Lainard Bush can pinpoint the moment he became an artist. It was December 15, 1987 — his birthday. To celebrate, he booked an outdoor hot tub experience with a gifted healer in Bolinas, California. As he relaxed into the balmy waters, he had a vision of himself in the near future, living as a painter. In the vision, he was happy, successful, and fulfilled.
“The next day,” Bush tells Asheville Made, “I bought art supplies and began painting.”
To most, Bush’s transition to visual art may seem hasty — even impulsive. But he has always been creative.
Growing up in northeastern Ohio, he imagined himself becoming an esteemed filmmaker with a reputation for avant-garde cinema. There was just one snag: When Bush enrolled at Kent State University, experimental film was lumped together with studio art. And so, the college student had no choice but to sit through figure drawing sessions, screen printing seminars, and lectures on 19th-century impressionism.
It was only after finishing his BFA that he gave film his full focus at the San Francisco Art Institute. But then, Bush had his birthday epiphany and couldn’t shake the idea that he was destined to put paint on canvas — not movie stars on screens.
In the decades since, the artist — who is now based in Marshall — has developed a distinctive style he describes as “geometric expressionism.”
“The making of my grid-based work involves repetitive masking, painting, unmasking, and layering of gestural brushstrokes,” says Bush. “This process of surface building, pulling off, and even sanding down eventually reveals multiple juxtapositions of color and form.”
According to Bush, the whole process is very intuitive. “The painting takes over and tells me where to go — I’m just sort of there to help that happen.”
What results is a tapestry of opposing forces — “light versus dark, hot versus cold, chaos versus order, the structure of the grid versus abstract gesture.”
The eye isn’t sure where to look, and so it lingers. This hesitation, says Bush, is part of the experience.
“I enjoy painting because it is a fulfillment of the inner vision that brought me to paint in the first place,” he says. But his goal is to also “create something that will reveal itself and engage the viewer over a long period of time.”
Lainard Bush, Marshall. Bush’s work will be included in Lay It On: Impasto, Stacking, + Layering, opening Friday, Jan. 5 with a 5-7pm reception and running through Wednesday, Feb. 21, in the Main Level Gallery at Blue Spiral 1 Fine Art + Craft Gallery (38 Biltmore Ave., bluespiral1.com). For more information about the artist, see lainardbush.com.