Jealous of other artist’s work

Jealously of other artist's work, Stuart Bush Studio Notes

Jealous of other artist’s work

When I left art school at twenty-two years old, I thought life wasn’t fair. How come I hadn’t learnt anything about running a business and promoting myself as a professional artist?  I foolishly expected the art establishments gatekeeper to turn up to my degree show.  All I wanted to do was to see a way forward to continue doing what I love. I expected to have been given a solution to the myth of being a starving artist. I feel like I was very naive but instead, I was really jealous of other artist’s work.

 

But for some reason, l always felt that even though l had no idea, even if it took a lifetime, l would find a way. I have always visited the art galleries in London and looked at the art on the walls. However, back then I felt massively confused; I felt I had so much to work out.  Even though at that time I lacked confidence, knowledge and understanding, I know that I would either find a way or make one.

Without realising it at the time, I became quite bitter and twisted. The more I looked at other successful artists to learn some valuable lessons, I felt they were the lucky ones.  They must have had more money, more resources, a better network of connections or a better understanding.   It was not a positive mindset.  I had to find a way to build on my limited understanding of attaining my goal of living as a professional artist.

Jealous of other artist's work, Stuart Bush Studio Notes

Stuart Bush, You don’t understand me 4, 2015 gouache on paper 52.5 x 39.5 cm

Stuart Bush Studio Notes – Artist’s jealousy

Making a better painting than I did yesterday

I had a false romanticism, and I was contemptuous of the art world and around the idea of selling my art. There was this confusing message I heard about ‘art should be for art’s sake’. I wanted to find a way to maintain my artist purity. I also wanted to make a living through selling my work. However, learning about the commercial side of attracting attention felt like I would be selling out.

 

Around that time, Damien Hurst, Tracey Emin and Peter Doig, where receiving column inches in the press. They were all shrewd and well informed. But I couldn’t tell if they were better than other artists. I didn’t realise that wasn’t always the thing that drives an artist career forward. They had embraced the commercial and collaborative side of the art world. I didn’t understand any of it.

Stuart Bush Studio, No bodies fault, Jealous of other artist's work

©Stuart Bush Nobodies fault detail,

Jealous of other artist’s work

Why You Should Stop Caring What Other People Think

It took at least another decade, even for me to begin to be more open to learning and to change my outlook. Only during my Master’s degree did I even considered that I need to learn to run my own art business. I slowly started to realise the more I learned, the more I owned.

 

As the years went by I slowly realised if I don’t learn how to sell if l don’t try to find a way to commercialise my work in a way I feel comfortable, no-one will ever know about my work. I still have lingering doubts about this even now. However, I started to realise that it would be more catastrophic if I didn’t, than never making art in the first place. I had withdrawn myself and my work. I had lost my footing.

Stuart Bush Studio Notes

Stuart Bush The inception of an unexpressed thought part 2, coloured pencil on paper 22 x 29cm

Stuart Bush Studio Notes – Artist’s Jealousy

What is your creative secret?

When I looked at other artist’s work, Enviability I was blown away by the work of successful artists, I was merely jealous, I compared my skills, talents, abilities, knowledge and my output against what other artist had produced. I ended up continually watching what others were doing.

 

The outcome was inescapable. Those thoughts began to limit my ability to think creatively, and they became overwhelming. I started to feel that I didn’t deserve to be an artist, and it threatened my self-worth.

Stuart Bush Studio notes, Jealous of other artist's work

Stuart Bush, When it is advisable to be wrong, work in progress

Jealous of other artist’s work

One brushstroke at a time

The fear of getting it wrong was killing my creativity, and I became more and more fearful. My work wasn’t as perfect as the paintings were on the walls of the galleries. Negative thoughts were eroding my confidence. I didn’t realise at that moment that I needed to embrace who I was and make a thousand failed attempts to find a way forward.

 

I slowly began to realise that to be a successful artist, I needed to figure out a way to unlearn what was causing me harm. By stopping comparing myself to others. It was counterproductive feeling. I recognised that there was no way I was going to make the same work as another artist, and even better, I didn’t want to.

Stuart Bush Studio Blog, Jealousy of other artists's work

Stuart Bush, Sanctuary exhibition

Stuart Bush Studio Notes – Artist’s jealousy

Learning how to live as an artist

I realised that l should not be competing with other artists, I needed to run my own race. It’s my process and my path. My work wasn’t going to look like other artists work. I acknowledged that if I got distracted by looking at other artist’s output, I would lose my energy and focus. If l allowed myself to become distracted, then I will have to learn to refocus and listen to my inner voice again.

 

I now give myself artistic permission to be myself and make what I want. Instead of thinking, I don’t know how to do that, I need to change my mindset and outlook.  I needed to be open-minded and recognise that I have different strengths to my peers. After a failed painting, I now smile as I quickly move on to the next. I want to be acknowledged for my individuality. I look at what makes me unique and push it forward in my work. Now learning is one of the fun and enjoyable things in my life.

Stuart Bush Studio Notes,

@Stuart Bush, Response to the flux, oil on board, 41 x 31 x 4 cm

Jealous of other artist’s work

What to paint – The recipe for failure

Now when I need inspiration, I look in lots of places. I may look at other artist’s work to learn their processes, but I don’t compare my output with their output. Instead, I am looking for solutions to specific problems. What did this artist do to resolve this issue I am pondering?

 

I love to look at artists work. When I am looking at the great artists, like Matisse, I may look at his use of light and dark or colour. The way Matisse organised a person’s attention by using the space in a painting. He amplified what was already there.

Matisse Bathers by the River

Matisse Bathers by the River, 1909-1916 (image source: Wikipedia public domain)

Stuart Bush Studio Notes – Artist’s Jealousy

My new painting in my last painting

I realised Matisse wasn’t making his work unnatural by pushing things into abstraction. What he was painting was believable and directly linked to what he saw. Even when Matisse was working on paper, with the cut-outs, he was encoding how the parts fitted together.  Defining the formal qualities of the canvas.

 

I started to see how I, as an artist, can slowly build my own language. As I feed off creative ideas I see around me. I take what l want while developing my own perspective and viewpoint. My jealousy of other artist’s work has become a thing of the past because my own ideas are developing and growing in their own natural way. My intentions are growing, my career is maturing, and my confidence inspires me to step forward and be me.

Bridget Riley art, stuart bush, art exhibitions london,

©Bridget Riley Hayward Gallery exhibition view

Jealous of other artist’s work – Stuart Bush Studio Notes

Pretending to be a painter

In a way, I see myself like a batsman in cricket. A batsman job in cricket is to practices hitting various balls. Ultimately he’s just swinging a bat. As a painter, I realised I am ultimately just practising knocking out paintings by throwing out good strokes. However, there is a lot more to it than that in both cases. As an artist, it is my job to make sense of direct experience and of the millions of images that I see every day. All the visual experiences seep into my head, and I feel a compelling need to deal with them.

As a painter, I have something that I feel is important to say. By using tools such as line, shape, colour, texture and materiality, I am practising my response to physicality. As I attempt, (occasionally, I hope) to hit a ball out of the park. Images are just stuff, but I see painting as the ordering of the stuff.  I got excited after art school but it didn’t work out the way I wanted it to, I was blind to the truth.  I write these posts to guide others to find their treasure.

Stuart Bush Studio Notes – Artist’s jealousy

Dreaming about success

When I need a push to try hard and make myself do something out of my comfort zone, I think about all the talented artists out there. I think about their limited opportunities to start a career as an artist. It is so hard to make it as an artist and make a living. There are so many artists graduating each and every year with massive students debts. They are not even taught how to make a living. They are still riddled with self-doubt. They want so much want to channel all their energies into making art, but because they need to make a living, their opportunities appear very limited. Making them unable to live to their dreams and potential.

I don’t want to squander the opportunity that was given to me as a little boy. I love drawing, painting and making things. I’m not sure if I brought it into this lifetime or where it came from, but it has always been there in me. I am driven by all the artists, that still don’t have this opportunity.

Jealous of other artist’s work – Stuart Bush Studio Notes

Why I paint?

People ask me how I handle self-doubt. When I do stuff that is bigger than myself, the self-doubt becomes a lot smaller. It is not about only me anymore. When it was all me, it is very easy to think of excuses not to do something. If I am scared to go through the door at an art gallery and chat with the gallery owner or curator, I think about going through the door on behalf of my two sons and all the artists before me.  The artists that didn’t have this chance, and all the artist that still don’t, I could be full of self-doubt outside and shaking, I am going through the door and across the room to start a conversation.

Like I said, “I want to find a way or make one”.  Subscribe to find out more as I share my journey.

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2 thoughts on “Jealous of other artist’s work”

  1. Thankyou for your honesty and frankness Stuart. I am certain that anyone who for one minute has tried to take the path of becoming a serious artist will at once identify with everything you say. Thankyou.

    1. Thanks Sue, I hope to make others feel that all these feelings are perfectly normal. Everyone has these doubts. It is really hard to build up belief and certainty in what you do is good enough. But by sharing this I hope to make the journey a little less painful. 😊

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