Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Artist's Touch: Art in the Family

Sarah, Theresa, Taylor and Craig Bush at Floriopolis
PANAMA CITY — Craig Bush described his family as “unconventional” during a recent conversation at Floriopolis gallery.

“We all tend to be nonconformist,” he said. “We don’t listen very well.”

What they do well is pursue their muses. Craig, 64, is a retired educator, novelist and painter. His wife, Theresa, 62, is a retired paralegal, jeweler and crafter. Their daughters — Sarah, 36, and Taylor, 29 — are artists working in acrylics, ink and other mediums.

All four gathered on the couch and chairs at Floriopolis to talk about the way art is part of their lives, both as a family and as individuals.

“I was poor growing up, so there wasn’t a whole lot I couldn’t do,” Theresa said. “I still feel that way. I was taught if you want it, then you do it. You make it. I made things because I needed to have them.”

Theresa in her workshop.
Theresa has sewed and made crafts all her life, but retirement gave her time to focus on creative pursuits. After taking an Education Encore class on jewelry design at Gulf Coast State College, she discovered a love of jewelry making — though she wears almost none herself. She also does stained glass art, baskets, felt figures and more.

Her work is for sale at Floriopolis, RTA Designs, and Shipwreck Ltd., but she hopes to do more online sales in the new year. Her Etsy.com store is Four Free Spirits.
“I don’t want to make a lot of money, I  just want to make stuff and get rid of it so I can make more stuff,” Theresa said. Sarah responded, “I want to make enough (money) to replace my low-level job.”

Art by Sarah Bush
Craig said Sarah was in middle school when they all recognized her artistic bent. Her successes encouraged the rest of the family to “kind of dabble” in art more. But Sarah recalls always having art in their home.

“That’s what you do in life. You make stuff,” Sarah said. “When I was little, Pop would write messages in symbols and have me decode it, and that’s a lot of what I do now with iconography, symbology and archetypes. ... My parents have always been creative, as long as I can remember. Even my grandmother was always making a quilt or sewing something.”

When Sarah was in daycare, Craig would walk her home in the afternoons. They collected pieces of colored glass on the roadside each day and glued them to a length of driftwood.

“It’s still hanging on our wall today,” he said. “It’s a little bit bizarre.”

Sarah received an art scholarship to Gulf Coast State College, but kept taking art labs instead of other core courses. After some time focusing on drawing and “building sturdy things,” Sarah said she’s trying to go back to “actually painting.” Her work is online at SarahBushArt.com

Art by Taylor Bush
Taylor said Sarah was her early inspiration, and she took the same classes with the same teachers Sarah had. Taylor creates black-and-white designs and is looking into making prints, fabric designs and possibly T-shirt images, mass producing some of her drawings.
Craig’s debut novel, “Hometown,” was released this autumn, and he’s just completed the first draft of his next novel, “The Ninth Rainbow,” which he hopes to publish in early 2015. “It’s somewhat apocalyptic, but it ends up with a lot of hope,” he said.

Of the creative process, Craig said he follows where the characters lead him: “I often don’t have a clue what they’re doing. When it’s best for me, I can’t type fast enough to keep up with it.”

Craig also paints impressionistic landscapes that he describes as “a little bit Van Gogh-ish.” He has never tried selling any of his paintings, adding that “none of us is great at marketing ourselves.”

As a child, Craig’s imagination was encouraged by a teacher who gave him a copy of “Stranger in a Strange Land” by Robert Heinlein. But reading Herman Hesse in the 1960s made him want to be a writer. He studied journalism in college before shifting to education.

Craig at his writing desk.
“With the novel release, I think I had the right expectation, which was no expectations,” Craig said. “It’s shown me the importance of people in the arts being willing to help one another. It’s not a competition.”

The children have their own places now, but Theresa still had some trepidation about how Craig’s retirement could cut into her creative time. Over the years, each of them has learned to value a level of solitude, but she said it took “some adjustment” when he began staying home all day.

“I think we all appreciate our alone time a lot,” Taylor said, adding that the creative process requires solitude as well as preparation and openness. “Sometimes it’s sort of like a transmission from the universe, and you’re there to catch that. I think that’s the point of the whole thing. It’s super magical.”
Post a Comment