February 21, 2019

For who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God (1 Corinthians 2.11).

8.00 am: A communion: At times, people of faith are apt to interpret the events of their lives as though they knew God’s mind. The thought that the calamities which befall them may be meaninglessness is unbearable. Thus, they desperately contrive significances, patterns, rationales in order to make the appalling appear more palatable.

But we should never allow ourselves to believe that our thoughts necessarily bear any relationship to reality. They’re no more than conjecture and speculation at best. God cannot be second-guessed. He knows our thoughts (thankfully), but we cannot know his. God is inscrutable: his ‘ways are passed finding out’. Nevertheless, we believe that God always acts in a manner that’s consistent with his character, and in full cognisance of both our frailty and circumstances. ‘Even the very hairs on your head are numbered.’ These convictions may not explain, but they do underpin and support us in, our predicaments. And there’s a consolation to be had in that.

8.40 am: off to the Old College. High-tide:

9.00 am: The first of two PhD fine art tutorials was held in yesterday’s watering-hole. It’s useful to vary the context of engagement. Change enlivens.

11.30 am: Back at the mothership, I began my day of third-year painting tutorials. The pace is ratcheted-up.

Some principles and observations derived from today’s engagements:

  • Determine the problem; define the solution.
  • Authenticity – articulated unobtrusively, unself-regardingly, in silence.
  • Creating visual excitement is easy and, therefore, trivial.
  • To paint an object authentically, it must first pass through you (your eyes, mind, heart, history, and experience).
  • Painting is about a relationship: love and hate, estrangement and reconciliation, commitment and loyalty.
  • T: ‘What does the concept of “finished” mean to you, and in terms of this particular work?’
  • Painting is not only what you do at the end of the brush, but also the pacing, thinking, arranging, conversing, and disrupting that takes place before, during, and after the act. Before all else, painting is an attitude to life.
  • You, rather, than the work, may be the problem.
  • These are the priorities, and in this order: Quality; what’s best for work; and what’s most appropriate for you. In other words, never make your own convenience and comfort a deciding factor in the creative process.

Let fine art students: make mistakes; flounder; be cast upon their own devices; fall into their own/the tutor’s trap, and get out by themselves; experience the distress of impending disaster, the futility of trying, and the emptiness of success; feel forsaken by their talents; know discouragement and misunderstanding; lose all direction and confidence; work relentlessly; and suffer crippling exhaustion. Then only might they prove to themselves that they possess what it takes to survive as artists after their degree.

5.30 pm: An end, and homeward. The lighter evenings are welcome. What a glorious place in which to live.

7.30 pm: An evening of admin clear-up, so that I could return to the studio tomorrow with this week’s dirty linen washed and ironed.

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