February 1, 2018

7.00 am: Breakfast:

7.30 am: A communion. 8.15 am: After a brief survey of my gloriously empty inbox (that won’t be for long), I made ready for work. High winds had churned the neighbourhood all night. By the morning, they’d blown away the dark clouds. Now there was a metaphor in the making. 8.30 am: Into the day. I heard bird song in the trees for the first time this year. The season was on the turn. Children straggled reluctantly behind their mums, en route to school — pulled along like iron filings by a magnet. A kite hovered above my head. I sang the doxology beneath my breath:

9.00 am: My day for undergraduate fine art teaching, and the first for students on the Exhibition module. The beginning of the end, as it were. And that end, I’m determined, will be magnificent. I climbed the stairs (the first of many assaults, today) armed with my teaching kit: an iPad (to access images of artworks) and ‘The Black Notebook’ (to record my principles and observations):

I discovered the truth about ‘one-size bigger bras’ for the first time today. A painting student brought in some new acquisitions, which will serve as a still lifes for their exhibition. Raine’s tray: there’s a welter of principles about the spatial properties of colour that could be learned from this:

The weather lurched from hail storms of biblical proportions to resplendent, white, fluffy cumulousness:

12.30 pm: A lunchtime Committee meeting at the town chambers with Dr Forster. 1.30 pm: Homeward, for an afternoon in front of my composition. I was on the last lap. Before laying down my mouse, last night, I’d read over my paper. It helped to remind me of processes and adaptations associated with the deficits of dementia that I’d not yet adapted to any of the other compositions. The title of the present composition is ‘Depth Meshes Horridly’. It’s an anagram of ‘the Lord is my shepherd’ that encapsulates something of the disorientation and incomprehensibility associated with the condition and, in so doing, brings certain characteristics of the composition into sharper focus too. (This, in turn, confirmed the appropriateness of the title.)

3.30 pm: I moved from the study into the studio in order to finalise aspects of the mix. The process took the rest of the afternoon and evening, as each sample was individually remastered and located within the stereo field. The composition now had momentum and bite.

Some principles and observations derived from today’s tutorials:

  • Aim to make works that fulfil both your own needs and the condition of credible and engaging images.
  • You aren’t obliged to act upon your tutor’s suggestions. But you are responsible for evaluating their appropriateness or otherwise.
  • Our relationship to the work is like a conversation with a friend. We may come away knowing more about ourself than about them.
  • Weston-Super-Mare: the tide was ever out, it seemed; the damp sand that remained looked like the underside of my feet after they’d been in the bath for too long.
  • How you paint is far more important than what you paint.
  • The idea that you can make quality paintings of unwavering consistency is wholly unrealistic. Francis Bacon once said that he consigned 90% of his output to the skip.
  • When you paint from life you learn about life.
  • Today, I banned ‘I don’t know’, as a knee-jerk response to my questions. As a result, the students’ replies were much more considered and substantive.
  • You see your work from the inside out; your tutor sees it from the outside in. Two complementary perspectives that aren’t necessarily congruent. It’s up to you to either reconcile or choose between them.
  • What’s missing? What’s not yet exhibition-worthy about the work?
  • If your painting was a sound, what would I be hearing?
  • It’s like constructing a Lego model from very few bricks. Each must be chosen and assembled very deliberately. When working with very few elements in a painting, each has to bear a huge responsibility for the success of the work.
  • Painting as a web of memories.
  • An exhibition as an exposition of your work.
  • Be confident, and make a virtue of the works’ limitations and restrictions.
  • With respect to your work: If you’ve never had a crisis, then you do have a problem.


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