Courage

Extend your capabilities and face life’s struggles. Having the courage to go directly into battle with everything life throws our way gives us the ability to adapt and overcome. Without courage you will not win. ~ Me

I posted this statement on FaceBook a few weeks ago. In fact, at a time when I was making important decisions about my future and other things I wouldn’t want to waste your time with by writing it all in this blog post. Today, I asked myself what I was trying to say when I posted that statement and if the words I wrote have any value to artists.

A quick trip to the garage and a few cuts later, the cropped/resized oil painting on panel is ready for final edge sanding, the official signing, and then off to varnishing. © Michael Warth

Sometimes, the excess noise in our lives has the power to kill creativity. The ability to cut the fat and become more efficient is as important as knowing what brush to use or how to mix the right colors. Do you ever look at a finished piece and think to yourself it has too much extra canvas? What if the image was cropped? Do you have the courage to cut a finished piece, reduce the excess, and put the focus where you intended? Until you have guts to fire up the saw and make that first cut, you may never realize the courage required to commit to making the necessary changes.

Cut and ready, the once 14″ x 11″ panel is now 12″ x 9″ – © Michael Warth

Obviously life has unexpected challenges that require much more courage than simply cutting up a finished painting. Health struggles, financial challenges, and the stuff we as humans face on a daily basis can really knock us down. I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase, “that which doesn’t kill us, makes us stronger” or any of the other encouraging statements people tell each other to help us get back on our feet. For me, the real point here is learning how to adapt and overcome.

In photography, we often shoot a test picture to see where the ambient light exposure is before adding flash. Not every photo looks acceptable with or without a punch of light thrown in to properly expose the scene. When I started planning this post I knew I wanted to make a picture of me cutting the painting down to size. However, I was less interested in a snapshot of the garage and more interested in playing with a few speedlights. In fact, the final image of me in the garage was exactly what I was hoping to accomplish and it wouldn’t have been possible without a little trial and error. Sure, the light meter was helpful, but in the end it was all about adapting to the ambient light and manipulating the speedlights to look like they were part of the natural lighting in the scene. I essentially had to overcome the challenges to get what I wanted.

We’re not always going to make the right choices. I could have cut my finger off when the saw was running if I was only focused on f-stops, shutter speeds, and ISO settings. We are going to fail at times. We may even consider giving up right when success is just around the corner. I wasn’t terribly motivated to write or get off the couch this evening.  Having the courage to make a choice, move on, and get back to living is essential to success. When we let the challenges win, we lose.

Get off your butts and boldly face the challenges with a strong will. When you learn to sail in a storm, you’ll no longer fear drowning. When you learn to climb a mountain, you’ll no longer fear heights. Allow yourself to fail but don’t lose. Allow yourself to win but don’t rest on your success. Use challenges to make yourself better than before. You got where you are today because you adapted and overcame some challenge – think of every challenge as an opportunity and I have no doubt you will be the success you’ve always wanted to be.

Change Is Good

Charcoal drawings, oil paintings, and photography all in one place. © Michael Warth

Charcoal drawings, oil paintings, and photography all in one place. © Michael Warth

It’s late, and I’m sitting here at the Mac writing about change. I’m also in a rush – I’ve been binge watching Breaking Bad for a few days and I finally reached the final season. Therefore, I’ll make this quick.

The short version, and the just of what I’m blogging about is that change is good. The stoic in me says there is no good or bad, so I should just leave it there. The Kaizen instructor who said to me (because he read it in a book), “good is the enemy of great”, can be heard deep in my mind. But I say this, if change is inevitable, why not make it good and now that I’m 80% of the way there (aka good enough), why not push that change into the realm of greatness? Why rest on my past and say, “it is what it is” and go with the flow in terms of change because change happens?

OK, maybe that was getting too deep and thought out. Essentially, I am consolidating the art that I do into one central online presence. This blog represents the “landing page” of my creative journey. My creative OCD or ADHD that drives me to make pictures and start projects needs a central jumping off point and this blog seems like the best place.

Why am I explaining this? Simple, I am trying to eliminate the segregation of my photography, paintings, and even that old project I called ‘The Thirsty Muse’. I’m an artist. The adjectives we use to put ourselves into a category are simple tags that limit who we are. I’m not a commercial photographer – I’m a photographer. But even still, I’m an artist who uses a tool to make pictures. The tool might be a brush, a camera, a pen, a pencil…you get the idea. Therefore, I’m not a painter, or a photographer – I am an artist. So why not put my art in one place and just make art?

This “change” allows me frees me up to simply make art and choose what I want to do. There is a lot of creative freedom in this way of thinking. I don’t particularly care for client work and I like to work at my own pace. Not to say I won’t work with others, I’ll just have a much easier time saying, “no” when I have my own projects that I want to finish.

There you go…more to come.