Making a better painting than I did yesterday

Stuart Bush Studio Notes, a better painting

Making a better painting than I did yesterday

I stand in front of a blank canvas. All the thinking and preparation is done.   Inspiration from direct experience and reference material is in my head. New ideas are no good to me now, my overthinking mind needs to stop.  I have a conviction; to make a painting.  I want to make a better painting than I did yesterday. However, as I stand there, I realise the act of painting is a mystery.

 

Without hesitation, all I can do is pick up a brush and focus on the first mark.  After that, I am painting.  I like to add a coloured ground across the canvas to get started.  I could do this mark or that mark.  My will takes over.  I might start over here or I might start over there.  What colour do I need and how much paint do I need on my brush?   The whole thing is a choice of uncertainty.  All I know is where I am and where my focus lies.  I am standing a foot or two in front of the canvas and this is where I grow. As I stay focused and I hold nothing back.  I want to give it everything.  But most of the time I don’t know where the decisions come from.

Featured image – Stuart Bush, It won’t make you happy, 2020, oil on canvas, 70.4 x 100.3 x 3.4 cm – all rights reserved

Getting started in the studio

The obstacles I face to complete this painting are where I am going to develop.  Somehow my subconscious knows what to do next.  Progressively the strokes come out of me.

 

It is reported that Edison tried 3000 times before he built the incandescent light bulb.  He said he didn’t fail 3000 times.  Edison said that he found 3000 steps to building a light bulb.  Of course, painting is different, however, treating it like an experimental work gives me the mental strength to keep trying.  l don’t want failure to upset me.  I want to keep driving on.

 

At times it can appear that a painting is fruitless.  I make myself stop the worrying thoughts of success or failure.  The idea of failure is not allowed to enter my mind.  However, pain seems to be a precondition of painting.  If it was easy, I wouldn’t want to do it again tomorrow.  All I can do is focus on is putting myself in front of a canvas.  What will be will be!  From the failures and successes, I will try to learn lessons.  I look for a lesson, no matter how small.

Making a better painting than I did yesterday

StuartBushStudio.com

After each painting session, I want to feel like I have given my best.  I want to feel like I have improved.  I want to feel like I made a better painting than I did yesterday.  Sometimes get a sense in my heart, that I am moving in the right direction. However, my judgement has been known to be wrong.  My solution then is that when I feel l have finished, I often turn the painting against the wall.  At times, it has taken me six months to digest the lessons I learnt in that one painting.

 

When I look at my early paintings, I can see the clear, small, progressive steps that have happened over the years.  Now, over 14 years later, I know I have made significant progress.  Each painting supports the next one.  Even though I sometimes feel that a painting might seems like a backward step, in fact, I have learnt an important lesson.  I have learnt what not to do again.

 

I have a conviction. Over the years of my work, I can see progress.  That’s what I hold on to. I firmly believe in what I am doing.  My competition is with myself.  I want to make a better painting than I did yesterday.

 

Stuart Bush Studio Notes

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