Painting Memories

"My Daughter Reading in the Butterfly Garden"

The first oil painting I ever did is the portrait above, “My Daughter Reading in the Butterfly Garden“. She’s long outgrown that yellow dress, and storybooks like the one she’s reading here, but the memories live on in paint. We had to sell that beautiful property years ago, so that too is bittersweet, but in our memories we can travel back to the places we once called home, and go back in time to when our family lived there.

In the short time-lapse video below of “My Son Jumping in Leaves“, my son is on that same land, a hobby farm in rural Minnesota. I can almost hear him laughing!

When comparing and contrasting the two paintings, notice how a poignant memory, frozen in time, can be depicted equally by a subject that is peacefully at rest (sitting, reading, or otherwise still) and by a subject that is caught in mid-action (like jumping in a pile of leaves). Action is shown through blurred lines and thick strokes, high contrast, a simple color palette and heavy texture. Stillness is shown through softer colors, smoother brush strokes, many varied colors, and greater detail.

Memories of good times

This last example is another painted memory, but my family and I aren’t in the painting. That’s because we are on the other side, looking in. This was our view of cheery graffiti one fine beach day when we walked across a pier at Tybee Island, so far away from our home and life we’d had to leave behind.

The oil painting “I Love Life” captures that moment when I was taking a picture of this happy message, and a shadow caught my eye… it was one of my daughters taking a picture of this same scene, at the same time. Here we were, making new memories in a new favorite place.

A few minutes after our pause on the pier, we joined the people at the beach. So, you might say that we stepped inside this painting, or that I painted a glimpse of our then-future and now-past. And, when I see this painting, it all comes back to me, or perhaps it moves forward.

When we stand in that space between the past and the future, the past might be represented like these old pier planks: weathered, faded, and yet still standing. We can see the future just ahead, in the endless, limitless ocean. When painting concepts like the past and the future, color choices such as brown (earthy, past) and blue (heavenly, future) can help tell the story. Concepts such as letting go, moving on, and positive thinking can be told through brush strokes, color choices, textures, stillness or action, complementary styles and contrasts.

May we make peace with the past, look forward to the future, and let our present self say, “I love life.”

More than Sparrows

Mythical Blue Cardinal

Beauty of Time

Painting Miracles

Miracle Dancer” is an oil painting that tells the story of when I was 15 and recovering from a white water rafting accident. About two hours after I was out of the water I had an odd type of seizure. I didn’t lose consciousness and the convulsions were only from the waist down (just my legs). But the effect of this left me so weak that it was difficult not only to walk, but I had slurred speech and my arms were weak as well. The seizures got worse, daily, and lasted longer. I was hospitalized for weeks, then released with no improvement. Months later (I was then 16) I overheard a doctor say, “One day she won’t get out of that (wheel)chair again.” I refused to believe that. Long story, but I worked hard and danced in my next recital- and earned a trophy too! Life’s stories of hardship and triumph are told through the language of art when words alone can’t express what we feel.

Color expresses the duality of hardship and miracles, as the contrast between somber darks and ghostly lights tells the story. Blue is a color of the natural world, but looks haunting in this painting- as if an unhappy outcome exists in an alternate reality. The dancer’s pink shoes ring out as cheerful in this otherwise gloomy scene. The dancer is moving toward the light, which could mean many things. Some may see her as leaving the pain of this world (eternally), but my intention was to show a return to living an active full life (as if escaping a deadened spirit in which I never dance again). The swirling motion of the paint strokes create action, representing both the movement of the dancer and the change in life circumstance.

Miracle of Life“, has a similar brush stroke pattern of swirling shapes (like “Miracle Dancer” above), as if a mighty wind or supernatural force is interacting with the elements of the painting. But here, there is the addition of earth tones (green, brown, flesh) and very few darks. The duality isn’t between pain and joy, but between the organic, spiritual aspect, and the scientific, logical. Painting rounded shapes and subtle shades represents the spiritual and organic, while rigid lines and stark contrast depicts the scientific and logical.

In this last example, the concepts of “Miracle”, duality, spiritually, life, and death are depicted by heavenly yellows, golden tones, and warmer shades. “The Miracle Dulcimer” exists only as a book for now, but I plan to one day develop this as a painting, probably with the full instrument and a more involved landscape. The current landscape shown on the book cover is cropped from a photograph I took on the hobby farm where I once lived. This sky is what I saw when Mom was still alive, and when my husband made this gorgeous musical instrument for her. That story is one that I’d like to tell in paint one day, but probably not for a couple of years. I’ve painted a lot of that type of work (relating to grief and hardship). I’m now in a resting space of letting go, moving on, and settling in to my new life. When I’m ready to revisit those memories, I’ll create the painting that is in me; it’s just waiting for the right time.

“Jesus at the Table”

“50 Oil Paintings Inspired by my Christian Faith”

Jesus at the Table oil painting by Natalie Buske Thomas

Collection of 50 works of art: a coffee table book, fashion, prints, and videos

From Natalie: “There is always enough room for you at Jesus’ table. Come as you are. Spiritual blessings will never run out.”

Matthew 14:14-21 When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick. As evening approached, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food.” Jesus replied, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.” “We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered. “Bring them here to me,” he said. And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children.

Watch Natalie paint this art (scroll down this page). Order gallery quality prints, here:

Jesus at the Table oil painting by Natalie Buske Thomas

Small Print “Jesus at the Table”

All small prints are approximately 8 x 10. Giclee Somerset Velvet Fine Art paper. Free shipping. No frame.

$33.50

Jesus at the Table oil painting by Natalie Buske Thomas

Medium Print “Jesus at the Table”

All medium prints are approximately 16 x 20. Giclee Somerset Velvet Fine Art paper. Free shipping. No frame.

$65.50

Jesus at the Table oil painting by Natalie Buske Thomas

Large Print “Jesus at the Table”

All large prints are approximately 24 x 30. Giclee Somerset Velvet Fine Art paper. Free shipping. No frame.

$98.50

Watch Natalie paint “Jesus at the Table”

Painting Shows

Good news! Painting shows are now a regular event. Current painting shows are HERE, moved to a permanent page for adding new episodes.

Enjoy!

“Grandpa Smiles” Videos

Watch me paint the illustrations for children’s book Grandpa Smiles

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“Flying to Heaven”

Watch Natalie paint this illustration from children’s book “Grandpa Smiles”

“This art (‘Flying to Heaven’) is the eighth illustration for my first oil painting book Grandpa Smiles, published in 2014. It is a short sweet inspirational and comforting children’s book about losing a grandparent. A family’s love is forever.”

NOTE: There are several more oil paintings featured in the book that do not have videos:

  1. The boy’s karate class attire and backpack
  2. His shoes
  3. Profile of the boy as preteen and teen
  4. Portrait of the boy’s grandparents on the wall

Items 2-3 were done on scrap flatboard. Item 4 was a previous painting for a gallery exhibit.

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“Cardinal in a Tree”

Watch Natalie paint this illustration from children’s book “Grandpa Smiles”

“This art (‘Cardinal in a Tree’) is the seventh illustration for my first oil painting book Grandpa Smiles, published in 2014. It is a short sweet inspirational and comforting children’s book about losing a grandparent. A family’s love is forever.”

Read “Grandpa Smiles” in this 2 minute video version
Visit the Menu of Painting Shows, Videos and FREE Classes

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“Hospital”

Watch Natalie paint this illustration from children’s book “Grandpa Smiles”

“This art (‘Hospital’) is the fifth illustration for my first oil painting book Grandpa Smiles, published in 2014. It is a short sweet inspirational and comforting children’s book about losing a grandparent. A family’s love is forever.”

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“Flutters By”

Watch Natalie paint this illustration from children’s book “Grandpa Smiles”

“This art (‘Flutters By’) is the third illustration for my first oil painting book Grandpa Smiles, published in 2014. It is a short sweet inspirational and comforting children’s book about losing a grandparent. A family’s love is forever.”

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“The Toddler Creeps”

Watch Natalie paint this illustration from children’s book “Grandpa Smiles”

“This art (‘The Toddler Creeps’) is the second illustration for my first oil painting book Grandpa Smiles, published in 2014. It is a short sweet inspirational and comforting children’s book about losing a grandparent. A family’s love is forever.”

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