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”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
A group of scientists recently looked into the most effective ways of learning. They suggested that long sessions and all-nighters don’t give us the best opportunity to learn. After reading about this 12 months ago, I changed my weekly studio calendar. I found from a simple change, there are advantages for developing your artistic practice and increasing learning in the studio. I now visit my studio multiple times in a week and do 2-3 hours, I not only achieve more, I also learn more.
Related link to; ‘increasing your learning in the studio’
This is because our minds store information in many different places in our brains. This process strengthens the connections in our brain. With regularly spaced repetition we can make the most out of the way our minds work and achieve better retention of skills and knowledge.
It is mainly down to the frequency and the spacing of the intervals. So rather than visiting the studio once a week, try many shorter visits while repeating creative tasks. When you come and go you strengthened your knowledge. In the absence, your mind subconsciously works to resolve issues in your work. Ideas and solutions pop up when your away from the studio.
The moments in the artist’s studio are under our control. Anything that happens to your work outside the studio after it is made is out of your control. While opportunities to show your work are extra special they not supposed to be the reason for making the artwork. The reason why I am an artist and why I work on my artistic practice is focused on learning and advancing in the studio. By making something purposeful, I am feeding and enhancing my life’s work. I hope this piece of advice helps improvement at a faster pace. Afterall, the journey is the goal.
Related post to; ‘increasing your learning in the studio’
Every day I paint I have an adventure into the unknown.
Every day I am excited by the possibilities in the work.
Every day I paint I enjoy the production of novelty the most.
Every day I paint, I decide what I want to work on the night before. My unconscious mind thinks and contemplates it overnight. The next day I effortlessly to know where to start.
Every day I paint I don’t make it overly complicated.
Every day I paint my studio has to be free from distractions so l can get into a creative flow and stay in it. I get completely caught up and saturated in what I am doing. The painting leads the way, my hand and brush are in control rather than my brain. I have a deep involvement with the activity and time becomes distorted.
Every day I paint, it is not clear what needs to be done. The solution is elusive and an accident. Only when I am in a flow of creativity, unconscious decision making takes place. I surprise myself and produce work I am happy with.
Every day I paint, I try to be satisfied when the work is complete. If I put unnecessary pressure and stress on myself and let my perfectionist outlook win, the results are never good enough to meet my standards.
Every day I paint I hope something good will come, but if it doesn’t I don’t worry. Whether it is good or bad, that really doesn’t matter. When I finish, I always turn the work towards the wall and quickly move on to the next task.
Every day I paint I consider the work from previous sessions and give myself feedback. This enables me to move forward. I have to decide which ideas can be developed and which direction to take and then l know what to work on during the next session.
Every day I paint I am unsure if I am getting anywhere. Often I take one step forward, two steps sideways and one backwards. Every little while I stop and look back. Over months and years rather than days I learn something new and l know l am growing as a painter and as a person.
Every day I paint I am not interested in money and fame. It’s the pursuit that counts, not the attainment. I always enjoy and have fun within the process.
Every day I paint I work towards achieving something meaningful. My lifelong ambition is to make a significant contribution to culture. In doing so, I hope to help the human condition.
Every day I paint I love what I do. I love the process of making art more than the work I produce.
When I enter my studio I often have times when I need to be inspired. No matter what l do l meet resistance. I walk around the room, or I sit feeling frustrated with a closed mind. My mind doesn’t feel like being creative. Fighting this situation never works. All that happens is that l waste the day. I have to get out. I need to find a place to go to for inspiration.
Over time, l have learnt to embrace these moods and seek solace and inspiration elsewhere. Near my studio, I have a lovely country walk. Whatever the weather, I put my shoes on and head off.
While I am walking, I can consider all my unfinished business and jobs. Then I begin looking at the things around me. I try to move my mind to focus on my breathing and relax. I notice the sounds of the birds, the footsteps in the gravel and the beauty of my surroundings.
A related post to the places to go for inspiration
My primary objective is to cultivate a happy mind. I might sit down on a bench and watch people walk past. Or I might pop out a sketchbook and draw whatever comes into my mind. If I don’t fancy a walk or if I return and my mood hasn’t shifted, I look through some of my art books. I start sketching from what seems interesting.
If I’m feeling at a loss about where to start when that pencil hits the page just start by moving it. I start with anything from a circle to scribble. Like a child, I try to create without judgement or expectations.
I see my job as an artist is to record what I see. For this to work well, and to be able to translate what I see in a new unique way, good quality inspiration is essential. I try to visit the museums and galleries in London at least once a month. I also look for opportunities for collaboration and to engage in useful and uplifting and stimulating discussions. Sooner or later I return to the studio with inspiration for my next step.
Many children spend a lot of their time with their peers. In my childhood, I changed schools five times. This meant l had to learn to start over again and again. At the time I couldn’t see the benefits of adversity. I could only see the challenges of the upheavals. Making friends and building strong relationships was a continual challenge. It felt like before I knew it, I was moving again.
As I didn’t have easy and regular access to friends, I naturally was drawn to the easy path of finding things to do on my own. I didn’t spend my time playing sports. I was shy and it took me a long time to get to know people and trust them.
Like most kids, I enjoyed watching television. For me, it was mainly the A-Team, the Fall Guy and Airwolf. My childhood dream was to become a stuntman. The main activities I found myself doing were building models, drawing, playing lego and riding my bike.
By spending time drawing and making things I become quite good at these activities. l remember that l stood out in my class and was noted for my drawing abilities. This made me feel good about myself and it gave me more encouragement to continue drawing.
As I got older I started dreaming about becoming an architect. The impossible concept of becoming an artist never entered my thoughts for a moment. However, I stumbled into an art degree without a plan. Then I stumbled out looking for a job. When I graduated the thought of making a living as an artist still appeared impossible.
As I look back to where I started I have the benefits of adversity to thank for being an artist. And of course, the Internet has helped me to have a career as an artist. I still would have continued to draw, paint and make things but few people would see them without the Internet. Art is what I love doing, and I wouldn’t change my experiences and path for anything now.
I would love to hear from you if your adversity had a positive impact on your life.
On entering my studio, I often find myself in a low emotional state, where I am not in the mood to make work. This often happens when I have rushed around to get the kids to school, tidied up and done some basic housework. On those mornings I feel worn out before the day of work has started. I am very conscious that I am tired and overwhelmed with life and it all pressures. However, I am also often determined to try to move out of this negative state of mind and get back to being productive.
I have realised that by preparing what I am going to do the night before, as explained in a previous blog post, helps me to know what to do first. But sometimes my energy is so low not even this is enough to get me going.
In order to wake me up and change my energy levels, l find a hot or a cold shower helps to reinvigorate me. I follow this by sitting in an upright position and focusing on controlling my breathing. I think about what I am grateful for, what I appreciate and what makes me feel alive. I appreciate my relationships, I have a lovely family and happy place to live. I am grateful and lucky to have the opportunity to be creative and paint regularly in my studio. The last part of this re-focusing is to go for a short walk to remind myself of my conviction as an artist. A change of location can make a big difference. I feel the sun, wind or the rain on my face. All this takes no more than 30 minutes.
The real trick is to do more of what works and less of what doesn’t. My unconscious mind needs time to sort itself out. I need space to pose open questions concerning my next piece of work. I mull over issues and gently filter out my distracting, conscious thoughts. This process stops the excessive focus on myself and feels like a reset and a physical transformation. It creates a natural high until I can’t wait to get back to work and I haven’t got a moment to lose.
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!
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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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.
I hope you can help me support the local air ambulance charity.