March 2, 2017

8.35 am: Schoolward. Then … There are moments, of no particular importance or feature, that arrest my progress and encourage me to pause and reflect. They come without beckoning or anticipation. On the contrary, I respond to their summons. At such times, the soul converses with itself, knowing that it’s overheard.

9.00 am: Emails dripped into my inbox like rain through a leaky roof. I had half an hour to make a dent in my postgraduate admin before beginning a day of second and third year painting tutorials on site.

Drawing a dancer in motion: the act of simultaneously seeing, remembering, and rendering. Our inner world must connect with the outer world. Cézanne not only translated the world into a visual ‘language’, but also invented the ‘language’ as he did so. What you aren’t and cannot do defines you as precisely as what you are and can. Be content to be you, rather than someone else; don’t envy another artist’s gifts. Follow the example of artists you admire, but don’t ape their solutions. Mature students bring to their studies a developed capacity for hard work, a recognition of the demands of discipline, and great determination. What they struggle to achieve is freedom from the restraints of conservatism (a condition that younger students acquire effortlessly). Accuracy may be defined as the appropriateness of the means to the end (BA Fine Art, tutorial notes from ‘The Black Notebook’ (March 2, 2017) 226–27).

Something is always at stake. Gains in one area of creative development risk losses in another. That’s just as true for the students ensemble as it is for them as individuals. One has always to be vigilant. ‘Strengthen what remains!’ I used my box of Oblique Strategies in teaching for the first time this morning.

But you do know that you don’t know. That’s a start. Paintings can be built in strata; therefore, don’t be afraid to either paint over or painting out a work with another one. There’s a logic within the work that you must comprehend in order to complete it. There’s also a logic between works. Move from description to reason in your auto-articulation of intent. ‘Preserving an image’ through its translation. We must articulate ourselves to ourselves in order to understand what we do. ‘Why? Why? Why?’: At some point, you must render an answer. Clothes dispossessed of their inhabitants. ‘Aphrodite Rising’. Present/presence/pre-sense/pretence (BA Fine Art, tutorial notes from ‘The Black Notebook’ (March 2, 2017) 227).

1.00 pm: A lunchtime Painting Committee at the town Conference Rooms with Dr Forster. The inculcation of an attitude of seriousness — that’s the call of the day. And, there are so many other principles and pedagogical practices that should be introduced into the undergraduate curriculum. 2.00 pm: Back to pacing the studio floor.

Acacia’s washing line:

4.30 pm: At the close of the day’s teaching, I held what may be my first sound-art tutorial in art practice. The student had had an old, tired, and much played upright piano delivered. This will be their object of inquiry until the Exhibition in May. I recalled carrying the innards of a piano down Chepstow Road to my art School at Clarence Place, Newport, during my second year of undergraduate studies in 1979. It fuelled my drawing and painting for three months:

Learning the Piano (1979), pencil on paper

7.30 pm: A final mop-up of the day’s and the week’s admin, and an initial determination of next week’s teaching and admin duties. (‘Remain flexible’, John!) The aim is not only to give due time and energy to these activities but also to carve out meaningful periods for research.



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