New Painting – “My Home”

My front garden is almost finished so I decided to paint it yesterday. I took some creative license with it. First of all, I wanted to show you more than one perspective that, in real life, can only be seen if standing outside and turning your head to look at different angles. The mailbox is in a slightly different place than it is in reality, so that I could squish the scene enough to show multiple viewpoints, and the trellis arch appears farther back than it really is. It stands over the front steps in real life, close to the road.

I also wish I could have shown you the other side of the garden, behind the fence. That’s the garden I see from my window, and where I spend most of my time when I’m in the front yard. That can be a future painting. Another thing that I wanted to show you is both the large white moon flowers AND the blue/purple morning glories at once, but as their names suggest, one is open at night and the other in the morning, not at the same time. So I compromised and painted a few of each- open at the same time- which isn’t really possible. I suppose if it were about to storm in the morning, the morning glories could still be open while the confused moon flowers are opening (they do open if the sky is dark because of storm clouds, so it’s’ not outside of the realm of possibility). In real life life, there are many more of each of those flowers but they alternate which ones we see open at any given time. The moon flowers look glorious when it’s completely dark with only the outdoor lights or moon illuminating the yard. They glow, they’re so white, and very large!

Another unrealistic thing about my painting is that I didn’t paint all of the flowers or put in a lot of details. And I blurred out my neighbor’s house/yard on one side and cropped the other one off, LOL! In reality our houses are very close together. Other than those things, my painting looks a lot like our home and I’m so proud of what we’ve done. The yard was once hoarded (the neighbors have breathlessly told us stories, each worse than the last! Apparently homeless people once built a fire in the livingroom and for quite some time the owner’s family member was living in an RV on the property). There’s more to tell, but this is getting long. Anyway the hoard was (mostly) cleared by the company who fixed up this house to flip it during the hot market housing shortage.

But, even with a whole construction crew putting time into it, when we bought the house the yard was still a neglected shambles of weeds, crabgrass, out of control shrubs (which I removed), and overall a shabby plot – no real grass. Bits of the hoard were still embedded in the ground, under the ground, and would pop up after a hard rain. It was depressing.

I imagined the yard as I wished it could be, as a beautiful garden. My first step was to attempt to mow it, but that wasn’t a good idea (weeds too coarse and too high, with tree bits in between and who knows what lurked beneath?), so I tackled the whole thing with a weed whip. It took several times doing that before I could use the mower. It went faster with the mower, but it was heavy work (electric push mower). Even if we bought a new mower, a lifetime of mowing this ugly postage stamp yard (even though quite small, surprisingly challenging) in the steamy heat of Deep South Georgia, was a misery I promised myself I’d escape!

My husband works long hours, and always has, so lawncare is usually my burden. After many years of this, with the last six of them in Georgia, I’d reached the end of my tolerance for humid heat-advisory-boasting summer mowing. My goal was to tear up ALL of the grass and replace it fully with a dream garden.

And I’ve done it! I appreciate my husband going along with this. He could have said it was a crazy idea, especially since it required some trust and financial commitment (although the cost was not as high as you’d think since we did the work ourselves and found many bargains – I’ve also been propagating new plants from my current ones to grow the garden for free!). He was equally committed to making this happen and did a lot of the heavy lifting. Unlike mowing which has to be done consistently, these landscaping jobs could be fitted around his schedule. He would do the work in batches when he had the time and energy, knowing that when it was done neither of us would have to mow this miserable yard ever again!

My husband put the white vinyl fence and trellis together, as well as laying the pavers. That created the template for the garden, then all of the plants are arranged both inside and outside of the fence, as well as on/up/along the fence and up the trellis. I did all the planting myself, so it’s been many hours of digging, tearing up sod, and getting my hands dirty. Where there are no pavers there is mulch, ground cover (flowering low-ground plants), various types of flowers, the roses I mentioned, holly trees, and a few evergreens. The only tree that was in the yard when we moved in was the purple/pink crepe myrtle tree in the painting.

It’s been a little over a year now and the garden is almost done. There are many roses – I’d have to count them because I’ve lost track! I’ll share more about this as time goes by. There are white long stemmed ones (smells kind of like vanilla, very beautiful), dark red, bright red “Showbiz” (one of my favorites), other shades of red, yellow, and an amazing blaze of orange/red roses called “pinata”. There’s also a “Don Juan” climbing rose that I’ve trained along the fence and it’s starting to go up the trellis. There are plants that the hummingbirds like, and this spring a bluebird was fond of perching on the trellis, so I’m going to add a nesting box especially for bluebirds next year.

Well, I can prattle on and on about my garden, but I’ll close. And, there’s a much larger BACK yard that I’ve been working on. Just wait and see! The land is a canvas and the landscaping is the paint. Just like art – the gardens have been healing and have brought people together in amazing ways!!!! I have many stories to share! I never thought that planting flowers could make a difference, but it has done things that are truly astonishing. Maybe it’s because I dedicated the garden to God and for whatever purpose He wanted done with our home.

No matter what your canvas is, create something beautiful to share with people. God bless and keep you this day and always. May you feel loved and inspired. Just when you feel as if life hasn’t turned out the way you expected, you may be given a new role and a new chance for a spiritual masterpiece. <3

“My Home” oil painting by Natalie Buske Thomas. Subscribe to Natalie’s blog below, or browse through past blog posts.


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Are you home?

Watch me paint this house in Savannah, Georgia in 1 minute (time lapse)

I took pictures near a park square in Savannah one day, and this particular view inspired me to paint it. Most of the house was obscured by trees. It was as if nature and humankind had melded into a new world.

I feel that way about my patio garden, as critters and birds are quite welcome to hang out in the new space I’ve created. Indeed, they seem to think that they own the place and everything I put out there is for them. It seems we’re all at home.

Are you home? Do you feel welcome in your space? Do you feel compatible with nature, your neighbors, your community, and your surroundings? Being at home is less to do with others and more to do with ourselves.

Sometimes when I’m living in a temporary place it’s difficult to feel as if I’m home, so I have to work hard to create that connection. I remind myself that my wild birds and living trees are with me everywhere. Of course these are not the exact same creatures and plants I’ve seen in previous backyards, and many are different breeds of birds and different types of trees entirely, but some are the same as other places I’ve lived. A red cardinal in the Deep South in Georgia brings me just as much peace as a red cardinal Up North in Minnesota.

I’ve lived abroad as well as various places in the United States. They say “people are the same wherever you go”, and that is fundamentally true. There’s nothing unique or shocking about human nature. Everything we see has been seen before, for thousands of years. The only differences are in the way our human nature plays out due to progress and technology. But at our core, humanity carries the same mix of “good” and “bad” as we have since the beginning.

Home is not necessarily where our heart is, but we can put our heart into wherever we are. As we work and journey toward the place we want to be, we can embrace where we are today. So, when I ask myself- and YOU- “are you home”, I hope that your answer is YES.

Painting Perspective

Painting perspective involves the placement and shape of objects; objects can be stacked or skewed to give the illusion of space and dimension. Often a combination of those techniques works well. In this first example, “City of Savannah” the illusion of perspective is shown mostly through the stacking of objects, to give the appearance that some things are closer to the viewer than others.

The stacked items in the foreground are textured more heavily than those in the background. Heavier weight and greater detail gives the illusion that the viewer can see these foreground objects better because they are “closer” than the objects in the background, when of course the canvas is flat and all objects are the same relative distance from the viewer. In this way, artists are illusionists.

Oil Painting “City of Savannah” by artist Natalie Buske Thomas

In this next example, “Boiled Peanuts for Sale” uses skewed perspective to give the illusion that the body of the old truck is receding into the landscape. Skewed objects not only give paintings perspective, but also personality and character.

In this last example, “House in Savannah“, we see a combination of stacked and skewed perspective. Layering objects to give the illusion of receding back, combined with skewed perspective, gives character to the piece. Skewed perspective may cast strong feelings of nostalgia, such as in “Boiled Peanuts”. While used in a more subtle way in “House in Savannah”, skewing objects (slanting, twisting, and warping slightly) creates a vintage feeling to this art.