Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Yen and Yang...Can I combine my creative heart and soul?

My yen and yang; photography and art. I see one of these as a help to the other, without one, the other suffers. On the world wide web, photography is all the buzz. Make just one wedding photography comment on Facebook and it will be clear how many opinions there are regarding the profession (or in some cases hobby). Wedding photography is a hotbed for great and not so great photographers to defend themselves publicly. 

What about fine art? Why is the world of painting and drawing so dead on the Internet? I can see photography as fine art too, I just have a hard time with some of it. Call me a purist, but as a fine artist and a photographer, it is clear to me what the difference between photography and art really is. Then again, it is subjective, and has little to do with this post. Then again, at the heart of it...it does matter to this post.

Even though my art and photography coexist in my creative heart and mind, it is easy for me to use photography as a crutch (think easy buck and instant gratification). Though I work hard at creating good photos, I often forget how much effort goes into creating an oil painting of the same subject.

There lies the rub, the time factor. Can I charge for my time like a photographer, or should I charge my artist rates as a photographer? I find this to be terribly difficult, and I also imagine, this is one reason why photography is buzzing the Internet more than oil paintings. Think about this, there are thousands of photos uploaded to social media every second of every day. How many of them are photos of a painting? If I told you a commercial photographer could charge a beer manufacturer his time, costs, and even license usage for a few photos at a rate of $15,000 per day would you believe me? Would that same beer manufacturer pay for a series of the same images as oil paintings? If so, would they be willing to pay for it?

I would love to do a commercial shoot with a craft brewery, then turn around and paint the selected images for their campaign. After painting them, license the images of the paintings to them and make the same amount as the photographer who would be paid to make commercial photos. Why? Because I can do both...is there a market for that? Could I charge $25,000 for 4 images like the photographer? My guess is, no...there is no market for it, and the art directors of the ad campaigns would never use a painting when a photo is all they are after. The phrase "good enough" comes to mind.

It may be worth a look, me combining my passions...my yen and yang of my creative heart and soul...into doing commercial product paintings for leaders of the craft beer industry. Maybe if one of my friends at Stone Brewing Company reads this, they could call me to discuss it?


Sunday, August 18, 2013

In Progress

I was hoping to be done with this by now, but then again, a work in progress is better than not working at all.

I often use the Macbook Pro to show my reference photos...I'd rather do it this way than print the images. Alternatively, I would much rather work from life, but that is for another post.

When you paint, how do you work? Do you include technology, work from photos, only work from life, drink Monster Energy? I would love to know how you work.

- Cheers

Friday, August 16, 2013

Energy Sucking

Are there things sucking the energy out of your life and keeping you from creating? A job, friends, family, the Internet? Dealing with energy suckers is part of being a creative. I have let the energy suckers almost kill my passion for art and photography.

Wether you are a painter, writer, photographer, athlete, musician, teacher, factory worker, etc, it doesn't matter. External pressures and interruptions cause the energy to be sucked right out of you. More importantly, these things can suck the energy out of you right when you are on the verge of doing something about those dreams you have (or had). 

Dealing with the energy suckers is paramount to balancing life with following a dream. If you must go to work (because the dream you are chasing does pay enough yet), find time when you are not at work to do that thing you are passionate about. Treat your time off the regular job, as a job, and carve out time in the day to follow your dreams. Be sure to have down time too, following your dream doesn't mean you have to give up your social life. 

If all of this sounds like common sense, it should. Remember, you will always be were you are at, if you never start taking steps to get where you want to be. Carving out time to follow your dreams will build your energy up to help keep the energy suckers from sucking the life out of your dreams. Eventually, you may stop doing things that used to suck the energy out of you altogether (television is a good example), your daily routine will be reduced to the things that you truly find important and productive. 

The energy will build, and the dream will become reality...the energy suckers will always be there. However, you will have the mindset to continue on the path of following your dreams, and will have the tools to deal with them in order keep moving in the right direction.

Dream big - create - and live your life

Monday, August 12, 2013

Slow to Start - Where is the Drive?

Resistance keeps us from doing the things we love. It may be that we are busy, or laziness, procrastination, or just that overwhelming feeling that keeps us from doing the things we love. 

Over the years I have let these things defeat me as an artist. Almost to the point of giving up. Just look at the post dates here on the blog. As a fine artist I have been defeated by the notion of not making enough money to support my family, cover health expenses, and plan for retirement. I make a great deal of money at a "job" that I don't hate, but does get in the way of my productivity.

Today, at this very moment, I am exhausted and frustrated. I am too tired to produce art, and it is frustrating me that I have not been a productive artist in years. Many of you know I have been working as a photographer, blogging for my personal project (The Thirsty Muse), which I enjoy both, and intend to continue. But what does this mean for my art? Is there enough time to be a painter, photographer, writer, teacher, and full time employee while balancing my family life?

The economy may have killed the market, and we may all blame anything to feel better about why we have "given up" on our art...or just ceased to create. The blame lies with us, it is our fault. If we love it, and it makes us happy, then what are waiting for? Who cares if we make a living selling the art, does that make us any less professional than the whore of an artist who creates terrible art but makes a living from it? And let us be honest, our ideas of "making a living" are subjective. In Ohio, I can sell less than someone who lives in New York City to make a living. The 20-something, dirty, sloppy artist willing to live on nothing but sell his art on the street can live on less. If you want $300,000 per year from your art, then make that a goal. However, I suggest you do the art for your soul, not the money.

Don't let resistance kill your drive. Don't let money be the driving force to your artistic career...remember why you picked up a brush and started in the first place. Yes, it is a slow start, but I am sure the drive is still there; it is just buried in the daily crap we all have to deal with.

In the months to come, I hope to get back to sharing my artistic journey on this blog. Between this blog, the Warth Photo blog, and the thirsty muse, I expect to be writing a lot! Feel free to come visit me on my other blogs too. My creativity is all linked, and makes me the artist I am today.

Go have a great day, make the best of it, and produce something!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Cleaning House

Have you ever thought about how the past may alter the future? Do you believe that stress can come from dragging all that baggage around or having too much stuff? Since October I have been trying to get back to painting regularly and one thing I have noticed is that I am being strangled by stuff and the past.

I decided to start deleting old posts here on the blog that "A" don't relate, and "B" don't provide value. This is hard for me, because blogging here has been a lot like a journal, a record of what I've been doing as an artist since I started blogging. One thing I noticed is that I am doing a lot of planning, but not a lot of doing.

As artists, we tend to be pack rats. We hold onto old art that has not, and probably, will not sell. The art isn't our best work, but we can't throw it away. Nonetheless, that "baggage" we are hanging onto, those posts that have little or no value, and the stuff cluttering our lives, our studios, our workshops, etc, etc, may be holding us back and/or causing stress.

Clean your studio, throw out old "non-selling" artwork, delete files on your computer that don't provide value or need, and if you're a blogger and have posts that no longer relate to your mission...clean it up. Make room for new ideas, and new art.


UPDATE: I deleted nearly 170 posts from the blog.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Before the Rain

Getting out of the studio and painting is one of my favorite things to do. Monday was a frustrating, and quite unproductive day creatively. Therefore, when the sun popped out Tuesday I grabbed the plein air backpack and hit the road in search a place to paint before the rain started in again.

The view I decided to paint - © Michael Warth
The clouds to the South looked pretty dark, but the view North was looking pretty good as you can see in the photo above. I figured I would have a few hours to get the painting blocked in, with the colors and shapes done enough to finish the painting in the studio. I took several photos to help me later.

I always work with a toned canvas, and typically make a quick drawing in pencil before starting the painting process. The 8" x 10" wood panel toned using Raw Umber and White was toned a week ago so it would be dry before packing it in my bag.

The painting was progressing quite well, as passers-by slowed to see what I was doing. Then again, since I took my son, and I was working out of the back of my Jeep, I bet it was funny seeing me out there painting while my son had the stereo jacked listening to his hip hop music. The thumping, the lyrics, and all was at times silly...but we were having fun. To be honest I even cranked the music listening to heavy metal as well. Yeah, I'm not a happy little trees kind of guy...there is something relaxing about listening to Five Finger Death Punch while making a tranquil oil painting.

The storm was coming, and I was pushing my luck. I rushed along getting the colors blocked in as fast as I could to beat the rain. I knew having the basics down, along with some quality photos, I would be able to finish the painting in the studio.

About two hours into painting, and quite comfortable by the way, it started to sprinkle and I ignored it at first. Within minutes, it was raining and I knew it wasn't going to blow over. I had a lot to put away, and even though my plein air set-up is quite easy to pack and transport, I wanted to get things cleaned up so I wouldn't make a mess or forget something on the road.

By the time I got things packed and I was back in the driver's seat, it was like a monsoon outside. Thankfully I packed up when I did. All was not lost though. I got enough done before the rain and I chose this spot because I wanted to make a day of it by heading further north after painting to hit an art store and great restaurant later in the evening.

Matt (my son) and I headed out to get to the art store about 40 miles north of my painting spot. I picked up a 24" x 36" belgian linen canvas, and we made it to the Irish themed pub, The Claddagh in the Brewery District for a Jamison Burger and Guinness. It was a great day, productive, and fun. Everyday should be like this.

In future posts I'll share more about my plein air setup, and how I like to pack my gear for a quick escape from the studio.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

It's Time

Alternative Revolt Magazine - © Alternative Revolt
Still here? I know, I know, I've been gone for over a year. Many of you may know that I have been working full time for "the man" all while performing my duties as the Director of Photography for Alternative Revolt Magazine, my freelance photography work, and of course my work over at The Thirsty Muse.

Levi Benton - © Michael Warth

I've all but quit working as an artist. Though I have painted a few new works, I have really been lazy when it comes to fine art creations. Over the past few months I have been putting new work together, gathering the proper and much needed supplies, and have great plans to get back to what I love. The magazine is gone, and it really did take up a lot more time that I ever thought it would have. Furthermore, The Thirsty Muse takes a lot of time to produce and it does eat up a lot of my free time. With that said, I don't want to wait for January 2013 to start fresh with the new business model for Warth Arts.

I had a lot of fun at the magazine and I will miss it terribly. Meeting and photographing world famous rock stars (as pictured here at the left: Levi Benton of the band Miss May I), writing the popular 'Hopping Mad' beer column and even doing interviews with bands. The stuff back stage, on the tour busses, in the photo pit, and around the venue with literally thousands of screaming fans is something I could never try to explain here on the blog. Just know I made some awesome memories, great friends, and thousands of photographs I am deeply proud of.

Avenged Sevenfold - © Michael Warth
The work at the magazine taught me a lot about life, and what doing what you love is the most important thing in life. I have met individuals who have picked up a guitar, drumsticks, singing, etc., and made it their life's work. Many of them know I paint and wonder why I don't just make the leap and do what I love for a living. That's a long story for another post.

As of now, I have several canvases freshly "toned" and ready for me to start new work. The plein air bag is always packed and ready for an adventure, and the studio is due to be cleaned up and ready for new levels of productivity. I hope you will join me here on the blog to learn more about my paintings, the process, and the adventures I take on to make new art. It's Time...time for me to get back to the things I'm good at, and what I love to do. At times, I'll share what I'm doing in the world of photography, writing, and maybe even a little bit of my personal life.

A recently completed plein air painting...

"In The Field" 8" x 6" Oil on Canvas - © Michael Warth

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Pencil Drawing - Still Fun!

"Fathers & Sons" - © 2011 Michael Warth

The drawing is a recently completed commission. Though I have not taken any commissions over the last few years, I really enjoyed doing this drawing. Most of the work I do now is in oil so this was a nice change of pace. Later this week I plan to frame the drawing and deliver it to the client.

(The Michael Warth Fine Art logo is just on the digital version shown online - the original does not have the mark)

Sunday, March 13, 2011

What Would You Do?

I have pondered a question for many years and I have trouble convincing myself the answer is correct. Ever wonder why we congratulate people who succeed in going out on their own in business and yet we find it easy to judge a loved one by burdening them with the "what ifs"? What if you lose you house? What if you can't pay your bills?

What if you were told you only have a few years to live? Would you finally follow your dreams, or would you continue to play it safe? Failure, fear, and ultimately the fear of failure keeps one from stepping up to the plate. Maybe you strike out; maybe you hit a home run. Until you get off your butt, and step up to the plate you may never know.

Sunday, February 27, 2011


Art, specifically the process of creating art, is a battle. There is a war inside the artist with a force trying to keep one from creating. That force is resistance. 

Working at home it is easy to find "other" things to do besides the work that needs done in the studio. I'm not talking about art in the sense that it is a hobby or something to do when one is bored or relaxing. I am speaking of the art that must be created by the professional artists who know that without producing new work regularly their "tribe" (as Seth Godin describes it) of collectors move on to the next big thing. 

Procrastination, laundry, that movie on TV, dinner, and household chores keep the artist out of the studio and add to the resistance that must be overcome to create new work. As I sit here at the computer writing this post I have experienced years of resistance. I mean years! I have not created new work that excites me for a long time. And yes, there has been a ton of health issues, and other "things" keeping me from the studio. But, with that said, it is still resistance keeping me and my fellow artists from creating new work.

Are you experiencing resistance? Overcome it today, and just work...don't worry about the sales price, or where to sell it, just work! Get in front of the canvas, paper, or whatever media it is, and simply create. Do it regularly, and you may win the war within.

- Michael