November 2, 2015

8.00 am. A time for centring, comprehending, anticipation, regret, and resolution. 8.30 am. Finalised the PowerPoint presentation for this afternoon’s Abstraction lecture, checked colour nomenclature for a limited but rationale range of paint hues on the Liquitex site (which I recommend students to buy), and reviewed weekend emails. (I rarely respond to emails over the weekend, unless they’re urgent; to do so would give recipients the impression that I offer a 24/7 service … which I don’t, and won’t.) 9.00 am. On with the weekly adjustment, confirmation, and notification of teaching classes and tutorials, and chasing up absentees and varieties of correspondence to which I’d not yet received replies.

10.00 am. I returned to the sound studio to hear again the new Amen Amen mix that I’d produced on Saturday, and to tweak the clarity of The Family Bible Floats Through the Living Room track (both of which will be included on the new CD). 11.00 am. After making my replies to this morning’s broadcast of emails, I edged forward with my long overdue endeavour (inevitably, something goes to the back of the queue) to complete the photographic record of the three The Pictorial Bible series projects. I’d made a start photographing the third project’s painted works, out-of-doors, yesterday — taking advantage of an even afternoon light. However, there was a small fluctuation of light intensity across some of the images, which proved unacceptable. It’s not that I’m a perfectionist. Far from it. If I were, I’d have painted all the works again. (In my experience, ‘perfectionism’ is used by some artists and writers to excuse themselves from finishing anything — as though this was some kind of virtue.) In the pre-digital days, when the output photograph was a 35 mm transparency, you had to get the colour, tone, light distribution, focus, exposure, and angle of view correct, in camera. Picasso, on one occasion, had 90 photographs taken of each of his works, from which he picked the defining one.


John Harvey, Chi Rho (Christogram) (2015)

Today, Photoshop can correct a multitude of anomalies. On, then, with rectifying pretty much every parameter of the source photograph. It may sound too obvious to mention, but it’s worth having the actual work to hand as you proceed. 12.40 pm. Further emailation.

1.40 pm. Out into the sort of day that brings forth the best in the town. I can imagine how Ben Nicolson would have drawn the scene:


2.10 pm. Prior to the commencing the Abstraction lecture, a student representative from the Tell Us Now campaign canvassed my class with a questionnaire regarding the content and running of the module:


3.20 pm. Back at homebase, I finalised module admin before taking up a PhD Fine Art draft text for a close and annotated review:

Screen Shot 2015-11-02 at 16.11.16

At over 6,000 words in length, my reading and commentary on the submission was a necessarily slow process. In this instance, the engagement was a pleasure. My critique (note, not ‘feedback’) either pushed the writer’s ideas further, or pressed home a point, or sought amplification. ‘Feedback’ is not a term that I much value; it’s merely means passing information back to someone about their performance. ‘Critique’, by contrast, is a disciplined and systematic analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of their endeavours. It’s become something of a dirty word that sounds too much like ‘criticism’ for comfort, perhaps. However, like ‘critique’, ‘criticism’ is not principally a pejorative term expressing disdain, censure, disapproval, and fault finding. (Although it can mean these things.) It, too, is about balanced, rational, justifiable judgement and a reasoned discernment of what is good and bad about a person’s efforts. Granted, it’s sometimes painful to hear an unpalatable truth about something that you’ve laboured to produce to the best of your abilities. But you’ll learn more from that than from any pussyfooting, soft-gloved, faint praise you may receive. ‘The wounds of a friend are faithful’ (Proverbs 27.6). Today, I can self-flagellate with the same unrestrained zeal as I received at the mouth of my teachers.

6.30 pm. Practice session 1. 7.30 pm. I concluded the critique. Back, then, into the sound studio, to listen again to my tweaks of The family Bible track. Critique: this was now the best it could be. Not perfect. But, then again, I’ve never striven for that. 9.45 pm. Practice session 2.

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