The Sound of Paintings – an interview with painter and sound artist Mark Rushton – published July 2018
What’s up with your recent work? You’ve created a lot of new paintings in the past year.
I know. It’s a lot of factors going on. In 2016 and 2017 I did a bunch of canvases, and in 2018 I’ve largely been painting on a synthetic paper I’ve been using off and on since about 1992.
Just recently, I’ve found a reliable source for pre-cut sheets of this synthetic paper in different sizes. I’ve done a lot of 8″ x 10″ paintings, but soon I’ll be working in 11″ x 17″, 17″ x 22″, and 22″ x 35″. Eventually I’ll get a roll and make huge paintings.
You refer to yourself as an “emerging professional artist” – what does that mean?
I’ve been painting for a long time, since the late 1980s, and occasionally showing here and there, but I really didn’t know what I was doing. This year, I’ve been taking a course on how to be a better professional artist. I don’t want to go into the details about the course as I’m still in it, but this course has completely changed my thinking. It’s been very difficult. A real challenge!
Do you want to become a full-time professional artist?
There’s so much time being put into paintings and the course right now that I kind of am. That’s OK, because I don’t watch TV and I don’t mess around on the internet much. I have more time now that my kids are older.
I have my day job as a software tester, which I still really enjoy doing, and of course my side hustle as an ambient musician and nature sound recorder.
It’s OK to go into ‘fantasy’ mode every now and then. Yeah, I’d like to have a studio outside my home where I can go and make paintings or recordings. That would be nice. I’m working on it.
I’ve said for years that when I’m much older, I want to be the “old guy” at the pool, swimming laps in the morning. I can’t really do that right now. Robert Pollard of Guided By Voices once said in an interview that he has an “old guy schedule”, or something like that, because he’s old. I liked that.
What about new sounds? In 2018 you’ve released two albums, a long one called The Variations, and a short one called Salted Garden.
These are all experiments. The Variations has tracks that are 20 and 30 minutes on it. The point is to take the repetitive parts out to a more extreme area. Salted Garden has 10 tracks in under 20 minutes – it’s easier to digest.
I have a lot more sounds sitting around, waiting to be released. And I have loads of field recordings to process.
As you can see, I’m starting to use my paintings for album covers. That’s all you’ll probably see in the future. What do you call that? Crossover marketing? Something like that.