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Laura Owens shows what is possible

Stuart Bush, Laura Owens

Inspiring Laura Owens shows what is possible

As I walk around my surrounding looking around l notice so many things, like what other artist have done before me.  It reminds me that it is common for a lot of art students when they are starting out, to feel like they are stumbling about in a dark wood. With so many options to make work about, they often have no clear idea which way is forward.


Part of the trouble of being an artist is, after you have some inspiring art, it isn’t that hard to make art that looks good. However, the next problem that often arises is that your art seems to look like other people’s art. Edgar Degas said, painting is very easy when you don’t know how, but very difficult when you do.” Honestly, it needs to, or the first attempts would not look like art at all.  With so much history and other artists to contend with, within a world free of constraints, where do you think you would start?


I have realised it is vital to drop the intention to make good art. At that moment when an artist lets their guard down, instead of aiming for perfection, they just start making.  They start gabbling with reality and their imagination. The result is an art that more synergistically reflects an exchange of ideas and leads to articulating the unknown.

Stuart Bush Studio Notes, Laura Owens

Laura Owens, Untitled, 2013, Flashe paint, synthetic polymer paint and oil stick on canvas, 11 feet 5⅜ inches by 9 feet 11⅞ inches, all rights reserved by the artist ©Laura Owens

Stuart Bush Studio Notes

Painting Freedom – Albert Oehlen review

In an artwork, each element on the canvas has its own unique special characteristic. A successful artwork could be compared to a winning football team. The star striker can’t win the game on their own. Instead, each player or mark has their own role to play. Together they combine to prove that they are greater than the sum of its parts, they are a team together.


Laura Owens paintings promote the condition of being permanently perplexed. At times when l was looking at her paintings, l knew that l was looking at an intricate problem that needs some clarity.  However, that clarity felt almost impossible to resolve.


In Laura Owens art, oil paint is smeared in all its variation, on a stretched flat canvas. She often also paints with Goop, – (sunflower oil, aluminium stearate mixed into oil paint, combined into a very think consistency to hold a peak.) Followed by a wide variety of different techniques. Different ways of making a sheen, one glossy, another matt, one being thick and another being thin. Another looking like resin or a stain. Each cries out for attention, but what does it mean as a whole?

Laura Owens, Stuart Bush Studio notes

Laura Owens Untitled, Flashe, acrylic and oil on linen (2013), all rights are reserved by the artist ©Laura Owens

Inspiring Laura Owens shows what is possible

Laura Owens website

Laura Owens responses to the problem of making art by pushing the boundaries of what has been seen in paintings before. If you imagine we are all living in the centre of an island. I live in the Midlands, in the UK.  Like the majority of the population, l am unable to see the sea.  Astonishing artists like Laura Owens live on the edge, she expands the landscape towards the sea, moving culture forward into the unknown. Explaining what is yet unimaginable. Maybe it’s time I moved to the sea?


Realising that her priority is not to overly focus on making good art. Instead, like Matisse with the cut-outs, she often toying with frame dynamics or pictorial space. In my option, this is where good art comes naturally. Owens has an intense faith that from risk-taking and looking for a different visual language, she can make a creative act on a canvas that captures a kind of digital vocabulary or nowness.

Laura Owens, Stuart Bush Studio notes

Laura Owens, Untitled, Oil, acrylic and Flashe on canvas (2013), all rights are reserved by the artist ©Laura Owens

Stuart Bush Studio Notes

How Charline Von Heyl inspires me

Assimilating everything from flatness, value and space into a painting.  As the many seeds in her work grow all at one time. From looking at wall-paper design, children’s illustration, screen printing, typography, stencils techniques or even drop shadows from graphic design, which has become one of her signature marks, it all springs open to inform Laura Owens vision. The artwork is a consequence of her looking at things without restraint and reflecting them back while intuitively and inventively following her nose.


The finished artistic piece of work is a consequence of Owens actions, rather than the aim of it. With the objective to formulate problems, the concoction turns into a by-product.  Thereby, leading Owens to move forward as an artist; beyond the context of the history of painting, through a rollercoaster ride of the obscure and into the history of the image.

Stuart Bush Studio Notes, Laura Owens

Laura Owens Untitled, Acrylic, Flashe and oil on canvas (2013), all rights are reserved by the artist ©Laura Owens

Inspiring Laura Owens shows what is possible

What I learnt from Philip Guston

When it comes to making work for exhibitions, in my experience, lots of artists avoid taking these types of risks. By following breadcrumbs with an intense focus, avoiding and challenging the kind of art where pretty pictures come from, Laura Owens’s has an electrifying and stimulating dialogue with the visual world. Where anything from pixels to print takes centre stage. Problem creation instead finds solutions to show us how intriguing and fertile our culture reality is. Pushing fine art to move forward into the uncharted visual world, and in turn, informing out culture as a whole.


As I stand in front of her work, I think Owens believes that she has the crucial responsibility as an artist to aid people to understand their physical reality. It is like an experience where the needs and values of the canvas, are reflecting our diverse culture. The scriptures say, ‘we do not live by bread alone.’ by reflecting on the nature of things, it brings us closer to the beauty of the world.

Laura Owen, Stuart Bush Studio notes

Laura Owen, installation shot, Sadie Coles London 2016, all rights are reserved by the artist ©Laura Owens

Stuart Bush Studio Notes

Chuck Close’s process

Her work feels like it is driven by the need to create something meaningful, potentially leading to an expression of systemic social change. It is as if Owens believes in striving to improve the human experience through the transformative power of art. A belief that painting can rouse or increase activity by construing the apprehension of meaningful interactions through time and space. Reforming characteristics by creating a fusion of reality and imagination. As a consequence, influencing the way people exist by reflecting the disorder and chaotic life we all live. Through looking through the uncertainty, it gives us all hope. An elusive and positive quality for the future that we are not use to seeing. Laura Owen’s art reflects back what all good art does, it brings an awareness to the elements of being, that is not yet in the collective consciousness.


Stuart Bush Studio Notes

Laura Owens, Untitled, 2016, Acrylic, oil, Flashe, charcoal, sand and wallpaper on linen, 108 x 84 inches, all rights are reserved by the artist ©Laura Owens

Inspiring Laura Owens shows what is possible

Adrian Ghenie: The fuel of failure

Laura Owens was born in 1970 in Ohio. She had a desire and passion as a teenager to become an artist. In 1992, Owens completed a bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts at Rhode Island School of Design. In 1994, she earned her masters from California Institute of the Arts. Owens began her art career in the 1990s and became the youngest artist ever to receive a retrospective at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles.  In 2012, Owens opened her non-profit art space. An exhibition space called 356 Mission, which was open for 5 years, in collaboration with Wendy Yao, a bookstore owner and the gallerists Gavin Brown. It was one of the many acts, that drew attention to her work and her career.  Owens has also had solo shows at the Bonnefantan Museum, Kunstmuseum Boon, Milwaukee Art Museum, Aspen Art Museum, the Miami Museum of Contemporary Art and was a featured artist at the 2014 Whitney Biennial.

Stuart Bush Studio Notes, Laura Owens

Goop details, all rights are reserved by the artist ©Laura Owens

Stuart Bush Studio Notes

What I see in Tal R’s paintings

When you look at somebody’s paintings, what are you supposed to think?  What is it you find yourself thinking about?  Do you often have an intense reaction?  Do you take a position?  Are you supposed to focus on the artist’s intention? What goes through your mind?

Ultimately, I started writing about my interest in art to make my paintings better and because I had a feeling of being separate.  Even though I love art, at times, I have looked at it, and I just didn’t get it.  I wanted to go deeper.  I wanted to write about why I enjoy painting and why I enjoy looking at paintings.


As an artist, I want to share with you what I have learnt.  Please subscribe to join the readers who get a weekly email in their inbox.  As you follow me on my journey as an artist, you will get to experience the world from an artist’s perspective.