Empathy

“He Wept”

Feeling sad today. I was reading personal accounts by people going through heartbreaking situations that are caused directly or indirectly by evil actions of powerful people. Later, close to home, police cars lined our street once again as a house across from us was swatted. There were families with small children involved in the situation. The breakdown of society causes so much pain and sorrow.

This painting was originally painted for this issue: (see “He Wept” page); but I feel that this art represents many other issues that demand empathy from fellow human beings. So many are hurting and it never had to be this way. May we see their pain, feel their pain, and hold in our hearts a genuine desire for people to be happy and whole. 

Are you home?

Watch me paint this house in Savannah, Georgia in 1 minute

(time lapse)

I took pictures near a park square in Savannah one day, and this particular view inspired me to paint it. Most of the house was obscured by trees. It was as if nature and humankind had melded into a new world.

I feel that way about my patio garden, as critters and birds are quite welcome to hang out in the new space I’ve created. Indeed, they seem to think that they own the place and everything I put out there is for them. It seems we’re all at home.

Are you home? Do you feel welcome in your space? Do you feel compatible with nature, your neighbors, your community, and your surroundings? Being at home is less to do with others and more to do with ourselves.

Sometimes when I’m living in a temporary place it’s difficult to feel as if I’m home, so I have to work hard to create that connection. I remind myself that my wild birds and living trees are with me everywhere. Of course these are not the exact same creatures and plants I’ve seen in previous backyards, and many are different breeds of birds and different types of trees entirely, but some are the same as other places I’ve lived. A red cardinal in the Deep South in Georgia brings me just as much peace as a red cardinal Up North in Minnesota.

I’ve lived abroad as well as various places in the United States. They say “people are the same wherever you go”, and that is fundamentally true. There’s nothing unique or shocking about human nature. Everything we see has been seen before, for thousands of years. The only differences are in the way our human nature plays out due to progress and technology. But at our core, humanity carries the same mix of “good” and “bad” as we have since the beginning.

Home is not necessarily where our heart is, but we can put our heart into wherever we are. As we work and journey toward the place we want to be, we can embrace where we are today. So, when I ask myself- and YOU- “are you home”, I hope that your answer is YES.

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New Show!

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

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Be Mysterious

Watch me paint this coastal scene from Dingle, Ireland in 2 minutes (time lapse). I visited this area when I was living in Ireland in 2016.

If you want to win the right to remain fully human, you must first desire freedom from control, enslavement and the systemic breakdown of the human spirit. The first step to control someone is to know them, to predict their moves, habits, and responses. When we know someone, we can then manipulate that person into doing what we want them to do. We can deliberately steer them toward self-destructive paths, or toward a collective (hive mind) that supports our agenda. 

Therefore, the first step toward resisting control and breaking free of brainwashing, is to be mysterious. When we are unpredictable, even computer algorithms that apply scores to our predictive behaviors cannot determine who we are and what we will do. We must choose to be organic, authentic, raw, real, emotional, spiritual, and light-seeking. We must choose love over the absence of it, which eventually becomes malice. For when we are devoid of love, the void is filled by hate. The removal of light is darkness.

It is impossible to have no religion. What we serve simply has a different name. We may not care to name it, but even “nothing” is something. The religion of globalism does not respect the freedom of individual spirituality. We must fight for our freedom by choosing to be mysterious, uncontrolled. We must not comply with illegal orders that violate human rights. We must declare such orders as Crimes Against Humanity and stand firmly together.

We matter.

You matter.

Believe in the beauty that God created: YOU.

Be fully human.

Be mysterious.

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Solitary Roses

Watch me paint this art in support of families of autistic children

Some may claim that I have glorified or downplayed autism, but this painting was meant to express the profound love that families have for their children who have autism. Art is a language. Sometimes we understand each other perfectly, and other times we don’t. A grandmother of an autistic child was greatly moved by this painting. She understood what I was trying to say, and felt the empathy. The rose represents a child, alone in a tranquil woods, yet also trapped there- in a stoned wall, where it’s difficult to grow, or connect. Yet, there is always hope, and moments of blooming through, when the moonlight shines upon this precious loved one. And that is beautiful. Technique note: This was my first experience using a pre-painted black canvas. I was pleased with the illusion it gave my paints- that the colors were glowing, or metallic- especially when the oils were wet. This worked out well for the video, and for the emotions I was expressing in this piece.
- "Painting Imaginary Places" by artist Natalie Buske Thomas

The human mind is a complex and mysterious phenomenon. Do you ever feel like a solitary rose? The sacred spaces of our minds may be isolating or they may be a healing oasis. Sometimes we diagnose normal human needs as illness. It is heartbreaking when someone cannot leave the walls inside their minds, but it’s healthy for brains to occasionally build garden walls, where we can retreat into a creative, spiritual, reflective space.

“Unplugging” is about much more than simply unplugging from the Internet, cell phones, televisions, or any other electronic gadget or screen. If our mindset is still controlled by the world’s pacing and agendas, we haven’t truly unplugged- we’ve merely paused the stream. What we need is garden walls inside our minds, a place we go when we need to connect our minds to our spirit and body. In that space, we are at peace: undisturbed, unhindered, and unburdened.

In that reflective and safe space inside our minds, our thoughts may flow and develop into new ideas or may raise questions. If we act upon those ideas and explore answers to our questions, we have an opportunity to change our lives and elevate our attitudes to a higher standard that makes us happier, and blesses the people around us. 

Perhaps we see an imaginary garden in our reflections, and then put a real garden into action. Maybe we feel lyrical and put our words into poetry, novels, or songwriting. Maybe we see a masterpiece and we paint our vision on a canvas to share with the world. 

Or, our thoughts may land on practical ground- such as being inspired to approach our errands and jobs more productively, or managing our household more logically, or re-arranging our living space more efficiently. We may even see a solution to obstacles in our personal relationships at work or at home. Whatever comes to us when we set aside time to be still, to hear ourselves breathe, and isolate our minds in a solitary oasis, we can choose to put those inspirations into action to make a difference in our own lives and in the lives of others.

For every individual who mindfully chooses to elevate themselves to a higher place, the world is collectively elevated. While oppressors deny our individual power by decreeing that we only have value as a collective, the opposite is true. The collective is only as valuable as the individual. A single individual can change the world.

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Create or Destroy?

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

A tribute to the Turning Angel monument, built over the graves of five children killed in a factory explosion in the early 1900’s: She was recently vandalized, toppled, and had a broken wing. She is made whole here. This was my first time painting in only black and white, with no color at all. When I first heard about this statue being toppled and damaged, something about it tugged at my heart. When I found out that it was a memorial over the graves of five children, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I looked up the statue to see what it looked like… and decided to paint it. I understand how that feels… to create something to honor the deaths of people, and to have someone destroy it in a hateful action. That beautiful angel statue, installed as a memorial for children who died so tragically young- toppled to the ground with a broken wing…"
- from book "50 Oil Paintings Inspired by my Christian Faith" by artist Natalie Buske Thomas

I know what it’s like to have my art destroyed, and I know what it’s like to be broken as a person. Because we share bits of ourselves when we create, when our creations are destroyed by hateful actions, all of the broken bits of our spirit are remembered and past brokenness is felt anew.

When “activists” (terrorists) listed me for ruination, threats, harassment, and more- committing libel against me and other crimes- they also hacked into my website and deleted my artwork. They uploaded a snarky devil cartoon in place of my blog about my dead parents, deleting this video that I painted in their memory:

My son helped me recover all of the files that they deleted. The original painting was safe. But the violation of my rights and privacy was deeply felt. They had seen my personal files that were stored in the non-public areas of my site, including pictures of my family, my children. They knew where I lived.

This is the complete handcrafted, handpainted nativity set that my parents made. It is the only thing I have left that is in this picture. Everything else- all of it- including the furniture, candles, decorations, and tree are all gone. We kept only a few of the small ornaments from the tree and the nativity set. Everything else was sold… including this house that we’d built after many years of working hard to earn it.

I’ve blogged bits and pieces about our journey of starting over, but that’s not the focus of this post. What I’m trying to share is that my heartfelt post about that nativity set and my painting video of it, held many layers of profound emotion. It represented a bittersweet letting go of painful loss, while honoring who I lost, and the life I lost.

When I chose to share such an intimate part of my spirit, it was my intellectual property alone. Deleting it was theft. When the devil cartoon was inserted in its place, it was a hate crime against not only my faith, but also a desecration of my parents. They have no grave to visit, as both chose to be cremated. I honored them with my public words and art. Terrorists destroyed my memorial.

So, when I heard about the “Turning Angel” memorial being destroyed, it touched my heart. I can only imagine the pain of those parents who lost their child that day. It happened long ago, and it’s unknown (to me) if any of the remaining families still feel that grief to this day. But even if no one from the current generation was deeply effected by the attack on the memorial, I believe that the energy of hate and destruction has an impact on humanity as a whole.

As humans, do we create or destroy?

Do we build each other up or tear each other down?

Do we say a kind word, or give a backhanded compliment?

Do we favor sarcasm and dry humor more often than whimsy and silliness? In other words, does “humor” become an excuse for mean-spirited interactions and exchanges that create pessimism?

Do we choose dark over light, or light over dark?

We don’t have to literally destroy an angel, breaking her wings as she topples to the ground. We don’t have to delete baby Jesus and a poignant story about dead parents. No, often when we destroy what others create the method is much more subtle. We don’t even always see evidence of it. There are no broken wings or snarky devil cartoons to show what we’ve done.

When someone creates a joyful spirit that fills the space of the room, and we destroy it with one unkind word, we destroy what others have created. We can do this without saying a word as well. All it takes is giving someone the silent treatment, the cold shoulder, or displaying a rude expression on our faces. In one second, the spiritual wings break.

The thought I kept going back to is that the person(s) who deleted my blog posts and my art had seen the story of why I painted that nativity set. Perhaps they didn’t read it carefully, but surely parts of it would have reached their minds. Why choose a devil cartoon? I truly can’t imagine seeing the grieved heart of a fellow human and choosing to delete their private pain that they’d decided to publicly share. It took several steps to hack into my site and do this, and they did it over the course of two days, with multiple messages left for me. The point is, they had time to reconsider their actions, yet still chose to hurt me in this way. It wasn’t a spontaneous action, but one that was done with full intention.

My guess is that these were young people who would have been too cowardly to confront me to my face, but perhaps not. It’s a dark soul who shows no empathy for another, who places one’s own agenda ahead of the grief of a fellow human being. It is this sociopath tendency that is quite chilling. To various degrees, we all have the capacity to destroy without empathy. How far would we go to destroy someone?

I believe that when we create, we aid in the redemption of the human spirit. We counter the heart of man that is capable of wickedness, by sharing something of ourselves. Creation is more powerful than destruction. While one unkind word is felt more deeply than a chorus of praise, in the end good always wins. The solution to destruction is creation. The solution to hate is never more hate. That’s not what justice is.

We live in an unfair world. Life is unkind. That’s how it has been since the beginning of time, and how it will always be. There’s good and bad; joy and pain, and sometimes we cause these hardships ourselves by oppressing each other or by allowing others to grow powerful enough to become an entity that oppresses us all. 

We don’t set the wrongs right by hurting each other. We set them right by pioneering new ways to make the world a better place, and standing strong in the truth. Justice is about holding people accountable who are directly responsible for committing crimes. It’s not about acts of terrorism to coerce change through hurting innocent people. It is not about changing the definition of “innocent” until it excuses targeting people who have legally committed no crimes. Somewhere along the way, society decided that terrorism is OK and hate is OK, if we agree with the cause. Once we allow mobs to decide what the law means, we have no protection from destruction of ideas, property, and lives.

Terrorism is never legal, even if the cause is (supposedly) just. Terrorism is always criminal. People innocent of a criminal act are always legally innocent, and cannot legally be judged guilty for wrong thoughts, wrong associations, wrong beliefs, or having been born in the wrong type of body. A society that sanctions lawlessness destroys itself, as there is no protection for anyone- especially the vulnerable who are then twice victimized.

I was afraid for a while. I feared that they’d come after me again at any moment. But I’ve discovered that I’m not only a survivor of life’s hardships, but a fighter. I put my painting of baby Jesus back on my site, and I continued to paint more art featuring Jesus.

When we live unafraid, we don’t give in to terrorists. We continue to share organically, without self-censorship. We openly express love through the generosity of our creations. Stay strong. Humanity needs each and every one of you. Create loving words. Be that light in the darkness. The difference you make is incalculable. Don’t let hate intimidate you. Love is always stronger than hate- always.

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New Show!

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

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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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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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.

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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?

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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.

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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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Peace through Strength

Watch me paint this Eagle and Dove in 2 minutes (time lapse)

When I re-share my oil paintings they take on new meaning depending on the state of the world and our individual perspective at the time of viewing. How has your definition of “peace” and “strength” evolved over the past two years? Your answer may be different if I ask you from month to month, day to day, hour by hour, or even minute by minute.

A healthy human condition is fluid. Our emotions are malleable. “Malleable” has two basic definitions (wordnik.com). The first is “capable of being shaped or formed, as by hammering or pressure”. This is normal and helps us grow. We adapt and respond to hardships, challenges, progress and regression. We are flexible and responsive to changing environments, lifestyle and health status, and political climates. This is the good, productive kind of malleable.

The second definition for “malleable” is “easily controlled or influenced”. This type of human condition endangers the future of mankind. It makes possible the reality of mass psychosis, in which the majority of the world’s population believes things that are false, that have relatively low risk of lasting harm or fatality compared to other risks. They then submit and might even become irrationally, unquestioningly loyal to an extreme solution that creates more hardship, suffering, and death. Oftentimes the lower risk of inaction (allowing a crisis to organically resolve without coercion or tighter control) is the more logical choice, but it requires bravery to ignore the bleating to act when people want swift solutions.

“Peace through Strength” is not a concept exclusive to world governments and military. Modern warfare relies heavily on psychological weapons that are directed not only at armies, but tragically at the civilian population, including children and the elderly. When a populace is controlled or influenced to turn their backs on their own nation, institutions, society, values, neighbors and families, the war has been won by the enemies of the People. For it is the people who determine how much wealth their rulers can siphon from the backs of their labor, and it is the people who either see the profit motive behind their rulers’ mandates or are blind to it. It is the people who submit, comply, and allow to be overtaken. When the people agree to enslavement, the objectives of the (tyrannical) ruling class is reached.

When we are strong, the need for a physical rescue may be unnecessary, thereby achieving a peaceful outcome to a confrontation or a coercive breach of our human rights. Indeed, a crisis may be averted before it even takes root, never escalating to the point where more dramatic measures are required to resolve the situation. Peace through strength is possible, even when it seems that the situation is too far gone. Telling ourselves that it’s “too late” or we “can’t do anything”, is an excuse for an unwillingness to try.

When we are easily controlled or influenced, our spirit and purpose is hijacked. We are distracted and diverted from our true predestined path when entities attempt to change us. We do not deserve this interference in our destiny. But if we stay off course indefinitely, we do so willingly, because no one can take away our free will. Being influenced requires consent at some stage. No matter how difficult it may be to stand firm in one’s own beliefs when broken, standing alone, ridiculed, shamed, and threatened, it is nonetheless possible. It requires strength.

Ordinary moments test us. When we feel uncomfortable in a conversation, are we strong enough to do the right thing? Are we resolutely silent when it is best to let an issue go, and honestly outspoken when it’s best to intervene? Do we do the right thing even when it’s difficult, or do we submit to the cowardice of the moment? Do we let the fatigue of the era overwhelm us, or do we dig in deep and persevere?

It may seem inconsequential, but even the smallest decision matters. The energy of our individual strength rises to empower us collectively. We are not a collective, who do not matter as individuals. We are individuals who make an extraordinary impact collectively. If we are individually fearful, beaten, broken, hopeless, discouraged, depressed, sullen, resentful, bitter, and hostile, we drown each other. If we are individually strong, we bring peace to all.

One of the truest paths to peace is for individuals to nurture their personal human strength and potential for courage. Be strong in mind, body, and spirit. A healthy and positive outlook generates energy. This energy creates an unwavering desire to remain free. Tyranny has no fertile ground for roots to grab hold when the garden of our soul is built on solid rock. Choosing to be free is that rock.

When standing in even the smallest of crossroads, making what seems like an insignificant decision about whether to get exercise or skip it, whether to eat a nutritionally healthy lunch or not, whether to work passionately on a project or slump through the hours, whether to take time for a real conversation with a loved one or mutter unimportant things we’ll never remember later, whether to wear the clothes we save for “good” or pick something from the dull front part of our closet, whether to plant or uproot what has been planted, whether to do something extraordinary today, or not…  imagine an eagle and a dove in flight. There are no small decisions. Every act of integrity adds more light to the winning column for humanity. Choosing to be positive is act of integrity. It takes effort. It takes strength. If others may mock you for it, it even takes bravery.

Peace of mind, body, and spirit comes through strength of character. It comes through the courage of standing in our personal, highly individual values; values that have these points in common: integrity, empathy and mercy. It comes through the bravery and energy we put into everyday decisions to choose hope, joy, love and freedom. Be as a dove, by first becoming an eagle.

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