8.15 am: Off to School for my day of third-year teaching. The preparations of the room and equipment take around 15 minutes. I begin early. As the first student enters the room, I like to have poise and focus. When students call-in sick, my mind immediately gravitates to Covid-19. One tends to forget that the other the viruses and bacterial infections common at this time of year haven’t gone away either. 9.00 am: The first of twelve students (potentially), today. They’d each made progress since the last tutorial. I don’t expect them to have implemented my advice, necessarily. Better that they consider it thoughtfully, and reject my suggestions in favour of something far better. The more we get to know one another, the more able I’ll be to tailor my advice to their vision and needs.
‘Good to see you, again! Or, at least what there is to be seen.’ The tutorials begin with a discussion about their wellbeing. It’s at the very least a courtesy. What I see before me are young people getting and keeping it together. But in the background they’re fighting anxiety (as are many of us) and trying to remain hopeful about the future.
2.00 pm: I miss being on the studio floor. My tutorial zone feels like a doctor’s room. This morning, for a brief moment, when Dr Forster was elsewhere, I poked my head into the first floor studio. The faintest echo of normality still lingered. Teaching is far more tiring under these conditions. Periodic breaks, de-masking, drinks, and walks around the outside of the building, are mandatory.
Some observations and principles derived from today’s engagements:
- This module is about practising scales, controlling your hands, and developing an intimate knowledge of the score. It’s not about making images to hang on walls.
- Reality is merely a point of departure. It’s the translation and transformation of such that should be your chief concern. The painting must be allowed to be its own reality: one that’s based upon, but free from the constraints of, the source. The painting is all, in the end.
- Rehearse your ‘orchestra’ section by section (strings, brass, percussion, etc.), before bringing them together to play the music, ensemble. In other words, first divide and deal with the demands of the painting (design, composition, conception, drawing, colour, etc.) before executing the finished piece.
- T: ‘Compromise’ is a word that you and I shall never again mention in this department for the remainder of your studentship.’
- T: ‘The Portfolio module is about exploration; the Exhibition module is about implementation. Don’t confuse those intents.
- T:’ What are you not interested is of signal importance.’
5.15 pm: Home. 7.30 pm: The evening for clearing the desk of the day’s admin, setting out my tutorials for next week, responding to emails arising, finalising registers, and providing guidance.