Sunday, May 2, 2010

Focus on Color

The Used Palette - Copyright 2010 Warth Arts

As artists we spend a lot of time mixing colors to get just the right look to evoke mood, realism, style, etc. However, a lot of artists get hung up on the right tube of color without understanding the concept of mixing the color one needs. Is it better to have hundreds of tubes of colors so that one can have the color they need? The simple and quick answer is no. Throughout history artists have been on a quest to develop a simple yet complete palette of colors to suit their needs. Why? Because it is always to better to be a master of a few colors than a blind user of "too many".

So how much is "too many"? It really depends on you and what you are comfortable with. I like 13 colors (includes black and white) for studio use and about 7 when I am working en plein air. With that said, I focus on versions of the primaries (red, yellow, and blue). I don't purchase greens because I have always liked my mixed greens better than anything I have ever tried from a tube.

If you are struggling with your colors, and you are overwhelmed with mixing, find a handful of your favorite primary colors and start mixing for practice. Use white to lighten the mix but be careful using black to darken. When darkening a value of a mixed color try mixing a dark color version first using a darker primary and see what happens when you add white. You may end up with a few more darker values of the color you mixed and have good light value versions to use too. For example, if lemon yellow and cadmium blue make a nice green but it is not dark enough to start with, try using cadmium yellow. Play with your colors and make notes.

- Michael

Friday, April 30, 2010

It is What it Is

Many of you know I am on a quest in life to live the journey without regards to a destination. In other words I am trying to live in the moment and stop worrying about the future, or at least stop letting the future rule my life.

Each day we are bombarded with choices. We judge and express ourselves without clearly asking "why" when we don't understand something or feel like an outsider. Why do we judge? Why do we set expectations in stone? I for one feel expectations may be the one thing that creates turmoil and anxiety in our lives.

What does any of this have to do with being an artist, photographer, and/or graphic designer? It's simple really. Stop creating expectations for yourself as a creative and simply create. One's ability to learn may be dictated by their interest in the subject. Therefore if you love to create then learning more about it is a breeze, right? Stop expecting to fit into the worlds mold of what a creative is supposed to be. Learn because you want to; not because you think you need a degree because your expectations tell you success comes after a degree!

Another topic for this "it is what it is" post is the judgemental word with expectations written all over it. The word itself kills creativity faster than a documentary on business ethics. There are even those individuals that regard the word I am talking about as the official label given to those who are given the sole privilege of doing their craft while others must remain hobbyists banished from ever eating at the big kid's table. The word; professional. What does it mean? Why do we need this adjective to label a career anyway. I love to hear folks call themselves a professional artist. Have you ever heard a surgeon say, "I am a professional surgeon." Would you want an amateur surgeon? Think about it for a moment...can you see why expectations drive the proverbial boat? In art, either you are, or you are not. Drop the professional label because it really makes one sound like they are compensating for weak creativity and poor business practices.

It is what it is...there is no reason to judge or to expect. What are you? Are you creating because you want to be something else, or are you creating because it is who you are? When I was a kid I watched a lot of Popeye the sailor cartoons. Popeye would say, "I am what I am" - it stuck with me. Be yourself, be the artist/person you want to be. Keep life simple and slow, enjoy the journey because the destination will get here faster than you think. The eternal dirt bed does not appeal to me these days, I am a simple man, a dad, a husband, a factory worker, a struggling artist, a dreamer, a son, and so much more. Don't limit yourself by calling yourself a "professional" or an "amateur" anything. Don't limit yourself shooting for expectations that others have created. It is what it is...I am what I who you are. Stop judging, stop expecting, live life the way you want to and experience happiness filled by content, and harmony.

- Michael

Friday, April 23, 2010


Hi all,

My artwork was featured over at the Traveling Suitcase (LINK) last Saturday April 17th.

Check out the post, and thank-you Sandy for featuring my work and a little history of my hometown!