When the need to be creative gets inside of you

©Stuart Bush, The Quality of Absence, oil on aluminium panel 80 x 112 cm – £4000 + shipping enquiry
When you see a successful artist or creative person doing their thing, are you inspired and wish you could do what they do?  Instead of believing in yourself does self-doubt, or the risk of rejection, ridicule or humiliation stop you?  It might be the creative act itself or taking the artwork to the next level and letting other people see it that stops you.  However, the need to be creative is a powerful force.  When I haven’t been to the studio for a little while l feel its loss.  I’m sure many people reading this can relate to the need to be creative and also the need to hide their talents.
 
Have you heard about the sad story about a lady called Vivian Maier who lived in Chicago?  http://www.vivianmaier.com Vivian spent most of life working as a caregiver.  When she died, there were over 100,000 negatives found in a storage unit in her name. Throughout her life, she hid her passion from the outside world.  There is lots of speculation about why she did this, but no one will ever know for sure apart from Vivian herself.  Since her death, Vivian’s work has been compared to the world renowned photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson.
 
I think we build up self-doubt in our heads and it becomes a mindset that is often overwhelming.  It seems that Vivian hid her gift from the world because of her vulnerability.  I have also been trying to find a way to overcome the self doubt problem.  I found these words of advice from successful artists useful:
 
Vincent Van Gogh; “If you hear a voice within saying I cannot paint by all means paint and that voice will be silenced”.  
 
Susan Hiller; “To a young artist, I would say: just go day by day and see what happens. Don’t worry about other people’s judgment.”
 
Rachel Jones; “Ultimately, you have to understand who you are making your work for: it should be for you, that is the first thing.”
 
This is all very good advice but life isn’t that simple.  Questions like how to find time, how to keep positive while keeping your vision and integrity are extremely challenging.
 
In Eric Fischl’s book, ‘Bad Boy’, he gives some interesting advice, “Art is a process and a journey. All artists have to find ways to lie to themselves, find ways to fool themselves into believing that what they’re doing is good enough, the best they can do at that moment, and that’s okay. Every work of art falls short of what the artist envisioned. It is precisely that gap between their intention and their execution that opens up the door for the next work.”
 
And Chuck Close said, “‘Bread crumbs’, by working, stuff comes out of working.  That is very different from dreaming something up and executing it.  Inspiration is for amateurs, the rest of us show up and get to work.”
 
One further explanation from John Cleese.  Most of the time we are in a closed mind, think when we are at work.  There is a tension and pressure to get the work done.  There is lots to be done, and we have to get on with it so there is little humour.  It is purposeful time but not creative time.
 
Then there is the open mode, where we are relaxed and playful in what we do.  We follow our curiosity as we are not under pressure.  Through play we find what we like and want to do.
 
Do you have any thoughts on this subject?  What do you do to enable yourself to carry on when self-doubt creeps in?  Do you have any words of advice to help overcome self-doubt and procrastination?  Do you feel held back from following your creative instincts? 

All comments most welcome!!!    Please join in the conversation and make a comment.

©Stuart Bush, The Quality of Absence (in progress) – enquiry

What is success to me?

©Stuart Bush, A section of ourselves as a commodified object, oil on aluminium panel, 80 x 120cm
©Stuart Bush, A section of ourselves as a commodified object, oil on aluminium panel, 80 x 120cm – £3000 + shipping enquiry

 

Thinking about this question has made me think a lot about why I have chosen to be an artist.  There are many things why people give up on the dream of being a successful artist.  For example, because there is no stability and no regular income.  The chance of making it into a household name like Jeff Koons or Damien Hurst are highly unlikely.

Michael Craig-Martin once said, “when you’re 20, there are 50,000 other artists, by the time you’re 30, it’s down to 5,000, by 40, it’s 2,000. If you make it to 70, there are only 12 of you left, and you’re all famous.”  As the decades go on many understandably give up and realise it very hard to bring up a family on the small amount of money.

The Guardian wrote an interesting article titled ‘Can you make a living as an artist?’ and is worth a read. https://www.theguardian.com/culture/2012/jul/29/artists-day-job-feature?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other

For artists that continue their chances improve and after several decades, when most artists have given up, your chances get better and better.

Another way to look it is, rather than seeing success as money is that I am already complete.   I can continue what I love to do, to got the studio and be creativity, and I am already able to bring up a family through my full-time job.

Success for an artist could be seen as, how Coach Wooden the highly successful American basketball player and coach sees it; “Peace of mind, attained only through self-satisfaction when knowing you made the effort to do the best your capable of.  Your the only one that knows that.  You can fool others but not yourself.”

By viewing it this way I can keep a playfulness in my practice.  So for me, success does not lay in being rich or famous or in my artwork but my relationship to my artwork and following a hunch in my work.

I think about the present moment, as my relationship is forever changing with my practice and whether I am doing the best work I can with the resources available.  I have the urge to direct my life in they way I want and through my art, I realise this is the area I have to most control in my life.  Most other relationships in life like, friends, family and occupations are much more of a compromise.

I also believe I am capable of so much more and I have hardly started. By working on what comes naturally, playing off my strengths, using intention, instinct, thought, imagination, observation and curiosity I can make my work a manifestation of me.

I want to use my intuition to reveal meaning and draw attention to something using my skills as an artist.  Possibly, making it a lifetime’s work and into what Alex Katz the american painter calls, ‘the big technique’. As I have a yearning to work towards something that is much bigger than myself and add extra meaning and understanding to what it means to be human on this rock.

http://www.artspace.com/magazine/interviews_features/book_report/alex-katz-robert-storr-interview-54050

Maybe one day a little recognition would be nice though!

What do I love about being an artist?

©Stuart Bush, The will to live part 1, mixed media on paper 43 x 61 cm – £400 + shipping enquiry

©Stuart Bush, The will to live part 2, mixed media on paper 43 x 61 cm – £400 + shipping enquiry

©Stuart Bush, The will to live part 3, mixed media on paper 43 x 61 cm – £400 + shipping enquiry

©Stuart Bush, The will to live part 4, mixed media on paper 43 x 61 cm – £400 + shipping enquiry
There are many reasons why l wanted to be an artist. But the main attraction is the creative process. As an artist l can take an idea or a hunch and using my creativity and skill, which has grown over many years, bring the concept to life. The process of turning an idea from a thought to something of significance takes a set of unique skills mainly involving play and experimenting with what works best.  The whole process and journey is a stimulating challenge.  Once the idea if finally completed, once l am finally satisfied, it becomes an object and an initiator of further ideas for both myself and the viewer. Completing a project gives me an enormous sense of achievement which even overcomes any of the exhilarating ups and downs along the way.

Karl Marx talked about the problems of consumerism and the alienation of labour. He states that if you are cut off from the fruits of your labour, then you are cut off from your creativity and you lose your sense of self. I think this is one of the main problems with the Western consumeristic society. People are not in touch with the output they make or the completion of the tasks they carry out. I believe this causes many psychological problems with our individual purpose. During the process of making art l get closer to my deeper self, the artwork becomes an extension of me, my purpose stretches out before me. No-one else can make another exactly the same, no-one else has my thoughts.

This is an interesting thought provoking short video on Karl Marz on Alienation and about what makes us human.

Being an artist and being creative connects us directly with being human, and that is the main reason I love being an artist.

The drawings above are for sale, if you have any questions please inquire or join my mailing list to keep up to date.

Why do I paint?

With consumerism at the forefront of western society as a purpose to live, we live to work, to earn, to consume, is all a major part of our lives.  I find myself drawn to expressing an alternative view through my art.

Although some see painting as being based on traditional values as a limitation to address contemporary issues, I believe that it offers me the challenge of finding new meaning, creating new insight and capturing people’s imagination in a unique way.  Even though some might see this as naive, as nothing is truly original anymore in this postmodern society.

Another reason why I paint is when I am painting l would never get a chance to see what it would be like if l did something else because I can not undo the last mark.  The process of painting is addictive. I’m always hoping for improvement and possibly perfection, but always realising that it is unattainable.  The question nearly always arises; do I risk spoiling it or do I start a new painting?

I am a risk taker and painting suits my way of working and what I want to communicate.  I think this is why Francis Bacon destroyed so much of his work, he liked risk.

©Francis Bacon, Figures at the base of crucifixion 1944, 1 panel part of a triptych
©Francis Bacon, Figures at the base of crucifixion 1944, 1 panel part of a triptych
©Stuart Bush A pocket full of dreams 2010 oil on canvas, 120.4 cm x 160.4 cm
©Stuart Bush A pocket full of dreams 2010 oil on canvas, 120.4 cm x 160.4 cm – £2,500 + shipping enquiry

This painting titled ‘A pocket full of dreams’ is intended for us to just for a moment to stop and think, pulling back the curtain, to consider what it means to be human.  By reviewing the influences we allow in our minds our bodies, like the clothes we wear, all creates the consuming lifestyles we choose.

What is the key tipping point 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

Before I start my story about my key tipping point in my career, this is my first and still my most successful painting from 2007.  The painting also symbolises a key tipping point in my career and I am very pleased with it.  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. I lived in several parts of the UK including Northamptonshire, Leicestershire, Dumfries and Galloway, Lincolnshire, West Midlands and London while growing and going to university.

My passion and talent for art started at an early age. I found drawing came easy to me and I was drawn towards it. My first ambition was to be a car designer or an architecture. The grades I received at school made me reconsider that direction as ideally I needed to be good at all subjects to meet the university entry requirements.

Nevertheless, l continued my education studying Art and Design, with the intention of being a designer of some sort. However, the foundation course in Art and Design I studied meant that rather than having a design portfolio I ended up with an artist portfolio. The course was not really Art and Design but Art and Graphic Design.

I enjoyed the course even though I had ended up in a different place to where I had aimed.  My college tutors suggested I studied Illustration at University. I didn’t know what to do so I took their advice and gained a place at Wolverhampton. It soon felt like it was the wrong course at the wrong university.  Things went from bad to worse and I wasn’t happy.

I was determined to make the most out of the situation.  I approached my University after I decided things have to change and I said I wanted to transfer universities.  I meet with a lady in an office.  She said that the university has spare places on an international transfer to America.  I had one night to decide whether to apply for the following semester in America which started in 9 weeks time.  I was lacking confidence, unsure of myself and very concerned about going.

The next day I applied to go to America on an international transfer to Illinois State University.

I enrolled in a painting and photography class.  Very different from Illustration course at Wolverhampton.  It suited me better and I gained a great deal of much-needed confidence. It wasn’t easy, at times I had to make some very tough decisions on my own.  I really enjoyed the painting and photography classes I was enrolled in, and they have both been a major part of my work ever since.  This trip was life changing and it had a fundamental effect on me.

After university I went traveling for 6 months to Hong Kong, China and Australia. I returned and got a full-time job.

I started a MA Fine Art, since passing my MA I have had a rented studio a few miles from where I live.

The decision to go to America was definitely life changing.  I am a painter and photographer because of it.