October 24, 2019

7.30 pm: I cleared the drainer and prepared for breakfast:

8.15 pm: Off to School via Tesco Express, where one of our former MA students works. It’s a joy to know some that they’ve not all flown the nest quite yet. 8.45 am: I set up for the morning’s lecture on Abstraction. Today, we dived deep into Abstract Expressionism and American politics from the 1920s to 60s. Quite a mouthful to digest at that time of the day:

10.15 am: I began a full day of third-year painting tutorials. ‘How can you teach from 9.00 to 5.30 without a break?, a student asked. I didn’t know how to answer them. Perhaps that’s because I don’t know how I do it. But I do know that I couldn’t do it everyday.

1.00 pm: On, then, with the second Abstraction lecture of the day. Sometimes, I can think that I can feel the students learning. A spirit of attentiveness graces the lecture theatre, one which persuades us that the topic of our study is worthy of consideration, and that we each might leave the lecture changed in some small measure:

2.00 pm: Admin over a sandwich and a cuppa. 2.30 pm: From then until 5.30 pm, I continued through my list of tutees. Some are on the cusp of a realisation; others are still moving towards the ‘Promised Land’. But I’m entirely optimistic that, in time, all will pass the finishing line.

5.45 pm: Home:

7.30 pm: The final mop-up of teaching and admin for the week: podcast and PowerPoint upload, email resolutions, teaching arrangements, and diary entrees.

Some principles and observations derived from today’s engagements:

  • T: ‘You, not I, are doing the module.’
  • It’s a conversation between the idea and the process of making. Neither has dominance; both must be responsive to the other.
  • T: ‘I can see confidence leaking out of your shoes.’
  • T: ‘There is a whisper in the work that must become a shout.’
  • T: ‘My role is not to solve your problems but, rather, to teach you how to solve your problems.’
  • Painting doesn’t have to be fun, but it does need to be fulfilling.
  • T: ‘Your experience of failure, discouragement, and frustration is felt by many of your peers. Consider it normal, therefore.’
  • T: ‘You can paint whatever you want; indeed, you must do – there’s no option if you’re going to work with integrity and commitment. All that I ask is that whatever you do, you do with all your might and with an eye to quality.’
  • The penny will drop when the penny will drop. Be patient!
  • You must address questions to your work. But remember, the work is not obliged to give you an answer immediately. Be patient!
  • Being a joint-honours students is like being a schizophrenic whose personalities are both in play at the same time.
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