I wish I could paint every day

Stuart Bush Studio, No bodies fault, I wish I could paint every day
©Stuart Bush, Nobodies fault detail, I wish I could paint every day

I wish I could paint every day…

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.
Stuart Bush Studio, No bodies fault, I wish I could paint every day
©Stuart Bush Nobodies fault detail, I wish I could paint every day
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.
 

Related post to Every day I paint;

Drawing the creative act
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.
 
I wish I could paint every day.
 
Stuart Bush Studio, No bodies fault, I wish I could paint every day
©Stuart Bush, Nobodies fault, oil on board 70.2 x 50.4 x 3.6cm, I wish I could paint every day

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Places to go for inspiration

Stuart Bush Studio, the rush
©Stuart Bush The rush 2016 oil on board 50 x 70 cm
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

The benefits of adversity

 
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.
 
Stuart Bush Studio, the rush, a form of confessional poetry, no bodies fault
Installation shot from Rugby Gallery exhibition, Stuart Bush Studio
 

Related links to the places to go for inspiration

 
 
 
 
I am very interested to hear how you become inspired.  Please comments below.

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What l see in the work of Jeff Koons

Jeff Koons, Play-Doh, Stuart Bush Studio Blog
Jeff Koons, Play-Doh (1994—2012) Newport Gallery All right reserved by the artist
 
It is easy to be impressed by the work of Jeff Koons. He has an impressive art career and has gained international success. Koons has developed a secure grip on the art market and he can make whatever he wants.  He often turns the popular; Michael Jackson with his pet monkey or scoops of Play-doh; into an expensive ceramic or stainless steel sculpture. 
 
Plus, Koons is not afraid to make work that could potentially alienate him. It is easy to sneer at his works based on topics like guilt and shame. After all, we are all bound by our own unconscious and conscious signals.  He openly encourages opinions on his art saying there is no right or wrong interpretation.  His art challenges the idea that art needs emotional depth and taste. Koons work, whether your ambivalent about it or not, it clearly reflects our age and society especially his gazing balls and balloon dog.
Jeff Koons Balloon Monkey, Stuart Bush Studio Blog
Jeff Koons, Balloon Monkey (Blue) 2006-2013 Newport Gallery All rights reserved by the artist
 
 
Jeff Koons describes Balloon Dog: “It’s very mythic. There’s a sense of the interior to the piece, which is a bit like a Trojan piece. It’s very now – it’s like a balloon from a birthday party, and because it’s inflated, you imagine the birthday party was recent, not 20 years ago. A normal membrane of a balloon from 20 years ago would be completely deflated. At the same time, there’s a mythic and ritualistic quality; you can imagine people going around Balloon Dog in a sort of dance. A tribalistic quality.”
 

What I see in Jeff Koons website link

http://www.jeffkoons.com
 
However, instead of just enjoying his work I am often distracted by the hype that surrounds it. He takes a couple of things from contemporary life that are somewhat one dimensional then puts them together to try to create a new meaning. They become carries or cyphers as Koons seeks to get you to think. Nevertheless, I feel his work lacks empathy and intellectual curiosity.  Once you understand the idea behind a piece of his art, there is no hidden depth.  For me, his wealth has become the spectacle and not for the right reason. 
Jeff Koons, Acrobat, Stuart Bush Studio blog
Jeff Koons, Balloon Monkey (Blue) 2006-2013 Newport Gallery All rights reserved by the artist
 
Koons has taken the idea of turning art into a business to a whole new level. He has developed a style of work that does not include the ‘original’ artistic hand. Instead, he employs specialist highly skilled artists and craftspeople to bring his concept to life while he focuses on micromanaging the output.
 
In doing so, Koons creates a new religion for art that celebrates the shallowness of capitalism and celebrity as his ego seeks to promote himself as the modern-day equivalent of the great artists of the past.  
 
Whether you like his work or not his art does come across as uplifting and joyful.  But I am sceptical about the broader intentions of such art. This leads me to find what he does and his unflinching confidence and self-belief admirable, while at the same time, disagreeable.
 

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15 things I learnt from Neil Gaiman’s Make Good Art speech

©Stuart Bush, The Kingdom, oil on canvas 150 x 85 cm
 
In 2012 Neil Gaiman gave a commencement speech for the University of Arts in Pennsylvania.  Neil Gaiman is a writer of novels, comic books, graphic novels, audio theatre and films. He was born in Hampshire, UK, and now lives in the United States near Minneapolis. Neil’s most notable works include The Sandman, Stardust, American Gods, Neverwhere, Coraline and The Graveyard book. He has also been honoured with many international awards.  His speech is packed full of helpful advice for creative people.  
 
I thought I would write this blog post and highlight many of the learning points l found in it.
 
  1. “Instead of having a career plan, make a list of everything you want to do and just do the next thing on the list.”
  2. “Goals are like mountains in the distance.” Set them and be clear what they are. 
  3. “Do things that feel like an adventure. Learn to write by writing. [For a painter, learn to paint by painting]. Stop when it feels like work.”
  4. “A life in the arts, is sometimes like putting messages in bottles on a desert island, and hoping that someone will find one of your bottles, open it and read it, and put something back in a bottle that will wash its way back to you: appreciation, or a commission, or money, or love. But you have to accept that you may put out a hundred things for every bottle that winds up coming back to you.” 
  5. “Nothing I did where the only reason for doing it was the money, was ever worth it.”  If you do things you’re proud of and if you don’t get paid, at least you will be proud of your work. 
  6. “The problems of success. They’re real, and with luck, you’ll experience them all. The point where you stop saying yes to everything is because now the bottles you threw in the ocean are all coming back, and you have to learn to say no.”  
  7. “Write fewer emails, write [and paint] more.”
  8. “Get out there and make mistakes.”
  9. After you have finished copying things remember,  “The moment that you feel that, just possibly, you’re walking down the street naked, exposing too much of your heart and your mind and what exists on the inside, showing too much of yourself. That’s the moment you may be starting to get it right.”    
  10. “Do the stuff only you can do.”
  11. “You should enjoy it, let go and enjoy the ride. Don’t worry about the next deadline or the next idea.”
  12. “Make up your own rules.”
  13. “Pretend that you’re someone who is already successful… and pretend to be wise.”
  14. “Make good art!”
  15. “And now go, and make interesting mistakes, make amazing mistakes, make glorious and fantastic mistakes. Break the rules. Leave the world more interesting for your being here. Make good art.”
 

Here is the full speech:

https://www.uarts.edu/neil-gaiman-keynote-address-2012

If you would like to learn more about Neil please click this link below. 

http://neilgaiman.com/About_Neil/Biography

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I wish I could paint every day

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An artist’s advice to finding art

©Stuart Bush, Law of the jungle, oil on aluminium panel 38 x 76 cm

An artist’s advice to finding art

I have a modern house and l love having modern art on the walls.  My art collection personal to me.
 
I also enjoy spending time in London visiting museums and galleries.  I appreciate having time to look at a variety of artist’s work and considering their different styles and types of work.    Artists are generally in the know and are usually very helpful.  I also try to go to alternative spaces to meet artists. I learn a lot by talking to artists and uncovering who they admire and who influences who, and what they think about other artists.  If the same name keeps cropping up l take notes and do my own research on them.
 
I often go online to find which dealers are working with particular artists. Sometimes I go on Artnet.com to see the prices that artists sell their work for, it gives me a better understanding of the art market.
 
I like to visit art school on their open days like the Royal College of Art or the Royal Academy Schools. It’s an added advantage to spend time in an art school, l may come across a piece l like and try to remember it’s been done before. Having knowledge of what has been done in the past is particularly important if you are looking to buy or make modern art.
 
I listen carefully to the advice l get from galleries, curators and collectors. Personally, I’ve never used art consultants but l have heard that they can be very helpful. I don’t follow trends, l like what l like. I am interested in art that is personal to me.

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What I struggle with as an artist – Starting the day

©Stuart Bush, Saturate Postcards 1-3
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. 

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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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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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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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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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