The Art of Sandra Busby...
Painter of Playful Light in Glass and Still Life


Thursday, 13 October 2011

'Bear' Essentials...

To my lovely, loyal, bloggy friends.

Firstly, thank you all for still being here!
I wouldn’t blame you for boring of my recent absence from the land of Blog during the last couple of weeks.
I feel the need to explain, as much has been going on in the right-hand side of my brain cell over the last few months!
Firstly, a couple of months ago I composed a long email to my tutor, in which I expressed a wish to withdraw from my Open University art course. To cut a very long story short, I felt that I was being molded to paint in a certain way, to follow a trend and I was therefore being forced to develop a style that just isn’t me.
A couple of weeks later he contacted me and managed to persuade me that it was the wrong decision to make. So, as weak willed as I suddenly found myself, I reluctantly said I would keep it up - hence the subsequent landscapes and little else to show blah, blah....
Though I recognise my tutor’s good intentions, I had been looking forward to doing my own thing – I had so many projects in mind and yet here I was, back on that Merry-Go-Round!

Anyway, a couple of weeks ago, I happened to be passing a beautiful Gallery and took a look inside.
The Gallery owner asked if he could help. I explained that I wasn't buying anything, but I was just interested in the way others paint because I like to paint too.
I want to paint like this...' I said as I pointed to a painting, which hung proudly upon the crisp, white wall before me, '...instead of like this', I finished as I showed him a random painting of my own on my iPhone.

He took my phone and asked if he could see some more, so I reluctantly showed him one or two further pictures.
I was shocked when he expressed an interest in my work and asked if I would bring some of the real things in to show him, so early last week I found myself drinking coffee with the Gallery owner, surrounded by the works of Phillip Gray, Rolf Harris, Hazel Soane etc, apologizing profusely for the work I was showing him!

During our chat, it became evident that we both seemed to have very similar visions in what would make a nice painting, but what surprised me most was that he said that he 'liked my style' and that it was 'different'! He suggested that when I have done some further paintings, should he feel that they are what he has in mind from me, he might consider testing the interest on his website. He said that if there was enough interest, he may do some limited edition prints in the future!

He stressed on several occasions that it may come to absolutely nothing and I don't expect it to - But, WOW - Just the fact that a gallery owner would show some interest my work is more than good enough for me!!!
And what was this 'my style' business? I didn't even know I had one!
But then, as I sat down and looked at the bits I had shown him, I realised that none of those bits were from my course at all. In fact, all of it was work that I had painted just for the fun of it and from my own vision.
When I lined them all up, I suddenly realised that I do have a style - one that has developed naturally over time and one, which only finds itself when I am not being pushed to paint in a different way by the course.
I lean naturally towards realism and when I don't fight it, that is when I create my best work and in my opinion, the only good work I do.

Anyway - let's not get carried away by this. The reality is that nothing has really 'happened' other than a chat consisting of ifs, buts and maybe's, with the owner of a rather beautiful Gallery. So, I am remembering that and being very realistic.

But, this is why I haven't posted anything over the last couple of weeks. I have felt entirely lost again. I have been feeling SO guilty that one minute I am agreeing to carry on with the course and yet the next I am realising that I can’t do it all.
At this moment in my art room, in one corner there is a figure painting half finished, in another corner there is a still life with a glass sketched and ready to paint, there is a sketchbook open, begging me to sketch anything, at least something for my blog until I finish a bigger piece, then there is the course book open at the page where I am supposed to be painting a 'sky dominated landscape', yaaaaawn...
Consequently, I walk in, spin around, scratch my head and run out. What do I do first? Gaaaaaaaaah!!!!!!!!!!!!!

So, I thought about this and realised that I need to forget about the course and everything else in the room at the moment. I need to start painting again from the heart and who knows, maybe the gallery owner will like it – but if not, I will at least have painted something by the real me.
And what better subject to start with than another bear!
Having played around with some arrangements I got the initial sketch down on paper today, though I still have some adjustments to make before transferring my sketch to canvas ready to paint. For one thing the perspective of the magnifying glass needs adjusting before I go any further and there are also some further shadows to add.
It looks a little busy at the moment but a lot of it, such as the clock, wallpaper pattern and magnifying glass will be in DARK shadow and so ‘bearly’ even there!
Well, having not posted for a while, I am sorry that this one is consequently so EPIC!!! 
But, you really don’t have to read it!

Instead, you might just like to see my sketch…

© Sandra Busby
Thank you SO much for not leaving me!

See you again soon!


  1. Hi Sandra. That WAS an epic post, especially since I was reading it on my phone! But if you do get your lovely work into a fab gallery then that will be even more epic. I sincerely hope you do have some success! Don't give up with the OU course just yet. You just have to go through all the boring stuff to get to the good stuff I guess :O)

  2. By the way, I love the inital sketch for the bear too. Are you going to do this in oils again like the last one ?

  3. WOW! I think this happened for a reason: to remind you that the only way forward is to paint from your heart! I love the bear already!

  4. Hi Sandra!

    Your bear sketch is as adorable as you are!
    But don't worry, I also took time to read your epic....I mean, post! and I loved every thought and every word. I guess a congratulation of sorts in order might think that nothing has 'happened' yet....but really something wonderful has!

    You are coming into your own way as a fully developing artist does at some point during their artful journey! It is blossoming right before your eyes.....!

    Natural talent can't be taught, that's what I say.......sure you can be shown techniques......and apply them to your own artistic ideas and visions....but to be taught to draw or paint in a specific styling that is not your own....that's no fun!

    It seems to have just fell into your lap, this opportunity...and I do hope that something good comes out of it....I walked into this new cafe here in town....with my Sketchbook...and was asked if I had a collection I'd like to display/sell it fell into my lap too! That always seems to be the way! lol

    Don't you just love that I'm taking the time to leave you an appropriately sized, epic comment here on your blog! I'm hosting a giveaway on my blog...which you are welcome to come by and have a peek at.....

    I've been working on THE SKETCHBOOK PROJECT....and I'll be ready to send that off to Brooklyn soon. You should sign up for that too, there's still time, I think!? Like you don't have anything else to do right!


    ciao bella

    creative carmelina
    xoxoxooxoxxoxoxoxooxoxoxoxoxo- how's that for an epic sized ending!

  5. Wow Sandra!! First of all that is SO EXCITING!!!!! I mean how wonderful that this gallery owner took the time to talk to you and encourage you! I personally think you have a style and I love it so much and I'm glad that other people are seeing it too. :))))

    And I have missed you in good old bloggy land but just figured life was getting in the way.

    You are an awesome example of following your heart and I will be linking to this post in my next post. :)))

    Also I dearly LOVE the bear sketch. I don't think it looks busy at all I think it looks interesting and heartfelt. I can see your style in the sketch as well. :) *big hugs to you my friend*

  6. Wow congrats! I've never been brave enough to speak to a gallery, although I'm working up to it.

    Looking forward to the finished bear.

  7. and like Michael, I also think you shouldn't give up on the course, but then I've always said that to you.

  8. Hello Sandra,
    like your drawings. This is more free, but with the same precision that is your brand.
    Thanks for the comments you make on my blog. They are very special.
    A big hug

  9. That's very exciting! Good for you, going to that gallery and talking to them about showing your work. It's beautiful artwork and deserves to be seen and purchased. The bear is looking great, and that's a good choice for a subject. I imagine many prospective buyers have a soft spot for teddy bears, like I do.

  10. What a wonderful chance encounter :)
    Even if it comes to nothing, its warmed your heart, so that's good. Perhaps it also came with a message.. and if the OU course is making you that unhappy - is it worth it?
    It might be, of course, but its made harder because you are vacillating. Make a decision - one way or the other - and stick to it. That way you'll be able to move on. xx

  11. Good for you! I know Exactly how you felt I too dropped so many because it was'nt "me" Keep it up girl and follow your heart and good things will come your way...They already have!

  12. NO WONDER you haven't been posting!! Congrads on all the good art happenings in your life, Sandra. And I know, whatever decision you make, it will turn out extremely well!!! :)

  13. BRAVO!!!GOOD FOR YOU!! first of all, no disrespect to your tutor but i'm so glad that you've decided to just follow YOUR vision. you are so gifted and how wonderful to have it validated by a gallery that chose YOUR work. this is wonderful news. you might have felt lost but it looks to me as if you found your direction. i'm so thrilled for you Sandra, you are amazing! best of luck, i know you will do well.

  14. I loved going through this post. And your entire happy accident incident with the gallery owner is just so cool to hear about. Who said serendipity happened only in fairy tales. I really really wish you luck on this. Hopefully people end up ordering a lot of prints of your works.

    And the skecth is nice. Are you doing it in oils or watercolor?


  15. Hi Sandra
    Beautiful sketch...
    I believe that one actually benefits from trying different styles in art ... it actually helps you to find your own style...
    take care

  16. Hi Sandra, my personal feeling is that you are to much worried about "finding" your style. You certainly have a style, and, as demonstrated by the owner of the gallery, your style likes to him (and surely to others). Paint what you like in the way you like....this is my suggestion! Waiting to see the final version of your last nice bear. Hugs!

  17. Michael - Thank you! You must have gone googly-eyed trying to read all that on your phone, lol! This will be an oil just like my last, though the underlayers will be in dilluted acrylic to speed up the drying time as I found that to be very frustrating the last time! :0)

    Jusy - Thank you! It is true that I always paint better when I paint just what I like. I'd make a terrible commission Artist, lol! :0)

    Carmelina - I LOVED your epic comment, lol! Thank you! I agree that once we have learned the basic techniques, we can not be taught how to create art. It is something that should come from within us and that way, we all paint different things in different ways. If we all tried to paint in the same way, art would become so predictable wouldn't it? I completed the foundation course which was everything I needed to build on and I think that, that part of the course was really very important and I would never change that, but I think that this really is where I should get off - not because of any possible interest from the Gallery, because that will likely come to nothing, but because of my loss of inspiration and direction when I am not doing my own thing.
    I loved your sketchbook project by the way!
    Wow - does that class as an epic answer too? :0)

  18. Crystal - Thank you so much! It's nice to know I have been missed :0)
    And it's SO nice that you want to link my post. Thank you! It's always nice to know that somehow other Artists feel the same way as I do and can relate :0)

    Sue - Thank you! And like you, I would never have approached a Gallery. It was more a chance encounter really that led to an interest of sorts. I don't think I would have been brave enough otherwise! :0)

    Antonio - Thank you! Yes, it is sketchy isn't it? So ften the sketches are more lively that the paintings! :0)

    Katherine - Thank you! Since nothing may come of it, I am just going to follow my own visions because that's the only way I will produce something nice. I am also very fond of bears, so I am sure there will be a few more on the horizon too :0)

    Pat - Thank you! You are SO right! I should have stuck to my decision in the first place but I am too easily persuaded! Now I have got to approach my tutor all over again! Oh well, for now I am just enjoying the bear :0)

  19. Melanie - Thank you so much! I really appreciate your encouraging words :0)

    Studio - Thank you very much! It is so lovely to think that I was missed! :0)

    Suzanne - Thank you so much! It would be nice one day to earn a litle money for my art so that I can take an extra day off from work to paint some more. I think I have been trying to paint everything in just one day a week and so finishing nothing, if that makes sense! Anyway - now I will focus on the bear only and maybe some sketches between. Thanks again, you are always so full of encouragement! :0)

    Prabal - I appreciate your lovely comment so much, thank you! The though of someone ordering a print would really be the cherry on the cake wouldn't it? But I mustn't run away with myself! This bear will be in oils like the last one, but the underpainting will be done in dilluted acrylics to aid the drying time :0)

    Jamilla - Thank you SO much for visiting my blog and for your lovely comment! It's always lovely to see another face appear :0)
    I know what you mean and you are of course right. But I am not very good at experimenting in a way in which I don't want to, unless it's because I feel like it. When I do feel like it, I really enjoy it and that's when I learn from it and it is really valuable. Hope to see you again :0)

    Tito - Thank you so much! I just hope that the bear is as successful as the last one was. Wish me luck! :0)

  20. It's so tender! Have a good weekend, Arianna

  21. How great of you to voice your fears and concerns Sandra! The whole saga sounds VERY familiar to me! Art classes are great, but ONLY if you are being taught new techniques but left to do it in your own style. It's virtually impossible to paint like somebody else, it never turns out quite right, does it?

    And your ice-breaking episode with the gallery owner is fantastic news, congratulations! If we can just take the first step, I think we'll find that galleries are not as scary as they look.

    Your bear looks like it's going to be fantastic, keep us in the loop!

  22. Sandra, I've only just read this as I've been away on vacation. I can't imagine how excited you must be. If I had been in your shoes and a gallery owner had said that to me, I'd have wet myself for sure. I've always been a big fan of your work and am thrilled for you. ;-)

  23. Hi Sandra ... I was directed to your post by a mutual friend, and now I see why. I have never had lessons as I didn't want anyone to teach me 'their' style' I wanted to develop my own. Earlier this evening I said that maybe I should consider getting some lessons, as all I paint is flowers and animals.

    I've just read your post Sandra, and almost every word you have written about how you feel could have been written by me.

    I can't tell you pleased I am this opportunity has come your way. Okay, it may not come to anything, but what it has done to your confidence and self belief I think is huge. That will take you on to greater things.

    I wish you every success Sandra ... so very happy for you.:))

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  26. Sandra! Wow! My heart sunk when I was reading that you sent the email to withdraw from art class, but, I am glad to read the rest. I feel like both of us have been experiencing similar things since what, May? We both have been trying to paint what others want. Or experienced confusion and frustration when someone liked not the favorite - your bathroom sink post. You are so right, we need to paint from our heart. It is easy to get influenced and stray in our art when we are painting for others. I am so happy for you and your journey over the last few weeks. P.S. Love the sketch of your bear.

  27. Hi my dear
    thank you for visiting my blog and thank you for the lovely comment... dancing is my passion, though I don´t dance but I design costumes for dancers, so my life is about dancing and shopping for fabrics and stuff...
    I absolutely agree with you about experimenting... you will do much better when you feel like trying new techniques... actually you need to be inspired by it so you might want to experiment...
    anyway... I wish you the best of luck with whatever you decide... and hope to see you always
    take care

  28. I stumbled upon your blog and if I'm allowed to say that your works are really beautiful, and I think you should always paint what you have inside. Congratulations you're really good. Have a good week, ciao, gabriele.

  29. Arianna - Thank you very much! :0)

    Maree - Lovely to see you! Thank you so much for popping in! Fingers crossed it will turn out as I hope :0)

    John - Thank you so much! I suppose I felt as though Gordon Ramsey had just tasted my food and suggested he test it in his restaurant! I am glad I didn't wet myself, lol - though almost! :0)

    Ingrid - Thank you so much for popping by! And I am so glad that you can relate to how I feel too. It's hard to know what would be right for you because we are all different - but one thing I will say is that if there is anything you have avoided painting, make yourself try it sometime. I used to fear painting metal and glass thinking that I would never be able to do it, but one day I tried it and really surprised myself, so now I will try most things! You probably just stick to flowers and animals because you know that you are good at them. You don't need lessons to make yourself try new subjects, though I'm not saying they wouldn't help you either - what doesn't suit one may suit another. I notice that your last post is neither a flower or an animal though, and it is wonderful! So maybe you are already breaking in to new things :0)

  30. James - Where did you disappear to? Luckily I read your comments on my email before they disappeared into cyber-space!
    You really did give me a lot to think about and you are right, I must be cautious! The problem with treating the course like a part time job and doing the other things in my spare time is that I actually only have one day during the week to paint and sometimes two or three hours over a weekend. So, I really have to choose what to devote my time to because I just can't do everything in such a small amount of time. I am happily absorbed in the bear at the moment and really not thinking about anything else too much, which probably isn't a bad thing, lol! But I am grateful for your take on things and also for the warning. It has made me think a little harder about things and I won't be doing anything without some advice first :0)

  31. Lianna - Thank you! Yes, we are two peas in a pod aren't we, lol! I don't think it's ever possible for everyone to like one type of art. So, I have come to the conclusion that the most important thing is to paint what we like and that we like the end result ourselves. That way, regardless of whether anyone else likes it, at least we have enjoyed creating it :0)

    Jamila - Thank you! I think your paintings are gorgeous and I thoroughly enjoyed looking through your work! I love experimenting, but I like to try things as I think of them and when the mood takes me. That way I am really in the mood and more likely to gain from it too :0)

    Gabriele - Thank you so much! I am so glad that you stopped by and left your lovely comment! Hope to see you again :0)

  32. This was a very powerful post, Sandra! I feel that we should all paint what we love to paint and not what someone tells us to paint. We all have our own unique styles and it should be that way! I see a lot of good stuff going your way...including a hug from me!! the sketch of your bear!! you're very talented.

  33. I'm so glad Crystal referred her readers to your article~ I believe if you follow your heart, you cannot go wrong! Your style is wonderful! In course work you will learn the techniques, and always take away something, but I feel you will wilt if you try to become someone else. Keep up the good work and best wishes with the gallery!

  34. sandra bear ii should be good :) glad you are sticking with the course many more assignments have you got left ? have you set yourself a dead line ? ... so happy you've made a good contact must have lifted your spirits !

  35. hmuxo - Thank you very much! I always find painting a joy when I do it for myself. I would make a terrible commission Artist, lol! :0)

    Jeanne - Thank you so much for dropping in and for leaving your lovely and encouraging comment! Hope to see you again :0)

    Jane - I am still procrastinating about the course really. I have a LONG way to go and very little time in which to paint at just 1.5 days a week. So I can either do the course or paint the things I want to paint but I can't do both. I have completed the foundation course. If I did the entire degree it would take another 5 years. So, at the moment I am just enjoying some 'bear therapy' :0)

  36. Sandra, I don't know how I missed this post, but I'm catching up now. First off Congrats for the interest by the gallery! That is fantastic! And second I commend you for having the guts to tell your teacher that you weren't happy, that takes courage! I'm so glad you are following your heart. No good art is going to come from trying to force yourself into something that you aren't.

  37. Carrie - Thank you! It's funny that everyone seems to have such different views on whether or not I should continue with the course. I wonder why that is? :0)

  38. Sandra PLease, read my little quote," Listen to your heart, and you'll never be lost"
    No need to force yourself to do something that you keep feeling is not right.. Your heart and mind is telling you something...
    I'm not that good at art, but no regrets as to never having a lesson or intstruction.
    You DO have a style, just look at your work it's so obvious. What is 'style' anyway? Just paint, draw and sketch what YOU feel comfortable.. ps. you know I'm right! LOL !! BJ

  39. Barbra - Yes, you are right! Thank you! Any way, my heart at this moment is beating 'b bear, b bear, b bear, b bear....' Lol!
    But I disagree that you are 'not that good at art'! If you detach your self from looking at your art as though it is yours and instead look at it as though someone else has drawn it, you would see it very differently I'm sure, as my Mum did when I posted her beautiful drawings on my blog.
    The other day, having had a break from the bear as something wasn't quite right, I went back to it, adjusted a few things and though it had improved it no end, somehow my confidence had taken a knock. I had sudden doubts in the painting. So, instead of looking at it face on, I picked it up and stood in front of a large mirror. The odd thing is that I really liked it! Because the image had flipped, somehow this really did make me see it as though it was a new painting and I saw it as though it wasn't my painting at all! I found my self liking it again and this gave me the confidence boost I needed to carry on. You should try it next time you have doubts :0)

  40. Well, Sandra even though I'm ages older than you . you are (sometimes) wiser . LOL ! Thanks for the tip, and the boost of confidence.

    As to you , have not doubts, Trust me, You are a fantastic artist. Embrace it... hugs, BJ

  41. Barbra - You are so kind. Thank you! :0)


Thank you so much for leaving a comment! Where possible I will respond via email. I really do love to read them! They always make me smile ;0)


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