8.30 am: Off to School, where Dr Paul Newland (TVFS) presented the day’s Art/Sound lecture on the topic of sound and cinema. 9.10 am: I received a visit from one of our former MA Fine Art students, who’s receiving more job offers than she can cope with (than I can cope with … what with all the references that I’ve had to write for them during this past fortnight.) We produce very capable MA students; they not only have dexterity of practice but also well-honed communication skills, an experience of HE teaching (as both receiver and supervised deliverer), and a knowledge of the theory and history of their discipline. (This set of competences is very rare in today’s art schools.) So, their success comes as no surprise.
10.00 am: A period of undergraduate admin while planning the remainder of the term. 11.10 am: Then, back onto the studio floor for a day of undergraduate painting tutorials. Lauren’s Veil of Veronica (of sorts); eventually, she’ll paint this:
We experimented with the above photograph, shrinking its size in order to observe how the brightest tones were more easily differentiated the smaller the image became. Fascinating!
2.00 am: The new plague has taken out several students today. What a term this has been in that respect. And at this point in the term, I’m running on empty. There’ve been some encouraging developments, especially among the second year students. Their attainment bodes well for their third year of studies.
Towards the close of the afternoon, Frida and I photographed one of her flower studies in colour and black and white. This was in order to both better gauge the tonal content of the painting’s colours, and to determine the feasibility of a monochrome floral painting:
5.15 pm: Close of teaching. Eventide, and home:
6.15 pm: Practise session 1. 7.15 pm: On with more research monitoring naval gazing and rationalisation. The appetite of bureaucracy is never sated. ‘Look forward to the ‘morrow, John!’ A little Elaine Radique to ease my passage until then.
Some principles and observations derived from today’s engagements:
- Technique should not be your foremost concern. Ask yourself: What do I want to do? Then determine how you’re going to do it. At that point, only, should you consider technique.
- The student’s level of conversation during a tutorial is a reasonable indicator of their commitment to, and grasp of, the subject.
- Sometimes the demands of the subject are so lofty that it has to drag us up to it’s height, screaming.
- Whatever made you think art was easy?
- If a topic goes over your head, stand on tiptoe or, better, get yourself a ladder.
- As a teacher, one is destined to fail some of the students some of the time.
- When you work harder, your work gets better. It’s no more complicated than that.
- Criticism can be either appropriate and salutary or misguided and discouraging — either salt or vinegar.
- Therefore, judge whether the critic is competent to criticise. And ask: What does their criticism tell me about them?
- Beware of self justification when making an initial response to criticism. It’s merely a knee-jerk reaction before a more measured, considered, and humble reflection evolves.
- ‘Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you!’ (Luke 6.26).