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.

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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

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  1. Pingback: Rebound from a failed painting - STUART BUSH STUDIO BLOG

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