Niles native Mark Bush has a gift that only a few artists can boast of.
Through hard work and education, Bush transcended the ordinary to achieve the extraordinary. He believes in the theory of the emotivity of an artist’s work.
“The objective characteristics of fine art are the skillful use of light, shadow, a superior amount of detail, interesting color choices, believable and appropriate perspective, artistically pleasing composition, and most importantly, a high degree of realism.” Bush, now of Columbus, said.
From an early age, Bush drew cartoons with his father and “that’s where the original spark started.”
He enjoyed copying images of people and objects from Disney comics and movies. Besides getting books from the public library to read for educational purposes, he also consulted other books with drawings to take home in order to practice and perfect his craft. He also practiced drawing more advanced caricatures throughout his elementary school years.
Bush, 35, praised his Niles McKinley High School art teacher, Phyllis Bako.
“She was very inspiring, a fantastic artist and a big part of my development. Many others also felt privileged to be under his tutelage in the classroom. She pushed every student to strive for higher standards,” says Bush.
When it comes to the final stages of each artwork, he said he hears Bako’s voice conveying constructive criticism and suggesting areas that might need improvement.
The process of his paintings is based on building up layers of marks to create an image that looks real from a distance. He takes reference photographs and then begins by rendering a black and white with acrylic paint to blend a whole range of grays in value.
His paintings begin vaguely and then become more realistic. Bush said his project was getting tighter and tighter as it added more and more detail.
“It’s easier to adjust something than to start from scratch. I start by getting the first coat done quickly and simply, and that alone gives me a great base to work from,” says Bush.
While in high school at Niles, he also attended the Trumbull Career and Technical Center where he studied interactive multimedia and learned animation, professional photography, video production and more. He said he used this teaching program to hone his craft and eventually create animated characters for movies in the future.
After graduating in 2005, Bush enrolled in Columbus College of Arts and Design. After studying there for a year, he dedicated his future to majoring in realistic painting and drawing. He entered a national competition and placed second, and was featured in American Artist Watercolor magazine as an emerging artist at age 19.
Because of this recognition, he was invited to exhibit his works at one of the best galleries in Columbus, the Hammond Harkins Gallery. He showed work there for over a decade.
He has also participated in exhibitions in London (BP Portrait Award), Cuba and other countries. In 2014, at the Fort Wayne Museum of Art’s Biennale of Realism, it received the Jury’s Choice Award, and the museum purchased the painting for its permanent collection.
Its collections live in many esteemed art galleries, including the Pizzuti Collections, the Hilton Downtown Columbus Collection, and the Greater Columbus Convention Center Collection.
Bush has also achieved celebrity status. Some notables and celebrities have collected his works, such as Dwayne Wade, Gabrielle Union, former mayor of Columbus and US Representative Tim Ryan.
In 2018, Bush was invited to travel to Cuba to present his work and meet other artists there. The trip was also designed to improve U.S.-Cuba relations and strengthen ties, starting with great works of art from both countries.
“This idea turned into a sincere communication with phone calls and art letters between the artists of the two countries”, says Bush.
He was again invited to an art exhibition in Cuba in 2019 where two of his paintings were displayed in an exhibition for the enjoyment of the whole country.
Bush, better known as Dad, and his young son, Jack, often like to draw simple cartoons and caricatures together, much like Bush did with his father. He said his mother, Shirley, has also been an inspiration and motivation over the years.
Bush said he aspires to open his own art galleries in the Mahoning County area and Columbus, and name them after his father, Mark Bush Sr. He would also like to give back by offering classes of art to budding artists in its galleries. .
His wife, Amber, said she fulfills his passion and is behind him every step of the way. Mark Bush’s works can be found at markbushrealism.com and on Facebook and Twitter.