I love the simplicity and uncomplicated nature of painting, and for me it has become the ultimate form of creative freedom. I can see myself painting as long as I can see and move my arms.–Michael Medsker
Michael Medsker is an artist in Colorado, USA. He and his wife have a video production business in which he is able to combine the visual arts with writing and story-telling. This business also allows him the time to pursue his artistic passions on canvas as well. Michael is a 52 year old artist, but developing this artistic business and environment for artistic pursuit is not something that he has done his entire adulthood. In fact, it has only been the last few years since Michael left the world of retail and his family’s line of convenience stores and embarked on this new journey as an artist.
The Early Artist
Michael first discovered his passion and talent for visual arts when he was just a kid, using a Kodak Brownie camera to shoot black and white images of his neighborhood and the neighborhood kids. His first teacher of photography was in his freshman year at a prestigious Denver, Colorado high school. “Not only did he teach me black and white photography skills, he taught me by example that anyone can accomplish anything they desire if they are truly passionate about it. His daytime, paying job was teaching us. His nighttime job was completing a documentary that ultimately took him to the Oscars as a nominee.”
Michael continued studying photography throughout high school. After his freshman year, his parents took him to a new school where there was no darkroom. Recognizing his gift for photography, the school board gave him a budget to create a darkroom, and he was soon teaching year book staff students how to develop photographs from film. His artistic accomplishments didn’t stop there. “I had developed a reputation for creating a multi-media presentation that influenced the school board to make a life sciences class a permanent part of the curriculum. Slides were projected on a wall and timed precisely with audio interviews and music that had been recorded on a cassette tape.”
Oddly enough, Michael majored in business when he went to college, but continued to pursue his artistic inclination. He worked his way to the position of editor at one of the nation’s most awarded yearbooks. Despite his choice of major, Michael’s heart was in the arts, and it seemed to everyone that that would be the direction he would choose to take.
From Artist to Businessman: A Dry Period
“Some kind of energy shift occurred upon graduation that I may never be able to explain,” Michael said. While he wasn’t certain what it was, he believed it had to do with fear—fear of failure as an artist, or more likely, Michael speculated, fear of succeeding as one. Michael turned from his love of art, and went into business.
The next fifteen years marked a life with no artistic expression for Michael. He married, had four wonderful children, and soon took over his family’s line of convenience stores. He was financially stable, but there was something missing. At the age of 39, Michael went through a full-blown mid-life crisis. “As my 40th birthday approached, I became really conscious of my own mortality and I began to examine my own level of happiness. I began realizing that net worth on paper has nothing to do with self-worth.” Over the next ten years, Michael would struggle through a difficult divorce, be blessed to enter a new relationship with his current wife and business partner, and continue to do some deep soul-searching.
Six years ago, Michael began teaching himself to paint. He displayed these pieces of art at his previous business, a historic hotel and restaurant that he ran with his wife. But it wasn’t until they sold the business in 2010 that Michael was really able to start devoting his time to his art. At 49, he found himself near financial ruin but also found that he was finally positioned to pursue his art full time. He started this endeavor with his current business, Vision Finder Productions.
At Vision Finder Productions, he and his wife create artistic short documentaries, often of tourist venues in Colorado, where they live. Michael finds this business as an artistic outlet, saying he “finds a great deal of synergy in video production; it gives me the opportunity to blend the visual arts with writing and storytelling.” His art at Vision Finder Productions is one where he is able to work closely with his wife. They plan together, shoot together, and edit together. The two of them keep each other open to new things, new ideas and ways of thinking about their subjects. He also finds that having this business allows him to have more time to paint, and to join in the community of artists through blogging.
Art Spirit Village: the Blog
About five years ago, Michael started blogging as a way to keep a daily journal, and he shared it only with people he knew and trusted. It wasn’t until a year ago that he decided to go public and start a blog that he hoped would be a community for artists. “It was a big step when I started ArtSpiritVillage . . . and now I can’t imagine not having it as a form of artistic expression that is public for all to see. So many creative ideas and concepts are shared in the blogging community, it is a safe place to be yourself and express yourself freely, to learn from others the things that they have learned, to hopefully help others to not feel alone in their own creative journey.” Michael enjoyed his blogging experience so much, that he and his wife also decided to create a blog to go along with their business: LocalTouristColorado.com. “It is really beginning to dovetail beautifully into our video production efforts,” Michael said.
On both of these blogs, Michael displays many of the pictures that he and his wife take while they are out on video shoots. The images are incredible. They often take weekend trips to various locations in Colorado, in order to make their video shoots, and capture some beautiful images. While they are out, they often talk with the locals within the towns they visit to include the “story” for the venues they shoot. They have had the opportunity to see bears, state artistic treasures, and even a couple of people out walking their pet goats. Michael and his wife have been able to turn these experiences into stories of Colorado that would otherwise go unknown.
Not Finished Yet
While Michael only recently embarked on this journey as a full time artist, it is evident that the journey really started for him as a child. Though there was the period of time where it seemed he was doing nothing to become an artist, is it too much to suggest that the artist was growing quietly inside of him? From the moment he realized something was wrong, and he needed to change things in his life, it took him ten more years to get to the place where he could finally let the artist inside of him express himself. That’s a lot of time requiring a lot of patience. But he never gave up, and he still works to keep himself in this position.
Michael isn’t finished yet. He would like to someday “unveil” his paintings in an “undefined “opening” in which [he] will bring all of [his] creative ambitions together.” And while Vision Finder Productions is a great outlet for his artistic side, he would like to someday be creating paintings with most of his time. In the meantime, he spends a lot of time learning and creating for that “undefined opening.” I’m thinking this is a pretty good start for someone who only two years ago first said the words, “I am an artist.”
If you are someone like Michael, who once had a dream, and it’s a dream you have never forgotten, I hope you are inspired by this man, this artist, who never forgot his dream and pursued it, so that now he can live in it.