February 26, 2015

8.15 am. Through the streets, through the rain and chilled air, under a deadening sky, to the School. 9.00 am. In the Chapels in Wales class we explored the requirements of the assessed elements. It’s a somewhat tedious and perfunctory excursion, but necessary nonetheless. 10.15 am. I’m the first School of Art immigrant to arrive at the Old College:


When I was an undergraduate, I lived in a hall of residence where the cleaners insisted that you were out of your room by 8.30 am on a weekday. As such, I was at the bus stop and en route to my art school, a few miles away, shortly afterwards. By 9.00 am, I was standing before my easel. I’ve come to appreciate that enforced discipline. In those days, the studios were always occupied. Everyone came in to work, most of the time. I miss that society of artists working in close proximity. It felt like a Guild:


Some principles and observations:

  • Some forms of painting are like improvised jazz — you don’t know what you’re going to play until you put the horn to our mouth: You’ll only know when you blow, as it were.
  • If you lose several days work through ill health (and who doesn’t), it’s not the end of the world. Sometimes not working for a period can be immensely productive. This is something of which you become aware only when you return to work. One cannot overestimate the benefits of rest. Love yourself. Honour your body and mind as though they belonged to someone else.
  • Our physical and psychological infirmities shape who we are. They have more influence, for good, on the development of character than unremitting good health ever will. The history of art rings loud with the testimony of artists who achieved great things in spite of (and, I would venture, also, because of) the battles that they fought with their body, mind, and soul.
  • The student is not the boss; the tutor is not the boss; the work is the boss. Listen to the boss!

12.15 pm. Water is now dripping through the roof of the small studio on the third floor of the Old College. An emergency call to the duty porter was required. Apparently, the exterior gutters are now so full of old leaves and other muck that the rain water has nowhere else to go than into the walls. The floor above is sodden:


12.30 pm. An unexpected tutee. But I had a cancellation, and could accommodate. I talked to them about their seascapes while looking out at the sea and the sun-bleached breakers from the studio window. There can be few art schools in Britain where this scenario is possible. Truly wonderful!:


1.00 pm. No more rubbish lunches. A café, close by, does a small, cheap, and tasty lasagne and salad. This is the New Me! 1.30 pm. Admin catch up.

2.00 pm. I conducted several further one-to-one tutorials before returning to the School around 4.00 pm to respond to mail, adjust itineraries, post notifications, and take time to wander around the School to see what my colleagues were teaching. (I should do this more often.)

7.30 pm. I prepared a PowerPoint for a workshop on stretching canvas. What began as a straightforward proposition turned into an intriguing journey through the history of the material, and the bewildering variety of ways to botch or otherwise over-egg the procedure. 9.40 Practise session 2.

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