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What is your creative secret?

vivian maier, stuart bush, creative secret

Following your passion, looking for your creative secret

On a wet cold street corner in Chicago, in the worst part of town, you’re experiencing the thrill of observing life with your camera.  There is a homeless person on the sidewalk, who looks tired and hungry.  As you walk towards him, he looks directly at you, reaffirming life.  Looking in his eyes you see through the grime.  You recognise his spirit and hope for something more worthy.  Your pulse races, you’re witnessing suffering you can hardly imagine.  Your hand moves to the shutter.  However, you realise that to make the picture work, you need to step further into his personal space.


As you move forward for the shot.  His body language is saying what the hell are you doing? That is close enough!  Not only do you feel vulnerable and merciless, pushing forward further, but you can not help but notice how uneasy and troubled your sufferer feels.


Stuart Bush Studio Notes: What is your creative secret?

Marlene Dumas: the painter’s life

At that moment, that incredible disquieted moment, you’re right into the stranger’s personal space; the only place he has left.  You’re solely focused on looking for that human condition. You press the shutter.


The energy and excitement of the moment are like taking a powerful drug.  You have to stop your hands from shaking by holding the camera tightly. As shutter moved, it was as if time stood still.  Not only did you record that moment standing still, but your heart also skipped a beat.


It was an alarming unnerving experience that you can’t wait to do again.  You’re risking it all for a higher purpose.  It is in pursuit of your art and for something that really matters.  The photograph, the snapshot, captures the immaterial part of the stranger’s soul.   You can tangibly grasp it.  It feels like the most exhilarating experience; better than any adrenaline-inducing experience you have felt.


vivian maier, stuart bush, creative secret

Los Angeles (Man with Hat from Behind) Vivian Maier 1955

Stuart Bush Studio Notes: Following your passion

Painter Killed By Critique Of His Own Bad Art

It is wonderful to go to that place of magic and ask questions and make your own understanding.  To be at one with your natural intuition.  To be on your own, with your camera, noticing what everyone else is missing.  Feeling committed to your passion and craft.


Helen Keller said, “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.”


But there is one thing I haven’t told you.  This is a secret.  The only record of this moment in life is the negative in your camera.  It will be added to the hundreds of thousands of undeveloped rolls of film you have been saving.  They lie in a box in your room where they are slowly building up.


Stuart Bush Studio Notes: What is your creative secret?

Why do I paint?

You remember very clearly the last time you mentioned your passion to your closest friend.  The moment will live with you forever.  It was a moment that haunts you every day like a slow-motion nightmare.


As you talked about your camera and your passion for taking photographs, you exposed a deep private part of yourself.  However, your so-called friend starts to repress a smile.   You never want that complicated moment again.  The sniggering turns to laughter.  Quickly it turns to out-right mocking. You feel completely exposed.  The words, “you’re never going to pay the rent like that,” were said with disdain.  Those words will always haunt you.


The fear that people will laugh at you. The fear of being identified as a photographer stops you from making any sort of goals for your art.  Instead, you worry about how you will be judged, how people will respond to your photos?  You come to the conclusion that people will either think they are pointless or amazing.  The last thing you can deal with is either response.  You don’t feel strong enough to deal with the attention either way.


vivian maier, stuart bush, creative secret

©Vivian Maier Self Portrait 1953

Stuart Bush Studio Notes: Creative secret

What to paint – The recipe for failure

You are a private, secretive person, and you like it that way. The things we love tend to make us more vulnerable.  You feel worried that people will see through you.  The idea of being exposed to the general public feels you with dread. No, you feel that you are better off keeping this as your little secret.  So again and again, day after day, you go out there.  You continue to capture the photos, but you keep them to yourself.  Like a spy that is undercover.


This is a true story.  Your name is Vivian Maier.  When Vivian died, her creative secret was that there were over 100,000 negatives found in a storage unit in her name. Throughout her life, Vivian hid her passion from the outside world making her death seem even more devastating and tragic.


Stuart Bush Studio Notes: What is your creative secret?

About Vivian Meier


Vivian’s camera of choose was a One-Twenty Rolleiflex. A medium format camera for a professional photographer.  It is a large box, with a flip lid.  The photographer looks down into a frosted piece of glass to see the composition is correct, on the cameras almost square frame.


Vivian did what she wanted to do with the camera in her hand.  Her camera is like the bow of a violinist, or the foil of a Fencer. Walking the streets, she gave voice to her pain. Noticing life she amassed an impression of her consciousness, as a photographer.  She had the life that she wanted, seeing herself as a spy.  But did she really?


Vivian has sadly passed away, without anyone knowing about her private vision as a photographer.  Vivian is now considered among the 20th century’s greatest photographers.  Her work has been compared to the world-renowned photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson.


But what if it hadn’t been that way.  What if she had got her art out there while she was still alive?  An even more interesting question is, what if you do?  What is your secret that you pay attention to?  It is not too late.  Do you have a security blanket holding you back?


Available on Itunes

Stuart Bush Studio Notes: Creative Secret

Painting Freedom – Albert Oehlen review
If you enjoyed reading and learning about Vivian’s journey, and want to know how you can take a massive leap forward.  Follow my journey in my footsteps as I share the terrifying experience of showing my work to the world.
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