Painter Killed By Critique Of His Own Bad Art

Stuart Bush Studio Blog, Painter Killed By Critique Of His Own Bad Art
©Stuart Bush, You don’t understand me, part 1-4, gouache on paper
Most artists share the same fear and dread, a bad review!  You think it’s all over.  It makes you feel reluctant to share your work. I can imagine the day a museum curator knocks on my studio door with good news, and there is no answer.  The bell keeps ringing….
The curator keeps trying to get an answer until he/she realises something terrible might have happened.  Eventually, they gain access to find me dead under an incredible amount of bad art.  So much so that they can just see two feet sticking out of the bottom. Do they run for help? No, they are horrified by how much bad art they can see! The curator puts her hands up to her face and runs out screaming, “My eyes. My eyes!”
Later they removed the mountain of bad art that has been building up in my studio for years. They find me laying underneath it all like an ill-fated hoarder. My tongue hanging out the side of my mouth and I have a newspaper in my hands.  The newspaper is opened on an art review. Instead of saying what I  hoped for, “Oh my god, this artwork is the next best thing,” the reviews says, “Stuart Bush, what is this crap?”

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Jealously of another artist's work
How my mind can multiple my worst fears is ridiculous…  However, at least my creative imagination is good for something. I am certain I am not alone with these feelings of self-doubt. So I was curious about how other artists deal with a mountain of failed art. I decided to read, research and discuss this subject with other artists.  I eventually came up with this list to avoid this absurd tale actually occurring.
What to do when you have too much bad art. Starting with the most severe;
  1. My first idea comes from Michael Landy’s Breakdown, where he destroys everything he owns, even his artwork. My next artwork could be to document the destruction of my own work.
  2. The next idea is to destroy every unsuccessful painting straight after completion. Then cut up the canvas so no one is able to see my latest catastrophe.
  3. Of course l could work out what canvases I can repaint over. This could be a case of trial and error to see what works or doesn’t work.
  4. To save space, I could take the canvas off the stretchers and roll them up. Then recycle the frame by stretching a new canvas on it.
  5. My last idea is not to date my paintings. Maybe in time, I will realise they weren’t that bad. It may be possible to sell them as current paintings.

External link; ‘Painter Killed By Critique Of His Own Bad Art’

The death of the artist and the birth of the creative entrepreneur

It is surprising that destroying artwork is common practice.  It is natural selection. Only the strongest will survive. The highly successful artist Lynette Yiadom-Boakye destroys her work at least three times a week.

“I know generally after a day of working on something whether it is working or not. Out of either pride or feeling, I wasted a whole day on something, I will often keep it until the next day.  Come back, look at it and destroy it.  I hate leaving things in the studio that I am not happy with.  Because I have this terrible sense that if something happened to me that night, and this was the last thing I did, my dealer will turn up at the studio and say ‘Well, she must have meant this one to go in.’ ‘She is not here anymore, but this looks all right.’  I don’t want anything there that someone might think I intended to keep it.  So I always feel like I have to make a decision and chop something up at the end of the day. But there is this thing that the light has changed throughout the day. Maybe I am not seeing it right.  Maybe l should wait until the next day until l can see it in daylight and be absolutely sure it is bad before l get rid of it. I have gotten to be very brutal. I am extremely quick to make a decision that something is wrong and get rid of it.  Like I said it happens a few times a week at the moment. More than a few times a week actually,” she says laughing.

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Understanding the 'Oak Tree' in conceptual art via Russian Politics
My last thought on the ‘Painter Killed By Critique Of his Own Bad Art’is that as an artist if you want to make a living from your art and you don’t want to fill up several skips, you need to get over this fear of judgement.  It is not possible to making a living if you don’t move past the feelings of self-doubt.
As well as spending time painting and creating your artwork, it is essential to promote your art. To talk to collectors and galleries and exhibit your work.
I have come to the conclusion that if l have a pile of work that I am not selling. I need to ask myself, why? Is it because I am not spending enough time promoting my work?  I need to be brave, put my fears to one side and plan an exhibition as soon as possible.  Or this absurd tale may come true.

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I love my work more than what it produces

The ultimate experience – Crashing Wave by Mary Heilmann

The ultimate experience - Crashing Wave, Mary Heilmann, Stuart Bush Studio Blog
©Mary Heilmann, Crashing Wave 2011 oil on canvas 127 x 101.60 cm, All rights are reversed by the artist
At the Whitechapel Gallery in 2016, many thoughts rushed through my mind the first time I saw the painting ‘Crashing Wave (2011)’ by Mary Heilmann.  As I looked at the painting it evoked a special moment.  I remember being out on my body board on Manly beach, Australia, at complete peace with my surroundings.  The air was crisp, and the sun was bright as I pitched forward. I kicked with my flippers while paddling hard with my hands as I took off down into a crystal clear barrel wave. I rode the perfect wave, a foaming mass of white water.  The ultimate experience!
 
It was a weird feeling being out in the sea, which strangely had surprising similarities to painting in a studio.  There is the same solitude in painting when you’re standing with a brush in front of a canvas.  You’re in apparently harmless water, but there is the feeling that if you’re not alert, like one wrong move at the peak of the wave, you could end up scrambling to stay on the surface. The consequence being that you could get thrown around and washed out. Mental and physically rejected back on the beach or in front of a failed canvas.

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What I learnt from Alex Katz
Mary Heilmann’s unforgettable painting combines subject with spills and accidents, runs and washes, that are akin to nature.  Although Hellmann only witnessed surfing as a spectator sport, she has captured its impression in the surface energy of her painting. Using a geometric structure, Mary invites you to have an aesthetic experience.  A remarkable vibrant experience that is enthralling, leaving the feeling that reality has been refreshed.
 
Mary highlights the need to be at one with what you are doing.  One mistake and it’s over.  In both situations, you can spend a lot of time thinking and waiting for the right moment; the right wave or inspiration to get started. Hoping for the world to move through you. Undisturbed by turmoil and disorder.  Aiming for a placid stream of serenity where things come together in the stillness.  When you are in tune with that stillness, incline your mind towards a majestic moment.   Confronting the sharpness of life as you harness nature and ride the wave of an idea back to shore.

External related link

Mary Heilmann's biography - artnet.com

As Mary Heilmann says, “Each of my pictures can be seen as an autobiographical marker. A cue by which I evoke a moment from my past or my projected future. Each a charm to conjure a mental reality and to give it physical form.”

 
Mary Heilmann was born in 1940 in California. As a student, she trained as a ceramicist and a sculptor. After trying to complete in an all-male environment in both these fields she struggled to get any attention.   Then Heilmann decided to paint. She had her first show in New York in 1970 at the Whitney Museum of American Art after moving to New York in 1968.

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Understanding the 'Oak Tree' in conceptual art via Russian Politics

I love my work more than what it produces

I love my work more than what it produces
©Stuart Bush Hard to Concentrate, oil on board 30 x 40 x 3.5 cm
I am happiest when I realise that there is something to investigate, something that doesn’t quite fit.  I love the slow development of an idea.  The slow convergence of thoughts that often come after a period of incubation. l realise then that there is a problem worth tackling, a problem that is going to become my muse.  It is exciting to think that possibly, this concept hasn’t occurred to anyone else.  If it has occurred to someone before me, they will likely approached it in a completely different way.  I love my work more than what it produces.
 
I love going deeper, I just follow my hunch and allow it to unfold. When l am relaxed fresh insight and new connections will often present themselves. I enjoy being spontaneous and trying the different things that occur to me in the moment. Taking half formed concepts from other disciplines; taking them back to something simple and basic. Stripping away the layers of nature and making them new.

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I wish I could paint everyday
 
In doing so I have come to realise the significance of another type of time, so called idle time. I can’t explain it or the steps involved. But it’s time drawing, time photographing, time playing, time experimenting in my sketchbook and time idlily painting.  It isn’t time squandered.  It’s development time, where I take one step forward, two sides ways and often one backwards. Time that becomes something. 
Don't be afraid to make a mistake - Guardian newspaper
 
If I trusted that everything was already correct I wouldn’t discover anything new. So instead, l trust myself to challenge that previous knowledge and develop my ideas and connections. As a result l often find new exciting forms of representation.  No wonder I love my work more than what it produces.
 
Once the work is made however, I worry about having my ideas on show.  I am naturally shy and I don’t like being the centre of attention.  My creative work is never finished, I can’t wait to get back to my studio to play and exercise my signature strengths.  I thrive on the process of discovery and I want to paint something better than I did yesterday.  I have come to realise, I love (the development of) my work more than what it produces.  
 

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The art of being idle

It takes discipline to have creative freedom

Stuart Bush Studio Blog, It takes discipline to have creative freedom
©Stuart Bush, Empire state of mind, mixed media on canvas, 85 x 150cm
I crave for a life without physical, mental or financial constraints.  It has been my intention not to have limits on what I do, what I say or how I spend my time.  I want to make what I want, when I want.  One of the attractions of being an artist is the concept of free expression.  However, our culture, often wires us up to do what is safe and sensible.  In my experience, it takes discipline to have creative freedom.  
 
Commercial art is a good, sensible way of making a living from art.  It has a project outline, a list of do’s and don’ts and set deadlines. To get paid you need to do what is required. It ultimately has a boss saying, ‘you have to do this’, ‘this isn’t what the stakeholders are looking for,’ or ‘you need to make some changes’. But this isn’t the type of creative or artistic freedom I’m looking for.  

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Ideas behind Empire State of Mind painting
 
There is nothing wrong with someone else choosing this occupation.  I’m not being judgemental in any way.  I am personally not good at being told what to do.  Especially when it comes to my creativity.  Life would be boring if everyone choose the same route.
 
For me, a different route was required. When I was looking at job opportunities it was important to me that I found something that gave me time off during the week.  If I had time off in the week, I could follow what I love without having to struggle for money or time. The job I chose isn’t creative or artistic, but it is something I thought I would enjoy. Nevertheless, l chose it mainly as a way to pay the bills and give my family and me a good quality of life.
 
I am not saying working full time isn’t a comprise, it is.  However, there are clear benefits to this approach.  During the week with the rest of the family occupied with school or work I can be creative in my studio, there no-one is cracking the whip.  No-one is telling me what to do. This is great, however, it creates another problem.  Deep down I know I don’t have to work too hard because I don’t need to break out of poverty.
 

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What I struggle with as an artist
Over the years artists like Picasso, Matisse and Van Gogh unintentionally created a belief that to have freedom as an artist you need to be impoverished.  Picasso died in 1973 and this myth needs demystifying.  Things have changed drastically since then.  The world has become a different place since the internet.  Artists do a variety of different things to sustain a creative life alongside a family life.
 
I need to find ways to be more self-motivated. I don’t want to lose my direction and determination but at the moment my life style suits me.  If someone asked me if l would chose a job that is related to my art, but loose my creative freedom the answer is easy.  I want to be free to slay dragons.
 

Recommended link; 

Making a Mark - Blog
Yes, I have to work round everything else in my life.  Art has to come after family life, my job and hundreds of chores.  That’s fine. it just takes a bit of adjusting in order to create a balance.  I would love to do art instead of my full-time job. However, without money and life/work freedom, I won’t be able to work towards making the world a better place through my art.  Working to a brief of some kind would get in the way of my ideas.   
 
Everyone wants freedom.  As an artist I should do the things that I have to do in order to do the things I want to do.  I realise I am fortunate to have realised that it can take the opposite of freedom to have artistic freedom.  It takes self-control and direction if you want the benefits of being your own creative boss.  It takes willpower and self-mastery to be able to make what you want when you want.  To be able to prioritise my relationship with my creative work takes an unbelievable amount of discipline to have creative freedom. 
 

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The benefits of Adversity

My typical day as a painter

When it is advisable to be wrong, increasing learning in the studio, Stuart Bush Studio Blog
©Stuart Bush, When it is advisable to be wrong 2016 oil on board 45.7 x 60.1 cm
Since I have been a parent, my typical day as a painter starts with waking up between 6 and 6:30 am.   I have a clear head in the morning and I have learnt to appreciate this early start as it allows me to catch up with any writing l have to do. 
 
Everyone else in the house is up by 7:30 and then l enjoy spending quality time with the family.  I help my boys with their homework and get them ready for school. I really appreciate these enjoyable family moments.  I look forward to the short walk to school.  On the way back I have the opportunity to start thinking about my first tasks in the studio.  
 

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Increasing learning in the studio
 
 
Stuart Bush Studio Blog, When it is advisable to wrong, My typical day as a painter
Stuart Bush, When it is advisable to be wrong, work in progress
 
For the next three hours its time to put my head in the rabbit hole.  First, I remove all distractions from the studio as I don’t want to be reactive to any outside influences.  Then l immerse myself in painting.  This typically takes me until my stomach lets me know its lunch time.

External links;

Jerry Saltz: How to be an artist
 
If I have managed to achieve all this by lunchtime I feel like I have already won the day.  I have completed sixty minutes or so of writing. Ninety minutes with my family and two to three hours of painting.  Now that my main priorities are achieved, I see the rest of the day as flexible.  If I still feel inspired, I can return to the studio or I can get on with business or home tasks until it’s time to pick the children up from school. 
 
I always look forward to walking to school and being able to ask the children about their day. I then spend the rest of the day with the family. I may do some reading, writing or play games with the family or even do fitness exercises.  If I have any free time, I try to catch up on what is left of my business tasks or studio tasks. 
 
Then the only task left to do is to decide what am going to paint the next day.
Stuart Bush Studio Blog, increasing learning in the studio, My typical day as a painter
Stuart Bush, When it is advisable to be wrong, work in progress

Ernest Hemingway offered this advice for writing, but I think it suits any creative activity. “The best way is always to stop when you are going good and when you know what will happen next. If you do that every day when you are writing a novel, you will never be stuck. That is the most valuable thing I can tell you so try to remember it.” I have found the advice very valuable.

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Places I go for inspiration

Wishing for dyslexia

The Rush, Stuart Bush Studio Blog
©Stuart Bush The rush 2016 oil on canvas 50 x 70 cm – SOLD
I recently read a book by Malcolm Gladwell called David and Goliath. The theme of the book highlights how we are misled about the nature of our advantages and disadvantages.  Gladwell explains that it isn’t always correct that our disadvantages preventing us being successful in life.  “We have a definition in our heads of what an advantage is — and the definition isn’t right. And what happens as a result? It means that we make mistakes. It means that we misread battles between underdogs and giants. It means that we underestimate how much freedom there can be in what looks like a disadvantage.”
 
In chapter four, Gladwell starts with the question, ‘You won’t wish dyslexia on your child, or would you?.’ Gladwell explains that when you’re dyslexic to overcome reading and writing issues, dyslexics really have to work extremely hard. That extra effort to compensate for your disadvantages develops into new advantages.  Malcolm says, “If you take away the gift of reading, you give the gift of listening.”  In my case rather than listening I developed the gift of seeing.
 
While battling with comprehension as a dyslexic, I had to concentrate extremely hard. I learnt to look harder and more deeply while fighting to understand and comprehend what I was reading.

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The benefits of adversity
The usual strategy for learning to read is to be able to break down words and understand each syllable. Enabling the reader to form the words by saying the sounds. I was told by a psychologist when I completed a dyslexia test that I have learnt to memorise thousands of words whole.  For this strategy to work, I have developed an advanced visual memory to compensate for my weakness.  To me, this makes a lot of sense as I am not good with reading and spelling words I am less familiar with.
 
 
I believe that what Gladwell talked about in his book is very interesting. I think this idea broadens as Gladwell noted and is the reason why many dyslexics end up becoming artists. Through seeing and thinking thoroughly, they continue to struggle to understand the world.  Dyslexics are often resourceful individuals, and they continually look for a solution. Dyslexics develop and build an advanced visual memory, they start to notice what others ignore.  
 
This happens to me, I start to ask questions when I notice something I find interesting. I ask, has anyone else observed this?  If they have, surely they would have painted it or draw attention to it another way.  I continue looking around to see if anyone has in case I have overlooked it and missed it.  After a while, I began to trust that these things that I have noticed have probably been ignored.  
 

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How technology Helped Me Cheat Dyslexia
Then I start the journey of processing these things of interest. Looking at them even more profoundly. I play with them in my head and in a sketchbook turning them into a variety of outcomes in order to see what works.  The hardest part is to look and see if I can turn it into successful artwork.  This is really what an artist’s role is, to think deeply about what hasn’t been noticed and draw attention to it.
 
Gladwell highlights this fact in the book, “An extraordinarily high number of entrepreneur are dyslexic about a third…There are two possible interpretations for this remarkable fact. One is that this extraordinary group of people triumphed in spite of their disability. That they are so smart and so creative, that nothing, not even a lifetime of struggling with reading could stop them. The second more intriguing possibility that they achieve in part because of the disorder.  That they learnt something in their struggle to be at an enormous advantage. Would you wish dyslexia on your child?”
 
George Bernard Shaw, “The reasonable man adapts himself to the world,  The unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself.  Therefore, all progress relies on the unreasonable man.”
 

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Dyslexia isn't going to stop me

A painters approach to street photography – Stuart Bush Studio Blog

©Stuart Bush, untitled photograph, A painters approach to street photography
©Stuart Bush, untitled photograph, A painters approach to street photography
I found the question of where to start as an artist after art school an easy one. I had a desire to capture something about now; the present moment in the city.  My camera seemed an obvious place to start. I picked up my camera and took pictures.  Cartier Bresson labelled it the “the decisive moment.”  I wanted to capture a split second of an ever-changing mad rush.  By doing so, I found a way to make art; I discovered a painters approach to street photography. 
 
My walk with a camera started with no intention of where I was going; not in my steps and not in my art.  Each time I went out with my camera, I spent more time reflecting on the photographs I took. Looking for a breadcrumb to follow.
 
Out of the hundreds of photographs, I knew there was a way forward. My own unique way forward. I know I was interested in something significant, but it was impossible to put it into words.  I was interested in elements of form, of architecture and individuals, and formal qualities of a composition.  Over time this vision developed into a kind of transcendence. A nowness of this specific point in time. Of my time and our time.
 

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The influential work of Francis Bacon lead me to become a painter
My camera works an extension of me, I use it as a tool to capture my artistic vision.  I am looking for the right something. When the right individual with the right background, in the right composition, comes together in the frame.  I hope to capture an emotion and feeling of being there. To add a sense of place.
©Stuart Bush, untitled, street photography, A painters approach to street photography
©Stuart Bush, untitled photograph, A painters approach to street photography
When I am out taking photographs is not essential for me to communicate with the people I am photographing.  I try to be invisible, I don’t draw attention to myself.  I very rarely use a direct likeness of the individuals in my paintings, only sometimes in my drawings.  If I was ever asked what I was doing which I never have, I don’t think people would understand. How can I explain I am capturing the randomness of life. This quest to me feels unique.  
 

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Street photography.com
I paint what I photograph rather than exhibit the photographs.  The are many reasons why.  I have become less interested in narratives and less interested in the details of the image. I want to abstract something out of those moments. To strip away the visual noise, to look for something beneath, where people and the city emerge in a meaningful and surprising way.  At the end of the day, we all see and notice these fleeting moments.  I am trying to ask what does it say? What does it all mean?
 
A fated poise, a combination of colour, texture and cut of the clothes translates into our culture. Street photography can become quite obsessive. It takes dedication to capture that moment. That purely visual moment.  It is gone so quickly there is hardly any time to capture it.  I see it all being about chance. An accidental chance.  In that accident, it says something about being here on this rock in this moment of time, that I don’t think can be said in any other way.
 

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How I see art contributing to society

The influential work of Francis Bacon – Stuart Bush Studio Blog

Stuart Bush Studio Blog, Hopes and Fears, The influential work of Francis Bacon lead me to become a painter
©2016 Stuart Bush, Hopes and Fears, (2007) oil on canvas 150 x 85 cm
When I was starting out as an artist, I was having trouble with feelings about the purpose of our human existence. I related to Karl Marx talking about the problems of consumerism and the alienation of labour. Marx stated that if you are cut off from the fruits of your work, then you are cut off from your creativity, and you lose your sense of self. This introspection on existentialism and the influential work of Francis Bacon lead me to become a painter as a creative outlet for my thoughts.
 
I realised I was happiest when I was making something.  It needed to be something for me that doesn’t have the main aim of making money.  I feel that this is one of the main problems with the western consumeristic society. People often lose connection with their output. They complete a task just to make money, just to survive. I believe the goal of making money causes psychological problems with our individual purpose and happiness.
 

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How I see art contributing to society
During the process of making art, I feel the artwork becomes an extension of me. I get closer to my deeper self.  Through painting, my purpose stretches out before me. I realised no one else can make another painting precisely the same. No-one else has my thoughts. This powerful idea that I am unique and I can communicate what I feel really resonates with my heart.
Stuart Bush Studio Blog, Francis Bacon, Figure at the base of crucifixion, The influential work of Francis Bacon lead me to become a painter
©Francis Bacon, Figures at the base of crucifixion 1944, 1 panel part of a triptych
After learning about Francis Bacon at art school, and seeing Bacon’s work at several exhibitions in London, including his major retrospective at the Tate in 2008, I saw the way forward. I immediately related to his work and understood it.  As Bacon puts it, “art is about trying to make something out of the chaos of existence.”
 
To enable me to communicate my feeling of angst and estrangement with the world, I realised I could paint the figure in the city. Since I grew up in the country, I found the city fascinating and it is where I felt increasingly heighten feelings of alienation.
 

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Tate interactive tour of 2008 Francis Bacon exhibition
 
I was in a trance by the power of Bacon’s large canvases. Bacon depicted the complexity and chaos that was going on around me and inside me.  His paintings focused on the invisible forces that underlie me. I strongly relate to the feelings of angst and disorientation.  
 
Stuart Bush Studio Blog, The Kingdom, The influential work of Francis Bacon lead me to become a painter
©Stuart Bush, The Kingdom, oil on canvas 150 x 85 cm
I realised Bacon wasn’t only interested in directly painting a representation of life. He wanted to heighten the viewer’s feelings. His paintings were created by using raw instinct and chance.  Often there is a single figure in Bacon’s paintings, the individual that creates a tremendous force that twists, contorts and stretches out.  Bacon’s striking depictions stirred my emotions with the immediacy, and with the deep and lasting impact of his art.
 
I deeply related to Bacon’s paintings and felt painting was the perfect way I could communicate my thoughts.  What I like about Bacon’s approach is that he is not trying to understand the human condition, Bacon realises he cannot.  If he could explain it, there would be no reason to paint it.  Bacon was instead trying to get you to feel what he feels.  He portrays a figure, not as an educated, cultured, pillar of the community but instead as nothing but a raw piece of meat. It is direct, honest and compelling.  Francis Bacon explains it eloquently, “the job of the artist is always to deepen the mystery.”  Francis Bacon had a tremendous impact on me.  Inspiring me to follow in his footsteps and to become a painter.
 

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The inspiral work of Egon Schiele - Stuart Bush Studio Blog

Dyslexia isn’t going to stop me

Stuart Bush Studio Blog, Dyslexia isn't going to stop me, A section of ourselves as a commodified object
©Stuart Bush, A section of ourselves as a commodified object, oil on aluminium panel, 80 x 120cm
I avoided practising my reading and writing skills as I grew up. I easily slipped through the net due to changing schools several times. It took me a long time to read a book, however, I started to enjoy reading in my twenties. At 27 years old I was diagnosed with dyslexia. It took me a while to realise that dyslexia wasn’t going to stop me.
 
I didn’t enjoy writing before I had a blog. I always felt my writing was poor. The way I used to get my ideas down on paper was confused and in a jumble. In spite of that, I believed that my ideas and content were good. It used to take an enormous amount of hard work to take my ideas and make them into a finished piece of writing.
 
It is almost impossible to become an artist without being able to communicate clearly. I needed to not only to be able to write about my work but also talk about it. Hearing that there are lots of successful people with dyslexia encouraged me. I thought to myself, ‘It didn’t hold them back, so it isn’t going to hold me back! I need to face my fears”

External link – Dyslexia isn’t going to stop me

How Technology Helped Me Cheat Dyslexia
 
The only way I was going to improve was through practice. One of the main reasons l started writing my blog was for myself, for my own improvement. 
 
My purpose and the reasons why I write has developed over time. Now use my blog to explain and demystify how to establish a successful artistic practice. I give a raw unfiltered analysis, sharing what I find with others in order to help them develop a way forward with making art and becoming successful.  Through collaborating as artists, we can figure things out together. When you read, comment or purchase a work of mine you are collaborating with me on this journey.
 
In the beginning, writing this blog stuartbushstudioblog.com was like a type of therapy.  However, because of this journey, of facing what I fear, I now feel stronger as an artist. The best part is that I now enjoy writing!  I wonder if I have a book in me.

Related posts – Dyslexia isn’t going to stop me

The Benefits of Adversity

The art of being idle

The art of being idle, Stuart Bush Studio Blog, painting blog, inception of an unexpressed thought
@Stuart Bush The inception of an unexpressed thought part 2, coloured pencil on paper 22 x 29cm
Congratulations! You have just started reading a blog post that encourages you to be idle in order to improve your creative work.  So relax, put your feet up and read on to find out how being idle can be turned into the art of being idle.
 
Benjamin Franklin, one of the founding fathers of the United States of America said, “It is the working man who is a happy man. It is the idle man who is the miserable man.” This quote reflects a common misunderstanding about the benefits of being busy versus the benefits of being idle. It is important to clear this problem up for us creative people.  
 
I am not denying working hard is needed to be able to achieve success in all fields of work.  It clearly does take quite a lot of hard work to be successful in almost every domain. However, over time I have come to realise that a key part in becoming a successful artist is by not making yourself so busy that deep work becomes impossible.  

Related reading to the art of being idle

Why being idle is good for you - The Telegraph
 
To resolve creative problems and break through with new ideas finding quality time in the studio is only part of a bigger picture.  Of course, if you’re not in the studio making new work regularly then you need to make some adjustments to your working week.  My main point here is that it is also it is important to have idle time in your week for reflection and contemplation.  If you haven’t already got this highly valuable time in your week it is advisable to make some adjustments too.
Stuart Bush Studio Blog, The art of being idle, an unexpressed thought, painters blog
©Stuart Bush The inception of an unexpressed thought part 4, coloured pencil on paper 22 x 29cm
The art of being idle explained
Creative ideas never come to me in a full and complete form. Often it feels like ideas are not moving forward and I often have to ponder on a problem to resolve a piece of work. A slow incubation of ideas forms in my subconscious.  Sometimes I try to resolve a problem through preparation drawings.  I might try sketching, using collage and playing with an open mind to help to move my ideas forward.  
 
At one time I use to sit and procrastinate but over time I have realised that when this happens I need to move on to something else and keep on working.  I don’t have time just to sit there waiting for an idea to resolve itself.
 
I have noticed my best ideas come when I am not directly thinking about the problem I am trying to resolve.  In effect my best ideas come when I am not busy but when l am idle.  I have discovered that creating a fine balance in my weekly schedule allows me time to be idle. 
 

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My subconscious works overtime during a good nights sleep. Then in the following days and weeks when I am carrying out a mundane activity: possibly in the shower, walking, driving or doing some household tasks when I’m not focusing on anything, in particular, my mind wanders, my focus starts to drift and I start day-dreaming.  It is in these moments that the answer pops into my head as if by magic an idea trickles through my subconscious as if from no-where.  
The art of being idle, Stuart Bush Studio Blog, painting blog, inception of an unexpressed thought
©Stuart Bush The inception of an unexpressed thought part 1, coloured pencil on paper 22 x 29cm
I do realise however that this creative idleness would not work if l didn’t know my craft well. If l didn’t have the skills l have acquired through practice. If l didn’t have the openness of mind to work through solutions and ideas. Then l would stumble and fail to reach a solution about developing my idea into a finished piece of work.
 

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During the time I am idle, my unconscious mind is always working. There is no disconnecting my artistic thoughts and problem-solving.  However, if I was busy all the time I believe the solutions wouldn’t surface in my mind.  I have also discovered that once the problem is resolved in my brain I can’t retrace the steps that go into creating that solution. 
 
In conclusion, the art of being idle feels like a mystery, like a journey into the unknown where the mind takes over and small thoughts and concepts bloom with a life of their own.  I hope this small explanation into the art of being idle helps you to resolve your own ideas by relaxing and letting your subconscious mind take over.
 
The art of being idle, Stuart Bush Studio Blog, painting blog, inception of an unexpressed thought
©Stuart Bush The inception of an unexpressed thought part 3, coloured pencil on paper 22 x 29cm

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