3.00 am: I’ve woken up at this time of the morning for the last three days. As I tried to still my mind in a bid to slip back into slumber, an image pressed itself upon me. I was standing on an empty road; it inclined downhill and stretched beyond my field of vision. To its right was a very tall wall made of smooth concrete, the colour of pink plaster – unassailable. Above, behind, and along it, I saw the tops of telegraph poles. I wanted to scale the wall and get to the other side. But I didn’t know what was behind it, or why I sought to get there. I said to myself: ‘I can either stand here and look up at it, hopelessly, or else walk the length of the wall, trusting that I’ll find an entrance’.
7.00 am: I awoke again, more tired than I’d been at 3.00 am. 8.00 am: A communion. 8.30 am: Off to School. 8.45 am: The lecturing kit was assembled. (The Star Trek memory stick is optional.):
9.00 am: Third year painters were my priority today. Other tasks would be in orbit. Seasonal colds caught my first tutee off guard. But there’s always something to do when an unplanned space in my timetable arises. 11.30 pm: My new cables had arrived. I could hardly contain myself:
A rare trip to Mr Garrett’s workshop for a mole wrench (which men of a certain age will know of). None to be found. A plyers instead, then. I adore boxes of screws. Order, categorisation, index:
12.10 pm: Abstraction, two lectures, end to end. Today we were on more conventional territory. The way art always goes forward while glancing backwards is constantly fascinating.
2.15 pm: My final tutorial of the day, with an abstract painter, appropriately. 3.00 pm: A little uploading, a little tutorial management, a little folding of hands. 4.00 pm: Off to the Opening of the Outside In exhibition (which included an old ‘friend’ of mine on the wall, who’d somehow got archived with the Turner watercolours in the School’s collection), and Frances Woodley’s (one of my PhD Fine Art tutees) Speak to Me: Conversations with the still-life tradition. Both were excellent and peculiarly relevant to current student interests and study:
5.30 pm: I was knackered (pardoning the expression). Homeward … now ghosting:
7.00 pm: My other life – Holy Trinity Church Committee, with the new Vicar and in a new Vicarage:
Some principles and observations derived from today’s engagements:
- Don’t try to be the artists you admire. That’s a form of identity theft.
- The more like them you become, the less like yourself you’ll be.
- Ensure that your inspirations are worthy of you. Pinterest has no quality filter. But you must.
- By the close of this semester, I want you consider paint to be as much the subject of the work as what you represent.
- Van Gogh focussed as much attention on designing the corners of his paintings and he did anything within the central field of attention. In a painting, the artist is responsible for everything.
- Representational painters should look at cinema. It can be as important a resource as art history in some cases.
- You can’t make painting without looking at other artists’ painting. Don’t work in a vacuum.
- Make less do more.
- Art may interpret art, but in a way that’s distinct from art-historical inquiry.
- One has to be dispassionate, ruthless, and self-denying when making decisions about which path to follow, in art as in life.