October 29, 2015

7.50 am. Diary upload to Twitter and FaceBook and a period of contemplation before heading out towards the Old College to begin a punishing day’s teaching (9.00 am – 6.00 pm, non-stop). 8.50 am: An Autumn storm had hit the promenade with moderate ferocity overnight. Some of the beach was on the pathway, and the toddlers’ paddling pool was filled with sea:

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9.00 am. The first of three third-year fine art tutorials. In the course of one conversation we considered the horizon line (which is conspicuously visible through the windows of the West Classroom) in relation to the sky and sea. At the horizon, they both appear to touch, intimately; and yet these two elements are, in reality far, far apart. This paradox is a metaphor for something that eludes me at present. ‘There Things. Contact Arrange’. Is this a clue?:

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10.40 am. Back at the mothership, I proceeded with second year painting tutorials. Some principles and observations derived from today’s encounters:

  • When a musician practises and muffs a piece, there’s no residue of their lack of competence. The visual artist is often in the unfortunate position of having the bruised fruit of their labours preserved in a tangible form for others to see.
  • Significant changes to one’s practice should be made gradually and progressively, one element at a time. Make too many changes too soon and without sufficient consideration, and you’ll end up with another version of the problem that you were hoping to resolve.
  • Just once, aim to make a bad painting. It’s liberating! And, ironically, it’ll likely turn out to be a good painting, but one made without the anxiety of having to be successful. Now, what does that teach you?
  • Do a risk assessment? If you discover that you aren’t taking risks, you’ve failed it.
  • The A-level doctrine of so-called ‘supporting work’ is devilishly hard to exorcise from students. It’s a pedantic, deterministic, self-serving, dull, and wasteful exercise, which fails to acknowledge that true creativity does not necessarily proceed methodically. Each type of work demands a bespoke mode of preparation. One size does not fit all.
  • Don’t try to envision the finished work.‘Visions’ of the end product tantalize and frustrate us, for rarely do they come with instructions on how to achieve the goal.
  • All things are possible things, but not all things are either necessary or appropriate.

12.50 pm. A hurried, harried lunch before the 1.10 pm Professional Practice lecture Pixels and Pictures (aka Pretzels and Pixies) on the use of digital technology in the artist’s and art historian’s promotional strategy. 2.00 pm. Then, straight into further second year painting tutorials, until 4.50 pm. A Great Tit had breached the School’s hull (as they say in Star Trek). Phil ‘the Porter’ raised the intruder alert and opened wide the window through which the bird had passed, in the hope that it would re-construe the entrance as an exit. No chance:

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I had a brief period of respite and time to prepare for a rather heavy 5.10 pm lecture on Clement Greenberg’s theory of Modernism, for the Abstraction module. The gift of fortitude is a great blessing:

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7.30 pm. An evening of module admin and teaching prep in readiness for Monday: Blackboard uploads; register updates; absentee chases; email dispatches; and PowerPoint revivifying. My website was presently non-contactable. I assumed this was a service provider ‘issue’. (‘Issue’ = a frustrating, an irritating, an inconvenient, and nothing short of a, problem.)

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