January 30, 2020

8.00 am: A communion. 8.30 am: To the School for a full day of third-year Exhibition tutorials. The initial discussion aims to establish the nature, tenor, and objectives for those that will follow. Mr Baldwin was carrying, precariously, several towers of shoe boxes up and down the staircase. Either a major Amazon purchase had been delivered or he was setting up a pinhole-camera project for the first year students. One of mine was hanging over their laptop looking anxiously at a concert ticket-sale site that appeared to be selling-out within minutes. (Alas, their vigil was in vain.) I wondered how many university students, nationally, had missed tutorials and lectures for this purpose.

9.00 am: I pushed out from port. I encouraged the students to concentrate as much upon the virtues as upon the weaknesses of their work (both of which had been identified at the last feedback tutorial). Ours strengths may become our weaknesses if we don’t intelligently comprehend them. Likewise, our weaknesses will remain so without due attention. I advised them to dismantle their practice and examine each element in turn before putting it back together. ‘Light’ graced our conversations. I don’t presume on it, and I’m always grateful when it’s bestowed.

12.00 pm: Off to the Old College for my only remote tutorial. It’s heartening to hear a student who’s so ‘into’ their materials and methods. 1.00 pm: Lunch courtesy of Tesco Express, overlaid with a family conversation and admin.

2.00 pm: By the afternoon, my routine had been re-established; I was back in the groove: ‘You do your bit, and I’ll do mine.’ This is the compact. A number of the painting students had switched to professional-standard materials … and it showed. In the course of a tutorial I remembered one of my Foundation tutors, who’d sing ‘Shape, pattern, and tone’ to the tune of the 50s rock n’ roll classic ‘Shake, Rattle, and Roll’. Eccentric, he may have been; but his antics taught me was a lesson about the fundamentals of form that I’ve never forgotten. 3.30 pm: This semester I’ve built-in a 30-minute respite into the afternoon’s proceedings … so that I could gather breath (albeit by undertaking admin).

4.00 pm: The final lap of the afternoon. 5.30 pm: Homeward. The light had passed; darkness and fog prevailed.

Observations and principles derived from today’s engagements:

  • If you suspect that you’ll be 10 minutes late for a tutorial, then, leave your house 10 minutes earlier.
  • Absence makes the heart grow anxious. I can’t abide a quiet studio; I’m comfortable only in the presence of eager workers.
  • T: ‘Catch up! Keep up! Buckle up! Knuckle down!’
  • Don’t wait for the dice to be thrown; move at a pace along the board, square by square, under your own steam.
  • T: ‘The capital of confidence.’
  • High marks are no guarantee that you’ll ever be successful as a professional artist.
  • T: ‘What feedback are you giving yourself?’
  • You don’t need any more information. Rather, you need more application.
  • Energy, commitment, vision, determination, tenacity, perseverance, and enthusiasm contribute far more to success than does natural ability.
  • As a student, I cultivated the attitude: ‘I’m to blame’. Neither my tutors nor my peers nor the resources nor the system of education had ever been the cause of my failure. And, by the same token, none of those things had ever been responsible for my success.

7.45 pm: An evening finalising the week’s teaching admin and beginning a period of second-marking responsibilities.

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