Exploring through making

©Stuart Bush, The Quality of Absence, oil on aluminium panel, 80 x 112 cm

Taking on the history of art and making something new or original is very challenging. Everything seems to have been done before. Picasso said, “good artist copy, great artist steal.” Banksy crossed Picasso’s name out and stole what he said. “The bad artists imitate, the great artists steal.” Pablo Picasso Banksy.

Advertising was stripped and cleansed by Warhole as he took and re-aligned it’s image, colour and details. Pop art mirrored the overload of capitalism by using the tasteless and repetition of consumerism itself. The minimalist through their dislike for capitalism made no attempt to represent the outside, they approached art making differently, by focusing on materials and order, the form of the work became their reality. They accumulated objects and striped them bare. The supermarket stack became a careful composed stack of bricks reflecting the coldness and emptiness. The minimalists, like the pop artists before, wanted to say wake up and smell the coffee, capitalist and consumerist objects are empty and without meaning. No matter how much you buy there is still no hope of transcendence or ascendancy.

I strove to create a dialogue with what came before, Pop art, minimalism and Koons amongst others. However, my work has developed over time, and through setting up my own system of working, my thoughts have moved on. I am no longer focused on creating a dialogue about consumerism even though that’s where I started. My work has deepen and expanded through the process of making. My painting ‘the quality of absence’ allows the viewer to indulge in their own taste and expectations.

I now experiment with and explore a visual grammar. I take shapes and forms with colours and look for the underlining beauty beyond the emptiness of the surface culture. This work is extremely hand crafted with physical man made marks made through painting. By exploring pictorial convention I have developed an interest in the language of space; the space between art and life.

This new work certainly seems to have struck the right note, ‘the quality of absence’ has gone to a new home. The home of one of my customers.

Stuart Bush, The Quality of Absence

Review – Transient Space at the Parafin Gallery, London

No Omega, Sentry and Superstrasse by Mike Ballard and Tracer video by Melanie Manchot. Photo courtesy of Parafin Gallery, London
I often walk the streets of London and wonder about the space I am looking at and the transient passing of time.  I wonder what I should take from my short lived fleeting moments.  This is the subject of a group show at Parafin Gallery in London titled the ‘Transient Space’ as artists Mike Ballard, Nathan Coley, Keith Coventry, Tim Head, Melanie Manchat and Abigail Reynolds explore the space in the city.
 
Parafin Gallery just off Bond Street has been open for three years and shows emerging and established artists.  While I was there, I felt that l had the two floors to myself in the slender venue with plenty of time to browse and enjoy the fascinating show.
Tracing the city with their feet, a free runner on top of the Sage Gateshead in Melanie Manchots, Mesmerising, video installation, Tracer, 2013. Photograph Melanie Manchot; courtesy Parafin, London
Trying to make sense of transient space for many would seem futile.  I’m sure the general public would ask why would you want to make sense of the space.  Isn’t space just space, what possibly could be said about it?  However, focusing on similarly unimportant and the overlooked is the role of the artist.
Tracing the city with their feet, a free runner on top of the Sage Gateshead in Melanie Manchots, Mesmerising, video installation, Tracer, 2013. Photograph Melanie Manchot; courtesy Parafin, London
These artists are like particle physicists, interested in the basic elements of space and mass, and how are they created.  Instead of trying to understand the world through science and maths they are creating a springboard to express ideas and emotions through art.  By doing so, they capture the symphony of the city and together they fill the exhibition space, using their art to prompt a response and to allow the viewer to develop a better understanding of what has previously been overlooked.  The French composer Claude Debussy said, “Music is the space between the notes.”  This group of artists are focusing on just that, the space between the notes.
 
Parade Sculptures, 2015 by Nathan Coley; courtesy Parafin, London
Many works caught my attention starting with Nathan’s Coley’s, Firas, Ido, Rere, Ruth and Rima from 2015 made out of aluminium and perspex and approximately 130 x 35 x 35cm each.  Nathan Coley studied at the Glasgow School of Art from 1985 to 1989, and in 2007 he was shortlisted for the Turner Prize.  Before I knew that Coley has said his sculptures, ‘refer to a state of being, architectures subjected to a physical shift and partially destroyed due to an act of conflict,’  I was enjoying the way the models were presented as simple constructions of architecture made in aluminium and perspex.  This extra layer of information and with the handles on the sculptures it gives a protester the opportunity to raise the base of the pieces of sculptures aloft, elevating them, making the architecture into political statements. Nathan Coley believes these places have weight and value and he encourages the viewer to see the world from his perspective.  These architectural placards instil belief, belief in the importance of humanised spaces and the visible landscape of architecture.  It is a a declaration of sentiment that these places should be cherished and these precious spaces not blown up through conflicts.   
 
Installation shot, The past is always present, Buckingham Palace by Abigail Reynolds. Sharing Smoke, Neighbourhood Watch Mike Ballard 2017 – Photograph by Abigail Reynolds, cortesy of Parafin Gallery
 
Meanwhile, Mike Ballard’s work is interested in the grainy side of the city, his interest clearly comes from his time as a graffiti artist before studying at art Central Saint Martins.  Through a fascination of his abstract marks in forgotten places, Mike turns the overlooked into a beautiful language and abstract art form.  Not as a painter of original abstractions but by using the city as a readymade, balancing surfaces of concrete, wood and street signs with partly removed stickers and images into a visual noise of the spaces.  They capture decisive abstract moments turning them into things of beauty.  Mike’s work encourages you to focus on the fabric of the city, so you never see it the same again.  After seeing his work, l feel encouraged to further my own understanding of taking a slice of the city in search of the poetry of the city.  The show continues until 16th September.

5 challenges to making good art

©Stuart Bush, Nobodies fault, oil on board 70.2 x 50.4 x 3.6cm
There are many challenges to making good art.   I would like to share some of the problems l have overcome along the way.
 
 
When l was starting out as an artist l hoped that a fantastic idea would hit me like a lightning bolt!  I thought to be a successful artist all l needed was one great idea.  I now realise that for me, ideas work better when they come while l’m working rather than having an idea before l start.  Pablo Picasso said, “inspiration does exist, but it has to find you working.”   You need to trust that inspiration and creativity will be there when you get deep and into the flow of your work.
 
In the past self-doubt and my ego have often made me freeze in the studio.  The impulse to freeze can be overwhelming, it feels like being caught like a rabbit in headlights when you’re not sure what to do next.  I have come to realise that these feelings are perfectly normal and are to be expected.  Previously, these freezes made me lose my way, but over time l have realised that everyone who is creative has thoughts and fears of failure at one point or another.  In the Guardian Newspaper, Susan Hiller discusses her daily battle. 
 
 
I realise by wanting to be successful as an artist; l am volunteering for self-doubt.  Success comes to those creative people who overcome this problem.  I have learnt how to get out of my own way, calm an overthinking mind, to channel myself to get back on with my work.
©Stuart Bush in the studio – Nobodies fault
 
Part of the creative process is making mistakes and stumbling on the way through the process.  Mistakes are essential to figuring things out and working out what works. Previously they have felt like the end of the world.  I have learnt to adjust my mindset, and see these mistakes as beneficial learning opportunities to figure what doesn’t work.  Now when mistakes or accidents happen, l understand that it was meant to be and l am able now, to quickly move on with a new sense of purpose, taking on board the newly learned knowledge.
 
I have also learnt about the importance of technical skills in making good art.  I have realised however, that although technical skills are essential to make good art, it is much more important to know how to be creative.  By learning how to be creative and how to get into the creative flow, it is possible to use technical skills to broaden your artistic output.
 
I recently realised that an audience is not initially drawn to your work because of your idea.  Through creating, when the object and making become inseparable, the resulting work is much more intriguing than a big idea.  An artwork is successful when it communicated something to its audience that the audience relates to and understands.  My potential audience and hopefully collectors will buy into my work because they know why l made it, instead of what and how l made it.
©Stuart Bush in the studio – Nobodies fault detail
When I’m feeling self-doubt, when things don’t go my way or when I’m overthinking, the best advice l learnt through these challenges is to get out of my own way.  There are no short cuts to making good art, just lots of small steps along the way.  So get working, make mistakes and enjoy the process.  Like everything in life that is worthwhile, it takes hard work and perseverance. Making good art is about finding your unique voice through your artwork and figuring out why you want to make it.  By communicating the ‘why’ through the work you can make better sense of this world, and make good art!
 
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What is the key tipping points in my career?, how did I end up becoming an artist?

©2016 Stuart Bush, Hopes and Fears, (2007) oil on canvas 150 x 85 cm
©2016 Stuart Bush, Hopes and Fears, (2007) oil on canvas 150 x 85 cm – £3,800 enquiry

Hopes and Fears (2007) symbolises a key tipping point in my career.  It was the most successful painting from my work of this period, when I painted with a representational figurative style.  It has been exhibited in many places from London to Los Angeles and has won two prizes.  Needhams Open in Cambridgeshire in 2008, and X-Power International Art Competition in Beverley Hills, California in 2009.

It is up for sale here or alternatively contact me directly through email or Facebook.

Background to the painting.

“The piece ‘Hopes and Fears’ by Stuart Bush is profoundly influenced by London’s city streets.  In the foreground, a well-dressed man blends into the city, giving it a dreamlike quality somewhere between fact and fiction.  The work obsessively documents a personal psychological journey relating to themes of guilt and obsession with everyday consumerism.  Space, structure, angst, alienation and juxtaposition are all key elements with this work.”

Back to the story…

I was born in the UK in 1978 and while growing up my family and l moved to several different parts of the UK. Moving around the country had an impact on my education, and l only put effort into the classes l liked and ones that came easy to me, like art and design.   
 
My first ambition as a child was to be a stunt man, as l was a big fan of The Fall Guy, The A-Team and Airwolf!   But my passion and talent for art started at an early stage.   I had an interest in drawing and it seemed to come easily to me, I soon realised that being a car designer or an architect might be a little more realistic.
 
At 16 when l received my final grades l realised l had to reconsider becoming a car designer or an architect as l would need to be good at all subjects to meet university entry requirements.  Nevertheless, l continued my education studying Art and Design ‘A’ levels with the intention of being a designer of some sort.  However, after my ‘A’ levels, the foundation course in Art and Design l studied meant that rather than having a design portfolio to get into a design course at university l ended up with an art portfolio!  The foundation course l studied was not Art and Design it was more like  Art and Graphic Design.
 
Nevertheless, l enjoyed the course even though l ended up in a different place than l intended.  I received advice from my college tutors who suggested that l studied Illustration at university.  I didn’t know what l wanted to do and l didn’t think too much about my future as an Illustrator but l took their advice and gained a place at Wolverhampton 
 

I got off to a bad start at Wolverhampton when l didn’t get into the halls of residence. This meant l had to find a shared house to live nearby.  

Not getting into halls of residence limited my number of people I knew significantly.  My friends were mainly the people on my course, and I lived with 3 of them. In my second year, I also realised it was the wrong course at the wrong university.  Things went from bad to worse and I wasn’t happy and wanted to leave Wolverhampton and change classes.
 
I was determined to make a change and make the most out of the situation.  I approached my University and said I wanted to transfer universities.  I meet with a lady in an office, and she told that the university has additional places on an international transfer to America.   The were places available to go to ISU Illinois State University near Chicago in January.  At the time this was only nine weeks away, and I was given one night to decide. I was lacking self-confidence and very concerned about going, but I was determined to make a change, and this appeared as my best and only option.
 
After a very long conversation with my family, I applied the next day to go to America on an international transfer. I enrolled in painting and photography classes. It was very different from Illustration course at Wolverhampton. It suited me better, and I gained a great deal of much-needed confidence in my self and my abilities.
 
In Chicago l started three studio classes including Painting, Drawing and Photography which wasn’t easy as there was a heavy workload.   I quickly made two main groups of friends and lots of other friends in the inernational halls of residence.  One group who liked partying and another group who liked a good time aswell as making art.  I was torn between the two.  I took me a while to realise who my real friends were and thankfully they were the hard working artists.  This tough decision was a central life changing decision.
 
I enjoyed both the painting and photography classes l was enrolled in and they have both become a major part of my Art.  This life changing trip had a fundamental effect on me and l was helped by being able to travel to many parts of the US.  I returned to Wolverhampton to finish my degree with ‘A’ grades from Illinois State University and with a new passion for painting and photography and a new self-belief!
 
After university l had the confidence to go travelling on my own for six months visiting Hong Kong, China and Australia. During my travels l carefully thought about how l was going to make a living when l returned to the UK.    I realised that l was not in the position to make a living as an artist, so l thought carefully about getting the right type of full-time job that suited my needs.  I ended up choosing a job with a four days on and four days off shift pattern that l have grown to love. This crucial decision was base on my determination to become an artist and it has paid off.
 
After a few years of full-time work l started an MA in Fine Art.  I now rent a painting studio a few miles from where l live and happily paint at every opportunity.   The decision to go to America was certainly life changing.  It was where l found my passion for art.  I now look forward to everyday with my varied and exciting life.

Exhibiting again and why it matters

©Stuart Bush, Instruction Manual, oil on board 40 x 30 x 3.6 cm – for sale at the show
About a month ago I received an email from Lindsay Moran from Leyden Gallery he invited me to the Leyden Gallery near Old Spitalfields Market in East London to meet the curators and directors. The meeting was planned to last half an hour. However, it ran well over and it went very well. I felt that the curator and director of the Gallery had a very similar outlook to me. I was therefore very pleased to receive a follow-up email from the gallery offering me an opportunity to exhibit my work at The Leyden Gallery.

Why it matters

Several years back l stopped entering juried art shows due to the time, effort and money it was taking me. I had often had my work accepted for exhibitions in different areas of the UK and the US. I have sent my artwork to New York and Beverley Hills from my UK base. However, I found that I was putting a lot of effort into exhibiting and this took time away from making art. Although I did make some sales, it wasn’t going to pay the bills. I decided that I needed to set the bar higher. I stopped exhibiting completely and decided that when I started exhibiting again I would be more focused on developing relationships with galleries with similar philosophies as me. I also decided I would focus on geographical areas where there are more opportunities to get my art in front of the collectors, gallerist and artists. The intention was to make the most of the time, effort and money that l had been using exhibiting.

As l was not exhibiting, I had no deadlines and no pressure to make a particular type of work. I was able to get to the bottom of what I was trying to achieve in my work as an artist. The time for contemplation was of great benefit. I have been able to develop a practice where I am no longer pretending or unsure of where I am heading. I realised the artists should always be themselves, and I learnt to understand what that means.

This show feels special. It is an opportunity to present my work in the best environment, develop a relationship with Lindsay and Adriana from Leyden Gallery and hopefully develop relationships with collectors. I am excited about the kind of work the gallery exhibits the and the opportunities that will hopefully come. I hope to establish a good gallery/artist relationship where I will be to share my future work. Fingers crossed!

I feel l have validation from an art gallery run by two people I respect. This is an opportunity not only to exhibit my art but an opportunity to hopefully develop a long term relationship with two people who care a lot what they are doing and why they are doing it.

It is fun to attend openings and to meet people, and I hope to cherish the relationships I make. I hope you can make it the private view on 18th July 6 pm at Leyden Gallery. 9/9a Leyden Street, London, E1 7LE

Why am I interested in these moments?

 

©Stuart Bush, Strange Heart Sings, oil on board 30 x 40 cm
 
In my artwork, I am interested in these moments to give myself a better appreciation of the world. I am interested in considering the world anew from a fresh perspective.  We often overlook the familiar, and I want to explore its depths.  I want to become more aware of the humble things we ignore like volume, form and space.  I want to pursue a direction where I take note of and record the visual information from the beauty of nature and the material world that is right in front of me.  
 
My intention to create a re-enchantment with what is unnoticed and to appreciate ordinary moments. Abstract shapes and imperfect forms have no obvious signs of importance and are seen as unimportant. I want to draw attention to their overlooked beauty and their aesthetic qualities.   
 
The paintings are not an exact transcript of the scene but a perceiving of the scene.  They focus on simple forms.  Creating space for silence and thought in a world where everything is constantly moving and unfixed.  The paintings are a window of reality, telling no lies, reinventing nothing, just recording, a reworking of the spatial chaos of the visible world.  
 
In the paintings, the flat images are to help us deal with the complexity of our perception. Our minds automatically make connections with the shapes.  There is a lack of perspective, there is no direction of light, and they have different rules of composition.  The shapes and forms are like the pleasurable moments of seeing an elephant in the clouds; the forms slip between representational and abstract pattern.  At this point forms and content merge into together like a beautiful poem.
 
This painting is on show at Leyden Gallery, 9/9a Leyden Street, London E1 7LE.  There is a private viewing between 6:30 – 9 pm in 18 July 2017, please come along.

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Giacometti’s endless strive for perfection – A review of Alberto Giacometti at Tate Modern (10 May – 10 September 2017)

Man Pointing 1947Bronze 178 x 95 x 52 cm Tate, Purchased 1949 © Alberto Giacometti Estate, ACS/DACS, 2017

The figure was a challenging subject after the war.  For many artists, it appeared an almost impossible theme and one that Alberto Giacometti felt he had to take on in his art. The Swiss sculpture, painter, draughtsman and printmaker savoured the challenge of confronting man’s inhumanity to man with such determination that he spent his life working towards this goal in an endless strive for perfection.  The exhibition at Tate Modern takes a fresh look at Giacometti’s modern art, asking questions about the success of Giacometti’s life work. In this review, I am interested in considering the competing advantages of working with a strive for perfection against settling for artwork that is good enough in a discourse that could help me with my work.

Alberto Giacometti 1901 -1966 was born in Val Bregaghn in Switzerland. He was the son of the successful post-impressionist painter, Giovanni Giacometti. Alberto Giacometti was interested in art from an early age, at thirteen he made his first sculpture of his brother Diego, and in 1922 he moved to Paris to continue his education as an artist. Giacometti was awarded the grand prize for sculpture representing France at the Venice Biennale in 1962. 

The exhibition space at the Tate Modern starts with his formative years when Giacometti depicts what he sees from life.  As the show progresses Giacometti experiments with cubist and surrealist sculptures such as Head-Skull (1934), Torso (1925) and Cubist figure (1926). The sculptures of this period have a real physical interaction; it is interesting to see that Giacometti is trying and struggling to get a grip of his extraordinary personal view of reality.  The angular sculptures take on and contemplate the space around the figure. A cheek bone is not directly represented as a cheek bone. Instead, Giacometti creates a poetic essence of the form.  This extract of essence allows the sculpture to be an object in itself, completely eye-catching and unmatched, different from anything else.

Woman with her Throat Cut 1932Bronze (cast 1949) 22 x 75 x 58 cm National Galleries of Scotland © Alberto Giacometti Estate, ACS/DACS, 2017

It is clear that Giacometti quickly realised that depicting only what he saw in life was limiting.  The concept of these sculpture came from an alternative source when he saw fully formed ideas in his head.  The forms have a power and force about them that relates to forms and shapes from primitive art.  They contain a real freedom as if Giacometti was grappling with a concept and trying to put it in his work.  It is a remarkably varied body of work.  To me the work shows Giacometti at his experimental best.  When he went for good enough and when he had not expected the public to see some this work.   For me, this was a real highlight of the show.

Later in his career, Giacometti dedicated himself to mainly depicting men walking and standing, as well as busts and nude women.  He became known for his sculpture of thin figures with, “just enough clay for the figure to stand up and nothing more.” This approach enabled him to pursue the question further as he considered the essence of man and his following work resonated with existentialist art lovers and collectors.

Very Small Figurine c.1937-1939Plaster, traces of colour 4.5 x 3 x 3.8 cm Collection Fondation Alberto et Annette Giacometti, Paris © Alberto Giacometti Estate, ACS/DACS, 2017

In his pursuit to capture the essence, Giacometti felt the need to limit access to what inspired him. A walk in the wood was too much for him to take in. A short walk looking at one tree at a time in Paris is all he felt he could cope with. Giacometti said, “Having a quarter of an inch of something, you have a better chance of holding on to a certain feeling of the universe than if you had pretended to be doing the whole thing…by trying to draw a glass [on a table] as you see it seems like a fairly modest undertaking. But because you know that glass even that is almost impossible.”  By limiting his inspiration, Giacometti felt that it would give him a better chance of getting to the bottom of his goal and his continuous strive for perfection.  By limiting himself to only having a handful of models enabled Giacometti to focus on developing a distinctive visual language that everyone could recognise as his.  From this Giacometti felt he could go deeper into how, we, as individuals relate to others. He worked towards capturing the self-consciousness and the universal feeling of being alone in this world.

Each time Giacometti made a sculpture he always had a strong feeling of failure. Giacometti wasn’t  looking for a way to lie to himself.  He didn’t tell himself that what he was doing was good enough.  He was after perfection and anything else fell short. This disparity between his objective and his implementation opened up a breathing space for his next work, often Giacometti then repeated his previous piece. Even though he knew it was impossible to create a perfect response, Giacometti said, “All I can do will only ever be a faint image of what I see.”

Pierre Matisse, Giacometti working on Four Figurines on a Stand at the Tate Gallery,1965 © ARS, NY and DACS, London 2017

This later work grapples with getting hold of the essence of the figure and although this is where he truly becomes a master, the control of inspiration that he uses can lack some of this freedom of exploration. I have always had a high affinity with Giacometti’s work. In this exhibition I wondered what would have happened if he hadn’t focused on perfection. What if Giacometti had continued to make one-off pieces of experimental work through his career, producing work that is good enough rather than perfect?  I wonder what else Giacometti could have produced?

There is an energy that comes out of Giacometti’s work that makes his work compelling. It was interesting to watch a video of Giacometti at work in the exhibition.  He made heavily worked surfaces through squeezing, pulling, touching and pushing clay.  It was surprising watching his unconscious creativity and his obsessive restless movements as he worked on the form. Giacometti was fascinated by the head and eyes in his sculptures; he felt they represented the core of human beings and life. By getting the eyes right the rest of the figure he believed would fall into place.

Bust of Diego c.1956 Plaster 37.3 x 21.5 x 13 cm Collection Fondation Alberto et Annette Giacometti, Paris © Alberto Giacometti Estate, ACS/DACS, 2017

There is a lot to be said for comparing this to other artist’s practices. Mondrian’s repetitiveness allowed him to pursue his interest in how one shape of colour works in competition with black and white.  If Mondrian had only made one painting of a black grid with white, red and blue squares, it would of never have got to the bottom of his interest in visual order.  Without this repetitiveness, he would of never of been able to ask profound questions about the visual world and his belief that everything is an illusion. Mondrian thought that using repetition highlighted his belief that an abstract painting is truer to reality than a painting depicting the illusion of what we see.

Picasso, however, was well known for reinventing his art every few years, like his cubist works and blue period.  Picasso used new approaches to get to the bottom of his desire to depict his personal view of the world.  Matisse also reinvented his approach to making art several times, finishing his career with the biggest risk of all the cut out.  I wonder about these different contrasting approaches and wonder what approach would suit me best my practice.

In my eyes, failures are as valuable as successes.  Giacometti endlessly pursued, his search to find the universal poetic essence of a figure and the truth of our shared humanity. Giacometti did this by focusing on one tree in the forest at a time or one person in a crowd of millions.  Through this approach, he captured alienation and melancholy of life.  His engagement with searching for a truth that was always out of his reach lead him down a very restrictive path.

Woman of Venice V 1956Painted plaster 113.5 x 14.5 x 31.8 cm Collection Fondation Alberto et Annette Giacometti, Paris © Alberto Giacometti Estate, ACS/DACS, 2017

While it is admirable to focus intensely on, “a quarter of an inch of something.”  I wonder if Giacometti’s approach of limiting his inspiration and his endless strive for perfection or whether a wider body of experimental approach would suit my approach to art making?

Giacometti created a distinctive visual language with his thin sculptures of man that enabled him to find success in his lifetime.  Dreaming something up and executing it and working and stuff comes out are quite different approaches.  The lightning bolt of inspiration doesn’t strike on demand.  There is a lot to be said for starting to work and seeing what you can produce and where it takes you.

I think what I take forward for my practice from this Giacometti exhibition is that developing some kind of process is essential for removing too much thinking and self-doubt.  It is not hard to make art that looks like other art; the trick is making art that doesn’t look like someone else.  Giacometti achieved that.  Pushing your art to where no one else is working is a lot more of a quest than striving for perfection.  Problem creation with self-imposed limitations can easily be devised into a practice.  In that practice, it can be a positive decision to limit your inspiration or choices.  The only conclusion is in Giacometti’s approach is no matter what you try humankind is beyond human understanding.

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Live, paint, repeat

When starting as an artist rather than waiting for a big idea, I took my camera to the city. I took pictures of everything and anything that interested me. I just pressed and released the shutter. When l reviewed my photos, l realised that l was naturally discovering interesting material. My ideas came from living, painting and repeating.

When returning to the city with my camera, l followed my natural curiosity and my ideas deepened and expanded. At times it was hard to choose which way to take my work. It was essential to review and understand what l had. I took many directions but kept returning to taking photos of the city and taking them forward by painting them on canvas. The trick is not to give up Helsinki Bus Theory link.

I realised over time that my original idea was chasing some obscure knowledge through a simple process that I could repeat.

I feel like I have been painting the same painting for ten years as now I realise that my original ideas just got the work started. The original idea is still in my work but it has changed and developed in ways l could never have predicted. My work has grown to portray something unique that help us to understand our life on this earth a little better.

These seeds begin to germinate in many different directions like a plant does when it is attracted to light and water. It has taken many years for my original ideas and intentions to bloom into flowers. Now the interesting thing is not my original ideas or intentions. It is that l have found my way to communicate; my unique voice and inclination. As my work has deepened and expanded, it has lined up with natural talent, unlocking bigger ideas. Bigger ideas that l could never have predicted ten years ago.

The point of this post is that it is impossible to know where your practice as an artist will take you. One of the biggest challenges is learning to trust the decisions you make and to stop doubting yourself. Instead, l have developed confidence in my inner voice even when l can’t see where it is taking me.

My advice is to play, as there is no such thing as a mistake. Anything can lead to a breakthrough. If self-doubt is getting the best of you put your trust in a process and live, paint, repeat.

Over time when you review your work a way forward should reveal itself. Trust yourself and your creative process. Rather than paying attention to your own intentions, pay attention to what the work actually does. When the thinking and doing come together the work becomes more convincing.

Representational v abstraction

©Stuart Bush Hard to Concentrate, oil on board 30 x 40 x 3.5 cm
 
I remember watching the film Pulp Fiction, in that movie, there was a great power in the mystery of what was in the suitcase. In the film, we never find out. The mystery of not knowing was more powerful than knowing.  I see there is enormous potential for interpretation by the viewer.  I want to add mystery to my artwork so the viewer can interpret the work the way they see it.  The audience can bring their own intentions, baggage and ideas.   I want the viewer to look at the artwork and let their mind wonder.  
 
Representational art discusses drawing, handling of paint, skill, composition; it also can be used to communicate ideas and a subject.  The intention behind representational work is often clear for the viewer, but I have found it limited for discussing deeper philosophical challenges and felt it was holding me back.  
 
However, abstraction artwork is different in that is invites more commentary and mystery.  The viewer coasts across the surface trying to understand it and often falling short.  The viewer can often never be sure if they understand the artist’s intention.  The intention is often not what the work is about.  Instead while making the work the thinking and the doing are often inseparable where feeling and emotional responses are often significant in making the ‘art’ within work.
 
I want to create a space for instincts and accidents rather than the straightforward one-to-one representation. I want to feel and grab something real and put it in a painting.  I am interested in the space in the viewer’s mind as much as the space in the composition and the space that inspired the work.  Through an investigation of spatial structures in a pursuit of knowledge, I want to create a different way of looking and seeing the world.  I find it profoundly gratifying focusing on the place in-between forms; perceiving the image and watching it disappear into shapes, forms and space.  
 
The outcome is an artwork that is intended to work on many levels.  The clarity of the composition is comparable with the mark making: realising positive and negative, absence and presence in equal measure. The colours and forms produce and transmit a poetic meaning, an emotional state that invites interpretation. By creating an interpretation of space that cannot be communicated by words the work it acts a metaphor about what it means to alive today.  
 

Making better work than I did yesterday

 
©Stuart Bush The rush 2016 oil on board 50 x 70 cm
My idea of success is linked to what l have rather than what l haven’t.  It is common to hear of success being tied to financial wealth.  That isn’t success for me; profit does not drive my artwork.  I have the opportunity to discover who l am, to find my own voice, to find my true self through my art.  My goal is to make better work today than l did yesterday, it is as simple as that
 
I finished university in 2006 and when l look at my early paintings l can see l have taken small progressive steps each year.  Now over ten years later l know l have made significant progress. However, l feel as if l have been making the same painting for ten years, each time exploring my interest in seeing the body in space.  The concept of finding what my personal gift is and discovering my potential is more exciting than any material needs.  That is why l have chosen this life as an artist, or maybe it has chosen me. 
 
I see being an unknown artist as a positive thing.  It enables me to consider the long game, to build on each day and to go deeper to see what the ‘it’ is. Many of my paintings are built up gently in the studio.  Each painting supports the next one, thereby pushing me forward in a positive way.  I have a conviction, a commitment and the determination not to give up.  I believe strongly in what l am doing.
 
By doing art for myself, l can avoid criticism and avoid making commercial decisions.  This allows me to find a way forward without manufacturing art.  The art l make is more about emotions than constructions, more about art and poetry, and less about resolved ideas.  I want to make work for myself that l feel really passionate about,  l don’t want to dilute my work.  l want to make the decisions about what needs editing before the public see it.  I want my work to be the best that it can be.  I realise that this may divide the potential audience.  However, once the work is made public, it could potentially turn me into a public person. I’m not sure that l want that to happen.  I want to make work for a small audience that appreciates and supports my work
 
I am a figurative painter, and I want to get close to the source.  I want to make work within an intellectual framework inspired by my muse, my muse being my experience of the city. This framework is the key to the art within me, allowing me not to over thinking what l am doing and allowing me to initiate an inner response, thereby preventing me from being distracted by my head or my ego, competition with other artists or self-doubt.  Reflection comes later, after a period of time, when l can contemplate and think about what l have made.  
 
I want to make art is good as it can be. My competition is with myself and being better than yesterday.
 

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