New Painting – “Alabama Landscape”

Watch me paint this art in less than 2 minutes (time lapse video)

Here we are, in mid September, and I’m relieved we got through the past few weeks without any hurricanes. This art was inspired by a place we visited in Alabama a few years ago when evacuation orders were issued for Savannah, Georgia and surrounding areas (we were in nearby Port Wentworth at that time). It was a nerve-wracking abrupt forced mini vacation, but we came back to minimal damage, and glad to get back to our lives. We made family memories while waiting for the storm to pass and that’s what endures.

As often happens, this art can be taken at face value or on a deeper spiritual value. During the storms of life, we can keep our hearts and minds in a dangerous place, or we can seek higher ground and wait (upon the Lord) for the storm to pass. Whatever hardship you may be going through, I wish you peace, courage, and the stamina to have faith even when struggling through grief or fear. We can’t control when a storm will come upon us, but we may be amazed at where we could end up. Instead of facing darkness from power outages, howling winds, and flood-inducing rains, we stood under sunny skies on top of a mountainous land, gazing at quiet beauty. That’s how I imagine spiritual peace looks.

God bless you and keep you, this day and always.

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 and you can see the whole thing in the 2 minute time lapse video (above). The beautiful song in the video is called “Where Can I Turn for Peace”. When I have a free moment, I’d like to sing that for you with my oldest daughter- the little girl in the painting who is now all grown up. My painting was inspired by a warm day when the road in front of our house flooded and she enjoyed walking in the puddle.

Oil painting “Walking in a Puddle” by artist Natalie Buske Thomas

It’s making me a little teary-eyed to see my girl in this painting, as I’ve captured her body language and the familiar way that her favorite dress hung, her hair when it was loose and free, her dainty legs, arms, and posture. It brings back that day, and I miss when she was that age. But I wouldn’t trade who is she is now for the past. I’d miss my adult daughter much more! I cherish who she is. Hold your family close. Every day is fleeting and precious. God bless you and yours.

Back to Work! Session 3

Well, it’s time to get back to work on the new painting in progress. Normally I wait until the painting is finished before sharing, but sometimes I share each session at a time so that you can see the progress (in the time lapse video above). If you missed Session 1 and 2, those are already on the blog. Here’s Session 3 that I did today. I took several days off to work on other things and to enjoy family time. I hope everyone is doing well and your September is a blessed one!

Session 3’s work on oil painting (my daughter when she was little and the road outside our house had minor flooding) “Walking in a Puddle” – I’ll wrap this up soon, one or two more sessions. I may finish it tomorrow, we’ll see how it goes.

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!

This is what I did today (2 minute time lapse video at top of the page), session 2 of the new painting in progress. I posted session 1 earlier on the blog, if you missed it: Session 1 of “Walking in a Rain Puddle”. I’ll explain a bit more about how I’m doing this project, and how I typically work in general.

Session 1: I did what I call “blocking”. That’s when I paint all the basic shapes in large blocks of color. I usually cover the entire canvas during the first session, and this means my painting is planned- all mapped out. I often start with the main subject of the painting, which is usually near the center (this breaks art school rules, but it’s what I like), and then work around it, since the main feature is what I most want to make sure fits on the canvas without running out of space, painting too small, etc.

Session 2: I added the next layer, which allows me to shape things up. This is really important when creating a likeness of an animal or a person that you’d want the viewer to be able to identify. In this painting, since my daughter’s face doesn’t show, it’s all about her body language and even the slightest departure from the angles and shapes can throw things off. I was pleased that my family (I didn’t tell them what I was painting) recognized this is my firstborn daughter when she was little, from yesterday’s session when there was only blocking (few details). That means I got her unique posture, shape of hair as it fell forward, body language, etc. close enough to be recognizable to people who know this person. But after today, it’s now very obvious who it is because there are details that give it away completely as I fine-tuned the shapes and her clothing. At this point they’d know it from the appearance of her dress alone (since this was a favorite dress and they’d remember it), which is somewhat cheating, so I’m happy that they knew her from the first day, before there were “giveaway” details.

Session 3 (and possibly 4 or 5; some paintings have many more): Bringing the painting to a close means adding a detail layer(s) with more highlights, shadows, and crisp fine lines, dots, dashes, fan brush, texture. I try to move through my projects quickly, especially when falling behind the painting count for the year, but if a painting deserves more time, I will add multiple finishing detail sessions until it reaches a level that I’m ok with stopping. Some artists struggle with knowing when to stop, and I was like that too until I developed a formula that helps me decide. If I’m meant to crank the painting out quickly, I give myself a 3-session limit. If I can, I finish it in 2, but it usually takes three, given the way that I paint, as I’ve outlined above. With oil paintings it’s often necessary to let the layers rest between sessions. If I see the project as something special that may become a signature painting (one of the pieces that I become best known for), or if I’m working on a painting for a show (live or taped event), then I’ll spent weeks or months on the painting, especially if the canvas is large. Generally if I have a big project in the works I will do it on my freestanding easel and also work on a smaller project on my regular art desk/table. I don’t take weeks off from my regular work, so when there’s something big to do I have two or more projects going on at once. The point is, I plan ahead of time if I’m going to let myself spend more than 3 sessions and what my hard deadline is. That helps me let go of it rather than just paint endlessly and fret over it until I finally decide it’s done, or never finish it at all. “Finish” is not about when it’s perfect, but when it’s hit the project goals that I’ve determined before I start. Because painting is my vocation, I keep a balance between quality and productivity. It means I have to accept that I won’t always like what I’ve done and I may have to simply move on to stay on track, always growing, and hoping the next project will be a masterpiece. We don’t all have the same tastes. Some of the paintings I’ve done that I truly hate and see as unfinished are favorites by others, which is why I share all of my projects instead of only the ones I like, feel proud of, and see as (mostly) finished. There’s always something more that could be added, tweaked, or built up, but life itself is like that too. WE are “unfinished”, and we are happiest when we accept ourselves as we are right now, yet work to the best of our abilities (according to our individual talents and purpose), knowing that with more time we may become the masterpiece God created us to be.

By the way, if you enjoyed this little chat about the way that I work, I offer free painting lessons on this website. There’s no registration, ads, or obligation to donate/tip- I won’t even know you’re taking my online class unless you tell me. The class is archived now (no active discussion board), and you can take it at your own pace, feel free to ignore the suggestion to do this class weekly. All ages and skill levels welcome, but geared toward adults. Even if you are a professional oil painter, you might like seeing my crazy ways of doing things. Also, if you are a teacher, please feel free to use this for your classroom. Note: Preview the class first and tailor it to your needs. Much of my discussion wouldn’t hold the attention of young students, so you’d probably just want to summarize in your own words and show parts of the videos, or just the short time lapse ones. The first couple of projects would be fine for younger students, and perhaps all of them could work with some modifications. I’d suggest acrylics or watercolors for the younger ones. The oil-specific tips are easy to ignore.

Stay tuned for more sessions of this painting. Have a great weekend everyone!


New Painting, Finally!

See this oil painting of a yellow rose come to life in about 1 minute (time lapse)

I’m finally back to work after our big sudden, unexpected move. The move took wild turns and we ended up buying a house at least a year before we were ready to do so. The way it came together wasn’t what we wanted, but we have landed in a place I already love, and I will heal from the things that happened. There’s a lot I can’t say here, that I’d say if we could be in person and have a long heart-to-heart over a cup of tea or coffee. I’d bring one of my cakes or a batch of cookies. But, here we are, chatting through my blog that anyone can read. It’s a bit like being at a party, having a personal chat, and a person with bad intentions overhears- twists our words to hurt us, or takes offense at something that wasn’t meant for them, and spiritually had nothing to do with them.

Anyway, I think you know what I mean. I wish I could fully describe the extreme highs and especially the lows, but I can’t. I’ll say this: I have felt profoundly hurt and disappointed by some of the unfair and bitterly unjust events that unfolded, but through it all, I felt divine intervention and spiritual support that can’t be explained away by logic. We’d have to believe in a complicated series of coincidences to dismiss it all, and that would frankly be more of stretch to believe than to simply take it as it was: I was being spiritually supported in a mysterious way that I can’t understand, but I’m grateful for. My family felt it too, but I don’t say much about their experiences on the blog, as those are their own stories to decide to publicly tell or not.

So why did I choose to paint a yellow rose as my first painting in my new home? Because, shortly after we moved in, my rose plant bloomed for the first time. It is symbolic for me because yellow roses have a special meaning in my life. My grandma loved them and would keep her roses on a hill that was highly visible. When she passed, I thought of her whenever I saw yellow roses. Since I always admired them, I wanted to grow some. Grandma was successful with hers in upstate New York, but we were living in Minnesota at the time, which has much harsher temperatures in the dead of winter (sometimes as low as -25 F). I could only have a specialty engineered rose, an “arctic rose”, in yellow. That’s all I could find that had a good chance of thriving. It did thrive, and those were the roses that were in bloom long after they should have been, when I was Mom’s caregiver and bringing her cut roses. The roses finally stopped blooming after she passed- which was after the regular season when my roses had usually already stopped producing new roses for the year. If you garden, you can probably relate to how surprising it is when flowers, fruit, or vegetables survive much longer than expected. It feels like a miracle, especially if there is a heavy emotional impact.

After we sold our hobby farm that we’d built (after years of fixing up dirty rundown houses while living in them, selling and saving toward having a nice new house one day and meant as a “forever” family home), because the company my husband worked for moved out of the country and laid everyone off after they trained their replacements, and I lost my job too since my arts school was based in my home studio, we moved several times (my apologies if you’ve heard this story too much, but new people join us regularly and don’t know my story so I have to summarize it fairly often). While moving around, I didn’t want to get another arctic rose, so I waited until I could live someplace warm enough for real traditional roses to thrive. Then I waited some more because I could find any- they were sold out when I tried to get some- and I was always a day late and a dollar short. Time slipped away, and I never did get my real yellow roses… until a few weeks before we learned we would have to move from our rental house sooner than we planned.

Fortunately, because we were renting, I planted my new roses in a grow bag container, not in the ground. So, when we were blindsided by the vacate notice, it was easy to move it to the new place. It was a new plant and hadn’t produced any flowers yet. I was optimistic it would survive and I’d finally get my yellow roses, but until proof of this appeared, the yellow roses were still just a hope, not a reality.

It was astonishing that as soon as we moved everything into this house, the first bud appeared. Even though of course flowers bloom, that’s what they do, it still felt like a breathtaking surprise, as if I was not really expecting to ever see yellow roses. It was glorious! So pretty, dainty, and perfectly yellow- just as I imagined my yellow roses would be!

But then, it opened. And I was amazed at how beautiful it was. This was truly a real rose, not a close copy. I tried to capture it by photographing it and then painting it. I looked outside the window as I painted the rose to see the leaves in real time as well (the flower itself had already faded from its peak glory by the time I finished painting it). In the end, it’s only a representation of what I saw, because there’s nothing that can capture what it feels like to see a rose in person. I hope I came close, and that you can feel the emotion. If I felt uncertain about the love of God blessing my new life, all doubts fell away when this rose opened its lovely pedals. I imagine this spiritual connection to flowers is universally felt by all who feel a connection to nature, regardless of your faith, background, or social status.

We may have to wait a long time for something our heart desires, or for grief to lift. It can take years, and twists and turns we didn’t want to take. We may have to live in places we didn’t want to be, and we may be pushed to go on a new adventure before we are ready. But one day, we will arrive. The time has passed. And we are home. That is when a new yellow rose will open up, the sun will strike upon its glorious color, and we’ll know we are loved by God. Wherever we are sent, in this life or the next, there is something beautiful waiting for us. We are never truly alone, even when it feels like we are. We are never abandoned. We are human beings who feel the weight and burden of time, pain, and fear, that clouds our judgement and burdens our hearts- blocking us from seeing the yellow roses. Until the right time, and my time is now.

I hope you join me on my new painting adventures in my lovely blue home with the red door in Savannah, Georgia! How I got here is complicated. How I’ll live here may be complicated as well. But I know I will have a good life because I choose it. God bless you and your families. Never give up. Always look for your yellow roses to bloom.


EASTER SHOW LAUNCHED!

Easter Show 2022

HERE IT IS! Launching my new Easter Painting Show now, to give you time to share this special video with your family, friends, and social media. If you feel this show has value, please consider making a donation toward my future work. Every little bit helps, as I am self funded. Thank you, and I hope that you feel hopeful and encouraged after watching this.

New Painting – Campfire

Watch oil painting “Campfire” come to life in 2 minutes (time lapse)

Relax for a couple of minutes and sit by the fire.



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New Painting – Apple Orchard

Watch oil painting “Apple Orchard” come alive in 2 minutes (time lapse)

Another autumn painting for the new collection “Seasons“, and another one toward my lifetime goal of 1,000 finished paintings!

New Painting – 1st for new 2022 Collection!

Watch oil painting “Generational Tree” come to life

in about 2 minutes (time lapse video)

You might remember that I finished the 2021 collection “50 Oil Paintings Inspired by Nature“? I said I’d reveal what the 2021 collection is at a later time, and that time is NOW. :::drum roll please:::

The 2021 collection is called “Seasons” (of Life and Nature). Paintings in this collection celebrate seasons of life (metaphorical, representational, or inspired-by-real-life scenes about milestones, rites of passage, and shared human experiences of love, aging, family, and beyond) as well as seasons of nature (literal scenes depicting autumn, summer, fall, and winter). 

The first oil painting in the collection is “Generational Tree“, which is a good transition from the Nature collection to the Seasons one, since it is a piece that could have been in either. “Generational Tree” represents the passage of time; how the elders in a family reside at the top of a mature tree and are the branches which through the ages become fragile and one day fall away- yet the branches below are healthy and strong, tender new twigs will continue to grow, and the roots created long ago will give life to this family for many years to come.

I’m very excited about this new collection because I’m going to lay my heart out through my paintbrushes. I didn’t look at any reference, photo, prompt, or even out a window for “Generational Tree”. I listen to your comments, and something one of you said about free painting settled into my brain and encouraged my soul to do more of this style of painting, in which I don’t restrain and constrain my art. I’m not saying I’ll never look at a reference for guidelines on proportions, perspective, or details (especially if wanting to get markings and anatomy correct when painting animals, people, and other identifying subjects), but my previous collections were probably 70% or higher art that was planned, used a reference, and was held to the boundaries of the project goals. I’d like to decrease that to 50-60%.

“Generational Tree” was of course a safe project for free painting because it’s simply a tree and a basic landscape (very organic, nothing precise about it). But I’d like to challenge myself and remove the safety net more often. I will still look at a reference when painting specific people when I want to capture a resemblance, but there’s no reason to look at a picture of a person when I’m painting an imaginary person.

But the decision to free paint more often is not really what I meant by laying my heart out. The theme of this new collection lends itself to meaningful work that I will be personally invested in, in a deeply emotional way. That will show in my art if I let myself be an instrument of the source of where creativity, expression, and raw (not taught, born with- or suddenly gifted with, such as after an accident, grief or a diagnosis, etc… in other words, a blessing) talent comes from. Arrogance has no place in art. Art is a language meant to share empathy with humanity. It is not meant to be hoarded or controlled by elites. It is not meant to be restricted to only the select chosen. It is not meant to be about the artist, the possessors of art, or the gatekeepers who decide which art gets seen.

Art speaks to people in ways that we can’t put into words. It is my lifelong desire to let my life be used to heal others. When people see something in my paintings that feels like a message of hope for their own lives, or a whisper from God “I see you”, or a confirmation of faith in humanity… that in a dark world, we still have light, love, compassion, and a deep desire for goodwill for all mankind, it’s beyond myself- it is a personal connection between the viewer and the art that no longer belongs to me. It’s a lofty goal, to be an instrument of healing, but I am honored to strive for this to be my lasting legacy. I’ll also paint lighthearted projects, not everything will feel so heavy. Look for a few paintings that are simply fun.

Thank you for being a part of my journey toward my lifetime goal of 1k finished oil paintings. Along the way, I hope that one of my thousand paintings (years from now!) will make a difference in your life. You are loved by God, and you are never alone. If I can remind you of that, then it’s been a good day.

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Eye of the Storm

Watch this oil painting inspired by satellite imagery of a hurricane come to life in under 2 minutes (time lapse)

During our first year in Georgia we evacuated for Hurricane Irma. It was my first hurricane, but I’d experienced tornadoes, blizzards, and other dangerous weather in other places I’ve lived. Powerful storms can change lives forever and can be devastating. I will be thinking of all of the people in harm’s way from Hurricane Ida, and praying for safety and rescue for those in need. *Update, now waiting to see what Hurricane Ian is going to do. God be with you, all who are in the path of the hurricane, flooding, winds, and may you rise above the fear to remain calm in the eye of the storm.

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