November 5, 2015

8.00 am. I reviewed emails and tinkered with my lecture sample PowerPoint before a time of contemplation and searching — inwards and outwards. 8.30 pm. After further work on the sampler, I packed my bags and headed out for the Old College. 9.35 am. The first of the day’s painting tutorials. Together, we looked at images by Jacob van Rusidael, and observed his sometimes eccentric placement of the horizon, low in the landscape. The sky and sea beyond the studio was a presentment of the very same principle. This one is for Fran:


Back at the School, the main studio was eerily quiet. As is my habit, the first action on entering is always to turn on the lights: ‘Vanquish darkness!’ Phil ‘the porter’ is intent on scraping clean the entire area between the main studios, save one tile, by Open Day. Cross him at your peril:


Some principles and observations from today’s discussions:

  • We’re apt to over-burden ourselves with the expectation of consistent success and unremitting improvement in our work. However, in reality, at best, we work — like we live — inconstantly, haltingly, oscillating between virtue and baseness, charity and meanness.
  • Endure boredom nobly.
  • Just because everything in Poundland costs a pound doesn’t mean that everything in painting needs be paint.
  • Exercise: Paint a transcription of another artist’s work. Remaking is just as instructive as making.
  • So often, whether we’re dealing with a landscape, the figure, a still life, an interior, or an abstraction, our paintings of such are also covert self portraits.
  • There comes a point in a tutorial when we need to address the meaning of the work in relation to the bigger picture of our life, belief system, values, and hopes. What is art, if not about these things?
  • If your preparatory work didn’t prepare you to undertake the final work, why did you make it?
  • Each finished painting is the next’s preparatory work.
  • Any creative act necessarily involves the implementation of certain specific skills at the expense of others. We can’t exercise all that we are capable of in any one work.
  • Avoid ‘the flowery way that leads to the broad gate and great fire’ (All’s Well That Ends Well). In painting as in life, choose the challenge, embrace the difficult, stick to the narrow and hard path.
  • Never steal the fruit of another artist’s labour. Always acknowledge your debt.

3.00 pm. A moment’s respite to jot down ideas arising from my exchanges:


3.30 pm. Three to go! My last charge took me to see her prints downstairs in the steerage section of the our liner. There, Mr Croft runs a tight ship. Someone should make a Jim Dinesque drawing or etching based on these:


Joseph Kosuth would have appreciated them. Conceptualism runs deep in this School, it seems. Students who undertake painting and another practice based discipline sometimes need to be reminded that ‘it’s all one’. Ideally, there should be a traffic of ideas from the one to the other. Moreover, a student may have resolved the very problem that they are dealing with in one medium, in the other … but not recognised the fact.

5.10 pm. The final hour; the eleventh Abstraction lecture:


7.45 pm Off to the Arts Centre to see the cinematic interpretation of Macbeth. 10.45 pm. A ‘Night Watch’: time to catch up with what I’d otherwise have done had I not been galavanting about this evening.

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