A Rose by Any Other Name

Watch this rose oil painting come to life

in 2 minutes (time lapse)

The old saying “a rose by any other name”, derived from Shakespeare, generally means that no matter what we call something, it remains the same. These days when propaganda flows more freely than the truth, words are given new meaning, and actions are given new words, but in the end, truth is truth. No matter what new words are given to describe what’s happening, the truth will be known. By some, the truth is felt immediately. Others take longer to see it. Many more won’t see it until a pivotal moment when they believe what they see because the right person, the right place, or the right time has caused the truth to finally be seen by them. Still, there are a few who will never see the truth because they are incapable or unwilling to see it.

If you ever feel discouraged, as if you are living in a different reality from others, always keep in mind that a rose is always a rose. It has the characteristics of a rose, regardless of what we call it. Truth is eventually known, and it doesn’t matter if not everyone can see it. The characteristics of truth are the same regardless, and those characteristics bring forth justice, peace, and healing.

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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 feel pressure from these times we’ve living in. Stay strong. Seek truth and stand your ground. God bless you.

Note: I plan to get back into my painting schedule tomorrow. My foot is less swollen today (after my fire ant attack) and I think I can manage to go without icing it tomorrow afternoon, making sitting at my easel possible. So, hopefully something new for you soon.

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 enough listening, and there’s an imbalance in action. Those who oppress and harm others are moving quickly. Those who wish to free and heal others are moving slowly. Lies are racing like white water rapids in a dangerous rushing river. Truth is flowing like molasses.

May the scales soon tip in the other direction, toward patience, empathy, and stillness; toward goodness and light; and let deceit fall away as truth shines for all to see. Stay strong and brave. This season will pass, no matter how long it may seem.

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Be a Lion

Watch me paint this lion art in 2 minutes (time lapse)

Yesterday I posed the question “Are you a lion or a lamb?” We are meant to be both, but today let’s focus on lions. Most definitions for the word lion begin with a description of the animal, end with a reference to Leo (the constellation which I happen to have been born under) and somewhere in the middle includes phrases such as “a very brave person“, as per The Free Dictionary.

As we think of lions representing bravery, let’s establish what we must be brave about. I’d mentioned before that we must protect ourselves so that we may then protect others. Before we make a checklist, we need to define what is meant by “protection”.

  1. Health: As we humans are composed of mind, body and spirit, our physical self is important. Protection and defense seldom warrant physical battles, but is instead a reference to an ongoing struggle to create and maintain optimal health. This is made more difficult when entities are acting against our interests. Our strength and energy allows us to withstand hardships and endure long trials, to outlast an oppressive era, and make it through to better days. Therefore, we must make the protection and strengthening of our health a critical priority. Eat well, move, do things we love, be with people we love, sleep well. Refuse to comply with anything that endangers your health. Protect the rights of others.
  2. Education: Education is to the mind what nutrition is to the body. We must protect our access to information and defend against the distortion, bias, deletion, and manufacturing of the truth, as well as censorship of organic voices; and fight against powerfully financed and govern-mentally coordinated propaganda. Math doesn’t lie, but people do. Statistics must be free of manipulation, and the presentation of data must be held to the highest standards. The People must demand this.
  3. Freedom: The freedom to define our lives, values, and pursuit of happiness according to our own counsel is critical to the spirit. We must defend against all manner of persecution, and all pushes to create new forms of religion that are raised to be superior to all others through coercion. State religion is denied to exist, as it is nonetheless simultaneously installed, replacing all others. A cult of oppression is unable to co-exist with pre-existing religions and ideologies, including the right to be left alone; the choice to reject any allegiance to ideals or groups.

Lion of Judah” oil painting by artist Natalie Buske Thomas

Bravery Checklist

  1. See: Be brave enough to look for answers, no matter how scary the truth may be. Seeing is the first step to defending oneself and others. We must name the problems.
  2. Hear: Be brave enough to listen to ideas and people that go against coordinated agendas.
  3. Speak: Be brave enough to voice our thoughts, opinions, concerns, fears, and hopes for the future.

Cowardice breeds more oppression. Consenting to what we know is wrong, will only embolden tyrants to demand more. Bravery is often the simple act of thinking for oneself; refusing to convert to what is being pushed. Few are called into stronger acts of profound sacrifices that define history. For most of us, we are only tasked with staying true to what we believe and refusing to comply with any acts that unlawfully persecute, oppress, or harm ourselves or others. This may simply mean avoidance of places or institutions who enforce tyrannical rules. But if we all make a commitment to stand, we outnumber the oppressors and we will win our battles. Every brave person makes a difference.

Be a lion.
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Famous People

Painted and first shared in January 2017

Sometimes I paint famous people or historical events that move me. This person released information that changed how the average person views world governments. Whether one thinks doing so is right or wrong, is a separate issue from what inspired me to paint this. Truth brings justice (albeit slowly, or perhaps not in the way that we may want, but disclosure is preferable to covering up the sins of those who hold power over the People). If people are vehemently opposed to the methods of how truth is revealed, or if truth is filtered (only the sins of some are disclosed instead of revealing all information in hand, as some have claimed), that’s certainly a debatable argument. But I was not addressing those concerns, nor was I arguing if the risks and damage from sharing classified information is/was worth the cost. No, I was not expressing any of that.

Also, no- he’s not “walking on water like Jesus”! My haters are insane. I don’t worship the man, nor am I a “groupie”, nor am I blind to the fact that there are many sides to the stories and parties involved. He’s walking IN water, holding up the scales of justice, as my painting is about the release of truth. 

The water was merely a background composition to complete the painting. I honestly didn’t put much thought into it. It just seemed to fit with what I was doing with the sky-like abstract background above his head. But, I suppose the water may represent hidden realities and how justice must be held above all of the secrets, saved from being forever buried like lost treasure in a vast ocean. What it DOESN’T represent or symbolize in any way is divinity or any connection to religion. It is meant to illustrate only the abstract concepts of truth and justice, and artistically record the historical fact that this man and his organization impacted the world by disclosing vast material about corruption in global government.

This painting is simply an expression of truth telling, in the form of a person who made his life about telling it. He is such a controversial figure, that I can’t utter his name or this post will likely be muted. I can’t put his name or the org he’s associated with in the file name of my video or the same will happen. Why is that? Why can we not even paint the man? Surely powerful people don’t like what he has shared. This goes well beyond anyone truly concerned about the sanctity of classified information, as our world governments have proven that they care very little for the welfare of human beings. So, what is this really about? 

When I painted this famous person, I didn’t know I’d become a target and a blacklisted person. I merely painted someone I thought was historically impactful, and someone I felt sympathy toward. I am a firm believer that punishments must fit the crimes, and cruel and unusual punishments are not befitting of a civilized society. Fair and equal justice means that persons who commit similar offenses should be treated in a similar fashion. The duration for legal processes should also remain constant. Fears for one’s safety should be unacceptable in all cases when an accused person is under scrutiny. And yet, this treatment stretches on year after year while others who have committed similar alleged crimes have gone free, and are also relatively safe from harm (not targeted by governments or dangerous groups).

My passion for justice is always about the individual. I feel empathy for people who are enslaved and unsafe. I do not have solid opinions about the details of anything surrounding this famous person, as all I know is whatever is posted online. I am not an insider and can validate nothing. But I am a fellow human being, and what I have seen is what looks to me like a grave injustice: a critic of world government being treated like a prisoner of war.

And, anyone who tries to talk about the documents he released is at risk of censorship or worse. If there’s nothing there, why silence people? But to this day, those topics are off limits. It seems silly that any of us can be in disagreement- why would any civilian defend world governments who interfere in the rights of the people to speak out against them? On this, I would have thought we’d be unified. For when we cannot even speak about our concerns, we surely have no power to resolve them. The right to question our rulers is sacred.

I stand behind my work.

Painting is not a criminal act.

My thoughts are not crimes.

And neither are yours. Never back down, never give in. Never give up. Stand.

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New Painting – “Alabama Landscape”

Oil painting by artist Natalie Buske Thomas "Alabama Landscape". Watch Natalie paint this art in less than 2 minutes (time lapse video). New painting for September 2022.

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 …

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 …

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 …

New Painting in Progress

I don’t often show my paintings until they are done, but I thought you’d like to know what I’m working on since …

New Painting – “Lion in Storm”

Watch oil painting “Lion in Storm” come alive in under 1 minute (in the time lapse video above). This is an angry …

Holy Saturday

Holy Saturday is the day before Easter, and is associated with:

  • Resting, waiting upon the Lord
  • Examining one’s own life and spiritual journey
  • Being expectant and hopeful for positive change
  • Being in anticipation of fulfilled promises and joy
  • Observing the final day of Lent (for those who observe Lent past Good Friday); reflection on things we’d like to change
  • Preparing for Easter
  • Looking forward to the joy of the morning
  • Reflecting upon one’s own relationship with Jesus, God; one’s personal spiritual faith journey

The above painting “Jesus at the Table” is meant to portray a personal relationship of acceptance, inclusion, unconditional love, peaceful fellowship, and an invitation to sit at the table with Christ, to receive the physical and spiritual food that keeps humanity whole. Even if one does not subscribe to a religion, the concepts of peace and unity are noble aims. A practicing person of faith is meant to honor those aims.


When an entire religion is condemned, censored, and persecuted, often the justification is that these people are “hypocrites”, as they are allegedly not living a moral life, and are somehow a poisonous hateful contagion to the universe. But the logical fallacy is that lapsed people of faith, those who do not practice their supposed faith at all, and those who pervert, deceive, and manipulate their aligned religion are held up as examples. These people are not hypocrites, they are people who don’t practice the faith they claim to subscribe to.


Imagine a man who has committed several crimes. In the past, he was a law student. He failed the bar exam, and is ignorant about many aspects of the law. Yet, he decides to represent himself in court, and he describes himself as an attorney. He does a horrible job, and comes across as an arrogant fool. He’s also an unlikable person who offends everyone in the court. 


What would the response be? Would people say, “that proves that we should have no more lawyers… these people are horrible and should be purged. They believe in laws that no judge would honor. They are stupid. They are mean. They say that they believe in justice but commit crimes themselves and expect to get away with it. All lawyers are hypocrites!” No, of course not. They’d look at that guy and see him as a FAILED lawyer. In fact, he’s not really a lawyer at all. He’s unqualified to speak about the law he allegedly believes in, and he doesn’t practice the law properly either.


In much the same way, it is logical to judge people as individuals, not as a collective. The motive for condemning an entire group is often political, for means of power and control. When viewed as a voting block, for example, certain groups tend to vote the same way. So, if that vote is damaging to a government or party, it would be advantageous to demonize and purge those groups, in effort to break up the voting block and destroy their political enemies. The same is true when groups are seen as “dissidents” (people who would likely be opposed to government policies and control).


When the reason for hatred and bigotry is part of a political/government agenda, the masses who aid the agenda are acting as enforcers of the State. Why would they do this? Sometimes it’s because they believe in the political causes that the government (pretends to?) plans to enforce. Sometimes it’s because people have secretly resented religious groups for personal reasons that have spawned malice (unresolved anger and bitterness that has led to a grudge, envy, fear, or any other unhealthy motive for condemning an entire group of fellow humans).


There are ways to fight policies and decisions without attacking the personal faith of one’s opponent. When people choose to go after religion, emotional responses often cloud the original issue and even conflate it. Issues that could be considered independently and separately on a case by case basis are aligned with this group or that, as if all persons associated with traits of that group think the same way. That’s highly unlikely. Few social groups reach 100% consensus on any given topic, even what snacks- if any- will be served. How is it that thousands, or millions, of people can be classified as thinking the same way about a complex subject? It’s simply not logical.


Propaganda is effective in sanctioning lies that benefit powerful groups, while hurting innocent people. On this Holy Saturday, I am reflecting upon the death threats against me, the crimes committed against me, and all of the hatred I have experienced over the past decade. I have done nothing to deserve any of it, but I forgive all who participate in it. As in, I release them from my spirit. Their redemption is their own free will choice, independent of my spiritual journey. I am free.


In the video below, I am singing with my children in the choir. This was before the ban on singing that continues to this day. 

This song expresses the deep empathy that we feel for each other; when we raise our voices for fear to be taken away from humankind, when we cry out for the pains of the world, and when we come together in an honest desire for goodness and blessings for all people. When we are condemned and falsely accused of a hateful mind or a hateful heart, one can merely ask each of us what we believe. One can see our lives and how we serve others. The truth always rises eventually.

As we anticipate Easter Sunday tomorrow, I wish all of you quiet reflection, peace, the beauty of a life of purpose, and joy. Regardless of our differences, reasoned and enlightened people accept these gifts, with respect that the source may be different for each individual, but the honest desire for the happiness of others is something we can agree upon. Thank you to listening to my heart. Tomorrow I shall post joyfully and wish you a Happy Easter! 

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Sand Dollar

First, the oil painting, then the story behind it… you’re invited to reflect upon what this means to you.

Watch me paint “Living Sand Dollar” in a minute (time lapse)

“I saw this living sand dollar in the touch pool at the Marine Science Center, but I’ve also seen many sand dollars at the beach. The living ones are dark and pop through the sand during low tide. We are not meant to take those, as removing them from the ocean will kill these special creatures. One time I saw a woman with a full bucket of living sand dollars and I felt grief stricken. But, when a sand dollar is light and dry (bone white and brittle, or turning that way), it is no longer living, and may be collected as a wonderful beach treasure souvenir.
The sand dollar is a fascinating simple sea creature with markings that have deeply religious and spiritual meaning for many Christians, and are especially meaningful at Easter. There are markings on the front and back, and “doves” inside (discovered only when a sand dollar is broken open).For many, the sand dollar represents the birth, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ:
1. Five slits in a configuration may represent Christ’s wounds while on the cross
2. Markings look like an Easter lily with a star in the middle, symbolizing the birth of Christ
3. On the opposite side is an outline of a poinsettia, or Easter lily
4. Tiny doves of peace and hope are inside (white bird shapes that were once the sand dollar’s teeth)
Besides all of this, sand dollars are special to me because my dad brought one home to me when I was a child. He had been to Savannah for a military training exercise and had found the sand dollar on the beach. He told me that I needed to go one day, that I would love it. Dad died from cancer at age thirty-seven, after having beat it once before when in his twenties. He had served two tours in the Vietnam War. I had recently turned sixteen years old when he died. Many years later, I not only got to visit Savannah, but I now live here, and hope to make it my forever home.
When I found my first sand dollar on the beach, I held it up to the sky and said, 'This is for you, Dad.'"

from book "50 Oil Paintings Inspired by Savannah, Georgia" by artist Natalie Buske Thomas

Update to the above story…


The art in the second video “Angel Releasing Dove” probably looks to you as if I was painting my sand dollar story as it relates to me holding a sand dollar to the heavens for Dad… but my conscious mind wasn’t aware of this connection until now, when putting this blog together. It was simply another painting project.


At the time, I’d found a bit of a broken shell that looked like an angel’s wing, and the idea to incorporate the actual shell into a painting of an angel was born. The “dove” idea came later when I realized that it was the right size to add to the painting. But really, it was just about using cherished treasures from a beautiful day at the beach with my family, especially my daughter who was walking with me when I found the broken shell and agreed with me that it looks like an angel’s wing.


So, it was new memories, not old, that inspired the angel and dove painting. And yet, obviously, it looks very much connected when I see the previous sand dollar story next to the angel and dove video. In this way, I once again see how our past, present and future are always connected- even when we can’t see it.


Sometimes that connection is seen easily by outside eyes, while we are oblivious to it. But does our unawareness made the connection disappear? I think not. Someday, we may see it. When that happens, it doesn’t make the reality suddenly reappear, it simply means that we are aware of it. Our awareness, recognition, admission, or approval of reality is unnecessary for truth to exist.


Nor do we need to understand serendipity or natural wonders, for those miracles to exist. And that brings me to a timely point to ponder:


If the religious meaning that some assign to a sand dollar is offensive, could a sand dollar be “banned”? The sand dollar is a living creature. Only when it is dead does it become a “thing” to possess and reassign to our own significance. The reality of the sand dollar’s life or death is not altered by the opinions, beliefs, passion, appreciation, or malice of humankind.


I invite you to ponder what happens when the free will of people to determine for themselves those thoughts that are kind or unkind to share, the words that should be said or left unsaid, and when the power of language that may hurt another may be considered a weapon; is controlled, stifled, and enforced by entities who perceive themselves as a moral authority over thoughts, ideas, words, and the association, distribution, possession and communication of these concepts. What happens? Is the truth altered? What is changed? Is the world a better place?


Is the sand dollar living or dead? If people no longer believe in religion, as is the wish of a very large movement (which is, of course, in itself a religion, though they are blind to it), for the “good” of the planet, will the sand dollar’s markings fade? Will they be erased? No, of course not. We cannot remove all traces of symbolism or reminders of what humankind believes, thinks, or feels that is “wrong”.


The sand dollar is a primitive living creature who is in many ways more free than we are. It is allowed to simply “be”… except when opportunistic beach goers collect these fragile beings while still alive, thereby killing them. The reasons for controlling other living beings may be scorn, condemnation and the prevention of influence and ideas that entities do not like… but sometimes control is about possessing another being, even if that possession denies them the freedom they need to thrive… or survive.


When I posted my Easter show yesterday, I named the video file “spring show”, because I wanted to avoid censors that blacklist the term “Easter”. Whatever your feelings about religion, politics, and other causes, I invite you to ponder what affect it has on us when entities control our freedom of thought, and our ability to share our thoughts with others.


Just as a sand dollar can never be “banned”, we are alive-imperfections and all- and are meant to be free.

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Light House

First, the oil painting, then the story behind it… make sure you don’t miss my philosophical questions for you.

Watch me paint this lighthouse in a minute (time lapse)

“My dad’s one and only painting in his life was of a lighthouse. Decades later, I was inspired to paint one, after seeing this lighthouse both from the road on the way to Tybee Island, and then later from the sea while on a dolphin boat tour. This lighthouse is located two miles west of the tourist attraction, Tybee Island Lighthouse, and is actually on Cockspur Island. The first Cockspur Lighthouse was built in 1849 to mark the entrance to the south channel of the Savannah River. Because it wasn’t working adequately, it was later rebuilt in 1857. To preserve this historical marker, the lighthouse isn’t open to visitors. What do you feel when you look at this painting? Hope, above a sea of unknown depth & profound sadness? Do we focus on what lies beneath, or look to the Light? Art says something different to me, depending on the moment, even if the painting is my own work. So, my answer to how this lighthouse makes me feel will be different depending at where I am in life’s journey, or what my mood is at that time.”

- from the book "50 Oil Paintings Inspired by Savannah, Georgia" by artist Natalie Buske Thomas

Update to the above story…


It never occurred to me that Dad’s lighthouse painting was probably inspired by a real lighthouse that he’d seen. His painting was almost sketch like, not detailed. But when I was researching for an upcoming project, I stumbled upon images from where Dad grew up. I was surprised to see that there was a lighthouse in that area of upstate New York. Why did I never know this? Or maybe someone mentioned it and I didn’t remember? Why hadn’t he ever taken us there, or did he? Could we have driven past it when he was showing us his childhood places?


If so, why didn’t I remember? Was it because the tour through Dad’s places was during his last visit home, when he knew he was terminal? He was told he had only two months left to live and some of that time had already gone. I had a hard time listening to what he was saying as he gestured out the car window. I couldn’t even tell what he was pointing at sometimes, and I didn’t know some of the people he talked about. I also couldn’t see much from the backseat and I was likely nauseous, as I hate traveling in the back of a small car.


For all of those reasons, and possibly others, I may not remember having seen Dad’s lighthouse. But it’s also possible that he never showed me. A third possibility is that I’m wrong about the inspiration for his painting, but on this third point I feel the most confident about. I do believe the lighthouse near where he lived is likely his painting inspiration. The rest, I don’t know.


My philosophical question to you is this: does the truth matter? I can’t prove one way or another if Dad ever told me about that lighthouse. It’s been too many years, and most of the people who may have known are also dead. Is the truth dead also? When does reality no longer matter? Does it have an expiration date?


What if the truth was never known in the first place? Maybe Dad never mentioned the lighthouse inspiration to anyone. If truth is never known, does it matter?


What if I’m wrong, and there was no particular inspiration for Dad’s lighthouse? Maybe he painted it on a whim from his imagination, which is what I’d always assumed. If something never happened in the first place, yet people believe it does, does truth matter?


What creates reality, our perception of truth, or the actual truth? Dad didn’t know what I thought about his painting, or that I’d one day paint a lighthouse of my own. I don’t know what inspired his painting, or if it had personal meaning to him. I do know that he felt a deep connection to lighthouses spiritually, as a symbol of his Christian faith. I am remembering that as I write this.


So, as I’ve now finished the last sip of my coffee and I’ve been taken off guard by that memory of Dad’s faith connection to lighthouses, I’ll end with these thoughts… I’m calling this blog post “Light House” instead of Lighthouse. Are we seekers of a light house, or do we house light? Do we seek a house of light in the darkness, in a storm, and when we need to find our way back home? Or do we cast the light that others seek when they are lost?


Light house, or house light? Whether we are lost and seeking our way, or housing light to show the way to others, fate is only one factor. Much of what we do is manifested by our thoughts and desires. Even when we are in the darkest storm, destiny may prove us as both the traveler and the lighthouse keeper simultaneously.

See previous blog post that mentions this lighthouse painting: Painting Seascapes

I hope you’re enjoying my blog series, “Stories that Inspire my Art”. If you prefer not to check back to see if there’s something new, please subscribe to my blog to be notified when there’s a new blog post ready.

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Painting Allegories

Allegorical paintings represent abstract concepts through pictorial symbols and extended metaphors. Artists paint one thing, while meaning another, or might literally paint allegories- as in, the painting depicts well known literary allegories. In which case, perhaps the art is a “double” allegory. Allegories are stories and symbols of moral importance, generalized truth, messages of warning or encouragement, and philosophy found in writing, theater, and art.

Narrow Way” was inspired by the allegory of a narrow difficult road to spiritual enlightenment and true happiness, while the road to destruction is wide and easy. The addition of an apple tree that produces poisonous fruit on one side, and life-sustaining fruit on the other was my own artist contribution and alludes to another well known metaphor for “good and evil”, “temptation”, and “free will”. Abstract concepts, conveyed through symbols and extended metaphors, may push an artist to paint in a different style.

Rather than painting a more natural incline in the two roads using perspective, skewing, distortion, and variation of hues, the paths are painted nearly flat, as if pictures on a map. A break from traditional techniques and approaches tells the viewer that this is a different type of painting. Why is it different? What does it mean? In this way, the artist succeeds in the goal of an allegorical painting: inspire the viewer to ponder the meaning of the art.

Narrow Way” is an allegory representing generalized truth about the human condition (the difficulty man sometimes has in choosing good over evil, resisting temptation). This type of allegory is shared by diverse scholars, playwrights, screenwriters, artists, musicians, educators, and leaders of world religions. While likely in disagreement about the analysis, moral responsibilities, or solutions, generalized truth itself is fairly universally accepted. In the next painting, “Predator and Prey Alike“, the allegory is philosophical, moving beyond generalized truth.

Predator and Prey Alike” depends heavily on painting techniques to convey action.  The extended metaphor is philosophical, proposing that the animal kingdom is treated equally by God, regardless of whether an animal is the king of beasts or his helpless prey, and the same is true of mankind. In the circle of life, all will die. None will reign forever. This allegory represents the concept that no human is higher than another in the eyes of God. All will eventually meet the same end. Tyrants with power to enslave others and their downtrodden peasants alike will meet the same fate.

Painting a generalized truth metaphor (like “Narrow Way“) may be depicted by a clean simple composition, while painting a philosophical allegory (like “Predator and Prey Alike“) may be represented with a complicated composition, containing many subjects, action, and busy storytelling elements. Of course those rules are made to be broken. When I throw out suggestions and strategies, they are merely meant as ideas; sharing what I’ve experienced in my own work.

In this last example of an allegorical painting, “Armor of God“, the intention is to provide a meaningful experience to the viewer. Painting for emotional impact relies on powerful contrasts and bold lines. The oils go from the darkest darks to the lightest lights, and the only spark of color is through the gold armor and radiant light. This painting relies on illusion to create a suspenseful and stirring composition.