December 10, 2020

7.30 am: The end of first light:

8.00 am: A communion. 8.45 am: Preparations for the day ahead: Chiefly, the final set of third-year painting tutorials. Occasionally there’re moments in the online proceedings when a student goes quiet and still, as though reflecting on some dullard comment that I’d made. Then, I realise, their webcast has frozen. When I freeze, I look intimidatingly stern. (Poor them!) Today, we, together, looked over the totality of the student’s output produced for the module from week 1 to the present. Many of my charge have come on a very long journey. ‘I never would’ve believed that I was capable of this’, one remarked. ‘And you wouldn’t believe me if I told you what you’ll have achieved by the end of the Exhibition module, next semester, either’, I added.

I’ve never had a cohort of students be so modest about their achievements. But they do need to feel able to speak of its virtue as well as the deficits. A sober estimation in all things. I’d a 12.30 pm cancellation, and invested the half-an-hour in a brisk walk around the back streets of this part of the town (which is the equivalent of the Latin Quarter of Paris — where many of that city’s students live). Their absence is, now, conspicuous in these parts. Some of my own tutees are presently in transit. The preparations for going home, one of them this week confided, had been about as stressful as arranging a long summer holiday in a foreign clime.

The place where I ‘saw’ my father:

1.30 pm: Procurement. 2.00 pm: I pressed on with admin in the gaps between tutorials. ‘Face-down the irksome and dreary jobs before the Christmas vacation, John!’ ‘Sometimes a light surprises’:

5.00 pm: Tutorials over. This job done.

Observations and principles derived from today’s engagements:

  • S: ‘I’ve learned to question myself far more, and with far more detachment and confidence too. I’m also putting far more time and effort into each work I produce.’
  • T: ‘The work will mature only after you do. Who you are and what you do are joined at the hip.’
  • Influence is essential. It makes up for what is missing in your work: stylistic traits, ways of working, and ideas. Gradually, as you fill those gaps with your own identity and operations, those influences will fall away.
  • T: ‘Don’t compare your work with that of an established artist. Ask yourself, rather, “What was the quality and consistency of their work when they were concluding their BA studies.” Compare like with like, in other words.’
  • T: ‘At this stage in your development, discovery is more important than productivity.’
  • T: ‘Complementary and contradictory aren’t synonymous concepts.’
  • If you don’t do the ground work, then, you won’t reap the harvest.
  • A marker of maturity: the ability to, independently, discern the wheat from the chaff in one’s own work.
  • There’s such a things as a limited proportionality within a work. Like a limited palette — which is made up of a few ‘parent’ colours that form the the basis of many ‘offspring’ colours — a limited proportionality imposes upon the painting a restricted range of heights, widths, depths, and angular dynamics, from which all its other dimensional permutations are derived.

7.30 pm: The Thursday evening round up, as well as dealing with some pressing departmental research admin, a flurry on incoming emails about anything and everything, and futurological concerns. I’m intent on putting as much of this to bed as I can before my annual leave begins on Monday.

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