WFH: DAY 51/LENT 20. 7.45 am: A communion. I felt no better but, importantly, neither did I feel any worse. Paracetamol held the aches in check. Nevertheless, the mild nausea, profound drowsiness, and heaviness persisted. But, I’d got through yesterday’s duties, and I would today’s — at a sensible pace. A day of third-year painting tutorials. The line quality on Teams was variable throughout the day. The wrong kind of weather, no doubt. I was committed to delivering half-length tutorials today, in order to punctuate my activity with intervals of rest and recovery.
11.30 am: I was holding up, and pondering the realisation that you could cover as just much ground in a 15-minute tutorial as one lasting twice that long. However, there was no time for pleasantries; ‘strictly business’. The introductory banter is a necessary lubricant for what follows. It humanises the proceedings. There was evidence of progress (albeit sometimes slow) throughout the cohort. This is the penultimate tutorial before the Easter vacation. In next week’s meeting, I’ll be addressing the students’ strengths and weaknesses, as evidenced in the work produced and attitudes manifest during the period since the last assessment until now.
2.00 pm: Fortified by lunch, I pressed forward. Under normal circumstances, I’d be seeking out my next tutee in the painting studio, while looking in on Dr Forster’s and Mr Webster’s charge, in order to gauge the overall standard of performance at levels 2 and 3. I miss the casual encounters and exchange of ideas with those whom I don’t teach. In the past, some of these encounters have yielded moments of peculiar insight for both participants.
Hail broke through the sunshine, periodically:
Some principles and observations derived from today’s engagements:
- T: ‘If you construct an enigma around the subject of the work, then don’t seek to explain it to your audience. Unsolved mysteries have an abiding power’.
- T: ‘Dali painted a dream world; Magritte painted the waking world, as though it was a dream’.
- T: ‘Each painting you make will present one or more new challenges that, in turn, will require you to adjust your modus operandi. Old solutions simply won’t do. Painting is progressive’.
- T: ‘The paintings are really taking off, because you’re now doing far more with far less, leaving behind the source subject matter, and discovering the logic, language, and independency of the means of representation’.
- T: ‘The pandemic and lockdown can be a significant cause of demotivation, for some. At least, in our field, we’ve something to commit ourselves to — to believe in, and keep us busy, focussed, and outward-looking’.
- T: ‘In matters of size and scale one must proceed empirically. Conjecture can get you only so far; test your hypothesis in practice. Is the scale appropriate for the subject matter, mode of presentation, and the technicalities of how you paint?’
- T: ‘Complexity in a work doesn’t have to be either overbearing or distracting. But it does need to be justified’.
- T: ‘Don’t judge one type of work by the standards of another’.
5.00 pm: Done! I’d made it. 7.30 pm: Art history came into focus. I looked over the PowerPoint for tomorrow’s Art/Sound lecture and reviewed the final draft of BA dissertation submission.