December 1, 2014

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8.45 am. I stood momentarily on the promenade, looking out to sea, and was reminded. 9.00 am.  Old College. I’d re-routed Thursday’s second year painting classes to today. There are reasons to feel encouraged. The students are beginning to discern and answer the questions underlying their work for themselves. There are few things more satisfying, professionally, than discovering your own solutions. Courage is in the air: a will to risk, fall flat on one’s face, pick oneself up, and break free from the shackles of self-imposed conventionality. Such an attitude cannot be imposed externally; it must arise from within.


Some principles and observations:

  • Freedom presupposes authority over one’s means. In this respect, freedom is the fruit of discipline.
  • Failure is the necessary precursor of success. Reckon on it.
  • On occasion, we produce work that surprises or unnerves us. It’s as though someone else had made it. Often, at first, we can’t even judge whether it’s good or bad.
  • You know when you’ve become a painter (and being a painter is always a process of becoming) when you’re more interested in the paint and the act of painting than in what is being painted.
  • Simply enlarging the scale of the surface on which one paints can significantly improve fluency, dexterity, and ease of painting.
  • Buy the best brushes, paints, palette, and supports you can afford. Together, these small investments can lever a huge improvement in the work.


11.45 am. Pre-op consultation at the local hospital. Very thorough. The vein in my arm permitted only a small quantity of blood to be extracted at first. Unusual. This body can be very uncooperative at times.

2.00 pm. An afternoon of further tutorials. A number of students are developing quite sophisticated passages of painting and mature problems to boot. 5.10 pm. Lights out in the main studio. Then … a mysterious semblance appeared in Georgina’s work space. Who would credit it?:


6.15 pm. Practice session 1. 7.00 pm. Rereading draft chapters of an art history PhD thesis in readiness for tomorrow’s tutorial. 9.45 pm. Practice session 2. I need to get to sleep at a reasonable hour tonight.

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December 2, 2014