Michael Bartlett

Art • Photography • Video Production

 
 

As a wildlife artist and nature photographer, I try to capture the essence of all my experiences in nature and produce a piece of art for others to enjoy. I love the outdoors and the artist in me is always looking for the next picture, the perfect composition, the right lighting, layers of contrast and color, subject matter and the right story to tell. Every subtle detail is entered into the memory banks and carefully evaluated for it’s artistic potential. I know that someday I will have a need for this visual scrap book of information. Art lovers, outdoor enthusiasts and sportsmen all recognize an authentic wildlife image and I strive to connect with them.


As far back as I can remember, I knew I was wired to be an artist. I thoroughly enjoyed the creative process of getting lost in my imagination and then putting those ideas to paper or canvas. Growing up without television, learning to tear things apart and putting them back together, using my imagination to illustrate a book, growing a garden from seed, caring for farm animals and learning to explore the natural world around me were all childhood blessings. I could spend the whole day playing along the creek, building tree forts and trails through the woods, gathering insects and wildflowers, outside until darkness or hunger drove me home. Southern Oregon was a visually rich environment with plenty of unspoiled wilderness and it shaped my love of nature.


Being out in nature is also a spiritual experience for me because I have a personal relationship with the all-powerful God that spoke our universe into existence with the words of His mouth. When I immerse myself in His creation, I see His fingerprints in every detail. I marvel at the perfect design, I feel the invisible power that holds everything together from the smallest atomic particle to the stars on the edge of our universe. I recognize there is a plan and purpose for everything under the sun. Knowing and having a lifelong relationship with my Creator brings a confident sense of peace and harmony to my life and is a constant source of  inspiration. 


When I started college, I decided to immerse myself in every art class that was available. After my freshman year, a photographer/graphic artist job opened up in the campus printing department and I jumped at the opportunity. I was very green and had much to learn but I enjoyed the whole process. After a few years I was eager to expand and branch out on my own personal art projects. Art shows, a gallery to operate, newspaper articles, commissions, print royalties, positive feedback and early success, all lead me to believe that an art career was going to come easy. Maybe, I could be famous and earn a living doing something that I loved. Just like every artist, I longed for the approval from my audience, the recognition for my talent and accomplishments. My struggle as an artist came when I realized that I was only working to please others. I painted, it sold, the money was already spent and I was on to the next project. It was an empty cycle because it all revolved around me and my selfish desires. Regretfully, I had forgotten my Creator and pushed Him aside for an empty and frustrating career of self-promotion.


Real purpose and artistic freedom came for me when I realized I had been given a talent, not to draw attention to myself but to bring glory to God. There is a greater plan and purpose to my life. Artistic abilities are meant to be used, not buried or selfishly guarded. Serving, giving and investing in the lives of others is much more satisfying than promoting my own work or trying to become famous. Using the work of my hands to focus honor and glory back to God will have results that outlast even the most durable piece of art.


                                    May the favor of the Lord our God rest upon us;

                                          establish the work of our hands for us—

                                            yes, establish the work of our hands.


                                                               Psalm 90:17