island several times. It became our favorite place. One day this graffiti was on the pier: “I love life”. I stopped to take a picture of it. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a shadow. I turned to see that one of my daughters was taking a picture of this too. This is a favorite memory of mine.

Here’s another favorite memory… singing with my daughters at a senior living facility for Christmas.

50 seconds, “Do you See what I See” final verse and ending

Do you see what I see? Do you see signs that say, “I love life”? Do you share that vision with the people you love? Be joyful in all that you do. Look for magical moments of spontaneous connection, serendipity, connected consciousness and hope. We see what we choose to see.

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Watch this Georgia bulldog oil painting come to life in just over 1 minute (time lapse)

I painted this for the art collection “50 Oil Paintings Inspired by Savannah, Georgia“. Someone following my art is a big fan of the college football team the (UGA) Georgia Bulldogs and was happy to see this particular work. As for me, my idea of sports is individual athletics like dancing, skiing, white water rafting, swimming, exploring the outdoors, etc., (participating in, not watching, and not avidly in any of it, even though I was active in all of those things when I was younger). Anyway, I don’t ever watch college or pro sports of any kind, but I was pleased that my friend was excited about the bulldog tribute.

Sometimes the sporting thing to do is respect that we all have different interests, and be willing to support what others enjoy. So, while this particular painting doesn’t hold personal meaning for me, I consider it a social connection with those who love what it means to be a fan of a team, a special place, and the excitement of sharing a win. Sports as in life is about appreciating the hard work, dedication, and talent of fellow humans and being inspired by their dreams to strive toward dreams of our own, or to at least catch a break from our regular lives for a bit of fun and downtime. I can relate to that.

Nutty Day

Watch this oil painting of an old truck selling boiled peanuts at the road side in 2 minutes (time lapse)

Before people became too afraid to be socially near each other, it was common to see independent vendors selling produce from their trucks by the side of the road. Here in the deep South, in Georgia, they’d sell bags of boiled peanuts (or fruit and vegetables). I painted this art for the collection “50 Oil Paintings Inspired by Savannah, Georgia“, and of course I had to make the experience complete by trying boiled peanuts.

I have learned that I do not like boiled peanuts! But, some people do and I’ll just let others have them all. My daughter is allergic to peanuts but can eat other types of nuts so she baked almond butter cookies (the texture and taste are similar to peanut butter cookies and are very good!). Well, today was a nutty day…

Today I had an even worse day of misery due to my swollen and painful/itchy/burning foot that was stung by several angry fire ants when I stepped onto their nest while wearing sandals. It’s agonizing to put pressure on my foot. Last night I woke up every couple of hours or so to ice my foot down, so sleep deprivation as well as malaise made it easier to lay in bed rather than try to function. Since it was awful to hobble around and stand on my foot, I didn’t want to cook anything. Every time I felt hungry, I ate an almond butter cookie.

It was a nutty day. Tropical rains fell for most of the day, so heavily that it felt like I was on a ship. The steady rains muffled all sound and the house was dark. I kept slipping in and out of sleep. I lost track of time and of how many hours I’d had nothing to eat but cookies. I don’t know how many cookies I ended up eating.

Finally I got myself together and managed to cook dinner that I’d promised the family (pasta and meatballs). I’ll heal just fine from these ant stings. My reaction to them is actually fairly typical and the remedies give relief. It just has to run its course. But when this episode is over, I’ll probably remember it whenever I have a nutty cookie.

“Mary of God’s Favor”

Watch Natalie paint this art, and all 50 oil paintings in this collection (menu below)

“The inspiration for this art is the “relief” architecture on the exterior of churches and cathedrals in the Savannah squares. I saw reliefs of Mary in a pose similar to this. I imagined her as if she could be my sister, a dear friend, family. With a colorful scene and light, my painting is a contemporary, personalized version of Mary that draws from traditional historic art.

Luke 1:30 Then the angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.’

What does it mean to have God’s favor? What a glorious blessing and comfort!

We were not meant to be slaves to fear. Imagine the words of an angel telling us not to be afraid. God is with us. What a joyful life we can have, if we are free from anxiety. Suddenly the sun shines brighter, the beauty of people and places surrounds us, and our world transforms from lifeless gray to vibrant living color.”

Mary of God’s Favor oil painting by Natalie Buske Thomas

List of Oil Paintings in this Collection, linking to their pages here on the site, and also citing physical pages in the hardcover book:

  1. City of Savannah
    1.1 “City of Savannah” page 6-7
    1.2 “Natalie at the Fountain” page 8-11
    1.3 “House in Savannah” page 12-13
    1.4 “Guardian Lion” page 14-15
    1.5 “Autumn Angel” page 16-17
    1.6 “Steamship Savannah” page 18-19
    1.7 “Boiled Peanuts for Sale” page 20-21
    1.8 “Bulldog” page 22-23
    1.9 “Serenity Piano” page 24-25
    1.10 “Painting Colors” page 26-27
  2. Tybee Island
    2.1 “I Love Life” page 30-31
    2.2 “Living Sand Dollar” page 32-33
    2.3 “Matthew the Sea Turtle” page 34-35
    2.4 “Fungie the Dolphin” page36-37
    2.5 “Angel Releasing Dove” page 38-39
    2.6 “Flag on Tybee Island” page 40-41
    2.7 “My Kids at the Beach” page 42-43
    2.8 “Lighthouse near Tybee Island” page 44-45
  3. Birds, Reptiles and Amphibians
    3.1 “Gator and Snake” page 48-49
    3.2 “Tree Frog” page 50-51
    3.3 “Lizard” page 52-53
    3.4 “Blue Heron” page 54-55
    3.5 “Hummingbird” page 56-57
    3.6 “Painted Bunting” page 58-59
  4. Flowers and Trees
    4.1 “Pink Flower” page 62-63
    4.2 “Porch Flowers” page 64-65
    4.3 “Clover” page 66-67
    4.4 “Butterfly Tree Flowers” page 68-69
    4.5 “Savannah Tree” page 70-71
    4.6 “Dancer in a Floral Forest” page 72-73
    4.7 “Come to the Garden” page 74-77
    4.8 “Cherokee Rose” page 78-79
  5. Faith and Food
    5.1 “Floral Cross” page 82-83
    5.2 “Lenten Flower” page 84-85
    5.3 “Celtic Cross” page 86-87
    5.4 “Mary of God’s Favor” page 88-89
    5.5 “Lion and the Lamb” page 90-91
    5.6 “Breakfast with Friends” page 92-93
    5.7 “Peaches in a Bowl” page 94-95
    5.8 “Peach Cookies” page 96-97
    5.9 “Peach Pie” page 98-99
  6. Seasons and Weather
    6.1 “Pumpkins and Mums” page 102-103
    6.2 “Autumn Cottage” page 104-105
    6.3 “Spring Lambs” page 106-107
    6.4 “Peach Tree Hurricane” page 108-109
    6.5 “Eye of the Storm” page 110-111
    6.6 “God’s Promise” page 112-113
    6.7 “We Gather Together” page 114-115
    6.8 “Savannah Snow” page 116-117
    6.9 “I Believe in Santa” page 118-119