What to paint – The recipe for failure

I remember just starting out as an artist, and I didn’t know what to paint. The choice seems so vast and momentous. I was often lost in thought as I was worried about making the wrong decision. I wasted a lot of time and energy when l should have just got started. Recently I heard this advice from Herbert Swope (b 1958) the editor and journalist, “I can’t give you a sure-fire formula for success, but I can give you a formula for failure: ‘trying to please everyone all the time.” Although these words of wisdom do not come from an artist, it is excellent advice.  It took me a while to… Read More »What to paint – The recipe for failure

Michael Craig-Martin’s book, ‘On being an artist’

Michael Craig-Martin’s book titled ‘On being an artist’ is a collection of thoughts and notes that he has written over his career. The book is written in an informal style, making it easy to read.  They range from chapter titles such as, ‘On advice for aspiring artist,’ to ‘On British attitudes to contemporary art.’  Michael presents an interesting and insightful account of a young artist finding his way into the contemporary art world. Michael who was born in 1941 studied Fine Art at Yale University for Art and Architecture.  In 1966 Michael crossed the Atlantic and started a new life in England.  To support his artistic practice Michael started teaching.  The highlights… Read More »Michael Craig-Martin’s book, ‘On being an artist’

Etel Adnan shows colour alone is all that the painter needs

Viewing Etel Adnan’s vibrant paintings, it is surprising to discover that when Adnan grew up in Beirut, colour only found its way into her home in the form of decorative rugs.  Adnan’s childhood home had no paintings on the walls and there were no art museums nearby.   Nevertheless, she became interested in making art.  Unfortunately for her and us, Adnan was discouraged by her mother’s nullifying comments about being clumsy. So instead, Adnan found her creative outlet through writing.  In 1977 she won the France-Pays Arabes award for her novel Sitt Marie Rose. Many years later after Adnan moved to America and she was teaching Aesthetics at the Dominican College in California she also… Read More »Etel Adnan shows colour alone is all that the painter needs

A painting has to stand up by itself

©Stuart Bush, A section of ourselves as a commodified object, oil on aluminium panel, 80 x 120cm Often when a viewer looks at works of art they ask themselves, ‘why did the artist make this?’ However I believe that understanding the original idea or intention of my work defeats my ambitions for this artwork.  Instinct led me to paint this painting.  By trying to understand my instincts my aims are never going to be clear. Creativity is instinctive, and it is buried within me.  I’m interested in this part of myself.  I am curious about exploring what I am hung up on.  I’m not in control of what comes out. Braque said,… Read More »A painting has to stand up by itself

A brush load of life – Van Gogh review

The EY Exhibition: Van Gogh and Britain Tate Britain, 27 March – 11 August 2019 Van Gogh arrived in London in 1873 at 20 years old and spent just under three years as an art dealer’s assistant. Although he didn’t start painting until four years after he left, this exhibition proposes that London had a significant impact on his art and influenced many of his works. I went along to take a closer look at Van Gogh’s paintings and to see what I thought of the exhibition claims. London in the 1870s was an exciting place to obverse people and places. It was overtly brimming with life.  Van Gogh regularly… Read More »A brush load of life – Van Gogh review

Breakfast with Lucian, book review

If you have ever wondered what an artist’s life would be like if they put art first at the expenses of relationships, friendships and family. If so, then this is the book to read.  For a few years before Lucian Freud’s death, Geordie Greig the editor from the Mail on Sunday was able to share breakfast with Lucian at his favourite restaurant, Clarkes on Kensington Church Street.  Greig’s book about Freud does a worthy job of sketching out the painter’s hedonistic personal life.  ‘Breakfast with Lucian’ is the story of an adulterous, brawler and rogue with no boundaries or restraints. This book is written in the style of an author’s note.… Read More »Breakfast with Lucian, book review

Rebound from a failed painting

I was taught at school that everything had to be right.  I was encouraged to conform so that when I grew up I would make a good employee. Education was stifling.  I was urged to aim for perfection; however, I was a long way away from achieving that.  Sketching and doodling were discouraged, learning from failure was hindered.  As a consequence, I had no idea how to rebound from a failed painting. When I started to learn to paint I use to stop, look and make a judgment about my progress. I worried I was wasting my time and making a blunder.  I hated being wrong. It is a struggle to complete… Read More »Rebound from a failed painting

David Salle undressing the role of the artist and the writer

David Salle, the 65-year-old artist from Norman, Oklahoma, who has amassed many international shows around the world is back.  He has made a promising return to London at the Skarstedt Gallery, with a series of work titled, ‘Musicality and Humour’.  I had high expectations of his work after recently reading his book ‘How to See’ in which Salle explores the work of his peers and undresses the role of the artist and writer. Salle seeks to inform newbies like me how to paint and interestingly, how writing helps artists to understand their own work. Entering the gallery, I saw the first crowd pleaser, ‘S.P. Divide’, (2018-19). I feel a little overwhelmed… Read More »David Salle undressing the role of the artist and the writer

What I see in Tal R’s paintings

Tal R’s painting practice follows the traditions of oil painting.  The artist walks the streets in Copenhagen near where he lives and works, looking for people, places and objects that appeal to his curiosity.  He looks for the moment that he feels is slipping away and paints its soul in vibrant and colourful paintings that at times float into abstraction. Tal’s passion and exhilaration for paint clearly materialises throughout his work.  In each painting, he is learning about the endless curiosities with life and paint.  I see the pictures like a window into the inquisitive thoughts that are bouncing around in his head. When I look at Tal’s paintings I easily relate to the… Read More »What I see in Tal R’s paintings

Why do I paint?

The need to make sense of this world through painting began a long time ago. The oldest known cave paintings where more than 64,000 years ago.  Why do I paint? I feel a deep need to communicate something.  Something I can’t put into words.   Painting is my way of finding kindred spirits. When I look at art from the past, I realise I am not that dissimilar to my ancestors and painters of the past. Studying art from the past allows me to explore the many different ways that artists saw the world during their time.  It helps me to broaden my perspective and understanding and allows me to see… Read More »Why do I paint?