Using sound as an inspiration for his visual art, Mark Rushton’s “ambient abstract” paintings display an emphasis on tone, texture, and atmosphere – very similar to the music he creates.
Inspired by aspects of painters Fairfield Porter, Pierre Bonnard, and Philip Hershberger, but also influenced by musicians as broadly as Bud Powell, Harold Budd, Fennesz, King Tubby, Ryuichi Sakamoto, and Rushton’s own original recordings, he attempts to merge the sound and the visual while producing each art independently. When creating his works, he asks questions such as “What does this painting sound like?” or “What would this audio recording look like as a painting?”
Rushton took drawing and painting classes at the University of Iowa in the late 1980s and then transferred to the Kansas City Art Institute as a painting major. His work career since the mid 90s has been as a software tester. He’s married, with two adult daughters, and now lives in Iowa.
Throughout the years, Rushton has continued to paint, occasionally showing new pieces in public exhibitions in Westwood, KS, Toddville, IA, and Iowa City, IA. He has also shown in galleries in La Crescent, MN, and Cedar Rapids, IA.
In the early 2000s, Rushton became a multi-media artist by creating ambient music, sound collages, and nature recordings, and began releasing them commercially. In 2014, one of his audio recordings was selected for a multi-media exhibit at the San Jose Museum of Art.
Rushton works with acrylics, mostly using synthetic paper, but also on stretched canvas.
Rushton’s favorite art quote, which he has used since the early 1990s as an artistic philosophical inspiration, is by painter and critic Fairfield Porter:
“When I paint, I think that what would satisfy me is to express what Bonnard said Renoir told him: make everything more beautiful.”