Dreaming about success

Dreaming for success, Stuart Bush Studio Blog, No exit
©Stuart Bush, No exit, pen on paper 43 x 61 cm

Often when I turn on the shower and step in, I turn on a shower of thoughts. I’m not sure why it happens in the shower, but I think it is a favourable place to be flooded with thoughts and ideas. My mind also, unfortunately, wanders when I am painting. Over time, I have realised I have become a professional daydreamer. This is the wrong time and the wrong place to be imagining the future. I feel the need to gain some self-mastery of my busy creative mind.

I used to think dreaming about the future was my reward for taking on an almost impossible creative challenge. At times, I have imagined having the ideal artist studio, making sublime artwork, relaxing and enjoying the lifestyle of being someone successful. I have learnt from thinking like this that happiness will always be a reward in the future.

Dreaming about success – links

What to paint – The recipe for failure

The problem with allowing myself to think about a variety of things other than the task that is in front of me is that I am not as productive as I need to be. I lose focus on what I am doing and why I am doing it. This leads me to the questions, what is it I am trying to achieve? It is a feeling of floating down the middle of a fast flowing river hoping to swim to a bank at some point.

I have become aware that if I am lucky enough to achieve what I want in the future, and I get there while being a daydreamer (which I now think is highly unlikely). I will always be programmed to look to the future for a sense of fulfilment.

This realisation has happened after reading quotes like, “when your fulfilment and sense of self are no longer dependent on the future outcome, joy flows into whatever you do.” Quote from ‘The Power of Now’ by Eckhart Tolle.

I need to control my daydreaming or I will never appreciate what I achieve. It is important to realise I very fortunate in many ways. I should be grateful and enjoy this time in my life. It is the process and journey that is important, not some dream about the future.

Dreaming about success – links

Adrian Ghenie: The fuel of failure

What to paint – The recipe for failure

Stuart Bush Studio Blog, What to paint, The recipe for failure
Stuart Bush, Hopes and Fears, Oil on canvas, 85 x 150cm. All rights reserved by the artist ©Stuart Bush
I remember just starting out as an artist, and I didn’t know what to paint. The choice seems so vast and momentous. I was often lost in thought as I was worried about making the wrong decision. I wasted a lot of time and energy when l should have just got started. Recently I heard this advice from Herbert Swope (b 1958) the editor and journalist, “I can’t give you a sure-fire formula for success, but I can give you a formula for failure: ‘trying to please everyone all the time.” Although these words of wisdom do not come from an artist, it is excellent advice.  It took me a while to figure it out that l shouldn’t be trying to please everyone, in fact, that was the last thing I should be trying to do.

What to paint – The recipe for failure

Why do I paint
It is quite common when you’re new to painting to work on getting between three to ten points of interest in a painting. My main point of interest in my early paintings was the angst I was feeling. I wanted my audience to feel what I felt.
I made it easy for people to easily understand this feeling and point of view.  However, l have learnt that l need to leave each painting open to interpretation.  A strong painting works on many more levels.  This allows everyone to look deeper and to see different things in the work. The sleigh of hand is to take stuff out rather than put things in.
I paint the painting I want to see.  As I know, there is a lot of people who have the same tastes as me.  I ask myself what really excites me?  What can I uniquely achieve on a canvas? If there are some tough steps I need to do to achieve my next painting, then I need to do those hard steps.

What to paint – The recipe for failure

Why painting still matters - Interviews with 5 contemporary painters - Guardian Newspaper
I have done this by learning to say no.  Often painting is a choice of what not to do.  I now know I don’t need to be worried about whether people like it or not. I have learnt that whatever I choose to do will be worth the hard work.  As long as I live a life of total engagement with my work, I will be content.  When that commitment comes through my work, the choice of what I paint doesn’t matter.  Apparently, there are 100,000 people with similar interests to me somewhere in the world.  l paint a painting that I would be thrilled to see.  My audience is a stadium of me!
the recipe for failure, stuart bush studio blog, what to paint
©Stuart Bush, Strange Heart Sings, oil on board 30 x 40 cm

What to paint – The recipe for failure

A painting has to stand up by itself

A painting has to stand up by itself

©Stuart Bush, A section of ourselves as a commodified object, oil on aluminium panel, 80 x 120cm

Often when a viewer looks at works of art they ask themselves, ‘why did the artist make this?’ However I believe that understanding the original idea or intention of my work defeats my ambitions for this artwork.  Instinct led me to paint this painting.  By trying to understand my instincts my aims are never going to be clear.

Creativity is instinctive, and it is buried within me.  I’m interested in this part of myself.  I am curious about exploring what I am hung up on.  I’m not in control of what comes out.

Braque said, “the only thing that matters in art is what that cannot be explained.”

A painting has to stand up by itself – Related posts:

Is it essential to see a painting in the flesh?

Art does not have a purpose and function like a design. It is not essential to try and understand why I made this artwork. A person viewing an artwork comes to see the work with their own unique background, knowledge, and history. The artwork now exists on its own, and it has to stand up by itself.

Everyone sees things differently.  I believe that the best artworks mean different things to different people.

As Duchamp said, “the artist has only 50% of the responsibility and that is to get the work out, it is completed by the viewer.”

A painting has to stand up by itself – Related posts:

I need to find my next painting in my last painting

Rebound from a failed painting

Stuart Bush Studio Blog, Rebound from a failed painting, Law of the jungle
©Stuart Bush, Law of the jungle, oil on aluminium panel 38 x 76 cm
I was taught at school that everything had to be right.  I was encouraged to conform so that when I grew up I would make a good employee. Education was stifling.  I was urged to aim for perfection; however, I was a long way away from achieving that.  Sketching and doodling were discouraged, learning from failure was hindered.  As a consequence, I had no idea how to rebound from a failed painting.
When I started to learn to paint I use to stop, look and make a judgment about my progress. I worried I was wasting my time and making a blunder.  I hated being wrong. It is a struggle to complete a piece of work and I didn’t realise that I needed to keep working until the artwork was ‘finished’. If I stepped back too early l was not happy with what l had achieved.  It took me a while to realise that l needed to conclude the artwork, then reflect, review and try to acknowledge what didn’t work.

Rebound from a failed painting – related post

Painter killed by his own bad art
Then for years when l made a failed painting, it was like hitting a brick wall.  It would take me weeks to recover, to stop procrastinating and worrying. I would ask myself where did I go wrong? What lessons can l learn for next time? I’m not sure when l finally realised that a failed painting is a near win.  That each time l practised the experience allowed me to grow.
By learning from my near wins l slowly learnt that I could avoid the same mistakes.  The flourishing painter, Alex Katz said it took a thousand paintings to achieve his ‘Big Style’.  Michael Jordan, the highly successful basketball player, missed nine thousand shots in his career.  Thomas Edison, the prosperous inventor, said after inventing the light bulb, ‘I have not failed, I have just found ten thousand ways that didn’t work.’

Rebound from a failed painting – external link

9 Times History's Greatest Artists Made Bad Artworks - Artsy

If at first you don't succeed, celebrate - Tate website
The painting process needs to be inquisitive, open and free.  Before I start a painting l no longer think that what I intended will happen. I know if it fails that something else will happen instead. A painting with difficulties and flaws leaves the door open to the next work and the next work after that. It gets me closer to where I wanted to go without realising where ‘where’ is.
If the opposite was true and I had an idea first.  When I made it, it would be lacking in integrity, authenticity and a soul.  It would be stillborn.  It would be dead.  Like I feel about the painting ‘Law of the Jungle’ above.
I have slowly realised a failed painting has no negative impact on my long term career unless I let it. Thomas Edison stated that “Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try one more time.” Therefore l focus on the skills that persist past the painting, and look for the best option to create more choices.  There is no conceptual end, just a deeper rabbit hole.

Rebound from a failed painting – related post

What have I learnt from Alex Katz

I needed to find my new painting in my last painting

Stuart Bush Studio Blog, I needed to find my new painting in my last painting
©Stuart Bush, Inclination of form, oil on canvas
When I started out and sought to develop my work into an artistic practice I often used to get very frustrated and disappointed when I felt I had made an unsuccessful work of art.  As the piece was near completion judgemental voices in my head would take over saying, “this isn’t good enough,” “you’re not good enough” and “you’re never going to make a go of this”.  But over time I have learnt that I need to find my new painting in my last painting.
After a bad day in the studio, I use to stare at the canvas.  I would feel disillusioned and there would seem to be no way forward.  I would want the world to swallow me up. I would ask myself what do I do now? Shall I give up?  However, l saw a small light at the end of the tunnel, so I continued, but often after a long period of procrastination.
What I didn’t realise is that this is all completely normal. Rather than jump around with lots of ideas, I needed to find my new painting in my last painting.  As an artist, I needed to come to terms with the notion that an unsuccessful artwork is not a failure. It is a learning opportunity.  It is a bread crumb to the next work.  Everything that comes next, comes out what came before.

Related posts: I needed to find my new painting in my last painting

A painting has to stand up by itself

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

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.  
 

Related blog post; I love my work more than what it produces

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.
 

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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

An art collector’s role in society

Stuart Bush Studio Blog, an art collectors role in society, he has never been in love, he doesn't know what love is
©Stuart Bush, He has never been in love, he doesn’t even know what love is, gouache on cartridge paper, 43 x 24 cm
In Malcolm Gladwell’s book, ‘David and Goliath, Underdogs, Misfits and the Art of Battling Giants,’ Gladwell considers how disadvantages can be advantageous.  I found his book insightful and it made me think about the art collectors role in society.
 
The book starts with the story about the conventional interpretation of the familiar biblical tale of David and Goliath.  In the story David is the symbol of the underdog. However, Gladwell explains in his interpretation, that there is another view of the ‘underdog’.

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Finding a love for collecting art
 
David’s sling is a devastating weapon.  It was one of the most feared weapons in the ancient world. The stone that comes from David’s sling and has the equivalent power to that of a bullet from a 45 calibre pistol.  It also sounds like Goliath is a guy who can’t see.  There are many suggestions in the story that Goliath is suffering from acromegaly which is a benign tumour on the pituitary gland.  The side effect of the cyst is that it can cause restricted sight.  
 
Gladwell explains the story is really about a big lumbering guy weighed down with armour. Plus, Goliath can’t see much more than a few feet in front of himself.  He is going up against a courageous kid running at him with a devastating weapon which has the power of 45 calibre handgun.  That is not the story of a so-called underdog.
 

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Wishing for dyslexia - also inspired by 'David and Goliath' by Malcolm Gladwell
This can be related to being an artist.  As an artist you have to have the courage to stand and say, “I have a new way of doing things, and I don’t care if you think I’m crazy.”  As an art collector; they have to look for that craziness, if they want to find a David.   
 
On the face of it, every artist could be a David.  But by choosing carefully and looking for what is not apparent, the art collectors role in society is to recognise the advantages that an artist protrays in his work that will make him successful.  Once the advantages have been spotted by an art collector, the collector needs to support the artist and to root for them.  Thereby building a mutually beneficial relationship. 
 
“If there’s a Goliath in front of you that means there’s a David inside of you,” Carlos Rodriguez.

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How I see art contributing to society

Why do I paint?

Stuart Bush, Untitled study, Why do I paint? Stuart Bush Studio Blog
©Stuart Bush, Untitled sketch book, oil on paper
The need to make sense of this world through painting began a long time ago. The oldest known cave paintings where more than 64,000 years ago.  Why do I paint? I feel a deep need to communicate something.  Something I can’t put into words.
 
Painting is my way of finding kindred spirits. When I look at art from the past, I realise I am not that dissimilar to my ancestors and painters of the past. Studying art from the past allows me to explore the many different ways that artists saw the world during their time.  It helps me to broaden my perspective and understanding and allows me to see how today’s art records the present moment that we live now.
 

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A painting has to stand up by itself
 
Although many people see painting as being based on traditional values and having a limitation in its ability to address contemporary issues, I believe that art offers the challenge of finding new meanings. I see art as a way of creating new insight and uniquely capturing people’s imagination. However some might see this view of painting as naive and believe that nothing is truly original in this postmodern society.
 
But for me, other forms of communication cannot compare with the excitement of art. They don’t come close to allowing me the opportunity to look in detail at interesting and unexplained concepts.  As a painter I have unique relation to the world and I am interested in what I can discover through art. 
 

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What it takes to paint something original
 
I find myself drawn to expressing an alternative views of life through my art.  I want to communicate what I see and explore what I can’t see.  A pencil or paint helps me to digest and reflex what is taking place. I make work about the things I think need interpreting and understanding.
Why do I paint? Stuart Bush Studio Blog
©Stuart Bush, Untitled study, oil paint on paper
Through painting, I have a chance to investigate something that is evasive, beyond what can be explained in words.  I continually ask myself what it is that I see. I try hard to identify what it is, as it continuously slips.  It is utterly instinctive and for me the process of painting is addictive.  I never get a chance to wonder what it would be like to do something other than painting because what l love about painting is that one can never undo the last mark.
 
“Art helps people express experiences that are too difficult to put into words.”

The Connection Between Art, Healing, and Public Health, by Heather L. Stuckey and Jeremy Nobel
 
I’m always hoping for improvement through my art.  However, I realise that grasping the frightening clarity of the world is unattainable. Nevertheless, that doesn’t stop me coming back to the easle to try again. But the question always arises; have l finished, do I risk spoiling it by continuing or do I start a new painting?  I love taking risks, as l try to unlock the world about me.
 
I have a deep down urge to try to master this form of expression which allows me to communicate my unique view. When I am painting I feel like I have found what I am here for. I get deep joy along with despair, anxiety and yet confidence. I feel more alive. 

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7 lessons I have learnt about painting