Mount Gilead Middle School Art students had lots of questions for Columbus artist, Mark Bush. Bush visited the middle school art classes of Anne Trautman last week to talk about career opportunities in the arts. Students were riveted to his every word as he told his experience showing art and told them how it is possible to make a living as an artist.
One student asked if Bush had started with stick figures when he was young. Bush smiled and replied that yes, like many others he had stated out doing stick figures. He also commented that he liked doing cartoons. He went to high school in Niles near Youngstown, Ohio and said it was a “big deal when they got a potter’s wheel.”
Another student asked if he likes ceramics and what he is working on now.
Bush told the sixth graders about a six foot portrait he is working on this year for the Columbus Convention Center. He said the work, which is an acrylic painting on wood, has been commissioned for $10,000. He calls his paintings and portraits “photo realist paintings.”
The Middle School students paid close attention as Bush told them how he got his start. He said he had an early interest in art and did lots of “fantasy stuff” in color with animation and cartoons. His early dream was to work for Disney. He said he had a high school teacher who pushed him and challenged him.
When he was a freshman at Columbus College of Art and Design (CCAD), he switched from an interest in animation to fine art and started selling paintings. At the first show where he exhibited he took second place and someone bought his painting for $1,000. He began to think that painting could be a career where he could earn a living.
“It’s most important to get your work out there to get feedback and get critiqued,” Bush suggested.
His next painting at a local show went to a national show and sold for $9,000. Bush acknowledged that there are some rejections, but there is also a real payout sometimes.
Trautman learned about Bush through the school library assistant, Monica Swank. Bush painted her daughter, Samantha on a four foot tall canvas. He showed students his technique in doing portraits with a projector. He said he had painted portraits on a grid for many years until an artist shared with him how much easier it is to work with a projector to get features done more realistically.
He has received recognition with a portrait he did of Columbus businessman and art collector, Ron Pizzuti and in 2014 he won Best of Show at the Fort Wayne, Indiana Contemporary Realism Show. He is also contracted with the Hammond Harkins Gallery in Columbus and continues to do portraits in a realistic style.
Trautman asked Bush what a first step for students would be if they are interested in a career in art. “Get your art out there,” Bush said and went on to name the Scholastic Show, Governor’s Art Show, Doodle for Google and other local shows, craft and art fairs.
“Get yourself out there, even if you’re shy,” said Bush as he encouraged students to show their art at every opportunity they can.
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