7.45 am: A communion. 8.30 am: We’d had the hardest frost of the winter so far. Roofs, grass, roads, and vehicle windscreens were sugar coated. This is the first day of the season that has felt and looked as it should.
9.00 am: The beginning of a day’s third-year painting tutorials. I struck out with determination and ferocity. These days, I find myself having to affirm (to myself) the possibility of teaching. I can envisage a time when the compact between tutor and tutee will be irrevocably broken. Practical advice was given, intentions challenged, concepts interrogated, and bubbles burst. Art is a serious business, and not for the faint-hearted. Art must be allowed to shape us just as we shape it.
12.00 pm: The sun’s heat had dispelled the icy glaze. Spring felt closer. But we would have to endure strong winds and rain at the weekend, and further dreary weeks of rain and cold, before the transition is complete. Off to the Old College for a single tutorial, before returning to the mothership for lunch over admin at my computer.
2.00 pm: It was an afternoon of puzzling problems for which there were no immediate or evident answers. These are the scenarios that I warm to most. Although, I imagine, the students have a rather different take on the matter. Answers will emerge for those who both remain open to possibilities, and do everything in their power to discover them. ‘Seek and ye shall find’, as it were. It’s a truism: the best students voluntarily and determinately confront the most ambitious and demanding challenges.
5.40 pm: Home. 6.40 pm: Back to the School to attend the opening of an MA ‘pop-up exhibition. 7.30 pm: The weekly round-up and desktop tidy in preparation for a day of research tomorrow.
Some principles and observations derived from today’s engagements:
- Look a little to the left and to the right of where you’re heading with the work. There may be opportunities and solutions running in parallel.
- You have every right to speak. But you must earn the right to be heard.
- Too much of a good thing can be just as ruinous as very little of a bad thing.
- As a tutor, if you can’t leave the student inspired, then leave them with something practical to do, and if you can’t manage that, leave them at least thoughtful.
- You can only know where you’re going when you start out on the journey.
- T: ‘Be both systematic and intuitive. The two approaches are not mutually exclusive’.
- View the painting under a variety of lighting conditions. It should retain its overall tonal unity in any environment. (Assuming it has one.)
- ‘Be not wise in your own conceits.’
- It’s only when you stop trying to make ‘art’ that the work truly takes off.
- T: ‘I’m not asking you to make art with a meaning. Rather, I’m asking you to consider its relationship to something outside of itself.’