Finally Back At It – Officially

As many of you know the last few months have been a challenging, albeit overwhelming time for me. A lot of what made life difficult is not important but what I can say is that I am finally moved into my new house, the Jeep (Wilma) is broke down, and I have some pretty awesome accommodations at the new place.

Still a work in progress, the attic studio is a great quiet place away from the world of chaos. – © Michael Warth

First off, I have an attic studio which is rustic, not too hospitable, but a bit of a man-cave where I can write at a proper desk, smoke a cigar when I want to, have a drink, work on some artwork, or simply enjoy music or watch TV. In fact I am writing this very post on an old writing desk I planned to give away years ago, while sipping a beer, and listening/watching the movie, Skyfall (James Bond, 2012). A few well placed antique lamps, chairs, tables and an easel make the space quite comfortable for me. The fact I am out of the house, yet only a 20 second walk away, makes the attic studio a nice getaway where I can be as loud as I want to be or enjoy the peace and quiet. Did I mention my neighbors? I live by a cemetery on one side, state park on one side, and everyone else is at least a tenth of a mile away separated by trees and more trees.

Inside the main house, I have a proper studio and office with a few easels and a drawing table. I find the space perfect for working a sight-size style still life, working from photos, and simply drawing while still having the convenience of running to the kitchen for the perfect snack or taking a break to watch whatever binge-worthy show is on TV. 

Painting en plein air near my home at the local state park. © Michael Warth

The Jeep breaking down really hampered my plans this fall. I wanted (and still have plans) to become much more productive painting en plein air using the pochade box setup but I guess it is what it is. With the 7 acres of woods I am sitting on, there are still many opportunities to paint outside. The fact that I am only a mile and a half from thousands of acres of state park land, I am sure I can find something to do.

I could ramble on about what I am up to and I could share countless stories of the past few months. Just know, I am doing short videos (I’m planning a YouTube Channel for the videos), I am busy making art, and I am busier than ever. I still do the occasional photoshoot, and I even do a few commercial photo assignments from time to time but I am prodigious at standing at the easel these days. The peace and closeness to the woods have inspired me beyond comparison and I am happy that we moved away from town.

The only downside is that I seem to always be working and I don’t have as much free time to spend with friends. Yes, I cancel my artistic plans often and find myself less than productive when a friend calls but I say, “no” more than I want to when someone asks me to hang out. In fact, I got a text from a great friend today when I was painting. It’s just too expensive to scrape up the oil paint and stop every time I get a chance to hang out. I know, I know, we all need decompression time with people we care about but I also must make art. The anxiety I get when I think of not making enough art before I die can be wicked crazy at times.

This blog post is more of a ramble than I cared to write but I needed to share. I want you all to know I am working and I am happy. I’ve learned that my personal well-being is directly tied to having a place to relax alone and make art. I need time in front of the easel, at the keyboard, or simply away from distractions. I look forward to what the future holds for Michael Warth Studios…I hope you stick around too!


It is what it is – again

Some time ago, Friday, April 30, 2010, I made a blog post on an another website I was using to share my art-related ramblings. I called the post, “It Is What It Is”.

I find that post just as relevant today as I sit in the Jeep, thinking about what to blog, far from home and worried about my wife Lisa. She’s undergoing a new technology to help the nerves in her eyes recover from stroke damage. Hopefully, this will help the blindness, or at least slow the progression.

Back to the point – life has a way of kicking us around and spitting on us when we are down. I can say this with great enthusiasm – it is what it is.

The following is an edited version of the post from 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, creative? 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 or that your expectations tell you success comes after getting the paper to prove that you learned.

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 I’m referring to is “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 am…be who you are. Stop judging, stop expecting, live life the way you want to and experience happiness filled by content, and harmony.

When I reread the post above I got a giggle out of it. I remember the day I wrote it. In fact, I remember why I wrote it. The point of the rant is simply to express my opinion that adding a word like professional in front of our vocation really doesn’t do much. Getting paid doesn’t make one any more of a professional than someone doing free work to build experience or make a better portfolio. Not getting paid doesn’t make one not professional.

As artists we must live the lifestyle associated with being an artist. It’s a love affair with making art, don’t let anyone defeat you by saying you are not a professional and if you work at your craft part-time and dream of going big time but life is beating you up, just remember:

If you make art, you are an artist. If you have other responsibilities that keep you away from your art, it is what it is. Make art when you can and be the artist you are.