Saturday 11 June 2016

Grinding Gears

[Later - at Circle Partner A's request I have removed her work. I'm sorry she has asked me to do this, but am happy to oblige]


These are A's April additions to my Sketchbook Circle sketchbook. It's clear that we're operating on different tracks. She's told me that she prefers not to work into my pages, which I'm OK with, and from that I assume she'd prefer me not to work into her pages. I'm afraid that probably means she's not too happy with my work on those pages, but it's too late to do anything about that now.

[I have, however, now removed all but one of those pages from the blog]

A is of the opinion that working into pages would be like "talking over" me, whereas I feel that it becomes more a work of collaboration, an image that couldn't exist without the input of two people.

She goes along with the currently prevailing idea that students should be allowed to develop their own ideas without interference from the tutor. I ran into this concept at university and found it terribly frustrating. There were times when I would have been thrilled to have a tutor suggest a way forward rather than being constantly asked "Well, what do you think?" I always think, but sometimes thinking needs a nudge. I never got one.

The argument behind this hands-off approach by teachers is that they don't want to produce students who are carbon copies of themselves. In the past this rejected method produced two types of student, at least amongst those with real talent: those who took the style of their teacher and went on to develop and reinvigorate it, and those who rejected it and in doing so, went on to produce something fresh and new. Both of these types benefited from being given a working language to start with.

What I find most difficult about A's additions (and here I must emphasise that I don't dislike them) is that if they are the result of a visual conversation between us, what is she saying to me? How do they relate to my pages? Maybe it's a little too cerebral for me. Still, I'll keep on keeping on.

Sunday 5 June 2016

Sketch Crawl #10 : Customs House, South Shields

The Steamboat, Mill Dam, South Shields
(various markers in A4 sketchbook)

Brick Pillar, Mill Dam, South Shields
(markers in A4 sketchbook)

We'd been putting off our visit to the Customs House in South Shields until we could count on better weather. How much experience of British weather does that display? To be fair, although the day started a bit grey and damp, the sun was starting to break through as we made our separate ways to the banks of the Tyne yesterday. But the wind! Oh the wind! Blasting in from the North Sea and off the river, the wind made finding shelter a real necessity if you didn't want to freeze.

Mike had made a good start when I got there, by drawing a complicated Victorian building that Richard identified as the old River Police Station. It was, as he obviously enjoyed telling us, the place where corpses were once laid out after being fished out of the Tyne. Fascinating though this might be, the building was nevertheless a busy concoction of  brick and sandstone Neo-Classicism, so I headed of for something more basic.

My first choice was the brick pillar standing opposite the Customs House. I still can't decide if it was built as a chimney or as a brick tower or pillar, perhaps supporting a navigation light. Built of rendered brick it just stands there, uncelebrated, except by pigeons courting on the top.

In the shelter of a brick wall, I was able to stand in comfort and draw the entrance to The Steamboat, "CAMRA Real Ale Pub of 2015". Interrupted only by a young woman who walked past me up and down the hill four or five times glued to her mobile phone, telling the world and her friend about how awful her boyfriend was and what he'd done on Facebook, I got the drawing done in about an hour. And my only regret is that due to seriously mismanaging the dimensions of the front wall, I had to reduce the number of windows from three to two. But as my Mum would have said, a man on a galloping horse would never notice.

3.30 and coffee in the Customs House cafe called. By the time I got there, some were already sitting and Anita was being indecisive. Cake or scone? Or maybe a panini? Or what was that other thing on the menu? 

Eventually we all sat down and after eating and drinking, we passed our work around. As usual it was all fascinating and Kim kindly allowed me to include this photo of everyone holding up sketchbooks. Well, everyone except me, which probably accounts for my glum look. If you look carefully, you can see I'm eyeing up the lonely book at the front of the table (Jenny has mine).

Anita, Mike, Me, Richard, Allan and Jenny
with Kim behind the camera.

Next Sketch Crawl : 9 July 2016, 1.00pm at the Ouseburn Farm.