Responding to striking art

©Stuart Bush, People are less memorable than the circumstances in which they were in encountered, part 2. Acrylic on board – SOLD
As an artist, my work is an extension of me. Each painting has its own interesting story to tell and I enjoy disclosing anecdotes of how the work came into being.  A painting has its own power. When a striking artwork makes a connection and speaks to the viewer, it invokes a deeply personal relationship.
 
Everyone reads each piece of art differently.  I find it very gratifying to discover how art lovers respond to my work.   I love to hear different and engaging interpretations. I get an overwhelming feeling of happiness when I can see this connection occurring on a persons face as they light up.
 
Art is not about the potential value; what it costs or what it is worth. Art shouldn’t be seen a financial investment or a commodity.  A vibrant, bold and skilful painting should bring pleasure and make you think. It should add an extra dimension to any room it is hung in. 
 
Owning a piece of art is about looking at it and enjoying it. This emotional affinity creates a tremendous, heartwarming feeling. Once the purchase is made it becomes part of its owner’s life and integral to their home and their identity. 
 
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Timeout from my art studio

©Stuart Bush, He has never been in love, he doesn’t even know what love is, gouache on cartridge paper, 43 x 24 cm
After working too much I took some much needed time out.
 
As well as being an artist and working full time, in my ‘spare’ time l am also a RFU rugby coach for an under 10s junior rugby team.  Rugby has always been an important part of my life.  This year for our weekend away, our tour, we played a local team in Herefordshire, near Wales and we also went Paint Balling!
 
The rugby tour is an opportunity to provide memories that will last a lifetime.  It gives the young team and Coaches a chance to get away from home; to get to know each other and build better relationships and teamwork.  There are always many laughs and excellent camaraderie, especially when the boys and men are dressed up as Grannies, and Ladies as Granddads! 

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7 lessons I have learnt on my way to develop a painting practice.

©2016 Stuart Bush, Hopes and Fears, (2007) oil on canvas 150 x 85 cm
I always felt I excelled as an artist when I painted, ‘Hopes and Fears’. The idea and success of ‘Hopes and Fears’ seemed to come out of nowhere. I started painting, and the result just happened.  It just seemed to work without a lot of effort. I had painted one of my greatest accomplishment to date, and now I want to understand its success so I can reproduce the results.
 
I had been overthinking about what was working within my art.  I kept trying and became confused. Then I slowly began to realise that when I am not trying to reach a solution, when I’m in the shower or going for a walk, ideas pop in my head.  I slowly learnt to realise that I need to get out of my own way to allow my creativity come through.
 
1. Remove the pressure I put on myself
 
It took time to realise that l need to remove the pressure l put on myself. If a solution to a problem is not apparent, I need to try to stay calm and have a clear mind. If my thoughts are racing, a walk, mediation or a stretch, helps.  Another way to remove the pressure is to carry out a simple, unrelated physical task, this helps me to halt the tendency of over thinking and trying to find a solution.  Once there is no pressure my mind becomes comfortable, and my natural creative side leads the way.
 
Sometimes it can take six months to realise how to move a piece of work forward. If this happens, I often turn the painting to the wall and work on something else.  I now have many paintings going on at once, so it is no longer an issue.  
 
2. Studio time is play time
I look at studio time as a way to challenge myself and play. I find it is exciting to stretch myself and learn new things. I am often curious and try things I haven’t tried before.  I find that this outlook enriches my world and my work.
 
2. Artists don’t need to know everything
It took me a long time to realise I don’t need to know everything. I only need to be competent in the area I am working in.  It is more important to understand how to be creative and how to get into the creative flow.   
 
3. Creating problems
When a designer works, often they are given a brief, and they need to solve a problem and come up with a solution.  Instead of addressing a problem I am trying to create one.  
 
4. Holding things back
I want the viewer to come to the work with their life experiences and baggage, and see what they see.  I want them to be intrigued by my work.  I look to create ambiguity so the viewer has reasons to ask questions. I am not laying all my cards on the table; I am holding things back.  
 
5. Nothing goes to plan
So many times I have wanted a painting to go well and too often nothing to goes to plan.  I have learnt to come to terms with this and change my expectations.  My new outlook tells me to expect everything to wrong.  Then when a mistake happens I think maybe it has happened for a good reason, and I wonder if l can learn something new from the error.  This change of outlook means I can now quickly put it in perspective. If this does not work I ask myself these questions. Can I save the situation/work? What are learning points? Can I repeat it and do it better next time? How long will this take?  Do I need to quickly move on and forget about it and do something else?
 
6. There is a key to success in every failure.
 
7. After a successful painting, I ask myself can I develop a series?
Sometimes a piece of work cannot be repeated. But I often consider if I could add slight changes and repeat parts would l then be able to make a series!
 
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Stuart Bush’s Charity Art Sale – helping to give something back to the community

 
 
I am acutely aware of the vital role of the Air Ambulance has in getting doctors to the scene of life-threatening emergencies and airlifting people to a hospital.  I am also aware that the Air Ambulance exists only with the help and support of the local community.   I have decided to combine this art exhibition with supporting the local community    For this unique one-off exhibition l have also reduced my prices to allow more people to buy art.   This art exhibition is more than just about me and my art, it is about giving something back, about supporting the community that l live in and the people l live with.
 
 
The paintings in this exhibition are from 2006-2017.  The theme and ideas that have inspired this work are related to my emotional response as an individual to the city.  This body of work started as a realistic interpretation of street photography. It captures feelings of alienation and angst in the human-made environment. However, the snapshots of life caught something that l wasn’t expecting.  The fleeting moments of line, shapes, and space intrigued me, and I slowly became interested in this interrogation of space in the public realm.
 
 
This body of work finishes with the beginning of something new.  The artwork moves past looking at the dislocation and fragmentation in our contemporary world to the mysterious and intriguing unknown entity of space. In this new direction for my work, I want to explore the existence of the space that enables everything else to exist.  I want to draw the attention away from objects that people make, to the space around us, to create a portal to somewhere else.
 
 
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.
Stuart Bush’s Charity Art Sale @ Rugby Art Gallery and Museum

I hope you can help me support the local air ambulance charity.

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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.