November 19, 2020

8.20 pm: Into town and onto School. (Repetition.) Overcast; wind and rain (again). My day for third year painting tutorials. (Always.)

In the spaces between tutorials, I planned out the week to come. I doubt that any staff member has got used to teaching under these conditions. Nevertheless, we have adjusted our expectations. Face-to-face followed by online followed by face-to-face delivery. It’s always uplifting to see colleagues in the department, if only fleetingly, in three-dimensions. How quickly Thursdays come around.

Students still catch ‘normal’ diseases, such as colds and tummy bugs. That’s rather heartening, in its own way. At least if they’re well enough, but still infectious, we can convene the tutorial online. A smattering of video chats is welcome; they relieve me of the trial of wearing a mask for hours on end. 1.00 pm: Homeward; lunch beckoned.

1.40 pm: Post-lunch. A different type of energy prevails. There was, to begin, time to catch-up on admin (immediate and forthcoming). Preparations for the students’ departure for home were being clarified, day-by-day. We’re looking towards the end of term in ways that are unfamiliar at this time of the year, normally. If we can get to that juncture without too many more infections among students and staff, then our efforts to sustain melded provision, and some semblance of meaningful interaction, will have been a triumph. 2.30 pm: In between tutorials, I looked up images and artists that my morning ‘bunch’ might find helpful to review. The good that one can do as a teacher can’t be confined to the tutorial slot. And illumination arrives at its own behest, rather than according to the timetable, necessarily. Enter the light:

Some principles and observations derived from today’s engagements:

  • In the end, you teach yourself to paint. At best, a teacher can only hope to teach you to teach yourself. Because, in the end, painting — like every other type of creative act — is an intensely personal and private affair.
  • By all means listen to the advice of your peers. But don’t feel obliged to heed it. Test their opinion against your own intuition and experience.
  • ‘I don’t know’; ‘I don’t really know’; ‘maybe’; ‘perhaps’; ‘dunno’. Even if you either currently don’t yet have an opinion or are betwixt points-of-view, then determine to be decisive in the days that follow the tutorial.
  • T: ‘I can take you only as far as you’re willing to discuss the work.’
  • T: ‘Treat yourself as you would a friend in need: practice practical empathy.’
  • T: ‘If painting doesn’t in some measure fulfil you, then, you have failed.’

Signs of the times:

5.15 pm: Homeward (again).

7.30 pm: The Thursday evening round-up: postgraduate admin, further follow-up to today’s tutorials, and register updates for the week.

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November 18, 2020
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