November 27, 2014

8.30 am. Art/Sound set up. Millet’s The Angelus (1857-9) was the focus of the morning’s lecture. At the close, I played a ‘reconstruction’ of the painting’s implied sonic content: The Acoustic Angelus. 10.00 am. The Thursday stroll to the Old College. A period for adjustment and preparation. Today, the sunshine is at odds with my spirit:


11.00 am. Third year painting tutorials. I feel for the joint-honours students, caught on the twin horns of a double discipline, trying to ‘serve two masters’. The first scent of an end to the term is in the air. It always arrives with the colder weather.

Some observations and principles:

  • At this point in the year, ‘integration’ and ‘consolidation’ are the watch words. This implies, on the one hand, a process of editing out extraneous material and concerns and, on the other hand, amalgamating the best elements.
  • At this point in the semester, the student needs to be thinking in concrete terms about the number, range, and completion of works to be submitted for the January assessment.
  • Presently, for the majority of painters, their most pressing need is neither productivity nor quality but, rather, to fully resolve each work. Psychologically, resolution is that moment when you can finally put down your brush with good conscience. Practically, it is a condition when all the elements of a picture are fully optimised, and nothing more can be either added or taken away without despoiling the whole.
  • Should one submit all the work undertaken for a module at the assessment and feedback tutorial? My view is, yes. The totality of the output is a good indicator of effort and provides the substance of a narrative that the student can tell about progress made over the semester. However, it’s important to segregate the least good from the best work. This demonstrates a capacity for discernment and sound judgement.

1.30 pm. After a lunchtime of admin. catch up, I took a walk across the promenade and through the town in order to clear my head. The cold air invigorates:


2.30 pm.  Further tutorials. The afternoon’s engagements were characterised by a rather philosophical and psycho-analytical approach on my part. Who one teaches determines how one teaches. That, at least, is the ideal. Which is why I don’t espouse any particular teaching methodology … apart from that one.


7.15 pm. Having taken my own advice, yesterday, I solved a fundamental problem that prevented Sindebt from progressing. Three things had been neglected which, when implemented, resolved the structural network for the piece: firstly, the clause in the biblical text that mentioned ‘nailing it to his cross’ (which provides a formal container for the piece), secondly, the letters in the text (which provides an alpha-visual-value code content), and, thirdly, the number of letters, 112 in total (which fit exactly into a cross formation grid):


Sometimes, I wonder if I learn anything.

9.40 pm. Practice session 2. 10.15 pm. ‘The night watch’. On to Matt. 19.18. During his final year of MA Fine Art studies, Steve Chilton worked on a series which he called Musical Veils. The paintings were an analogical response to musical compositions by such as Thomas Tallis, Henryk Górecki, and John Tavener: 

Whilst painting, the music I listen to in the studio becomes embodied in the paintings.  The sound enriches my visual choices in setting a colour response notation.  The sequences of colour applied, then oscillate with the base colour and  I proceed to investigate the transitions of luminosity using translucent hues, each with a different pitch:

 Screen Shot 2014-11-27 at 13.37.55

Tavener described his compositions as ‘icons in sound’. Steve’s aspiration was to compose sound in icons (Gk: eikon = image). At the time, it struck me that the paintings could, in turn, be converted back into sound. I had observed the construction of the works sufficiently closely to, in theory, recreate the accrescence of coloured layers as superimposed sound. For example, Sanctus Light: Requiem (2013) (above) is built up of thin, translucent washes of ultramarine, indanthrene blue, phthalocyanine blue, cobalt blue, purple, violet, and tints of white. All the chromatic colours are in the same quadrant of the colour circle. Musically, it’s the equivalent of scoring a composition using only the range of chromatic notes (including quarter tones) between D# and F#: