February 23, 2017

8.30 am: ‘Shake, rattle, and roll’! The milder temper of Storm Doris buffeted the house, flexed the window panes, and rocked the trees, as it had done throughout the night. 8.55 am: Off to School for an MA fine art tutorial with one of Dr Webster’s students. This semester, I’m trying to see all those whom I don’t ordinarily teach, in order to get a sense of not only their individual experience but also the general tenor of this year’s MA contingent.

10.00 am: The studio lanterns shuddered as I began a day of second and third year painting tutorials. In the past, strong winds have forced us to abandon ship:

Avoid measuring yourself against artists who may possess thirty years more experience than do you. Their beginnings were faltering, just like yours. Develop a game plan (a set of rules) for painting — permissions and restrictions (what can and can’t take place). That is the nature of discipline. Depth of understanding is of far greater value than quantity of output. Don’t short-circuit the creative process; take it step-by-step. (You can’t jump the river in one leap.) The wind in the trees sounds like an incoming tide moving over the shale. ‘Chip tricks’ to attract seagulls. Don’t be intimated by the prospect of exhibiting. You’ll produce a good work, only to follow it by a dreadful one. That’s the way it goes. When do the titles occur to you? The tyranny of the best piece you’ve every made. Do you need to be concerned about what the public think? Does it help … really? The pleasure of work is our consolation (BA painting, tutorial notes from ‘The Black Notebook’ (February 23, 2017), 222–23.)

1.00 pm: En route home > found object:

1.50 pm: On my return to he School of Art >

The storm had abated, but threatened still.

2.00 pm: Dr Forster had conducted a Haiku-based painting project during the morning’s painting workshop, based on the students’ experiences of the day up until that point. The exercise had, for some, opened up new possibilities and awarenesses:

3.00 pm: The vestigial signs of Japanese-inspired cogitation were evident throughout the life study studio. Shore/board:

5.20 pm: Job done! Ideally, I’d like to spend a whole week with everyone of my fine art tutees. That isn’t going to happen. In the old l’atelier system of training, the apprentices and the master would work alongside and observe one another in the same context. The former were educated as much by osmosis as by direct instruction. My ambition for each of my charge this week has been, to the best of my ability, to:

leave them with something good
show them something new
expose their bad habits
either undo uncertainty or introduce uncertainty
chivvy, provoke, and tease (as appropriate)
persuade them of a mystery that is greater than either of us

7.30 pm: As is the custom, the evening of the week’s final day of teaching was set aside to register submissions, absentee chase-ups, tutorial allocations for next week, and, tonight, administrations in readiness for a PhD Fine Art e-viva voce next week. ‘Hello, Vancouver! Can you hear me?’


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