February 22, 2018

8.00 am: A communion. 8.45 am: I passed the picket line, brazenly. It’s a cold day and they’ve a long vigil ahead. I respect the determination of my colleagues to strike. But each must act according to their conscience. For my part, I consider myself to be a member of the caring professions (along with doctors and nurses). As such, I abrogate my right to take industrial action. I wouldn’t like to think of my own children’s university education being compromised. And, so, I can’t reasonably withhold from the children of other parents (as well as mature students) the same consideration. 9.00 am: A tutorial cancellation opened up a space for admin. (There’s always something waiting in the wings.)

9.30 am: A morning of third-year painting tutorials. Things are beginning to move in small but measurable ways. You can’t force art to either develop or excel. The artist and the artwork grow best together. I’m conscious of feeling the onset of my annual exhibition agitation. I’ll not settle until all the students are up to speed. And students work at different speeds, each according to their aptitude, vision, determination, and appetite for work. My task is to help them realise their potential at this point in their life. Which may be significantly less than their potential in a year’s time.

A bouquet of brushes:

1.00 pm: A tutorial with an earnest second-year dissertation tutee. They’re fascinated by a subject that concluded two decades before they were born, and in a part of the country with which they’ve no association. What draws us to the unknown and unfamiliar? Do we choose the subject or does the subject choose us?

1.30 pm: Homeward for an immediate and light lunch. 2.00 pm: Back to remixing and finalisation, in parallel with teaching prep. Small adjustments were made to the volume of some of the tracks. The only way to do it is play the whole suite again and again until the apparent loudness of the suite appears (it’s very subjective) consistent throughout. 3.15 pm: I ventured outwards and upwards to the campus to conduct my annual ‘Ways of Working with Sound’ workshop, at 4.10 pm, for the PhD Research Training programme. It was held at the new P5 building:

The room had a decent sound system. There were only a small number present, representing Creative Writing, Education, and Television and Film. At that time of the week and day, I was running on empty:

6.00 pm: Homeward. 7.30 pm: I returned to the mix. Judging the optimum volume of a track is, I’ve always found, exceedingly difficult. A + or -3dB adjustment can open or close the sonorities of a composition significantly. I’ve learned a great deal from this process of adjustment during the project. I think I maybe getting better at it.

Some principles and observations derived from today’s engagements:

  • When our whole of life loses its direction we, inevitably, lose the plot in its parts too. However, the reverse is also true. When we begin to take responsibility for the parts, the whole comes together again. Therefore, discover what you’re able to control … and act.
  • T: ‘What makes you want to paint?’
  • T: ‘As your tutor, I may see the potential in the work, but if you can’t too, you’re stuffed’.
  • Honour the subject by the way in which you paint it.
  • Concept: a single subject still life.
  • Artists create a world over which they have full control. It may be the only aspect of their life, sometimes, that’s under their thumb.
  • Shout in one part of the picture and whisper another.
  • Sometimes you have to fall off the table top in order to discover where the edges lies.
  • Painting = finding.
  • An emotional, as distinct from a visual, memory.
  • T: ‘This type of art education is too good to last’.
  • So often, the breakthrough (when many pennies drop all at once) comes at the end of the third year of study. Thus, students have to down their tools just when they’ve mastered them. Which is why MA studies are often as much a matter of necessity as of continuity.
  • You make so that those who can’t may experience making, vicariously, through your endeavour.
  • S: ‘I know, now, that “the man upstairs” has given me this gift; I know, now, what I was put on earth to do’.
  • What does what we’re interested in tell us about who we are?
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