What happens if no one likes my creativity?

This is a guest post by a musician friend Renee Rutherfurd.

She’s a very talented Australian singer songwriter with a beautiful voice.

Here’s Renee to talk about creativity and the creative process behind her album ‘Found’…

reneerutherfurd What happens if no one likes my creativity?

The other day I was chatting with a friend about the fine line walked by artists of every persuasion. Be it music or a visual medium, creativity and art is made to be shared. It is meant for an audience. Art is also an incredibly subjective animal, one persons “Amazing!” is another persons “What the?”

The question for any artist is ‘Where do I get validation from?’

Is it in the act of creativity or is it dependant on the response of others.

When I started down the track of writing and recording a concept album, I had never considered this question. I was doing something that I believed wholeheartedly was an offering to the God I adore with every fibre of my being and to whom I owe my life, my creativity, my best endeavour.

During the two years it has taken to bring it to fruition, I have been faced with every doubt and fear I could have imagined…and probably more. Don’t get me wrong, creating the album has been a total joy. I’ve discovered a side to my creativity that I didn’t know was there and I’ve had a blast.

The doubts and fears have come on the days when I was not involved in the act of creativity. The biggest fear…the one that has haunted me and that I have had to confront on more than one occasion is this;

“What happens if no one likes it, if no one buys it and two years of my life have been for nothing?”

Doesn’t sound particularly Godly, but I would be lying if I didn’t admit to it! I have had days where I have sat with these thoughts and let them overtake and overwhelm me.

Yet, from these doubts and fears I have emerged stronger. This is what I learnt. I have long sought validation from the wrong source. Instead of finding fulfillment in creativity and sharing my expression of life through the music I had birthed, I measured its worth by the reactions of those around me.

Honestly, the reactions haven’t been terrible…maybe they weren’t as effusive as I would have liked at times…but if there was one voice amongst the many that was negative…that was all I heard. If that voice was one I looked to for general validation…I was undone.

Renee Rutherfurd found promo What happens if no one likes my creativity?

Renee standing amongst the trees to promote her new album Found

All sounds a bit depressing aye! But there is a big bright light on the horizon. I have realised that I am a created and creative being and that I am dearly loved by the most creative force in the universe. It may sound corny, but my music makes God smile! It’s true…ask him!

It’s in the act of creativity that we are validated as artists. For me, I have created an album of love songs to God. I wanted to share different aspects of my relationship with my Heavenly Father and in the end, I wanted to sing to Him.

It is in God that I find my validation, my reason for creating and the one to and for whom I sing.

My ultimate desire for FOUND is that others would find a connection with God through it. That others would discover the joy and adventure of living in communion with the Creator. The extent to which this happens is completely out of my control and no amount of worry or money spent on advertising will change that.

And anyway, at what point would I deem the album to be a success? Is it in the first week, when I receive a letter from a stranger telling me that the music took them into the Presence of God… or after 500 sales, 2,000 sales…when?

Success for me was having the courage to release FOUND to the world…everything else is gravy!

where you can buy, or just listen to snippets of each track, to see which one you like.

© Copyright Simon Brushfield – What happens if no one likes my creativity?

Ian Fairweather was born in Scotland 1891, but lived mostly in Australia

He was a reclusive artist

With a strange lifestyle



And famously odd

He lived like a hermit

On a tiny island off the Australian coast

Avoiding the limelight

In a small native hut in the bush

He was one of Australians most innovative abstract artists

And here’s one reason why…

Point 1. Ian Fairweather absorbed ideas from a variety of cultures. He then artistically, reassembled them

Combining western and Asian influences, Ian Fairweather was greatly admired for his ground breaking paintings

Some consider Fairweather to be Australia’s greatest painter, the father of modern art in Australia

During WW1 he spent four years as a prisoner of war, and being allowed to study drawing in prison, he created illustrations for war magazines

In 1920 Ian Fairweather entered the high profile art institution in London named The Slade School, it was a bastion of traditionalism, the antithesis of the artist’s personality

Around this time he began wandering aimlessly, following his creative spirit through Canada, China, Indonesia, Philippines, Singapore, India and Australia

A notoriously restless nomad

He was uncomfortable with the materialistic life

Upon settling in Australia, the adventurous free spirited artist built a primitive hut on Bribie Island, just north of Brisbane, where he lived and painted until he died in 1974

In the wild bushland, Ian Fairweather would paint at night by the glow of rusty old oil lanterns, using whatever creative materials available, even mixing ash from a mosquito coil into his paintings

Point 2. A vital aspect of his innovative approach to art, was using whatever materials and resources were available at the time

Painting in a ramshackle hut in the bush was a dirty business

And his personal hygiene suffered

He was known to look scruffy and unclean, with a wild beard and messy hair

But when creating art, Ian Fairweather was a tireless perfectionist

However, the tough bush lifestyle took its toll, many of his drawings and paintings were destroyed by cyclones, storms, bushfires or wild animals

Only a of his original pieces survive today.

Aside from his primitive lifestyle, Ian Fairweather was one of the first Australian painters to combine exotic Asian and Aboriginal art, with a European mindset

His breakthrough personal style, also borrowed from famous art movements in Europe and America, such as cubism and abstract expressionism

Fairweather’s paintings soon became popular

And “Kite flying” (pictured below) was one of his most significant paintings

‘Kite flying’ 1958 | Synthetic polymer paint and gouache on cardboard laid down on composition board | 129.4 x 194cm| Collection: Queensland Art Gallery

The lines in the painting indicate influences of Chinese calligraphy with the surface exposing many layers of paint underneath. The masterpiece is currently held in the Queensland Art Gallery of Australia and its’ theme is based on the ancient Chinese kite flying festival. A 2000-year-old Chinese tradition which promotes the protection of loved ones

Ian Fairweather’s alternative existence was well documented during his lifetime

The most famous story of him was making a terribly unsafe raft for the ocean, made from recycled materials he found in the bush, and leaving Australia for Indonesia. But after 16 days at sea, being reported as dead by newspapers, the horrifying experience changed his life

Point 3. His adventurous creative spirit mistakenly ignored some important practicalities of life

But Ian Fairweather was a dreamer

A deeply emotional thinker

The high profile International art critic, Robert Hughes commented on his paintings, “the emotional range and sheer breathtaking beauty seemed to me surpassed by no other Australian painter… there is nothing like these paintings in Australia or anywhere else.”

Some believe Ian Fairweather’s time as a prisoner of war and his treacherous sea voyage unhinged his mental stability, triggering some sort of schizophrenia.

But Fairweather disagrees, highlighting the upside of his prison sentence, as a time when he learnt to draw. And the sea voyage, with his life under threat, brought death into sharp focus propelling him to settle down on land and concentrate on painting pictures

Point 4. With the right positive outlook, hardships often fuel creativity

Fairweather says, “perhaps those years I spent as a prisoner of war were some of the happiest of my life no responsibility for practical things like money, food and shelter, and endless time to devote to something I enjoy doing”

But in 1928 Fairweather’s artistic career was failing and his family were angry and frustrated with his lack of progress in life. They sent him overseas, with a one-way ticket to Canada and would not raise a finger to help him, nor have anything to do with is art

During his tumultuous working life overseas, Ian Fairweather worked as a bush cutter, park attendant, a roads inspector, and manager in an asphalt plant

The various places he lived included: a bush hut in Queensland, the stern of a wrecked patrol boat in Darwin, a freezing room in China, a deserted cinema in Australia, and an abandoned goat dairy

One journey to Australia he wrote, “in five long years of wandering it is here for the first time I feel I am not a criminal trying to make a living by painting”

During his life Ian Fairweather desperately attempted to escape the reality of western life. He said,’The painting I have done has always been an escape from our western world – surrounded by it I seem to get sunk.’

Point 5. Painting was his refuge. Being creative set him free in mind and spirit

Fairweather thought abstract art was closely related to Buddhism, because the idea of ‘suspended judgement’ appealed to him. For the process of abstraction cleared the mind and increased awareness of ones being

The innovative Australian artist believed the purpose of art is to find a way through the complexity of things, to search for an all encompassing beauty

‘Shalimar’ c.1962 Bribie Island, Morton Bay, Queensland, Australia
Painting, synthetic polymer paint and gouache on cardboard mounted on composition board 124 x 178 cm Purchased 1962 – National Gallery of Australia

When creating an abstract painting like ‘Shalimar’ (pictured above), Fairweather often thought of his childhood, and running over rocks with friends. This had major psychological significance, because like painting, when running over rocks, to maintain balance you must run quickly from point to point, the runner (or the painter) cannot rest.

Final point: In creative mode, it’s best not to think too much about what you’re doing, but let the process flow

In his paintings, Ian Fairweather let the subconscious take control

However, his ill-fated raft journey across the ocean, brought worldwide attention and enormous publicity. This caused trouble for Ian Fairweather’s private personality and hermit lifestyle

Fame wasn’t his pursuit

But adventure was

He jealously protected his privacy, and never longed for notoriety or acknowledgement

The reclusive unkempt artist once wrote, ‘all he longed for was a hot bath and clean clothes’

If you’re interested to know more about the author and view Simon Brushfield’s recent painting on sale today, click here

© Copyright Simon Brushfield – Ian Fairweather: What a derelict reclusive hermit can teach us about painting

Andy Warhol: Original Art, Brand Building and Social Media

Andy Warhol is pop art.

He remains one of Modern Art’s most influential and enigmatic artists.

A brand building genius and social networking master.

After his successful career as a graphic artist illustrating women’s shoes for Vogue magazine, Warhol saw an opportunity and turned to fine art.

Point 1. Warhol knew how to build a brand from a commercial perspective.

He was a large contributor to the postmodern collapse of boundaries, between cultures and also a strong contributor to the proliferation of images in contemporary society.

Warhol plays a large role in the history of modern art. With strong remnants of an advertising background found in his original art which feature many images from popular culture.

Point 2. Andy Warhol was a skilled socialite with a sharp eye for spotting popular cultural & consumer trends in America.

Ahead of his time, and pointing towards the social media movement, Warhol documented his daily activities on a hand held device using 3,400 audiotapes, capturing the intricacies of the New York creative scene during the 1960’s.

These personal notes were later transcribed to become ‘ The Warhol Diaries ’.

Warhol was a master at cultivating his own celebrity profile. Which continues to grow in popularity today. He was adept with social media during his time, fascinated by fame and once insightfully said about the future…

“everyone will be world famous for fifteen minutes.”

The original art below was inspired by an appreciation for Andy Warhol and the Pop Art movement. It expresses the complexity of modern life and multiple identities in popular culture.

‘Popular Culture’ by Simon Brushfield (1999) Acrylic and Pencil on paper 21cm x 29cm Unframed $450

Andy Warhol’s first big breakthrough happened with Glamour Magazine in 1949.

He also worked for famous brands like Harper’s Bazaar, NBC, Tiffany’s and Vogue before his Pop art career began to flourish.

Point 3. Andy Warhol’s fame began by piggybacking famous celebrities and creating artwork for successful publications in New York.

He became known early in his career for stylish elegant line drawing’s however, this developed into illustrations of popular commercial objects such as cocoa cola bottles and screen printing celebrity faces like Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley and Liz Taylor.

Strangely, Warhol wanted to be a machine.

Point 4. Andy Warhol didn’t like the fragility and vulnerability of human emotions .

Emulating the machine also meant he could become more proficient and produce larger quantities of art using his finely developed screen-printing process.

By 1955 New York was copying much of Warhol’s innovative creative style.

Andy was not interested in painting landscapes , but probably his most famous original art piece was about his favourite lunch – a Campbell’s soup can.

“Andy Warhol, American, 1928-1987, Campbells Soup II: Old Fashioned Vegetable, 1969. Screenprint on paper, 35 x 23 in. The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh. Foundling Collection, Contribution, The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc.”

Like his original art, in public, Warhol presented an aloof enigmatic personality. A calculated element of his successful social brand.

This heightened interest levels and mysterious appeal amongst the media and general public. When asked about his reason to paint a Campbell’s soup can Warhol replied,

“I wanted to paint nothing. I was looking for something that
was the essence of nothing, and that was it”.

Andy Warhol was the main attraction in the New York art scene during the 1960’s and called his studio ‘The Factory’ in which many highly creative people gathered to feed upon cheap food, drugs and Andy’s inspiring celebrity status.

They created original art, played alternative rock music and created a famously thriving art scene. Andy managed ‘ The Velvet Underground ’ rock band during the 1960′s. Promoting a New York arty culture that helped Warhol’s brand building efforts.

The factory, under Warhol’s guidance, made strange art house movies too. Involving people sleeping and fake movie stars pretending to be glamorous.

Warhol lured amateurs into his odd movies by promising fame and fortune like real life Hollywood celebrities Liz Taylor and Marilyn Monroe. Star gazing followers couldn’t resist the hollow opportunity.

Some of the lengthy subjects of Warhol’s low-grade movies included boredom, repetition, glamour and sex.

Point 5. ‘The Factory’ was constantly pushing the boundaries of art, crossing all mediums searching for creative innovation and promoting Andy’s brand.

However, things became out of control, when in 1968 a feminist mental patient walked into the factory and shot Andy 3 times in the chest.

Point 6. Warhol was pronounced dead by doctors, but a chest operation quickly brought him back to life.

Following his recovery, Warhol continued to create original art and became the founder of Interview magazine , which is still popular today.

Warhol’s global creative brand continues to flourish years after his death.

© Copyright Simon Brushfield – Andy Warhol, Original art, Brand building and Social Media

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Pablo Picasso: How to commission original art like Picasso

Pablo Picasso was a brilliant artist for his time.

He created artwork that continues to grow in popularity, well after his death.

One of his most famous pieces of original art is titled ‘ ’.

The painting was based upon a real life event, from photographs taken amidst a devastating war scene. Later in Picasso’s studio, here’s what happened…

Pablo Picasso added his unique artistic perspective to history and immortalized the event.

It’s now remembered forever as an iconic painting in the History of Modern Art.

Picasso Guernica Pablo Picasso: How to commission original art like Picasso

Guernica ‘ (1937) Pablo Picasso. Oil on canvas Museo Reina Sofia, Madrid 349 cm × 776 cm

About Picasso’s Guernica painting…

Pablo Picasso created this piece following the bombing of a small quiet innocent town in 1937.

The attack took place during the Spanish Civil war, involving both German and Italian warplanes, above the city of Guernica . Picasso meant to represent the suffering and pain caused by war.

Innocent civilians were butchered and terrified, unable to escape the rain of horror from above.

Guernica is one of Picasso’s most famous pieces of original art, currently housed in Reina Sofia Museum in Madrid Spain. An estimated eleven thousand people come daily to visit the painting. Even though Guernica is currently one of Picasso’s more recognizable pieces, it hasn’t always been popular.

In 1938 the controversial ‘Guernica’ was stolen by activists and nailed to the wall of a public showroom.

Pablo Picasso attempted to comprehend in visual terms, the Spanish people’s sense of loss as their city, friends, and family were all destroyed by the bombings.

This important piece of art speaks to the Spanish people portraying powerful emotions of identity, loss and grief, resulting from the tragedy of war.

Commissioning Your Own Piece of Original Art

When collecting contemporary paintings, art dealers are finding that contemporary art is growing more popular as a wise investment. Picasso painted Guernica using photographs from eyewitness accounts.

Similarly, the original abstract painting below was created using a similar creative process.

‘Dopey’ by Simon Brushfield Acrylic & Oil on Canvas 21cm x 29cm (Unframed)

By commissioning your piece of original art from your own photographs, you will be able to get the look you want from an experienced artist who has been painting for more than 20 years.

When buying original art from Simon Brushfield , you want to create a piece of original art that appeals to you, but also sends the right message.

Purchasing a Picasso painting might be a little beyond your budget.

However, commissioning a piece of contemporary art by Simon Brushfield will give you an original painting guaranteed to increase in value. Original art makes a wonderfully unique gift for loved ones too.

Your choice of topic probably won’t be the Spanish civil war, like Picasso’s Guernica painting, but you might have important events or people that you would like to commemorate.

glenynis maria portrait painting by simon brushfield Pablo Picasso: How to commission original art like Picasso

‘Great Aunt Glen’ portrait by Simon Brushfield (2006) Oil and acrylic on canvas 60cm x 80cm (Private Acquisition)

When thinking about collecting investment art from a high quality artist like Simon Brushfield , you will find your investment increasing in value over time.

Commissioning a piece of original art gives you a unique show piece for your wall that impresses visitors and will be a joy to live with, in your home or office .

Do you have any thoughts about Guernica , this important painting by Pablo Picasso?

I would love to hear them, please leave a message in the comments box below. And if you liked this article and would like to sign up for more, join my VIP list below.

© Copyright Simon Brushfield – Pablo Picasso original art Guernica .

is a unique contemporary artist

He’s considered the most successful American artist since Warhol

The high profile American amazes the contemporary art world, regularly breaking worldwide sales records at auctions

Lady Gaga is also a record breaking artist, who captivates millions with her music and alluring creativity

The two recently combined their creative talents and their collaborative offspring is pictured below

Album Cover preview image released on Twitter by Lady Gaga 2013

Both artists live in New York, but exist in totally different creative worlds. The smart artistic move will surely bring a stream of new admirers to view their collective baby

The image above highlights Lady Gaga’s fascination with the famous Botticelli painting “ ”. Her album cover capitalizes on the iconic image created during the 1400’s around the Italian Renaissance

Similar to Andy Warhol , Koons is essentially a pop artist, who draws inspiration from popular culture, specifically from advertising and the entertainment world

However, in a slightly different perspective to Andy Warhol, who was more crudely fascinated by celebrity and fame, Jeff Koon’s believes his artistic mission is to “communicate with the masses”.

Below is one example of his series called “Balloon Dog (Blue)”

Photo © Markus Tretter, courtesy Creative Commons

Koons has become famous for manufacturing large ‘toys for rich boys’ and similar to Warhol, is motivated to create pagan monuments to mass-culture, like his metallic ‘Popeye’, which he believes is a self-portrait

In person, Koons has been described as kind and dreamy, not the person to be overly judgmental

He says, “Removing judgments lets you feel, of course, freer, and you have acceptance of things, and everything’s in play, and it lets you go further”

Jeff Koons continues about his work and philosophy on life…

“I believe that art has been a vehicle for me that’s been about enlightenment and expanding my own parameters, to give me courage to exercise the freedom that I have in life,”

Similar to Lady Gaga, Koons is also an excellent marketer and creates global interest in whatever he does, especially when international art dealers like Christie’s sells his pieces for 80 million dollars

Like many artists Jeff Koons loves what he does and says, “Every day I wake up and I really try to pinch myself to take advantage of today and to use that freedom…to do what I really like to do.”

If you’re interested to purchase or know more about Simon Brushfields original paintings click here .

© Copyright Simon Brushfield – Jeff Koons and Lady Gaga have a special new born baby

Collecting Investment Art: How to spot a genuine artist

Collecting investment art can be tricky

These days it’s cool to be creative

Now, with computer technology, everybody can be an artist

This becomes a problem

Especially, for people outside creative industries, who might be in the process of collecting investment art

Happy Couple AAD Collecting Investment Art: How to spot a genuine artist

‘Happy Couple’ by Simon Brushfield (2011) Acrylic & Carcoal on canvas 1m x 1m

How then, do serious art collectors discern between a genuine original artist and a fake artist?

Like all industries, phonies exist

They’re in business for a quick buck

Fake artists might throw paint at a canvas, or do something on a computer and call it fine art

When collecting investment art, art collectors need to be very careful

Here’s 7 ways to spot a genuine artist…

1. A genuine artist is passionate about what they do and why they do it
2. A genuine artist is in business for the long term and has passed the test of time
3. A genuine artist does it for love and would continue to practice without financial incentive
4. A genuine artist inspires people and their authenticity is clearly evident
5. A genuine artist naturally challenges people to think different
6. A genuine artist will follow their own creative path, regardless of what others think
7. A genuine artist uses unique and complex colour schemes difficult to replicate

Ken Done is a perfect example

He has long challenged the Australian Art establishment

Placing his artwork on calendars, clothing, bed covers, even BMW racing cars

Ken Done’s abstract artwork and personal signature on a 1983 BMW racing car

Many perceive Ken Done as a multi-million dollar businessman.

Not an artist

However, after spending many hours together with Ken in his Sydney harbour mansion, one thing becomes clear.

Ken Done is primarily an artist

A genuinely successful artist

Oh and yes, an incredibly sharp businessman too

His commercial success challenges the Australian Art establishment

Some people think about his artwork, “a child could do that”

However, a child does not have the vision of Ken Done. Nor his intuitive sense of colour which so many admire around the world.

The famous artist James Whistler once said ‘An artist is not paid for his labour, but for his vision’

Ken Done ’s artistic vision is enormous

If you are collecting investment art, a Ken Done painting is a wise purchase

In his 20’s working in advertising, Ken travelled the world and developed great national pride in Australia

He has since been heavily involved in promoting Australia to the rest of the world through the World Expo, Sydney Olympics, Australian Tourism initiatives and the ‘ Australian Made ’ brand

The Ken Done face and creative brand is familiar to most Australians

He is very successful on the international scene in London & Japan especially

Ken Done in his Balmoral art studio talking with Simon Brushfield (behind the camera) about life and art.

Ken was born on the 29th June 1940, in Sydney and left school at the age of 14 to follow his creative dreams

Entering the National Art School as its youngest ever student

Ken had a successful stint in advertising and received the industry’s highest awards for his creative ability

To me, Ken Done represents the first Australian to truly smash an outdated idea of ‘the struggling artist’

His life proves artists don’t have to struggle

But they can use their creativity in business and live a truly successful commercial life

Ken Done continues to defy critics and establish a creative brand that adds meaning and joy to people’s lives internationally

© Copyright Simon Brushfield – Collecting Investment Art

Andy Warhol’s secret to selling paintings for $37million

The creative spirit is uncontrollable.

And mysterious.

Andy Warhol had an unpredictable creative spirit.

Warhol self portrait 1022x1024 Andy Warhols secret to selling paintings for $37million

Andy Warhol. Self-Portrait. 1986. Mugrabi Collection. ©2010 The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc./Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Andy Warhol and Pablo Picasso were both mysterious, and amazingly powerful creative artists.

When ask by a journalist about his intriguing personality Warhol simply replied,

“I’d like to be a machine, wouldn’t you?”

Ironically, both Andy Warhol and Pablo Picasso were brilliant at controlling the media and their own creative universe.

Their unique creative power gave followers security and enabled them to sell original art for incredible prices.

Through out the history of mankind outspoken passionate artists have led and challenged society, with their mysterious ways.

Point 1. Andy Warhol realized it pays extremely well to create an element of mystery around your original art.

Powerful creative visionaries like Picasso and Warhol challenged society by their indomitable creative strength. Their creative spirit sought freedom and refused to be controlled.

Wisdom painting by Simon Brushfield Andy Warhols secret to selling paintings for $37million

‘Wise Old Man’ (1998) by Simon Brushfield. Charcoal & Acrylic on Card 50cm x 35cm Unframed

Andy Warhol was a man of powerful creative vision.

Strong willed and mysterious. He was a very competent businessman adept at brand building and social media networking for his time.

Andy Warhol’s contemporary art created great excitement and incredible media attention.

People didn’t understand him. But they desperately tried.

Point 2: Andy Warhol manufactured a personality and style of art that promoted the mysterious. He was a master at creating intrigue.

Warhol was different. People tried to corner him, but failed every time.

His paintings of celebrities were insightful and propelled him to high status.

andy warhol painting of Elvis Andy Warhols secret to selling paintings for $37million

‘Double Elvis [Ferus Type]‘ by Andy Warhol (1963) Silkscreen

An uncontrollable nature pays handsomely.

The silkscreen painting above was sold in May 2012 for $37 million.

Warhol’s artwork and physical presence at events created electricity.

The mysterious nature of creativity produced unprecedented success for Andy Warhol.

So what makes some visionary figures so incredibly powerful?

Final Point: Behind the glamorous high profile worldly image, Andy enjoyed a devoted and extremely private spiritual life.

Warhol grew up a faithful Catholic. He maintained a strong commitment to Jesus Christ which gave him wisdom, strength and personal inspiration.

His faith most certainly helped Andy keep important balance in the high profile glamorous world of pop art.

Very few people knew this about Andy.

© Copyright Simon Brushfield – Andy Warhols secret to selling paintings

How to Understand Modern Art

This modern art post will help you understand the origins of abstract creative thinking.

It will give you greater confidence to evaluate and feel comfortable understanding weird modern art.

Below, I broadly outline the development of abstract art and conclude with reflections and examples on how modern art relates specifically to our time.

But here’s the main point of the article….

Point 1. Modern art helps create freedom for people by challenging conventional thinking

fountain 1917 866x1024 How to Understand Modern Art

‘Fountain’ sculpture created in 1917 by Marcel Duchamp. The work presented an enormous challenge to conventional thinking about what exactly is art?

In our instantly accessible modern era, digital photography is taken for granted. It’s difficult to imagine in previous generations photography once didn’t exist.

Painting and drawing was once the only way to capture and record real life. People believed the best art must look real.

Point 2. Therefore, master artists like Rembrandt or Rubens were greatly admired in high Renaissance society.

The intricate detail of horses in battle and aristocratic portraits of noble kings and queens were only accessible by the wealthy class. The gap between the rich and poor was enormous.

In contrast to the instantly accessible digital photography of today, creating a realistic painting during the Renaissance was extremely time consuming and very expensive.

But the industrial revolution and modernist thinking changed everything.

Photography developed. And the printing press too. Suddenly factories were able to print and distribute images and information on a wide scale.

The poor became more educated.

A middle class developed and commodities were produced on mass scale. Goods became less expensive.

Point 3. Modern Art encouraged the spread of new ideas, freedom of thought and extensive commercial progress

With new modern ways of thinking, abstract art began to flourish too.

It offered greater freedom for innovative artists like Picasso. Abstract art is common today, however it wasn’t always a popular way of thinking.

Early abstract artists encountered great difficulty breaking through the public mindset. People had grown comfortable with paintings that looked real.

Point 4. The traditional mindset is always resistant to change.

One famous modernist piece of abstract art by Marcel Duchamp was painted in 1912 and titled ‘Nude descending the staircase’ pictured below. I love the painting but at the time….

It caused great controversy.

Marcel Duchamp   Nude Descending a Staircase How to Understand Modern Art

‘Nude Descending a Staircase’ (1912) by Marcel Duchamp. Oil on Canvas 147 cm × 89.2 cm Philidelphia Museum of Art

The painting and the artist are famous for encountering massive opposition and public outcry, so much so, that Marcel Duchamp removed his painting from the wall midway through the exhibition.

He later focussed upon playing chess abandoning the art world all together.

One New York Times critic disdainfully wrote the painting looked like ‘an explosion in a shingle factory’ hence the reference to factories – a concept dominant in the minds of people living during the industrial revolution.

However, there is an element of truth to the critic’s comment. It’s no coincidence that Duchamp’s painting contains visual elements similar to the rhythmic repetitive nature of a machine in operation.

Point 5. The mass production of industrial life was changing the way people perceived themselves.

During the industrial, or shall we say modernist era, three towering figures of modern art arose.

Henri Matisse (1869-1954) Picasso and Duchamp who helped define a new visual direction and entirely new way of thinking, gave validity to the liberating ideas underpinning abstract art.

The history of art provides a long list of artists who changed public thinking altering the dominant status quo in society.

Modern Art has become a culturally acceptable vehicle for change

Duchamp, Picasso and Matisse were often ridiculed for challenging conventional thinking. Their emerging abstract style of paintings, were frighteningly bold for the time and excessively unrealistic.

Point 6. Artists have long played the role of provoking society, being the instigators of change and challenging conventional thinking.

Innovative paintings were difficult for the public to accept as genuine artwork during the 1900’s. Once again, new ideas from visionary artists had provoked mainstream society’s traditional comfortable mindset about what indeed was art?

The Joy of Life by Henri Matisse 1905 Oil on Canvas 175x241cm How to Understand Modern Art

‘The Joy of Life’ by Henri Matisse (1905) Oil on Canvas 175 x 241cm

The shape and form of Matisse’s paintings conveyed emotional force. Heavily influenced by traditional paintings, Matisse was also inspired by his contemporaries Gaugin, Cezanne and Van Gogh who also used colour excessively.

Point 7. Matisse is considered one of the founding fathers of modern art, his use of colour astounded the traditional mindset

Never before had a painter been so pure, unrealistic and imaginative in his approach to colour. He quickly became known for his radical position and always displayed signs of quiet rebelliousness throughout his career.

Matisse was in constant search for freedom.

His life might be interpreted as a continual struggle to break free. Eliminating barriers of constraint. A pattern typified by the history of modern art. Matisse once said,

“An artist must never be a prisoner. Prisoner? An artist should never be a prisoner of himself, prisoner of style, prisoner of reputation, prisoner of success…” – Henri Matisse

Breaking from traditions of the past, Henri Matisse led an art movement called the ‘Fauves’ in 1905. Meaning ‘the wild beasts’. This title referred to the group’s use of extreme emotionalism, vivid colours and distorted shapes.

Predictably, the Fauves first exhibition brought a hostile public response. One critic wrote, ‘A pot of paint has been flung in the face of the public’

Matisse Les Toits de Collioure 1905 How to Understand Modern Art

‘Les Toits de Collioure’ by Henri Matisse (1905) Oil on canvas 59.5 cm × 73 cm Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg

Point 8. When artists express a vision  people have never seen before, great opposition and vehement criticism often follows.

Here’s 3 things I love most about abstract art.

Firstly, in every sense, abstract art is liberating. Unpredictable and uncontrollable, it challenges people to think differently on a variety of levels. Especially, questioning the concept of commercial value.

People struggle to understand why someone would pay millions of dollars, for what looks like child’s artwork at kindergarten?

Henri Matisse | Patitcha souriante (Patitcha smiling) 1947 | Purchased 1993 with funds from the International Exhibitions Program | Collection: Queensland Art Gallery | © Henri Matisse 1947/Succession H Matisse/Licensed by Viscopy, Sydney, 2011

Matisse understood how people thought in his day, but he didn’t allow it to stifle the creative ideas and purity of art he pursued.

Power 9. Matisse understood the power and longevity of an idea, to overcome restrictions created by mainstream narrow-mindedness.

I love creating abstract paintings. And can never predict results. There is freedom in relaxing and ‘going with the flow.’ Allowing the paint control the direction of the artwork.

During this process, the subconscious mind is free to depict what needs to be expressed.

There have been many paintings and drawings I have created whereby an image has emerged I had no conscious control in bringing to life. As an artist, this is fascinating to observe.

The most famous psychoanalyst Carl Jung once taught, the subconscious mind expresses deeply intuitive, often important messages to people through archetypes and dreams. Likewise, Matisse emphasized the importance of intuition and instinct in the creative process.

Similar to abstract art, the subconscious mind creates abstracted fragmented messages unfamiliar to the conscious mind and difficult to process through logical conventional thinking. Salvador Dali expressed this phenomena in his surrealist paintings.

Abstract art accommodates for the unpredictability and irrationality of the human mind.

Point 10. Matisse believed he was not in control of the creative process. But that colour and form dictated the painting themselves.

The second thing I love about abstract art is the variety of responses it evokes from viewers. Some people simply love the shapes. Other people are touched by an emotional reaction to the colours .

Still others have very personal interpretations of the subject matter, discovering specific meaning to their inner lives. One doesn’t have to be a highly intelligent or well educated person to enjoy abstract art. It’s accessible to everyone on every level.

Modern art offers unique value to individuals and abstract art respects and encourages diversity. Honouring people’s different perspectives.

The Peninsula 1024x835 How to Understand Modern Art

‘The Peninsula’ by Simon Brushfield (2010) oil & acrylic on canvas, 2m x 1.8m (Sold: Private Collection)

In the painting above I was commissioned by an Australian art collector, who wanted a large abstract piece for his lounge room.

Like Matisse, the painting contains a mix of realistic and unrealistic emotive colours and imaginative subject matter symbolic of the owner’s personal background and happy childhood by the sea.

Point 11. Unlike mathematics, in modern art there are no right or wrongs.

Henri Matisse wanted to express hope through the purity and power of colour. He acknowledged difficulties encountered in life and saw art as a means of bringing hope and happiness into a troubled world. He once said,

“What I dream of is an art of balance, purity, and serenity devoid of troubling or depressing subject matter….a soothing, calming influence on the mind, something like a good armchair which provides relaxation from physical fatigue” – Henri Matisse

I love Matisse’s paintings because his artwork displays courage, a fierce determination and skilful ability to break into new territory, leaving behind a legacy of artistic and personal freedom for others to enjoy.

Point 12. Modern art epitomises the human spirit and its passionate desire to experience new and greater levels of  freedom

From my perspective, the Matisse legacy encourages people to live life to the fullest. In bright, beautiful colour. Even through difficulties, criticisms and vehement opposition. To expand upon conventional thinking in a persons life, increases their freedom. Modern art helps people to expand horizons. Thereby, improving the quality of lives.

This is priceless.

Henri Matisse was an intuitive artist who accepted gracefully the challenging consequences of living, loving and thinking in new ways. Allowing nothing to halt his creative progress. He once said,

“He who loves, flies, runs and rejoices; he is free and nothing holds him back.” – Henri Matisse

These ideals are expressed in his sentimental painting at the beginning of this article, titled ‘The Joy of Life.’ Henri Matisse lived and worked during a time of great change, historians term ‘Modernism.’ An era heavily influenced by the industrial revolution.

Similarly, we live in a time of significant change, characterised by the information age. Historians have broadly labelled our era ‘Postmodernism’.

My abstract painting below is a visual interpretation of the postmodernist life.

Postmodernism 791x1024 How to Understand Modern Art

‘Postmodernism’ by Simon Brushfield (2011) Oil and Acrylic on Canvas 80cm x 60cm (framed)

Maybe you would like to find out more about Simon Brushfield’s original paintings, or your possibly thinking of purchasing a piece of modern art, if so,

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International Best Selling Authors Guide to Your Elusive Creative Genius

In this inspiring and humorous TED talk Elizabeth Gilbert, the author of the world famous book ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ shares her thoughts on the concept of a genius and the creative process.

In this video you will learn 8 important points about being creative…

1. How to nurture your creative genius
2. How to deal with the fear of failure
3. How to deal with the pressure of creating something
4. The importance of simply showing up for work
5. What is the best mindset to adopt in the creative process
6. The historical progression of the concept of genius
7. The impacct of the Renaissance upon our thinking
8. How rational humanism is dangerous

See the latest original painting from an Australian artist who’s been searching for his elusive creative genius for years, and is

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