Older Work – Acrylic Painting

My daughter before her ballet recital, painted more than ten years ago… it is my one and only acrylic painting. I still had young children then and had frequent interruptions in painting. I complained about how fast the paint dries and my husband suggested I try oil painting. At a later time I did, and I’ve never stopped since. Even though my children aren’t little anymore, the family is active and almost more distracting. I appreciate how oils allow me to stop what I’m doing and go back to it hours or even days later. That’s really the only way an art vocation can work into the balance of my life.

 

But, beyond the practical nature of oils, I prefer them for many other reasons. I like the feel, glide, and ability to create texture, even light sculpting when the paint is especially thick. I also prefer the vibrant hues and reflective nature of oils. I like the connection to classical and renaissance art of old. I feel a part of something that pines for enlightenment, an affinity with those who paint to express the longing of the human spirit to be known, loved, and elevated to goodness.

 

I am happy though to have used acrylics for this painting of my daughter in her dance costume. The nature of the paints make this look almost vintage, and as the years pass, the memory of it feels longer and longer ago. She says this is her favorite painting I’ve done, and she adds “of course it’s of ME”, but she is drawn to the softer hues and subtle lines, so acrylic appeals to her also.

 

I don’t know if I’ll get back into acrylics ever, but I doubt it. I do prefer oils and they feel much more intuitive to how I paint. If you enjoy art but haven’t yet found your way, it’s possible that you haven’t hit upon the medium you’d be natural for. Maybe you prefer the more flowy style of inks and watercolors? Or you are choosing between acrylic and oil? Pencils? There are so many differences, and that’s without exploring styles of drawing, painting, and creating. So if you’ve become discouraged, perhaps you should try something new.

Note: There’s no video to watch me paint this. I wasn’t filming my sessions yet. Also, I could only find a low resolution photo of it after it was hung on the wall. I’ll keep digging for a higher resolution photo, but I may have to resort to taking a new photo of the original, which is still wrapped up after our move to Georgia. When I get my act together with this piece I’ll create an art page for it on this site.

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Tap Dance thru Life

First, the oil painting, then the story behind it… make sure you don’t miss my vintage, recent past, present and future live tap dance show footage!

Watch me paint “Miracle Dancer” in 2 minutes (time lapse)

I was in a white water rafting accident when I was fifteen years old. It was a horrifying ordeal that left me with an injured spine and unexplained seizures. I didn’t lose consciousness, but had uncontrolled convulsions from the waist down that would leave me temporarily paralyzed and in a wheelchair. I was hospitalized for weeks, but I was discharged without any improvement, and my health was instead declining. The seizures were lasting for longer, sometimes as long as two hours, and the paralysis was now lasting hours as well. I could no longer walk after these daily episodes.

"When I was 16, sitting in a wheelchair after a seizure, the doctor said, 'She will never get out of that chair again.' I refused to believe it I danced in my next recital. I danced ballet, tap, and jazz routines after being in and out of a wheelchair and unable to fully walk for months… and I won a trophy! Never give in, Never give up, when they tell you, you’ll never walk- DANCE! Fight through the pain, Fight through the fear. Life is the DANCE!"

- from the book "50 Oil Paintings Inspired by my Christian Faith" by artist Natalie Buske Thomas

Update to the above story…

 

I never stopped dancing. I performed in live shows in Germany (see my vintage video footage below!) and in several cities in the United States. I became a dance teacher and arts director (video 2), and I’m still dancing (video 3).

 

Watch these vintage clips (in video above) from a live Christmas show for the troops and their families on the Army base in Bamberg, Germany. I danced this routine about two years after I was wheelchair bound.

In video 2 (above), we jump ahead about two decades into the future. I’m tapping a solo during a live show that I directed. The girl who may never walk again was not only still dancing, but was now a teacher, choreographer, and director.

This recent tap performance (above video) was from my live painting Christmas Show. Watch the shows page for more dancing in the future! These days I teach only online (free!), and my time is mostly spent on things related to oil painting, but I’ll never stop dancing… even if one fateful day I can only dance in my spirit.

I hope you’re enjoying my new blog series, “Stories that Inspire my Art”. There are many, many more stories to tell! I’ll post these daily, but 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 Nostalgia

Painting nostalgia invokes wistful yearning for the past using generational clues, natural time markers and vintage compositions. “My Parents’ Wedding Day”, is a remembrance painting. Viewers know that this art is a period piece through the depiction of artifacts (my father’s military uniform and my mom’s now-vintage wedding dress) as well as the wistful hues that make the oil painting look almost like a colorized photograph.

Nostalgia art is easy to recognize when it features people; clothing is a basic and powerful generational clue. A vintage wardrobe is also supported by hair styles, color scheme, and other objects (for example, trends in floral bouquets). In remembrance paintings, nostalgia is created through period piece compositions.

Another style of nostalgia painting is reminiscent. Reminiscence happens when we see something that reminds us of something else. Trees are often older than we are, and have seen many generations come and go. For many people, the sight of trees creates nostalgia for days gone by. For this reason, painting nature can be a type of nostalgia art.

Perhaps an old tree like “Tree on Rock Hill” encourages us to let go of yearning to recreate memories, and instead accept the past as in the past. Like the roots of a tree, even when our past is no longer visible it remains. We are meant to grow from it, not remain stagnant or wither; the past is our foundation for growth. Letting go of pining or regret while embracing positive reminiscence, inspires the pursuit of new life adventures.

A retrospect style of nostalgia painting invites the viewer to look back on the past. While remembrance art such as “My Parents’ Wedding Day” shows itself clearly as a period piece, and reminiscence art like “Tree on Rock Hill” takes the opposite strategy (not straightforward, uses one object to remind viewers of something else, and this may not even be noticed by the viewer), a retrospect painting is a comfortable middle between overt remembrance and so-subtle-as-to-be-missed reminiscence.

A retrospect painting is a soft journey into the past, where warm fuzzy memories await. In “Peach Pie” comfort food served up by golden brown, red, and yellow hues welcomes us to the table. Painting simple joys creates positive, feel good recollections that see the past fondly, a universally sought-after and cherished human experience. When artists paint nostalgia, the world is in a small way a bit better than it was before.

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.