The Unusual

Watch this oil painting of the mother of Jesus “Mary of God’s Favor” come to life in 2 minutes (time lapse)

This oil painting was inspired by a statue I saw in Savannah, Georgia (and was for the art collection and book “50 Oil Paintings Inspired by Savannah, Georgia”). It turned out a bit odd, but just like I talked about before, in the blog post “Art I Don’t Like“, once I share my art it doesn’t belong to just me anymore. Art is a language and what it means is left up to the viewer. The meaning can even change depending on the mood, perspective, and time that the viewer sees it. Something we saw in it yesterday, may look different today.

When I shared this art inspired by a statue of Mary, someone felt a strong connection to it. He had an emotional response to this piece that I must respect, even though I personally think this art is unusual and even awkward. That’s definitely not how this man saw it. He felt that this painting resonated with his spiritual connection to Mary, and to his faith in general.

I’m going to keep on painting, always working toward my lifetime goal of 1k finished works, and along the way, there will be times when my journey isn’t about me. Instead of dismissing ideas or chucking my work in the bin, I will be generous about sharing paintings that I don’t feel a connection to, knowing that someone else might. What is unusual and off-putting to one person may be special and emotionally important to another.

May this be a metaphor for our lives. We may not always know when our inner light shines brightly for another person. Never hide yourself away from others. Even when it’s difficult, intimidating, awkward, or humbling, let us pledge to be generous about sharing who we are. Our energy is a language and a gift that is meant to be shared. We may not see what others see in us, but what they see may be exactly what they need. This is a hurting world. May our light shine even when we don’t feel worthy or special. We are a work of art that has value when shared.

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Forced to Slow Down

Watch this oil painting illustration for children’s book “Grandpa Smiles” come alive in under 2 minutes (time lapse)

This part of the book was inspired by when my son was in the hospital for surgery and his recovery. It was hard seeing my normally happy and active child so weak, sad, and listless. He is a college student now, healthy and sturdy.

Active people hate to be forced to slow down. That’s my status for today. Saturday I was pulling weeds and spraying the concrete with strong jets of water from the hose. I sprayed an ant nest and the tiny furious insects immediately swarmed my feet. I was wearing sandals, so even though I sprayed my feet off as quickly as I could, they had already stung and bit my exposed skin many times.

Here it is, two days later, and the itching and swelling are still miserably intense. My foot swelled so much that it feels funky to walk on it. I didn’t sleep well last night because of the interminable itching, despite creams and medicine, which only took the edge off. So, I’ve been forced to slow down, to ice my foot and give my body time to heal from this irritating development.

I hope to bounce back quickly, but for now, it’s difficult to sit in one position for too long as my foot swells and itches like crazy. No painting until I kick these allergic reactions to the ant bites, or until I find a way to paint with my foot elevated (if this ordeal goes on too long and I lose patience with it). I have already found a way to do dishes by propping my foot up on the counter while I use the sink. Good thing I was a dancer in another life.

Using this incident as a spiritual metaphor, there are times in our lives when something happens that forces us to slow down. Our normal busy thought patterns are disrupted. Our usual daily thoughts are put on hold. During such times, we become philosophical and reflective. We wonder, if our regular life can be stopped suddenly without our consent or warning, perhaps the things we do aren’t as important as we thought? 

What do we miss doing when we are forced to slow down? What are we relieved to have an excuse not to do? How can we do more of the former and less of the latter? When we are forced to slow down, it’s an opportunity to re-evaluate how we live. 

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Darkened Woods

Watch this oil painting come to life in 2 minutes (time lapse). And, if you’d like to know what inspired this art, read the story behind it.

Tonight my heart feels heavy, as many things are weighing on me- many of these things are probably weighing on you as well. The spiritual woods of darkness and solitude, where God speaks to us… this is where I need to go. I plan to pray, rest, and read for a while before going to bed. I will pray for YOU. I believe that I don’t need to know who you are, or anything about you. All I need is to feel empathy for anyone who needs prayer, and that’s all of us. May God bless you and keep you, may His face shine upon you and give you peace.

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Do you need rest?

Watch oil painting “Docked Boat” come to life in under 2 minutes

(time lapse)

I blogged about this painting in the post called “Painting Rest“, which I invite you to read if you missed it when I first shared it. Tonight, I am in need of rest myself, so I’ll say very little. I spent the day catching up on dishes, cooking, and preparing for my next painting- the last painting in the 2021 collection “50 Oil Paintings Inspired by Nature“. I feel the winds of spiritual change in the air and it’s caused me to pause in my work. I wasn’t ready for this one to end.

When I finish this next painting I will paint in a new direction for the 2022 theme. It seems that what I paint mirrors my life (and my life mirrors what I paint), and sometimes even seems to foreshadow what’s to come, or perhaps manifest the future. This is something that took me a while to realize, but now that I am aware of it, I feel the weight of this when I’m about to change course. So, I wasn’t quite ready to complete the final painting for the 2021 collection. But I’ll get a good night’s sleep tonight and I will start it tomorrow.

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Guardians

Watch this “Guardian Lion” oil painting come to life

in 2 minutes (time lapse)

A guardian lion statue is meant to symbolize prosperity and protection and is usually installed on behalf of a city or a wealthy person’s home. I was inspired to paint a fantasy representation of the resin winged lion statue in Savannah, Georgia. I imagined the lion standing at the edge of a cliff, guarding the land from whatever darkness may threaten its shores.

The real Georgian shoreline isn’t lined with cliffs, but the imagery is meant to universally apply in a spiritual sense, in any way that the viewer chooses. The concept of Guardians is appealing and comforting. Don’t we wish that such a winged lion exists, who will protect us, and keep us prosperous?

Believing in a spiritual protector and a God who blesses us requires faith. Wouldn’t it be easier if we could see something tangible, maybe as obvious as a golden winged lion? And yet, sometimes, faith comes as easily as this. There are times in our lives when darkness and fear overtakes us. In that dark place we may feel absolutely certain of the presence of a spiritual guardian, of angels, divine intervention, and God. 

But when the crisis passes, we may doubt our experience. Always trust yourself and honor the certainty of the presence of divine love, protection, and blessings. Work to hold on to those moments when we have no doubts. Life feels so much easier when we believe that someone is looking out for us.

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New Painting

Watch me paint this “Autumn Leaves” oil painting in 2 minutes (time lapse) No matter what is happening in the world or in our personal

Lion of Judah oil painting by Natalie Buske Thomas

Quiet Lion

Watch me paint this lion oil painting in 2 minutes (time lapse) I changed the music for this video today. Whatever you’re experiencing, you probably

Not Again!

Watch this oil painting about the dark side of the animal kingdom come to life in 2 minutes (time lapse) I don’t have a painting

Letting Go

Watch this Angel Releasing Dove painting come to life in 2 minutes (time lapse), using broken pieces of shells I found on the beach, and a tiny “dove” from inside a sand dollar I also found there, at Tybee Island, Georgia.

There are times when we must let go, and let our hearts say, “Go in Peace”. This may be a spiritual letting go, a time of grief, or a physical letting go. It’s back to school time for many families and those of us who are facing this transitional time may be feeling more anxiety than usual. After deferring college or other situations, we may have expected a better situation for this year, only to find that the situation has escalated.

Letting go is difficult under ordinary circumstances, but when we are pushed harder than anticipated, it can be more challenging to reach spiritual acceptance of the change of seasons. School is just one obvious example, as it affects so many of us at around the same time every year. But all of us are touched by the change of seasons, as we see summer end and the passage of time has brought new things into our lives that may have been expected or wanted, or may be unexpected or unwanted. Either way, change is difficult.

Even good and happy changes bring a strong degree of stress. It may help to imagine our spiritual self as this angel, and the dove may represent the peaceful outcome of letting go, accepting that life is changing. If the change involves another person, we may wish blessings and a glorious, happy, prosperous, hope-filled flight into the unknown. May we rely on the strength of our love for others to see them through to the other side, if they have passed, or to see them into the future if they are launching into new experiences.

Perhaps the process of letting go is about ourselves. When life changes for others, it impacts us. Even if no one in our personal circle has a major life event, the seasons still pass. Time itself brings changes that cause us to reflect upon our lives and adjust to our new self. As we see July slipping into August, we may feel the change of seasons closing in. We may not have control over time, and future events, but we always have a spiritual choice about how we respond to change.

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Anxiety

Watch me paint “Waterfall Flowers” in 1 minute (time lapse)

This is a fictional landscape, just something from my imagination, but it was based on a real place in Northern Wisconsin. The place I was inspired by was a wooded area with a waterfall and a single picnic table nearby. There were no flowers, and the scene was slightly different from what I imagined here, but my painting expresses the general vibe for what that place was like.

It was a sanctuary, a hidden retreat from a family camp we were attending. The camp experience had been the wrong fit for us and we were anxious about the whole adventure. We escaped here to this place, to get away from the camp and think about whether or not we were willing to stay until the end. Even though we’d pre-paid for the organized activities for ourselves and our children, the situation felt dysfunctional and pressuring, not our style at all. 

I don’t recall how early we left, but we didn’t stay as long as we could have and we dropped out of planned activities. Years later, my favorite memory of that time was when we escaped to the waterfall alone as a family. We’d never have seen that place if we’d not been feeling anxious and in need of a retreat.

Anxiety is defined as an unpleasant emotional state with feelings of dread. There are other definitions as well, including clinical disorders, but for the purpose of this blog post I’m focusing only on the occasional anxiety that is common to all humankind. We all have times when a situation is so miserable that we dread it, maybe even fear it. At the least, we feel stress and apprehension.

When we feel anxiety, it can be helpful to physically remove ourselves from the situation and find a waterfall. But, that’s not often possible! In which case, we can retreat to a spiritual waterfall, as in… calm ourselves into a state as close to “waterfall relaxation” as we can. And in this retreat, we may find lasting enjoyment. Sometimes a miserable feeling pushes us to escape to new positive experiences, habits, and lifestyle changes.

Maybe it helps to watch people like me paint relaxing art? Maybe music is therapeutic, either playing it or listening to it? Maybe physical exercise, a warm cup of tea, reading a book, or sliding under a weighted blanket for a nap is comforting? Whatever your spiritual waterfall is, during challenging times we need to prioritize ways to manage anxiety.

Remember that you aren’t alone. All of us suffer from the human condition of anxiety from time to time, while others may suffer from it chronically. It’s normal to feel anxious when the world feels chaotic, confusing, disturbing, hostile, dark, uncertain and frightening. Find your spiritual waterfall and restore your spirit. 

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Fear

Watch me paint “Forest Fire” in 1 minute (time lapse)

What scares you? Fires, hurricanes, storms, floods, criminal violence, car/plane/train crashes, losing a loved one, medical issues, loss of freedom? Open spaces, closed spaces, heights, water, heat, cold? Social anxiety in a crowd, or isolation when not in one? When things stay the same, or when things change? Finding your own way, or being told what to think?

Faith is about believing even when there is no evidence of our belief. We just “know”. Some call it intuition. Others think of this as a spiritual commitment to hold certain truths in our hearts, never wavering or disloyal to a higher calling. Usually this relates to living a moral life, defined by our personal values. For animals, faith seems much less complicated. Little birds may be literally pushed out of the nest by their mothers, but in a few short seconds they believe that they can fly- and indeed, they can.

When we believe in who we are, and the abilities we were born with, we trust that we can do what we were meant to do. Faith comes easier, requiring no proof of our claims, if we make a spiritual, intellectual, and physical commitment to be true to our purpose. If we believe we are meant to be strong, healthy, and positive for our families and communities, we can act in faith to BE strong, healthy, and positive.

Fear can be a mysteriously beautiful thing, just like an out of control forest fire. When we are afraid, we are aware of how fragile life is, and how vulnerable we are. We are aware of how precious time is. We may see our role in this universe as very small, but each of us are a tiny intersection point on a vast web. We matter. Every life connects to other lives. When we lose a connection point, part of the web falls apart. All of this may come to us in a fuzzy sort of way that we don’t analyze, but on a gut level our focus is sharper when we are afraid.

Fear is an opportunity. Do we rise? Do we respond with cowardice, submission, and defeat? Do we abdicate our responsibilities to others, and let them dictate our lives? When we give up our authority, when we surrender our sovereign self, we allow fear to be an excuse to abandon who we are, to lay down our purpose under the cloak of compliance.

When we choose to rise in the face of fear, some may call it choosing faith over fear. But perhaps it’s more fitting to say that we choose faith through fear. Fear can be an exhilarating journey; when we are aware of death, we are aware of LIFE. Our passion to live may be ignited, cultivated, and utilized to provide lasting change. We may “level up” spiritually, intellectually, and even physically. Mind, body and spirit are always connected. When we elevate in one, we elevate our full selves.

Fear can be a blessing. The choice is ours. Fight for your purpose. Never give in, back down, or give up in the face of fear. Embrace what scares you and stand firmly rooted in who you are. May your responses be in alignment with your core values, and never compromised by the demands of other entities, agendas, or people.

I finally started my new painting today, after two days of planning to do so, but getting distracted by family things. I don’t regret going with the moment and focusing on the family. Awareness of time helps us choose what’s most important. Even though my vocation is very important to me, work is work. It is here today, and gone tomorrow, even if I become successful enough to be legendary. One day my art will mean whatever people want it to mean, with or without me. 

But love is forever. What we invest in people lives on spiritually, eternally. When we experience fear, we understand this concept in a heightened way that is a blessing, should we accept. I accept. I hope you do as well.

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Are you a child?

Watch me paint “Fred” in 1 minute (time lapse)

This oil painting is a self-portrait; me, through my father’s eyes, from behind a camera lens. The painting was inspired by a photo he took for a class assignment for a photography class. If you’ve not been a subscriber for long, you may not be aware that Dad died as a young man (age 37), so any connection to him is precious.

Notice I said that this is me, not “me when I was a child”. We are all the same person inside, from start to finish and beyond. Our true selves operate on intuition, emotion, spiritual energy, and a raw desire to pursue happiness. When we are children we have an easier time with this, but we don’t change into different people when we grow up. The core of us is always there.

Often our childlike unabashed wish to be loved, to be happy, and to be special is hidden deeply within us, as we’ve suffered from rejection, disappointment, and disillusionment. The things we used to want don’t roll smoothly from our hearts anymore, because we don’t want to get hurt again. We “grow up”. Or do we? Don’t we really just GIVE up, instead of grow up?

Life isn’t fair and we all get hurt. Pretending that we don’t want the same things we wanted all along isn’t going to protect us. Why not allow ourselves to be raw, vulnerable, and openly wistful; unashamed of what we want, and believing that we are special?

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Perspective

Watch me paint “Consider the Lilies” in 2 minutes (time lapse)

This is a small oil painting, only 10 inches by 8 inches from what I recall. You might notice the scale when you see me painting the trees especially. I’m using the tiniest paintbrush I own, and yet it was still difficult to manage the tree details. Painting small is tedious, stressful, and causes eye strain. It places high demand on dexterity, fine motor skills, and my ability to see tiny objects. I often end up with a headache when I paint small.

My face may ache from clenching my jaw in concentration and furrowing my eyebrows. The frustration of fumbling with tiny areas with messy uncooperative paints can ruin what could have been a pleasant painting session. This is what happens when I am too short sighted in how much space I want for my composition. If I wanted a field of flowers and a horizon line with trees, perhaps I should have chosen a larger sized canvas, unless I enjoy painting small (some artists do, but I don’t).

Painting, as in life, is all about our individual perspective. If we are too focused on the small picture in front of our faces, we may miss the bigger picture. We may become mired in tedious details, stressed and anxious, frustrated when things don’t go as quickly or easily as we’d like. Perhaps we don’t like how life is going, or how our efforts are panning out. Maybe we didn’t plan our big picture, focusing instead on fitting everything into a small life. Big dreams don’t fit on a small spiritual canvas.

Sometimes our problems are lessened by adopting a different perspective. If we use a bigger spiritual canvas, suddenly things that were difficult, tedious, stressful and disappointing may seem much easier. For example, when I focus on what I haven’t finished, I become frustrated and feel as if I can’t get anything accomplished. But if I select a bigger spiritual canvas, in which there’s plenty of room to “paint” the colors of my life, I will see that I’ve accomplished much more than I realized. Often when I haven’t finished something it’s because I’ve been busy with something else. And that “something else” may be a masterpiece.

I’ve never regretted the time I’ve spent with my family or helping others. I’ve never regretted the time I’ve “wasted” trying things that failed. When time passed it was clear that those things I tried and failed led to who I am today.  Our perspective after time has proven that failures are seldom mistakes, helps us paint our lives on a bigger canvas.

Worrying about how our needs will be met, how we will succeed, or how life will turn out is an unfortunate drain on our energy and a waste of our precious time here on Earth. Worrying IS something I regret. Fortunately, worrying is behavior based, a habit. And as with other habits, habits can be broken. The less I worry, the less I’m prone to worrying. 

Breaking the habit of worrying is like any other healthy lifestyle change. It may take about six weeks for a new habit to take root, but once it does, the impact on our lives is unmistakably positive and empowering. We can change our perspective by painting on a bigger canvas.

Matthew 6:28b-30a: “Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you?”

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

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New Painting

Watch me paint this “Autumn Leaves” oil painting in 2 minutes (time lapse) No matter what is happening in the world or in our personal

Lion of Judah oil painting by Natalie Buske Thomas

Quiet Lion

Watch me paint this lion oil painting in 2 minutes (time lapse) I changed the music for this video today. Whatever you’re experiencing, you probably

Not Again!

Watch this oil painting about the dark side of the animal kingdom come to life in 2 minutes (time lapse) I don’t have a painting

Happy Grief?

Watch this hedgehog oil painting come to life in about 1 minute (time lapse) You might remember when I painted this one and shared it

Melancholy

Watch this lighthouse painting come to life in 1 minute (time lapse) I share this one when I’m feeling melancholic, flitting back and forth between

History

Watch this oil painting of the day (July 23, 2020) that the Statue of Liberty in New York City looked to have been struck by

How are you?

Watch this oil painting of a bird in a forest come to life in about 2 minutes (time lapse) You might remember when I first

Another New Week

Watch this vase of flowers oil painting come to life in 1 minute (time lapse). Did you have a restful Sunday? I hope that today

Things we See

Watch this jellyfish oil painting come to life in just over 1 minute (time lapse) You might remember when I shared this one in April?

A Gift for You!

First, do you remember this one? Watch my oil painting of geese come to life in just over 1 minute (time lapse). And now, I’ll

Goodnight, dear Friends

Watch this oil painting from the children’s book “Grandpa Smiles” come to life in just over 1 minute (time lapse) I painted this art for

Inspiring

My oil painting of my daughter reading in the butterfly garden… this one doesn’t have a video because I painted this before I started filming

Too Much Talking

Watch this parrot oil painting come to life in about 2 minutes (time lapse) These days it feels like there is too much talking, not

Forced to Slow Down

Watch this oil painting illustration for children’s book “Grandpa Smiles” come alive in under 2 minutes (time lapse) This part of the book was inspired

Sunday Rest

Watch this Irish Angel oil painting come to life in about 2 minutes (time lapse) The image in the video above is a photograph of

Art I Don’t Like

Watch this yellow butterfly painting come alive in about 2 minutes (time lapse) What we see and feel about art is highly individual, personal, and

End of Summer

Watch my tree swing painting come to life in about 2 minutes (time lapse) You might remember when I first shared this one when I