January 30, 2015

8.00 am. I reviewed last night’s incoming emails, completed a little research admin,  and wrote a student reference. 9.10 am. I’m now on Matt. 20.22 of The Floating Bible visual manifestation, with only two more verses to do. Every few minutes, I clicked on a web link in the hope of securing tickets for the first of King Crimson’s UK tour dates. Desperation and defeat — the link leads only to an error page:

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11.30 am. Into the studio for the last day’s painting of YHWH, a concluding layer to Trust in Thy Word (which is now made up of three types of translucent whites) and the start of final mounting:


A slight mishap with a scalpel knife removed the skin at the top of my left forefinger. (He who lives by the scalpel knife shall … .)

1.40 pm. Posted several publicity shots for the exhibition before moving deeper into the menu functions of a Toshiba TV (on which, together with three others) Intercessions will be shown. In comparison to the operation of Mac and PC settings menus, TVs exhibit a sometime imponderable counter-intuitiveness. Should not kindred functions be on one and the same menu, rather than spread over many and disparate?:


3.30 pm. Then, to pour the sound version of The Floating Bible into iTunes (which will be the player for the installation during the exhibition). This must be thoroughly tested too. Nothing can be left to chance or presumed functional — even if every fibre in one’s body believes it will be.

7.00 pm. A twofold enterprise: designing the exhibition boards and setting up the sound equipment for The Floating Bible. I’m endeavouring to upload WAV files into iTunes without significant loss of audio quality. Converting them to Apple’s AIFF Lossless format does the trick:


11.00 pm. Bedtime catch up on the week’s world news.


January 29, 2015

9.00 am. A pre-painting tutorial tutorial with one second year student returning to the medium for the first time since her first year. The way forward always takes into account where we’ve been and where we are. 9.30 am. My own return … to the Old College, for a day of third year painting tutorials:


I always begin semester 2 with anticipation. This is the period of consolidation, refinement, and resolution. In a few weeks, one will be able to smell the adrenalin in the air. A chill wind beats upon the seaward side of the building. I can’t get warm. The drink dispenser on the ground floor was temporarily out of action. This was a disaster. I later consoled myself with a stiff hot chocolate at the Cavern (the Les Quatre Chats of Aberystwyth’s own bohemian quarter).


The emergent pattern for the day. I advised:

  1. each student to rigorously auto-critique their Semester 1 portfolio in order to develop an awareness of their strengths and deficits;
  2. having defined the deficits (methodological, technical, and conceptual), to address each one in turn and determine simple, doable strategy for overcoming them;
  3. to up their professionalism by using the best artists’ materials that they can afford;
  4. to begin conceiving the focus and shape of the exhibition, and a realistic expectation of how many exemplary works can be completed in the time. Better to complete, say, three well-resolved paintings that half a dozen half-baked ones;
  5. to think beyond the end of the third year. Where is all this leading? Where will it all end?

A question to myself: how does one meaningfully integrate group tutorials at this level and stage of development, and what would be their content?

‘The sea billows roll’:


There are few things more more fulfilling as an academic than seeing students learn from their mistakes. Our mistakes are the best, most loyal, and dispassionate of teachers. It takes considerable courage to square with what we cannot do, and great resolve to dust oneself down after a fall and continue walking. Such a response to the inevitable (and sometime necessary and salutary) lessons of life is, to my mind, a greater articulation of strength and personal integrity than the demonstration of consistent, unalloyed success.

4.30 pm. I and Paul C held and introductory discussion with our two, new PhD Fine Art students in Printmaking. 5.30 pm. Close of teaching.

7.30 pm. I dispatched research admin, and returned to writing and designing the information boards for the exhibition.

January 28, 2015

8.00 am. Early-morning admin: emails, registers, and course work uploads. 9.10 am. I returned to the Intercessions work. It requires four monitors displaying independent random sequences of words, for which there are 65,536 possible permutations:

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Processing was slow; there was not a more efficient way to do it. By lunch, all the sequence sets were ready for loading onto the devices.  The quartet of memory sticks were prepared:


1.40 pm. Following lunch, I returned to Image & Superscription, for the last time. I’m getting behind on the painting.Late afternoon, I added a another, much thinner layer of matt black to YHWH. Once the oil sections have dried, I’ll apply the same technique to those parts rendered in water-based medium.

6.20 pm. Practice session 1. 7.30 pm. Further forward with the exegetical writing for the exhibition. The flesh is weak.

January 27, 2015

9.00 am. My first day of teaching in Semester 2, and the first lecture of the last run of VCR1: Chapels in Wales. The class size was as small as those that I experienced when I first began teaching, when the, then, Department of Art was a fraction of its present capacity:


10.00 am. Dispatched emails and second-marked the History of Photography papers, while battling with the office printer (which cannot make up its mind which tray to draw paper from). 11.10 pm. Vocational Practice recommences:


A hearty and mature discussion ensued. The group has a very solid sense of its own identity and the capacity to negotiate the dynamics of debate and dissention maturely. They teach me a great deal.

2.00 pm. An afternoon of MA Fine Art tutorials. I was impressed with the earnestness, evidence of solid work, self-awareness, and honesty that characterised both the students’ paintings and our discussions. Growth as an artist is a perpetual and unnerving rite of passage. The notoriously disorderly arena of painting in one studio space gets joyously worse by the week. To make art one often has to first make a mess. (The earth was from chaos formed):


6.20 pm. Practice session 1. An exploration of different types of plectra.  7.30 pm. I completed the approval form for a new art history module on abstraction. 9.45 pm. Practice session 2. More fun with plectra. My present bedtime book is Brandon LaBelle’s Acoustic Territories (2010).

January 26, 2015

8.00 pm. I completed a reference and endeavoured to finalise the curriculum outline for the new art history module on abstraction, which will be offered in 2015/16. This year, I say goodbye to Contemporary Art 1, Contemporary Art 2, British Landscape, and Chapels in Wales. 9.00 pm. Into the studio and back to micro-masking:


The task took up the remainder of the morning and afternoon..

6.20 pm. Practice session 1. An exploration of the devastating distortion possible with a ‘bit crusher’ effector. 7.30 pm. I continued with the outline of the new Abstraction module. 9.45 pm. Practice session 2.

January 24, 2015

9.15 am. I recommence micro-masking the Image & Superscription panels, and adding layers Trust in Thy Word and YHWH. Ideally, all the paintings need to be resolved by the close of Monday. Then, I can attend to mounting works and preparing The Floating Bible (both the visual and sonic manifestations):


Edgar Froese, the founder of the German electronic group Tangerine Dream, died in Vienna recently. I played the group’s Phaedra (1974). I’ve not listened to it since I was 16 years of age, or recognized how influential it was on the sonic character of Bowie’s Heroes album, released three years later. Afterwards,  I watched a video of two of the most interesting and innovative guitarists around: Fred Frith ands Nel Kline. This type of work builds a sonic sculpture on the plinth of music, as opposed to that of fine art:


1.30 pm. I maintained the morning’s activity. You must learn to be niggled by little things in art. But this should never be an attitude in the broader scheme of life. 4.00 pm. A tea in honour of retiring Bishop Wyn, at Holy Trinity Church. 4.45 pm. Home, and an with preparations for dinner for our two guests.

6.00 pm. An evening with the family.


January 23, 2015

The morning began with an excursion into town and to the School. 9.30 am. I resized Preaching = Painting in the light of yesterday’s unresolvable failure to convert one version of the artwork into an image file. However, the successful file conversion of one  image only is sufficient to articulate the idea. And, sufficiency is preferable to excess. Even if excess, in this case, is only one image more. 10.00 am. Into the studio, and on with layering YHWH, finalising Chi Rho, and beginning the second and last phase of the Image & Superscription series. Small errors are routed:


Strategic and localised remasking is called for:


3.30 pm. In the midst of painting, I fielded ideas, with our Humanities Research Officer, in response to an art-science grant application call. Notions of auditory illusions, mental states, clinical ‘wellness’, and the objective reconstruction of subjective sound phenomenon are in the air.  5.00 pm. The first of the four Image & Superscription panels was completed. I returned, too, to Trust in Thy Word, and applied more layers of emulsion over the physical grid on its surface. The painting isn’t yet sufficiently consolidated, luminous and reflective.

6.30 pm. Practice session 1. An exploration of Pedalboard 1’s sonic potential, one effecter at a time, and then in pairs. I’m getting close to the tonality that is in my mind’s ear. 7.30 pm. I need to nail down the lectures for the Chapels in Wales module (for the last time):


9.45 pm. Practice Session 2. Fun with a ring modulator.

January 22, 2015

8.00 am. I processed the relatively long Matt. 20.21. (The road seems to get steeper towards the end of the race.) 9.20 am. Into the studio to complete the first phase of the final panel for Image & Superscription, push YWYH a few steps further forward, and reconsider the process by which Chi Rho should be executed. This latter work can either be simple/simple or complex/simple.

What kind of music to I listen to when I’m painting? Presently (and ironically, given the nature of my visual work), free jazz, experimental guitar playing, and a broad palette of other forms of non-intentional music and sound. Henry Purcell gets an airing during the evening sessions.

Inevitably, when pushing paint over a broad surface, drips occur. One has to make a decision about their status. Either they’re a fact of the process of painting, and should remain, or else they’re a fly in the ointment that may necessitate overpainting the sullied area. My all time favourite drip (in someone else’s work) graces Rothko’s Black on Maroon (1958). It’s a small incident, but one that asserts the act of painting, the presence of the active artist, and the nature of paint:


11.00 am.  I decided to opt for the complex/simple option with respect to Chi Rho. However, on this occasion, I’ll be filling-in with only one layer of paint in order to animate the surface:


12.00 pm. At the School, I engage a collective rumination with a colleague on methods of converting Excel sheets to pdfs, to jpgs, and then to print. One success, one unaccountable failure. One persists.

2.00 pm. No solution to the Excel issue, still. Paint is a phenomenon unto itself; at one and the sametime compelling, disturbing, and mildly erotic:

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Chi Rho is now well underway, and already has a distinctive identity within the group of painted works.

6.20 pm. Practice session 1. 7.30 pm. On with the writing. The burden of explanation, exposition, and elucidation is tiresome.

January 21, 2015

8.15 am. On with the last five of The Floating Bible verses. I completed Matt. 20.20 by 9.30 am. Today, we assess the MA Fine Art (FT) Portfolio module. The assessment schedule threw up the name of a student who had honourably passed out of the School several years ago. Clearly, my registers are haunted by the ghosts of students past. Hacked away at the administrative undergrowth in before the meat of the day. 10.30 am. The first of three assessments. A rich morning: three distinct personalities, approaches, types of professionalism, and exciting possibilities for the future:


2.00 pm. Other artists’ work seems so much less problematic than one’s own. An illusion, of course. I work with the acute consciousness that something must come to an end, because an end has been reached. It is an end of the nature of a conclusion rather than of an impasse. With it comes a sense of release and unknowing. When you stop doing something, a space opens up. The temptation (one that must be assiduously avoided) is to fill it, immediately:


3.45 pm. I’m ‘experimenting’ with a process of painting that reverses the accepted wisdom of fat over lean, by thinning success layers of paint with turpentine. The impact on the integrity of matt paint (which has very little medium in any case) may be negligible. In so doing, I’m endeavouring to replicate the viscosity of the water-based emulsion and equalise the surface tension across each layer:


6.20 pm. Practice session 1.  7.20 pm. The thinned paint has dried (more or less), and the surface is reasonably even. Short of airbrushing the paint on, this is about as good as you get with turgid, commercial, opaque paint and a decorator’s brush. Back to writing the catalogue.

9.45 pm. Practice session 2. I’m putting Pedalboard 1 through its paces. The board is chiefly a collection of distortion, and a few modulation, pedals:



January 20, 2015

8.30 am. Into the School. The anticipated order of the day had to be changed. Consequently, I had time to begin settling my teaching diary for the semester and the dates for the final delivery of the Chapels in Wales module:


9.45 am. An MA Fine Art tutorial in the context of a productively  messy studio. Painting insists upon its own space:


11.00 am. Sourcing and, then, a return to the relative cleanliness and order of my own studio space (appropriate to the work). I continued with the fourth panel in the Image & Superscription series, added a layer to YHWH, and primed a board in readiness for Chi Rho:


4.20 pm. Like Moses’ bush: the houses burned with fire, and the houses were not consumed:


6.30 pm. Practice session 1. right and left hand coordination exercises. 7.30 pm. Back to writing. There’s an art in knowing just how how much to explain and what must remain obscure.