Plant your Flag

Watch me paint “Flag on Mars” in 2 minutes (time lapse)

“The excitement of ‘heavenly realms’ has inspired people for hundreds of years. When our United States President (President Donald Trump) cheered that we’ll one day plant our flag on Mars, it created quite an image of the thrill of discovery and awe in God’s universe. Today as in Biblical days of old, the creation of the world and the mysteries that lie in the heavenly realms are beyond our comprehension. Looking upward, pining to touch the beautiful lights and colors, is perhaps one of the best ways to appreciate the vastness of God.”

                                             -from book “50 Oil Paintings Inspired by my Christian Faith” by artist Natalie Buske Thomas

A 2020 article in Newsweek, Love for the Flag Explains the Iwo Jima Memorial’s Power states:

“What Europeans fail to understand is that, to most Americans, the flag means much more than mere nationhood. It is a symbol of virtues they believe to be universal: hope, freedom, justice and democracy. Between 1941 and 1945, Americans watched the progress of their flag across Europe and the Pacific, saw liberation spreading in its wake, and knew that they were doing something remarkable. After the war they were magnanimous to those they had defeated, nursing their economies back to health, and quickly handing them back their independence. This is the final meaning of the Iwo Jima memorial: when an American soldier plants a flag on foreign soil it is not an act of domination, but of liberation.

Americans understand this instinctively. That is why, since 1945, America has paraded its flag so proudly in Korea, Vietnam, Grenada, Somalia and Afghanistan. It is why, during the liberation of Baghdad in 2003, a modern Marine climbed the statue of Saddam Hussein in Firdos Square and wrapped a U.S. flag around his face. Americans believe passionately in the values they promote, which are no different from the values for which they fought the Second World War.

Unfortunately, other parts of the world see things rather differently. However glorious an American flag seems when flown in the U.S., it begins to look very different when planted on foreign soil.”

Just as in other countries, the American people are NOT their government, nor are they represented by activists, actors, or any other type of celebrity. Each citizen is an individual. Therefore, the feelings that an American has toward the United States flag are also individual, and likely deeply personal based on childhood memories, religious values, social experiences, and political influences.

As an inspirational metaphor, planting your flag is about finding and achieving your purpose, story, and legacy. Your personal liberation may be in the area of relationships, career, vocation, life goals, or any other passion. The pursuit of happiness is the right of all human beings. 

When Americans proudly wave their red, white and blue flag, it may not mean anything political. It could be deeply spiritual, connecting one human heart to another. Planting your flag may be a celebration of what it means to be free.

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Cardinal Promise

First the oil paintings then the stories behind them. Don’t miss the beautiful real life video update filmed just yesterday! Grab a cuppa, settle in and enjoy. 

The first cardinal I painted was for Grandpa Smiles, a children’s book about my son and my late father who died long before he was born. Dad was only thirty seven when he died from cancer after serving two tours in the Vietnam War. He didn’t live to see me grow up. And yet, his life made a significant impact on mine, and on my son’s.

When I was a child attending Dad’s memorial service I remember thinking, “Who are all of these people, and why are they coming to our (private) service?” The church was packed. The speaker said things about Dad that sounded like he led a whole life that didn’t include me, and I wasn’t aware of.

Years later when my husband was deployed to the war in Iraq, I left Germany where he was stationed and came “home” (I don’t really have a home, as I’ve moved around so much, but I went back to the town where I spent most of my school years). I got a job at the same factory where my father had once worked. Except he had been a manager in the offices and I was working second shift as a factory worker in assembly (a story for another day).

While working at the factory, I ran into people who had known my father. They were eager to tell me stories about things he had done. I had never known any of what they were telling me. Hearing it for the first time was as if they were talking about a stranger. It was a strange feeling to realize that Dad had been living a secret life.

 

It was clear that these people not only remembered my dad, but held him in high esteem, with an almost hero legacy. They told me stories of good things he had done, how he’d helped people and even financed getting someone back on their feet again (Dad was not a wealthy man). All of this was kept secret because Mom would have been livid if she’d known that he used some of the family finances on other people. 

I wish he’d have told me, but he DID tell me. He told me through the good things that he did in his life, that remained to be shown to me long after he died. That’s what happens to goodness and truth: it remains. It becomes a legacy to follow.

Watch me paint “Cardinals” in under a minute (time lapse)

The next cardinal I painted (in the video above) was years later, a pair, male and female. This was for the children’s book “Bird Days“, my last children’s’ book. I later left children’s book illustration behind as I launched into my “inspired by” oil painting series for the adult market. “Cardinals” was included in the book “50 Oil Paintings Inspired by my Christian Faith“. 

 

 

The painting “Cardinals” became one of my most popular paintings, especially as it has deep personal meaning for people who have lost loved ones. But even without that profound connection, others see cardinals as a symbol of hope, faith and promise. Still others simply enjoy the quiet beauty of cardinals and feel peace at the sighting of one, whether in real life or in paint.

My third cardinal painting features cardinals on my patio feeder in “Come to the Garden“, which I blogged about recently in the post called “Quiet Joy“. Now I’ll pull a quote from this painting’s description from the book, because it’s time for a real life video update.

"The birds don’t usually come around all at once... ...The tree on the right is the butterfly tree that I showed you in a previous painting. The shepherd’s hook is there, with the bird feeder below it. The cardinals sometimes pose exactly like this. We’ve changed things up a bit since I did this painting. We’ve added a red tower for smaller birds, that’s supposed to attract the elusive migratory Painted Bunting I showed you earlier. We’ll see, come spring!"

- from book "50 Oil Paintings Inspired by my Christian Faith" by artist Natalie Buske Thomas

So, as you know… the elusive Painted Bunting DID return, and has been a regular visitor every season since! I’ve blogged about him several times, including just yesterday:

 

Well, after I blogged yesterday I saw the painted bunting again, and tried for (and got!) better footage, which I’ll show you… but this isn’t the video I was excited about… that’s coming later! But watch this short clip first.

Oh and this one too… very short, only 24 seconds.

THIS is the video I’m excited to show you. Remember when I said, “the birds don’t usually show up all at once”? Well, sometimes they DO, and when that happens, it’s GLORIOUS! 

Graced by the promise of a cardinal, overwhelmed by the beauty of an elusive painted bunting, and cheered by a diminutive chatty hummingbird, how can one not feel certain of a divine plan after seeing this? Surely we are loved, by a Father who keeps many secrets, but reveals them in truth. The goodness we see is the legacy that teaches us how to live. The pursuit of happiness begins with openness, continues with kindness, and is fulfilled in acts of love.

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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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Read More »

Back to Work! Session 3

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Today’s Painting

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Hymn for Cardinal Painting

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Hymn for Lighthouse Painting

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