March 9, 2017

8.30 am: At this time in the morning, I often meet with the same people walking to wherever they’re going: grandparents taking their offspring’s offspring to school, academics and library staff beginning their climb up the hill, and dazed students waking even as they walk to a 9.00 am class. 8.45 am: Postgraduate admin et al. A stress point in developing: being defined as a conflict of deadlines and competing necessities all within a relatively narrow timeframe. ‘Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof’. The wisdom is applicable to each hour of each day too.

9.30 am: My day of second and third year painting tutorials began. ‘Seek the small wonders’, John!, the voice said. For Alan:

Avoid making explicit interpretations of your work when none are called for. Dealing with the effects stress is far harder than dealing with the causes of it. We may do our best, yet suspect that our best is not good enough. ‘Economy, austerity, awareness, deliberateness’. What we wear when we paint is not incidental. When we prepare our studio space prior to work, we are also preparing our minds. Simplicity = a lack of excess. Remember: the artwork may embody ideals and principles that could usefully permeate the rest of your life. Your practice is an index to your worldview and values. Now, that is what I mean by ‘expression’. To make art is to act in the world, with all the weight of responsibility that this implies. There are four moveables, principally: subject, conception, materiality, and technique. With each successive work, change only one of them (if necessary). And, as importantly, evaluate the difference that the change has made (BA Fine Art, tutorial notes from ‘The Black Notebook’ (March 9, 2017) 231–32).

1.00 pm: Full house for the morning. This isn’t unusual.

2.00 pm: Full house this afternoon too:

But what’s good about the picture?’ If one area of the work is a continuing source of frustration, then turn to another — one that you feel able to complete. ‘Are you doing the right thing in the right way?’ Learn to cut your loses. Abandoning a work can be a elegant expression of professional wisdom. Sometimes, visiting galleries to encounter other artists’ work is of greater profit than continuing to battle fruitlessly with your own. What do you see when you paint? Seeing may be either mindless or intelligent. Academic exercises are useless unless they’re applied meaningfully in the context of your work. A painting is interesting not because of the subject matter but, rather, the way it’s painted. Don’t force the work to accord with your original intention if it offers a better alternative. All you have to do is fill in the white bits. ‘See it as a structure rather than as a face’. A painting based upon, as opposed to emulating, reality (BA Fine Art, tutorial notes from ‘The Black Notebook’ (March 9, 2017) 232).

3.55 pm: Mysterious semblance on the staircase:

In the School’s Cutting Edge: The British Print from Hayter to Hockney 1960 to 1980 exhibition, there’s an artwork by Keith Richardson-Jones (1925–2005), one of my undergraduate tutors. In my first year of studies, he drove me and two other students from Newport to Brighton in a rickety Peugeot to attend a conference on Constructivism and Systems art called ‘Rationale Practice’. That was a baptism of fire. But it was also one of the most formative experiences of my training. (Although, I wasn’t aware of that at the time.) Confronting ‘KRJ’, again:

4.00 pm: The final tutorial of the day was with one of our finalising PhD Fine Art students — one of three in this position.

7.00 pm: An evening at the Arts Centre watching the NTL performance of Ibsen’s Hedda Gabler. Magnificent!

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