What I am struggling with as an artist

About a year ago I met up with a group of artists.  The conversations were varied and interesting.  Then we turned to one question that we all had a problem with.  What do we each feel embarrassed to be struggling with regarding our art?
I was hesitant at first to give an honest answer to the question as it made me feel vulnerable. However, I was pleased I did give an honest answer as I learnt a lot from the response. I have my first solo show for a number of years starting on 18th April 2018. All of the feelings and embarrassment about my art had resurfaced and I thought I would share them with you.
 
My response to the question was that, I don’t feel comfortable selling my work.  For some reason, I thought I was the only one who felt like that. To my surprise, I was relieved when all the other artists agreed that they felt the same way too and l quickly realised fear and doubt are endemic in artists’ lives.
 
Let me explain further.  I don’t enjoy selling my art and the thought of rejection often stops me from trying to. I don’t want to force my work on other people. But I feel that if someone rejects my paintings they are also rejecting in me.
 
The discussion turned into a self-help discussion where everyone had some helpful advice to share on this issue. The first response that got me thinking was, ‘Would I prefer my art to be in my garage or on a potential collectors wall?’  This sentence stopped me in my tracks and made me re-think.
 
Advise soon followed;  I need to change the idea of selling from fear to a pleasure. When I have an exhibition, I need to focus on the positives of building friendships and relationships with other artists and art lovers. I need move away from the thought I am going to sell painting today to, l am going to make a new friend today.  I need to see that I am trying solving a problem for a potential collector by sharing my art.  
 
After all, what is the worse that can happen? I may feel nervous but what is wrong with that?  I could end up educating someone about art.  I could have the opportunity to add beauty and colour to over peoples homes and show them what l see.
 
If don’t show my art, what is the price I will pay?
As a creative person, I would miss out on achieving self-contentment through my work. I would miss out on developing a visual language that holds the viewer’s attention.
 
I know I want to have an adventure. I want to challenge things. I want to gain new knowledge.  I want to achieve recognition for my unique talents. However, l realised that by avoiding what needs to be done, I will always be disappointed and dissatisfied with life.
 
I need to consider the cost to myself of not showing my art. If I avoid showing my work, what might my life look like in one year, three years or ten years time? I guess that there is an easy answer; there will no change.  On the other hand, it is hard to predict what will happen if l do show and sell my art.
 
I thought I was avoiding pain by keeping my paintings to myself but in fact by hiding them away I causing myself more pain.  Everything we do, we do for a reason. I didn’t paint these painting to be hidden away. I need to believe in my capabilities to change, to adapt and to expand.
 
By asking myself two questions, I hope to finally achieve a personal breakthrough by associating pleasure with sharing and talking about what I love to do.
 
What will it cost me if I don’t let this negative belief in the value of my art go?
 
What would the benefits be by attempting to sell, to progress and to move forward achieve? Hopefully success….
 
I am about to find out…
 
I am therefore pleased to invite you to my Charity Art Sale in Rugby Art Gallery, Floor 1, from 18th to the 26th April.
 
Stuart Bush’s Charity Art Sale 18-26 April 2018
©Stuart Bush – These 4 postcards titled, ‘A will to live’ are available unframed for a special price of £7 by clicking on the image.
©Stuart Bush, ‘Saturate’ – These 4 postcards titled, ‘A will to live’ are available unframed for a special price of £7 by clicking on the image.

 

Please click here for exhibition postcards

5 ways sleep can improve your productivity in the artist’s studio

 
©Stuart Bush A pocket full of dreams 2010 oil on canvas, 120.4 cm x 160.4 cm
I have often encountered problems in the studio. It has taken me a long time to realise how to put it in perspective and move forward quickly.  I might have an issue with a painting, and the next step would be unclear, and I would sit there contemplating ideas to solve it.  
 
I have learnt to realise that at a certain point, of staring at the painting, I am not going to find a resolution in that moment. I now reach a point when I know I need to move on to another piece of work.  I usually have two to three different art projects or paintings running side by side. Now I turn the painting to the wall and move on to the next one.  
 
I have heard the phrase, ‘it is best to sleep on it’, many times, but now I do. Within a few days or weeks, a solution normally comes to me. I have been aware the dilemma resolves itself in my head, but I was unclear how until I read, ‘Sleep Smarter’, by Shawn Stevenson.
 
In Stevenson’s book, he explains the benefits of relaxation and rejuvenation when we are asleep. After he looked into many scientific investigations and is confident that a good nights sleep with lots of REM sleep cycles helps you to;
  1. improve your efficiency,
  2. organise your memories,
  3. process the day,
  4. solve problems,
  5. and make better decisions.
 
Apparently when we sleep there no longer the usual biases and preconceptions that we have when we are awake from our conscious mind. We can make more informed choices to resolve a solution.  We can think through new ideas, thoughts and directions where we can take our work.  That explains why, when I have blank moments, like when I’m in the shower, a solution jumps out from my subconscious mind.
 
In studies, after twenty-four hours of being sleep deprived, it is likely you will make twenty percent more mistakes, and it will take fourteen percentage longer to do the exact same thing.  When we are being creative and wanting to make favourable decisions being sleep deprived prevents us from making good choices and being effective. When we force ourselves to make decisions when we are tired we often do things, that will need re-doing at a later date.
 
It is also not related with how much sleep we get.  More sleep does not necessarily equal better sleep.  Quality is much more important than quantity.  Stevenson suggests a list of quick tips that help improve the quality of your sleep;
  • A caffeine curfew at noon. (Caffeine lasts 8 hours in your body),
  • Exercising in the morning is the best time to exercise,
  • Avoiding blue light from your screens and device by having a screen time curfew, where your not looking a screen 20-60 minutes before bed.  Other helpful, useful technology tips include using the Flux app or Apple devices with night shift built in to reduce blue lights before bedtime.
  • To prevent feeling exhausted establish an evening bedtime sleep ritual, where the bedroom isn’t an entertainment hub.  Taking a bath or reading light fiction helps me to create a sleep sanctuary, giving your mind time to unwind.
If you’re in interested in learning more please read ‘Sleep Smarter’, by Shawn Stevenson, it was worth a read.

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My Charity Art Sale

Stuart Bush’s charity art sale

I am enthusiastic to tell you about my new exhibition next month.

I want to connect with bigger things than my art or myself and I have decided I want to help in situations where there can be a difference between life and death. The local regional Air Ambulances mission is to provide a rapid response to trauma and medical emergencies and is vitally important. I want to do my bit by supporting the local Air Ambulance charity. To this end l have decided to give 50% of the sales from my next art exhibition in April to the charity.

The local regional air ambulance fly two helicopters across the counties of Warwickshire, Northamptonshire, Derbyshire, Leicestershire and Rutland covering 3850 square miles of the UK. They provide a vital part of the health service, with an average response time of 13 minutes, they attend on average 6 missions a day. The Air Ambulance Service is one of only two totally independent air rescue providers in the UK and they receive no government finding. They are entirely funded through the generosity of members of the public and corporate sponsors and I want to help too.

I hope that by raising funds for the charity through selling my paintings, I can bring even more meaning to life through my Art. Every £5 raised could pay for pressure dressings to control a patients bleeding. Every £10 raised could pay for enough fuel to fly 11 miles towards the nearest major trauma centre. Every £20 raised could pay for defibrillator pads to use when a patient suffers cardiac arrest, without which the defibrillator wouldn’t work. Every £36 could pay for Celox, a type of gauze that, in the case of major haemorrhages can help stop bleeding by helping blood clots to form. Every £60 raised could pay for straps to safely secure patients before and during their flight, allowing the crew to focus on treatment.

Please join me from 18th – 26th April 2018 at Floor 1 Gallery, Rugby Art Gallery & Museum, Little Elborow Street, Rugby, CV21 3BZ from 10am – 5pm, Monday to Saturday and Sunday from 10am til 4pm.

Thank you for your support, I look forward to seeing you there.

Stuart Bush’s charity art sale

 

Related links;

The Air Ambulance Service I am supporting

Rugby Art Gallery & Museum

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Redefining my studio time

©Stuart Bush, The Law of the Jungle 2015 oil on aluminium panel 38 x 76 cm - £3000 + shipping enquiry
©Stuart Bush, The Law of the Jungle 2015 oil on aluminium panel 38 x 76 cm
I am always looking for ways to improve my output, whether I want to be creative or when I need to complete business tasks.  I recently read ‘Maker’s Schedule, Manager’s Schedule‘ an essay by Paul Graham. Paul Graham is a blogger, computer programmer and entrepreneur.  He is known for Lisp, his former startup Viaweb (later renamed, Yahoo! Store), co-founding the influential startup accelerator and seed capital firm Y Combinator.  Let me explain how Paul Graham’s essay helped me refine my time to help me be more productive, especially in the studio.
 
Paul Graham’s Maker’s schedule relates to computer programming. His maker’s schedule is generally about scheduling creative time, an uninterpreted period of about half of a day.  As an artist, the idea of a makers schedule helps me to keep my studio time and business tasks separate. The night before or at the start of each day, I like to write a plan of what I want to achieve. This way when I walk into my studio I begin with the creative time. 
 
The Manager’s schedule is cut into appointments of around an hour long, sometimes longer, sometimes shorter. Business tasks generally require a closed mind as there is little creativity.  When working on business tasks or managing a project, it is important not to let them stray into your studio time as this can be a time and energy killer. I have learnt to batch business tasks or managers tasks into blocks which l use for emails, social media activities, meetings and admin tasks.  I try to schedule these tasks to be completed in the afternoon or evening.
 
During the studio time I have found that there are two extra categories within maker schedule, not mentioned in the essay, that apply to the way I work. When I am trying to solve a problem I need to be creative and in an open mind frame. It can be hard to get into the state of creative flow; but once I am in it, interruptions would spoil my artistic output.  I need to be in a relaxed, less purposeful mode where l am more contemplative and playful, allowing my creativity mind to take over.  Sometimes I just need to look at my latest work and contemplate the next step and the future direction to take.  
 
Often when I am away from the studio, my mind subconsciously continues to play around with solutions.  Part of the reason I like to plan before I reach my studio is so that I have time to consider the direction my work is heading before I arrive.  If my mind is given time to wander on different subjects my brain makes connections. Although this to time ponder the problem can be uncomfortable, I often acquire the confidence to know what direction to take my work during my next studio visit. This allows me to work directly on the task with highly focused intensity and resolve issues.
 
There is lots to be done every day.  In the creative open state, sometimes my mind wonders on to business tasks or things going on in my personal life.  Any job or thought that interferes with my creative flow has the potential to stop me achieving my most important goal for the day, which is always to make new work. I keep a pen and paper nearby to write these thoughts and ideas down so I can get them out of my mind and resolve them later.  This approach leaves me content and happy that I have focused on the most important thing first and to leave the other stuff till later.  
 
It took me a while to figure out this solution to my artistic day, but it all fell into place once I had read this essay and had time to think it through. Case in point, when I take my mind off my studio work and am finished for the day, it is amazing what creative breakthroughs I have achieved.   I hope  you like these thoughts and this link to ‘Maker’s Schedule, Manager’s Schedule’ helps. Please read my related posts;
 
This post focuses on what I want to achieve in the studio each day.
 
Advice for starting a session of creativity in the studio.
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A painting paradise – A review of Peter Doig exhibition at Michael Werner, London

Peter Doig, Bather II, (2017) All rights reserved by the artist and Michael Werner New York and London
A fictional world of colourful hues surrounds me as I go from one work to another.  I feel like I’m between cultures and countries at Peter Doig’s show at the Michael Werner Gallery, London.  Peter Doig born in 1959 in Edinburgh, has lived in Trinidad since 2002.  He studied at Wimbledon School of Art, Saint Martins School of Art and Chelsea School of Art. He is a professor at the Fine Arts Academy in Dusseldorf, Germany.  In reviewing this exhibition, I’m interested in contemplating Peter Doig methods, techniques, and content in order to consider how an acclaimed artist approaches the process of painting in paradise.
Red Man (Sings Calypso), 2017. All rights reserved by the artist and Michael Werner Gallery, New York and London
Looking at Peter’s, Red Man (Sings Calypso) 2017, I was curious about the symbolism in this painting.  The central figure in his swimming trucks is the film star Robert Mitchum when he visited Trinidad in 1957 and recorded an album of Calypso songs.  The character in the background references a man who lives on the island of Trinidad and often walks around the beach with a snake wrapped around him impressing the tourists.  The painting also references Laocoon’s struggle in Greek mythology when Laocoon and his two sons are killed by serpents sent by Apollo. My interpretation of the painting is that it suggests the inequality between the tourists and locals.  Robert Mitchum’s film star sunburn, is in strong contrast to the naturally, dark, local man and his snake, as the two worlds collide.
Peter Doig has previously stated, “we don’t always have to know what our painting is about”. What I like and enjoy about Peter Doig’s paintings is that they give the viewer the impression that they are free to float around Peter’s imagination without look for meaning. The symbolism in the paintings however, is very striking and encourages the viewer to ask questions about the artist intentions, neverthelessless for me they are a distraction in seeking to understand what the painting is really about.
I believe the found photographs used by the artist are only a starting point. They add another layer to the painting, but the subject in the images only helps to get the piece started.  Once the painting is underway the subject matter becomes irrelevant for the artist. Quite often the meaning in Peter Doig’s paintings is unavailable and unexplainable. The subject is like a desolate dream that is almost unfathomable for an outsider.
Peter Doig, Carnival Hat, 2015 All rights reserved with the artist and Michael Werner New York and London
The paintings are more about the daily painting process. Peter has created a signature style on the canvas where he can play with open creativity within a broad set of rules. He loves keeping things interesting where no two painting are painted the same. In my view, he wants to communicate his distinct impression of what he sees in the unique colours from the tropic paradise of Trinidad but feels compelled to highlight the dark side of life too.
Peter paints openly and quickly when starting a painting in order to get some colour on the canvas.  His signature figurative painting style comes from creating a richness of paint through layers. The cloth soaks up the washes, and the background colours come through the thin layers. Peter, at times, has been known to leave his paintings exposed to the weather at his studio to take advantage of the marbling effect from watermarks.  When the paint dries, there are rich details from the runs, splatters and drying process, which partially look like stains. He also sometimes masks out areas before the layering process to leave silhouettes of figures coming through the washes.
The second stage of Peter’s painting process is working on top of the layers, adding figures and objects as the experimenting continues. He uses an impasto technique that carefully balances with the layers below, so they don’t dominate.  It is common in smaller works of art for many artists to feel free to increase the risk-taking. It is the same for the smaller works in this show; the risk-taking is exciting with more vibrant kaleidoscopic tones.  The mark making pushes the boundaries and adds even more mystery.
Peter Doig, Rain in the Port of Spain (White Oak), 2015 All rights reserved by the artist and Michael Werner New York and London
I find Peter’s painting technique profoundly absorbing and fascinating.  There is no plan or an imagined endpoint; the open exploratory journey can go in any direction.  It is clear that Peter enjoys the process of painting everyday in the studio.
The darkness in the Trinidad paradise that underlies the work adds an edginess to this dream world.  Through the danger of risk-taking Peter offers the viewer a better appreciation of the world. The colours and the process have an impact on the human soul; each painting expresses its own spirit and soul.
In the Peter Doig show, he asks open questions about what a painting paradise could be.  The symbolism helps add layers of meaning that may lead you down a rabbit hole.  For me, the paintings are about the process of painting. Exploring different methods and techniques, and opening the doors to a fictional land where everyone’s soul is welcome.

Why do I paint?

With consumerism at the forefront of western society and seen as the purpose of life, we live to work, to earn and to consume, this is a significant part of our lives. However, I find myself drawn to expressing an alternative view of life through my art. Why do I paint..? I want to communicate what I see.

Although many people see painting as being based on traditional values and having a limitation to address contemporary issues, I believe that painting offers the challenge of finding new meanings. I see it as a way to create new insight and uniquely capture people’s imagination. Some people might see this view of painting as naive, that nothing is truly original anymore in this postmodern society.

But for me, other forms of communication don’t compare with the excitement of art. They don’t come close to allowing me the opportunity to look in detail at the interesting and unexplained things l see about me in this world of ours. I am interested in the position that a painter has in relation to the world. I discover things through painting. When I paint, I am looking at the history of art, the present and the future by painting myself and the world.

Through painting, I have a chance to investigate something that is evasive. I continually have to ask myself what it is that I see. I try hard to identify what it is, as it continuously slips. I never get a chance to see what it would be like if l did something else while painting because, what I love about painting is that you can’t undo the last mark. It is utterly instinctive, for me this makes the process of painting is addictive. I’m always hoping for improvement, but realising that grasping a frightening clarity by showing my true soul and that of the world is unattainable. But I keep coming back to try again. The question nearly always arises; do I risk spoiling it by continuing 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 love taking risks as l try to unlock the world about me.

I have a deep down urge to try to master a form of expression where I can communicate my unique view, where I am part of the painting. When I feel this, I feel like I am doing what I am here for. I get deep joy and despair, anxiety and confidence. I feel more alive.

©Stuart Bush A pocket full of dreams 2010 oil on canvas, 120.4 cm x 160.4 cm

This painting titled ‘A pocket full of dreams’. Take a moment to stop and think what this painting says to you. Pull back the curtain, to consider what it means to be human. In my view, people rely too much on words.

Obstacles I have overcome – being a perfectionist

©Stuart Bush, He has never been in love, he doesn’t even know what love is, gouache on cartridge paper, 43 x 24 cm – £200 + shipping enquire

One of the lessons and obstacles I have learnt to deal with is being a perfectionist. Over the years I have visited many galleries and museums and enjoyed looking at other artists work. I use to look at other artists work and compare my work to theirs. But l now realise that looking at other artists work and comparing mine to theirs is counterproductive.

Instead of being helpful the visits made me focus on my insecurities as an artist. I would ask myself; Am l talented? Is my work good enough? And, what if no-one likes my work? I was creating an impossible mindset to overcome. These thoughts were very destructive. However, I slowly came to realise I need to accept what I do and who I am by making my studio free of judgement.

Self-judgement is a learned behaviour that comes from living in our type of society. By comparing my work to someone else’s, I not only noticed that my work was not perfect, by someone else’s standards, I observed that l had changed my standards. These thoughts made me confused as to who I was making the work for; an audience or myself.

By thinking my work was not good enough against someone else’s standards, it was impossible to be playful and enjoy what I was doing. Without the freedom to play and take risks, my work had become stifled and dull.

To be an artist, I realised I need a lot of self-belief. I needed to bring excellence to every I do. By measuring myself against myself, rather than against others l came to realise that art is not like sport, it is not competitive; it is subjective. I needed to reassess what I see as good enough.

I now know that when I go to a gallery, it is useful to compare my thoughts and processes to other artist’s but not their output. I realised that if I wanted to make successful artwork, I had to find a way through experimentation, trying things out and playing to improve what I have already created. Once I realised this, I was able to show up at the studio with a different intent. An intent to be present in the task and make better work than I did yesterday. From that point on I couldn’t help feeling good about my output and about myself.

 
Please read the related post – ‘Making better work than I did yesterday.’

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Understanding the qualities of colour

©Stuart Bush, The Kingdom (2009) oil on canvas 150 x85 cm
It is amusing to me to remember how naive I was when I finished art school. I expected to be a finished article, ready to be able to take on the world. However, I slowly realised I had a lot to learn to be a successful artist. All I really had in place at this point were a couple of foundations. I had learned to resolve problems through experimenting and by researching.
 
I can remember trying to make a particular grass coloured green that would work well with other colours on a painting. It was very frustrating working on a painting and being pleased with the results and then completely spoiling the painting with the wrong colour; in this case, green.  I mixed cobalt blue with cadmium lemon.  Instead of arriving at the right mix, I had a dullish green mix on my palette, once applied, it destroyed my painting.
 
I was already aware that complementary colours such as red, purple, blue, green, yellow and orange, create the colours around the colour wheel, these complementary colours can bring out the inherent characteristics of each other.  But when it came to improving the colour harmony in my paintings I need to build on my knowledge. 
 
I researched and read about the differences between student and artist quality oil paints and their depth of colour. I realised to lift my paintings to be true, vibrant and durable I needed to spend more on my materials. The outcome of this was that I stopped using student quality paints.  I researched the classic palettes that artists have used for centuries and filled in the gaps in my selection of paints. I acquired the classic palette with artist quality paints. Titanium white, cadmium yellow, cadmium red, ultramarine blue, yellow ochre, raw umber, burnt umber, burnt sienna, venetian red, indian red and ivory black.
 
I realised I needed to experiment with colours to see their real characteristics and this can’t be carried out while the paint is still in the tube.  Not only do I need to be able to see the colours; I need to know what proportions to mix them in to give the shade, tone and hue I require.  
 
Colour swatch – blue and white
 
To resolve the problem, I spent a few hours creating colour swatches for my studio wall.  My first task was to make a value scale of cobalt blue with titanium white.  By varying the saturation of colour, I created a tonal value of one to seven.  One being the lightest and seven being the darkest.  I extended this with other blues to see their tones and shades.
 
Through this simple task, I was able to understand the attributes and the properties of the colour.  I completed this for all my colours.  It enabled me to make a better selection and create a more harmonious colour scheme in my paintings; well almost…
 
I soon realised that I was now able to choose the right colour in a tube but what if I needed to mix paint to get make a particular colour.  After all, there are millions of colours and in my classic palette there are only nine colours, plus black and white. I set about making colour swatches with all my blues individually mixed with all my yellows in value scales, so at least I could start with an understanding of green. 
Blue and green coloured swatch
I expanded this further with other colours. With this simple guide of colour swatches, I resolved many of the problems I had been facing.  I realised the only way to make some colours, like a deep violet, I would need to purchase that colour separately. By carrying out the task of creating colour tests swatches, it has helped me to remember colours a lot better.  
 
I had solved the problem through research and experimenting to get a better understanding and knowledge of my palette and the colours that were possible.  This has made the process of choosing the right colours to mix together a lot easier.  It certainly helps to make me feel more confident and decisive when using colour to invoke the physical, physiological and psychological responses I am looking for in my paintings.

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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 aluminum panel, 80 x 120cm

The question, ‘What is success to me?’ has made me think a lot about why I have chosen to be an artist and what I want to achieve.  Every artist has a different view of success, and what it means to them. Success may include; enjoying the process, the blood, sweat and tears invested in the work, attainment of exhibition space, residencies, peer recognition or column inches and often it can be seen as material and personal gain.  However you are putting a lot of pressure on yourself if your measure of success is to have all of this.

There are a lot of artists out there in the world and many of them are striving to achieve all of it.  It is hard to put a number on how many people achieve success but becoming a household name like Jeff Koons or Damien Hurst is highly unlikely. If you don’t reach this ambition you need to be able to deal with the disappointment; as many artists are struggling to make a living.
 
Understandably many artists give up on the way as they try to reach that kind of success after realising how hard it is. I believe if you’re making art to be rich and famous you are making it for the wrong reasons. If that is the reason why you want to be an artist, then you should do something else.
 
One way of looking at success is; rather than seeing it as material or personal gain; is to love what you are doing. Enjoy the journey and the effort you put in, then when you to go the studio and are creative, you are already complete. By doing the best for yourself, you will always succeed.
 
I have the urge to direct my life in the way I want it to be, and that’s through my art. I realise that this is the area where I have to most control. Many of the other areas of my life are much more of a compromise.
 
I believe that being able to make art full-time will make me happy and content but only if I can provide enough financial support for my family. For me this must come first. I realise serving others and having the people I love around me is an essential ingredient to my happiness. It is undoubtedly more important than money.  Money is just a tool; it isn’t something to strive for as an end in itself.
 
Coach Wooden, the highly successful American basketball player and coach, sees success as; “Peace of mind, attained only through self-satisfaction when knowing you made an effort to do the best you’re capable of.  You’re the only one that knows that.  You can fool others but not yourself.”
 
I try to focus on the present moment and whether I am doing the best work I can with the resources available. By viewing success 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.
 
I believe I am capable of so much more and I feel I have hardly started on the path of becoming an artist. By working on what comes naturally, playing off my strengths, using my instincts, observation and curiosity I strive to make my work a manifestation of the best bits of me.
 
I believe I am capable of so much more and I feel I have hardly got started as an artist. By working on what comes naturally, playing off my strengths, using my instincts, observation and curiosity I can make my work a manifestation of the best bits of me.
 
I am looking at the long game and realise that my chance of success improves as my work matures.  After several decades; when most artists have given up;  my prospects are significantly improved. The artist Michael Craig-Martin 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.”
 

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

 

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Rose Wylie exhibition review; the benefits of having a independent studio practice

Quack, Quack, 30 November 2017 – 11 February 2018, Serpentine Sackler Gallery.
Queen with Pansies (Dots) 2016 183 × 331, Oil on canvas Courtesy of Private Collection

Rose Wylie was born in 1934 in Kent. She studied in Folkestone and Dover School of Art and at the Royal College of Art. After completing her MA at the age of 47, she started her career and since then has spent most of her time in the art world wilderness. In the last few years however, Rose’s career has taken off, and she is receiving deserved recognition. She has won the Charles Wollaston 2011 and the John Moores 2014 prizes and has her latest show at the Serpentine in the Sackler Gallery.

Rose Wylie’s work is a perfect case study in the importance of creative freedom. The title of the show ‘Quack Quack’ draws attention to her unique down to earth and unpretentious view of the world. In today’s world of the internet where naive first steps are often written about, filmed or photographed; Rose’s paintings are fresh and free from expectations. Her time in the art world wilderness away from a critical audience has allowed her work time to mature. Although Rose has always wanted her work to be accepted, she clearly has made no changes to meet public expectations or dogmas. Now the public has to take her and her work as they find her, trainers and all, and this I found it a refreshing change.

Pink Skater (Will I Win, Will I Win) 2015 208 × 329, Oil on canvas
Courtesy of Private Collection

During the extended period of being unacknowledged, Rose has gained in confidence and learnt to rely on herself. She takes an idea straight from a drawing in her sketchbook, which is a definite extension of her life, and repeats on to the un-stretched canvas. Her actions whether they are rough pencil outlines, or the accidental drips and spills become part of the work. The work is understandably a daily challenge where her surprise enhances the process. If an area becomes bogged down or not to her liking, in a natural, carefree way, she cuts the section out of the canvas and sticks a new piece on top. There is no set of shared doctrines or beliefs. Her thoughts and ideas are distinctly spontaneous and instinctive. I’m sure the make do and mend approach comes from living through World War 2.

When Rose discussed her working practices in a recent BBC podcast, she said, “Working on the floor was less big boy art, big boy art is done on an easel. [Working on the floor] is a nice idea that is close to housework, what women do in a sense. You find yourself clearing things up of the floor, that is what painting is like. It is not work, it is not painting. It is something you do, but it is not painting. I’m not really a painter, as my canvases are not stretched.”

ER & ET 2011
182 × 344, Oil on canvas
Courtesy of Morten Viskum Collection

This plain-spoken and unsentimental approach to making art benefits Rose’s work as she is not overly concerned about the importance of her own personal role. Rose sees things differently and wants to communicate her feeling and sensibilities in a carefree way. She uses all her perceptions, not just her sight. Her paintings are rebellious, instinctual and organic. The process is as simple as one idea comes from another, creating a vibrant visual language with painted text and sketches from art history, tv, sport, magazines and movies.

In today’s art market it is refreshing to see an artist’s work that challenges society’s sensibilities. In comparing her painting processes to housework, Rose highlights how studio processes are just a vehicle to get an idea across. The references and potential narratives in her work aren’t relevant. Rose holds on to what is necessary to her. She allows a concept to exist, to show others how to break down the constraints and to be free.

NK (Syracuse Line-up) 2014 185 × 333, Oil on canvas Courtesy of Private Collection & Black Strap (Eyelashes) 2014 184 × 326, Oil on canvas Courtesy of Private Collection

Her results show the benefits of not fearing disapproval or of offending others. We all have the right to get our interpretations of the world out there. Rose comprehensibly shows that fulfillment in her practice is much more important than fear of achievement. Her work promotes and defends artistic freedom and the freedom of expression.

Little has changed for Rose since her work has started selling, apart from she is unable to work on the floor since her hip replacement and the canvases aren’t stacked to the ceiling anymore. Rose has no constraints; she doesn’t try to anticipate what will come. To me, her work embodies true freedom. She has learnt not to be concerned about what other people think. She allows her work to exist without feeling the need to justify it.

Park Dogs & Air Raid 2017
393 × 331 Oil on canvas
Courtesy of the Artist and David Zwirner, London

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