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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The benefits of adversity

 
Stuart Bush, You don't understand me, series of 4 works gouache on paper, the benefits of adversity post
©Stuart Bush, You don’t understand me, part 1-4, gouache on paper
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.

Recommended reading on the benefits of adversity;

 

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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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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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Productivity in the artist’s studio

©Stuart Bush, sketchbook study 78, oil and charcoal on paper
 
I am taking positive steps to make me more productive in the studio including things like planning and reviewing what I am going to do in the studio before I arrive and creating some studio ground rules.
 
I have a list of current projects and series of work l am trying to complete. Before l go to my studio I write down a short list of next steps l need to take, often between two or three depending on long each one will take.  This brief list is handwritten in my diary, so it is clear to follow.  This way I know what my first task is, therefore avoiding beginning with an extended period of uncertainty.  Of course, uncertainty when painting is always present, but I try to remove it at this stage with preplanning.  
 
To choose the right tasks, I ask myself a series of questions; If l only achieve 2-3 tasks in a day what would these tasks be and would l be satisfied if l only get these done? If I made only one work of excellence, which one would make an enormous difference and have the greatest consequences? 
 
To help keep my mind clear and on creative studio time I write down all the distractions l might encounter on a to-do list.  Plus l avoid all office and business related tasks while in the studio to avoid all low-level activities.  Even if these tasks are urgent, I still try to do them after my creative block of time of one to three hours.  The creative time must come first.

The rules I have put in place while working are;    

Phone on silent, select music quickly (if I choose to listen to any at all), no tv or video, no newspapers, no friends dropping by, no emailing, no internet research unless it is related to making my next work, therefore no diversions and distractions from the creative task ahead.
 
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