As we head into the last month of autumn, may you give yourself a few moments of peace to watch me paint these 10 fall scenes. Each video is about 2 minutes long (time lapse) to see each painting go from blank canvas to finished art. This first video (above) is called “Autumn Forest”. Scroll down to see the photo of this painting and more happy fall scene videos.
“Little Girl in Tree” oil painting for children’s book “Fred“
“Autumn Tree”, a short relaxing project
“Autumn Cabin” an imaginary scene in an illustrative style
And, finally, here’s my latest autumn oil painting “Thanksgiving Turkey and Pumpkins”. I hope that you have a wonderful holiday weekend ahead, even if your country doesn’t celebrate Thanksgiving. Wherever you are, and even if the change of seasons doesn’t fall upon you the same as it does for me here in America, this is a good time of year to reflect on our lives, find gratitude for our family and friends, and seek the joy of thankfulness for all that we are blessed with- no matter how humble our circumstances may seem upon first glance. For, if we are alive today, we are blessed. Time is precious. May God bless you and keep you, this day and always.
Watch this Thanksgiving scene come alive in less than 1 minute 30 seconds (time lapse video, above).
It’s been a couple of months since I’ve last posted, when prior to our recent move to Savannah, Georgia I’d been a daily blogger and prolific painter, working feverishly toward my lifetime goal of 1,000 finished oil paintings. Even though this move should have been easier, because we didn’t move out the country this time, or even from out of state (we were renting in a temporary location about 40 minutes’ drive from here), it was an unexpected move (we planned to go house hunting next year but the landlord wanted to sell the house we were living in and we had only two month’s notice to get out). I’ve told most of that story on here before, but my reason for bringing it up again is that it has taken me much longer than I thought to settle into our new life, and I wanted to explain my absence.
Several events happened to disrupt the process and make the transition much more stressful and life-altering than our previous moves. And, since we plan to make this our “forever” home, to the extent that such a thing is in our control and possible, this move means much more to us. I want to invest my time and energy into building a community for myself and my family. That’s different from the temporary approach and mindset we had in the years leading up to now. Connecting with people in person, face-to-face, heart to heart, in a much bigger way- out from behind the camera or the computer- was outside of my comfort zone. I’d been so reclusive that I’d lost a bit of myself along the way.
Besides this dramatic change in lifestyle, I had to face some giants that I’d been avoiding for years. Facing up to unpleasant, confrontational, or unwanted situations is never going to feel good, but hiding from these things only makes them loom larger in the shadows. If we were sitting together in person, I’d put the kettle on and I’d speak honestly about all of this. It’s been quite a physical, emotional, and spiritual journey.
It’s even been an intellectual ride, as I’ve also learned new things about a variety of subjects: landscaping, home improvement, how to get rid of rodents, how to successfully remove a hoard that was buried in the yard to deceive/hide from prospective buyers of a home, and more delightful topics such as how to become a better singer, how to take good care of vocal chords when singing regularly, in-depth religious discussions that lead to life changing perspectives to heal and build a new life, financial habits to weather storms and enjoy blessings, and much more. Most of these things I can’t talk about without putting myself into a position of too much personal disclosure online, as now I’d be talking about people, places, events, and organizations that someone may see themselves in. So, out of respect for my and their privacy, and inadvertently sticking my foot in my mouth, I can only generalize. To borrow from a famous line, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times”.
I hope that my return to painting, blogging, and sharing with you is taking shape now. I will do my best to stay on track. I can feel my spirit calming down and the possibility of a steady life close at hand. Instead of scrambling to react to each new twist and turn (personal instability as well as shared world-wide chaos that all of you have been experiencing on various levels), I see the road widening and the skies clearing. I feel hope and optimism rising, regardless of the grief, fear and despair that weighs heavily upon humanity.
God bless you, and Happy Thanksgiving- for my fellow Americans who celebrate this special day- and for all others who celebrate in spirit. This is a time of year for reflection and gratitude, as many of us have extra time with our families and there’s a pause in our schedules. More than any other year I’m decorating big for Christmas. My heart is full and my emotions are a rollercoaster ride. Truly, all that really matters is God, family, and community. And my joy in all of that will shine brightly this year! As I will soon be singing in the Christmas choir program, “Ring, ring the bells!” Enjoy dinner with your loved ones and set out your best shiniest sparkliest decorations.
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.
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!
See this osprey come to life in 2 minutes (time lapse video).
My new art area is now fully set up and I should be able to stay on track better now. I hope to return to daily blogging soon. There’s still quite a bit to settle in from our recent move, but one day at a time!
I have a fun announcement: I started an online store for cool, fun, and elegant gifts with my art on it. You’re invited to check it out and tell me what you think of it. The link is here.
Blankets, keepsake boxes, posters, mugs and more! If you want to have (a reproduction of) one of my paintings in your home, I hope you find what you’re hoping for. Happy Wednesday, and God bless you.
I’m finally working on a new painting. I’ll share it on Wednesday. My daily blog has fallen behind since our sudden, unexpected move. I’m still trying to wrap my mind around it. But I’m finding my way back to normalcy and I’ll resume regular blogging again soon. Meanwhile, here’s another father/son painting (at least I think so, maybe the penguin is actually a mom?).
I hope all of you are doing well. I miss chatting with you every day, as I move toward my lifetime goal of 1,000 finished oil paintings. I’ve fallen a bit behind schedule so I’ll be back with renewed passion to crank out the paintings. Let the paints fly!
Again, I’d like to wish you all a Happy Father’s Day. My dad died when I was a child, but I think of him and wonder what he would have been like at this age. He’d have loved being a grandpa. If you are a Grandpa, or even a Great Grandpa, then my Father’s Day wish goes double or triple for you. 🙂
“Apple Orchard” is part of the 2022 collection “Seasons” (of life and nature). This oil painting represents autumn and celebrates family traditions. See more of Natalie’s 2-minute art videos by clicking on your favorite themes below.