This is the short time lapse version of one of the featured paintings in Christmas Show 2021 (the full 45 minute variety show with painting, singing and dancing is available on this site, YouTube, and BitChute). This nativity scene is larger than the one I’ve done in the past, as this one includes more than the central figures of Joseph, Mary, and baby Jesus. Added are the wise men, shepherds, animals (cow, donkey, sheep) and angel. The Christmas star is included in both paintings.
I hope that you are enjoying a peaceful time with your loved ones, as we reflect on what Christmas means to us as individuals, and as we participate in our family traditions. Speaking of traditions, old and new: Tonight was the last surprise meal for our Secret Santa game. I said yesterday that I’d talk with you about that, so here it is: our youngest daughter made chicken gnocchi, and it was DELICIOUS!
We had a wonderful Secret Santa exchange this year and now we have gourmet leftovers to help us through the busy day tomorrow. I hope our family has inspired you to give this idea a try sometime. The week leading up to Christmas is a good time for families to share the cooking and try new special dishes.
Tomorrow is already Christmas Eve! I wish all of you peace, love, and joy. God bless you and your families.
Please subscribe to my blog to get notified about new posts.
Watch Natalie paint this art in 2 minutes (time lapse)
“Nativity Scene” is part of the 2022 collection “Seasons” (of life and nature) and debuted as a featured painting in Christmas Show 2021. Paintings in this collection celebrate seasons of life (metaphorical, representational, or inspired-by-real-life scenes about milestones, rites of passage, traditions, holidays, and shared human experiences of love, aging, family, and beyond) as well as seasons of nature (literal scenes depicting autumn, summer, fall, and winter). This painting will be published in the book “25 Oil Paintings Inspired by Seasons”.
In my blog post called “Season of Advent” I told you that I had a lot on my heart about Advent, but my story would have to wait because it was a long day and I was going to bed. Tonight I will try to put into words what I’m feeling. Those of you who have been following me for a while already know the story of this oil painting, but I’ll summarize it (and yet it will still take a long time to tell even the short version).
I painted this before I became a full time oil painter. You can probably tell that my setup was primitive. My art board kept sliding and falling because it was on a flimsy table-top easel. I didn’t have good lighting, and I filmed this with my old camcorder that didn’t have HD. But my heart was into this painting, more so than many of my others that would follow.
Dad died when he was 37, Mom died 25 years later. Both died from slow, torturing terminal illnesses. I was in my bedroom that shared my parents’ bedroom wall when Dad was dying from cancer in his room. I knew it was the end, and I tried not to listen, alone in my room while the relatives were with Hospice on the other side of the wall. Many years later, I was my mom’s caregiver. So, I experienced the deaths of both of my parents and both died traumatically. As in, these were not sudden deaths or dying-in-sleep deaths, but slow deaths that ended only after wishing it was over, and then feeling crushing guilt for feeling such a horrible thing. I could speak volumes about this, and maybe one day I will, as I think it could help others going through watching a loved one die. But that day is not today. I’ll move on:
When Mom was dying, she talked about Dad and her memories went back to when they were young and dating. When she died, it was like Dad died all over again, like they’d both gone together. No one (but me) would ever tell his stories again, as no one in my circle had ever met him. He was gone before I met my husband. The loss of my parents made my soul ache in a way I never knew was possible.
A few physical, tangible things remain, that prove their existence in this world. One of those is the Nativity set that they made together. Mom poured the ceramic molds to create the figures. Dad hand painted them. I was inspired to paint the main figures of the set as an oil painting representation (the art at the top of this blog post).
My story will now abruptly switch gears. This (the images and video of my Nativity painting) is the art that BLM/Antifa conspired to delete from my website. At the time, I had very few visitors to my website, so it was very obvious what had happened. But, just in case it wasn’t clear, they made sure to upload a snarky devil cartoon in place of the blog post and art that they deleted. This was part of a larger terror campaign against me and many others in January 2017 (and this sort of thing- and worse- continues to happen to this day). I had done nothing wrong. I was just on a list of names of people who had supported an independent social media platform (one that I later quit, and never had any real association with other than enjoying posting my art there and making friendly connections). Anyway, rather than get too far into this, I want to focus only on how it affected me to be targeted, afraid that they’d go after my kids, and how violating it was that they deleted my art.
It was a spiritual attack. My parents were both cremated. I have no grave to visit. I have no flowers to lay down. My painting was a memorial tribute to them. My website at the time had few eyes ever on it, so it was such a shock when my site was invaded and my files were rummaged through. I’d told the story about my parents in that blog. Who could be so heartless as to delete it? No empathy? No human warmth?
I had done nothing to these people. I didn’t even know who they were. I was no threat to them. I was a broken, grieving person who was experiencing the loss of my husband’s and my own jobs, the uprooting of our family, having to sell what we built and believed to be our “forever” home, watching our kids take pictures of their favorite climbing tree and every room of their childhood house (the house in the above pictures)… while we were headed for years of rental homes and instability as we worked to rebuild our lives.
We are still not fully arrived into our new lives, but we are nearly there. My husband went back to college and there was an internship period as well, so it’s been a long road. But he is now on the last leg of it. I too am “nearly there” in my new vocation. As we move into this season, there’s a lot to reflect upon and a lot to look forward to. When sold our home, we also sold most of our possessions to finance the rebuilding of our lives. None of the things from the above photos are ours anymore, except for the Nativity set and each other. So, this particular set by my parents is very dear to me, as well as nativity scenes in general for their spiritual meaning.
Advent is a time of year when many Christians go through a time of serious reflection and joyful expectation. Like I mentioned, I went through a prolonged period of deep reflection and hope that lasted several years, and it was during that time when the “activists”, sponsored by my own government, put me on a target list. I was frightened that they’d find my kids on campus, as they knew their faces and where I lived. I didn’t know how far they’d take the terror campaign against the people on their list.
Yet, even then, what struck me the most was the deletion of my Nativity painting. Something inside me changed that day. I learned who I am, and I am a fighter. I believe strongly in honoring life, both on this side of it and beyond. I will never give in, give up, or back down. I will not be silenced. I will not be defined by others, by a collective, a mob, a cult, or a government. I am an individual. I am sovereign. My motives are my own, based on my life experiences that are unique to me. I will not be judged or condemned by those who have no spiritual authority over me. I will not lay down my paintbrushes. I will never stop reflecting on what was, nor will I ever stop expecting joy in the future.
The season of Advent brings out the Nativity scenes, and I will never be able to experience this in the same way again. It is highly personal, and the spiritual connection is much stronger than it ever was. And because of this, I am currently working on a new Nativity oil painting. I hope you will connect with it, and feel the beauty of peace, reflection, and anticipation of joy- in this life, and beyond. No amount of hate can stop this love. It is a gift for all who wish to receive it. God bless you and your family.
Subscribe to my blog (get notifications in your email when I have a new post)
Read Natalie’s story about this art (scroll down this page). Order gallery quality prints, here:
Small Print “Nativity”
All small prints are approximately 8 x 10. Giclee Somerset Velvet Fine Art paper. Free shipping. No frame.
Medium Print “Nativity”
All medium prints are approximately 16 x 20. Giclee Somerset Velvet Fine Art paper. Free shipping. No frame.
Large Print “Nativity”
All large prints are approximately 24 x 30. Giclee Somerset Velvet Fine Art paper. Free shipping. No frame.
“This art changed my life. It was deleted by a leftist hate/”activist” group that I was able to trace to funding by our own (USA) government through liberal organizations/”protesters”. I could talk about that connection for a long time, but that’s not what I want to say here. I want to talk about the moment when I saw a snarky devil cartoon on my website, where my Nativity blog used to be.
I had blogged about how this art was inspired by my dead parents’ handmade ceramic set that Mom poured into molds and Dad painted. I treasure that set, which was broken during a hardship move, and glued back together… just like me. I was broken and glued back together.
Being blacklisted, incited against, and threatened by my own government’s anonymous hateful henchmen was spirit crushing, and terrifying. I stayed off social media for nearly a year, even though I need to be active online if I want to be a serious artist. I was demoralized and afraid. The threats were scary, as they knew where I lived and what my children look like; they’d hacked into my private account files on the server. I felt that any anon person could be another who hated me and wanted to ruin everything I work for.
One hater said, ‘Good thing your father didn’t live to see you grow up.’ Dad served two tours in the Vietnam War, got cancer as a young man in his 20’s. Beat it. It came back. He lost his battle at age 37. I watched him die a painful death of great suffering.
Years later, I was my Mom’s caregiver. I watched her die too young after much suffering, that ended in a very dramatic experience of hospital neglect, in which I sang her favorite hymn, over and over, to her unconscious body as they worked her tiny frail chest with paddles, breaking her ribs and trying to bring her back for so long that I thought I couldn’t bear it a minute longer.
So… When they deleted my art, it felt personal, as intended, but I knew these were communist tactics and they didn’t know me at all. I was just another insignificant target on their list of thousands. I had done nothing wrong, but they were after me anyway, and would anyone notice or care that they were doing this to individuals like me? (No)
I reported the target list, the incitement, the hacking, etc., with evidence (I saved everything they did to me and also showed what I found via a simple search of public info), to many reporters, DHS, WH, others- no one responded. I was on my own. I went through a rough time, but it was a reflective time, and I emerged from it stronger.
Nothing will make me quit now. When I returned, I set my mind on creating 100 paintings. I did it. I have well over that now. My lifetime goal is 1,000. I will do that too- watch me. They thought they could erase me, make me quit. They could not. I was broken, but glued back together- just like this Nativity set.”