New Painting – “Cardinal in July”

See my new cardinal oil painting “Cardinal in July” come alive in 2 minutes (time lapse video). I have lost track of how many cardinals I’ve painted, but I know this won’t be the last one. Cardinals are a recurring theme in my life and I know that many of you find special meaning, healing, hope, peace, and serendipitous sightings of them also. Those who have lost a loved one often report mysterious interactions with cardinals and healing spiritual experiences. If seeing a cardinal painting helps you feel inspired, I am happy to keep painting them.

If you are a subscriber to my blog viewing from your e-mail, you may have to click thru directly to this post to see the video. I’ll put together a singing video of the lyrics of the instrumental hymn used in the painting video and post that soon. You might already be familiar with it, as it is a popular old hymn called “When Peace Like a River (it is well)”.

I hope all is well with you and your family. It’s a hot summer here in Georgia, USA and the time is going by fast. Because the world is so chaotic, it’s good to keep busy and remain hopeful for the future by focusing on the good things. Stay strong. God bless you.

Collaborating Artists

Watch me paint “Geese” in 1 minute (time lapse)

Do you remember when I shared this painting? It’s a relatively new one, from April (New Painting – Honk!). The story behind this is that two geese were visiting the lagoon behind our house every day for a week or so. My daughter and I were enchanted by them. I thought about painting them but hadn’t gotten around to taking a photo for reference. Meanwhile, she had drawn the geese while watching them from her upstairs bedroom window.

I asked her if I could use her brilliant artwork as a painting reference and I imitated her style. It was a new experience to paint in my daughter’s art style, and fun to bond with her in this way. Collaborating with other artists pushes us outside of our own habits and awakens unexplored areas of our brains. It’s even better when we share art with people we love.

My geese oil painting (below) and my daughter’s sketch (above).

She told me I can keep the sketch, and I am happy to have it. It’s taped to my computer tower so that I can see it every day. What a special memory of admiring the same beauty and mystery of nature, and spontaneously wanting to create a representation of it… then inspiring art from one (her) to another (me)! When the geese turned up out of the blue, spending peaceful days with us for a short blessed while, they gave us a gift of inspiration and shared creativity.

Be like these wild geese… be ready to fly to somewhere new (perhaps metaphorically and spiritually, not necessarily through physical travel) and inspire those you visit along the way. When we believe that one good thing is meant to connect and inspire another good thing, we manifest what we believe. Good things come to those who believe, connect, and create (act). Standing still gets us nowhere. Be a wild goose!

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What do People Say about You?

Imagine that you can listen in to what people are saying about you. Perhaps, like me, you CAN. Maybe you have keyboard critics all over the world who leave reviews and comments about you on all major platforms. If so, do you read them? Why or why not?

I was recently updating my books page, and I visited the free “Grandpa Smiles” version on Google Play. I didn’t know there were so many reviews, and I started reading them. I was overwhelmed by the outpouring of praise. Then I stopped reading, even thought their words were very kind.

I don’t often read reviews, after learning the hard way that it’s demoralizing to read hateful comments (not constructive criticism, but purely nasty remarks for no purpose other than to destroy/cancel someone else’s creative work) and it affects my ability to work mostly for free day after day toward long term goals. I become distracted from my purpose and even begin to doubt that it’s worth putting my heart and soul into this journey.

Curiously, I felt equally uncomfortable reading positive reviews by strangers. I was eavesdropping! If they wanted me to hear their comments, my contact information is easy to find – it’s even inside the very book that they were reviewing. When they post their thoughts on the review page, that’s not really an invitation for me to join in. That’s the place for readers/viewers to talk among themselves. So, I stopped reading.

It was enough to see at a glance that my special book is appreciated and has given comfort to people who needed it. I can hold that in my heart and remind myself that what I do matters, and that I make a difference. On days when I am exhausted, in pain, or discouraged, I can remember that my efforts are worth it. But, I really need to stay away from seeing what people are saying about me.

What do people say about you, and why should you avoid listening? To answer that question, we must ask ourselves whose approval we live for. If we live for the approval of others, who are these “others”? How much power do we give complete strangers? How much power do we give to acquaintances, neighbors, coworkers, friends, and family?

"...take no heed unto all words that are spoken; lest thou hear thy servant curse thee: For oftentimes also thine own heart knoweth that thou thyself likewise hast cursed others."
- Ecclesiastes 7: 21-22 KJV

That quote is from a section of the Bible that is labeled “Limits of Human Wisdom”. I’m not sure if I interpreted what I read in way that is standard, but I what I took away from this is that it’s not wise to listen to what people say about us. We are all guilty of unfair and unkind thoughts, sometimes uttered aloud, and other times wisely kept to ourselves. When we eavesdrop on what others say about us, we may not like what we hear, but I think more importantly we need to understand why it’s damaging to let the opinions of others influence us- even if they say something nice.

The Bible seems to describe being cursed by others as part of an ordinary human experience. Humans both curse and are cursed by others, and apparently these curses bring us no wisdom. What they do, is distract us from our purpose.

In this way, I believe that unless someone is speaking intentionally to us, we shouldn’t eavesdrop on positive comments either. Why? Because by doing so, we elevate “what people think” above wiser sources of motivation. If we are motivated by the approval of others, we are standing on shifting sand. If we are motivated by a higher calling that no person can distract us from, we stand on rock.

Advice, suggestions, and warm praise are positive things, but should never take the place of our own voice. Stay true to your path, no matter who attempts to destroy you. And when you overhear praise, don’t let it distract you. Our purpose is not determined by the limited wisdom of humanity, who often gets it wrong, even when they’re saying good things. 

Don’t do more of this, because others say so, or less of that, because others say so. Ask people you trust for advice when you want help, and read the words of those who inspire and motivate you. But resist listening to random, unexpected or unreliable opinions, some of which weren’t even intended for us to hear.

Watch me paint this art from Grandpa Smiles in 48 seconds

(time lapse)

There’s wisdom in the advice from famous people who say that they never read their reviews. Replace the words “read their reviews” with the phrase “listen to what people say about them”. Apply this to your life in any way that it fits. Trust yourself. Lean on a higher power, not the limited wisdom of humans. We’re all just muddling through life; we can get it wrong. If you know you’re doing what’s best for you, put on your spiritual noise-cancelling headphones and keep dancing.

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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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Trapper John

First, the oil painting, then the story behind it… make sure you don’t miss the Trapper John video I filmed from the safety of inside my house!

Watch me paint this Gator art in under 2 minutes (time lapse)

“We get gators in the lagoon behind our house. Trapper John came out and removed a big alligator using a pole, his bare hands, and duct tape. I watched the adventure from inside the house, through the glass patio doors. When the gator was safely bound and loaded onto the back of his truck, I went outside and asked if it was OK to take pictures. Trapper John moved the gator so that I could get a good shot. The gator’s tail felt like an underinflated tire- rubbery, squishy, and oddly soft. The police officer on the scene said- after I touched the gator- that he was surprised the alligator was being so docile. The officer was amused by my photo shoot. He said, “Welcome to Georgia.” Besides gators, we also have snakes. There was a small one inside our house, which gave me a phobia of lying on the floor. No more yoga for me! There was a large one outside our house, which gave me a phobia of mowing the lawn. Now I wear boots or ask my husband to do it. One day I was filming a cute little toad and my husband pranked me by pretending to see a snake. He laughed about that for entirely too long. Well, a few weeks later, he came in from mowing with a sheepish look on his face. He thought I’d seen him jump a mile when he saw a snake in the grass. No, I’d missed that, but I can imagine it and it’s a safe bet that I’ll have another opportunity to see it.”

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

Update to the above story…

I bought my husband some cowboy boots for Christmas!

Watch Trapper John remove an alligator from the lagoon behind our house! (I’m filming this from a safe distance)

He looks like he’s being arrested… hopefully before he’s committed any crimes. A woman was recently killed by an alligator. It’s rare that humans are attacked, but small dogs are sometimes victims. Best to remove alligators that wander into populated areas! There is a wildlife preserve just a few miles from here. The gators roam safely and freely there.

See previous post for more backyard art: Painting Reptiles and Amphibians

I hope you’re enjoying my new blog series, “Stories that Inspire my Art”. There are many, many more stories to tell! I’ll post these daily, but if you prefer not to check back to see if there’s something new, please subscribe to my blog to be notified when there’s a new blog post ready.

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New Blog Series

Yesterday’s blog post was the final installment of the series “Compare 3“, in which three oil paintings are compared to a theme. My blog will host Irish art and my painting show over the next couple of days, but after St. Patrick’s Day, I’ll launch the new blog series “Stories that Inspire my Art“.

Stories will include videos such as when Trapper John dragged an alligator out of the lagoon, inspiring “Gator and Snake“. You won’t want to miss it. Sad and poignant, bittersweet, loving, sweet stories… and funny, whimsical, and uplifting ones too.

But, before we move on…

If you missed any of the 35 posts in the previous blog series, here is the complete list for “Compare 3“:

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