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.”

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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.”

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I need to find my next painting in my last painting

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.

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A painting has to stand up by itself

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.
 

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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

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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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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A section of ourselves as a commodified object

Stuart Bush Studio Blog, A section of ourselves as a commodified object, 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
To achieve a successful painting like, ‘A section of ourselves as a commodified object’, I want to understand what it is I am really trying to make. I have a deep need to be creative and communicate something significant about what I see. I love painting, my ambition is to make the best painting I can make. For me, a transformative experience takes place at the level of the ordinary.  
 
When evaluating a picture, it is interesting to consider that the essences of the surface is a pattern of colours, lines, texture, forms and space.  Shape and form fit into the frame, as the structure of the painting creates a visual complexity.  I find a dynamic placement satisfying and enticing as it encourages eyes to follow a predetermined direction.  
 

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What it takes to paint something original
By turning figurative forms into a flat plane, I hope to make a visually engaging and attention holding painting.  I am also creating a comment about how the abstract figure in the history of art is turned into a sign or symbol for market value.  In effect, I recycle, reuse and take advantage of our human form and individuality for the commercialisation of the self and of our human identity. 
 
My focus isn’t on financial gain.  However, an artist, like everyone else, needs to make a living. I like the idea of art for art’s sake but a painting whether you like it or not turns into a commodity. As an artist, I live off what I make and of the form of others in my work.  
 

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Michael Landy's Artange project 'Breakdown'

I cannibalise the individual form into an image for commercial value. The commercialisation of the self and human identity de-humanises us. This is the reason why I paint a section of ourselves as a commodified object.

Compared to the various others ways to make a living this seems an honest and honourable one.  I am not saying there is anything wrong with making a living from art or any other form of making a living.  By trying to make the best painting I can, I wanted to look at this most fundamental part of the art.  Looking at the deal that follows.  The legacy of the history of art is its commercialisation.
 
I don’t have to sell my work, but there isn’t much point in making it unless other people see it. By getting to grips with all this, I hope to make the best painting I can make.
 

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I wish I could paint everyday

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

What it takes to paint something original

paint something original
©Stuart Bush, Strange Heart Sings, oil on board 30 x 40 cm
When I started out on my journey, like most art students, my ultimate goal was to communicate what I see.  I was inspired by other artist’s work. As a consequence, I wanted to make my own significant contribution to culture. When everything has been done before, to have any chance of achieving this goal, I realised it’s important to understand how to paint something original and unique. In this post, I discuss what I have uncovered on my artistic journey.
 
In the book Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell explains his thoughts about his ‘10,000-hour-rule’ as, “the magic number of greatness.”  Gladwell’s idea is that originality only comes after spending 10,000 hours mastering a subject.  This rule makes a lot of sense to me. It is helpful as a guide to appreciating what it takes to paint something original.
Stuart Bush Studio, No bodies fault, I wish I could paint every day
©Stuart Bush Nobodies fault detail,
I believe looking is the most essential part of being an artist, especially for a painter.  Only after looking can you begin to realise what has been overlooked and then you can start to recognise what is already valued. Plus after reading about and viewing a lot of accomplished art you can start to understand the importance of making great art, and that originality is subjective. As I became aware of what art critics and sophisticated people thought l started to develop my own ideas about what was successful or unsuccessful. 

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Jealously of other artist's work
This was the beginning of finding my own voice and my own unique visual ideas as an artist then an armed with a pencil, a blank sheet of paper and an open mind l can be transported to a place where ideas become instinctive, intuitive and spontaneous. 
 
I realise I am more likely to stumble across originality when I am making and taking risks. Accidents from unintended footprints, coffee cups rings, photocopiers, spills and other accidents all have their place. They happen when I least expect them and I learn as much from these apparent failures as I do from successes.  
©Stuart Bush, He has never been in love, he doesn’t even know what love is. Gouache on cartridge paper, 43 x 24 cm
 
Open creative sessions leave my thoughts uncovered and on display in their raw state and my ego is left aside. The energy and emotions in the preliminary drawings come from this outburst of freedom. They can be refined by repeating on another sheet. These ideas can be further explored and refined, but at that point, the conscious self comes back into the room.  The work from open-ended creation sessions can often be more prized than the problem solving finished work that follows. Getting this balance right is an essential part of painting something original.

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Is originality in art overrated? - Royal Academy of Art
 
After completing the preliminary studies l often don’t know the potential of the work. Often l store it away and revisit it at a later time.  This time away helps me to realise and appreciate its potential. I am always hoping to find an appropriate form that brings everything together in order to discover something fresh and insightful.  
Stuart Bush Studio, the rush
©Stuart Bush The rush 2016 oil on board 50 x 70 cm
Nevertheless, it is important to throw away what doesn’t work and quickly move on. This can be one of the biggest stumbling blocks for an artist.  New work can be a shadow or an echo of what the artist has seen or experienced before.  Selecting, editing and reworking is an essential process that leads to originality.  The artist’s studio is a place for demolition, revival and transformation.
 
Chuck Close, the New York painter, has this to say,  
“We often don’t know what we want to do, but we sure as hell know what we don’t want to do.  So the choice not to do something is often more important than the choice to do something.”  
I have discovered that a problem creation process is much more effective in finding exciting and original ideas than a problem-solving approach.
 

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I wish I could paint every day

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.

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The Benefits of Adversity