An afternoon away from the hurly burly of school and being head of year eight. Relatively peaceful. I worked on two plates. One the still life that I printed last week of the Day of the Dead classroom and other bits and pieces. I put another layer of ground on it to rework it further. I also dipped the self portrait print that I had worked on in the classroom when the pupils had been working on their self portraits in their sketchbooks.

I had this brilliant idea to use up a lot of paint and the large card that is under a table at the back of the art room. We were all going to do a self portrait project based on Gormley and Quinn and drawing round ourselves and so on. The idea was that the outline was drawn directly from the body rather than being a depiction in the way that Gormley’s things are directly from him. That was my link anyway in formulating the idea. I thought of Klein and death masks and all sorts as I developed the idea. The first groups on Monday were under enthusiastic though and I gave up the presentation after the yawning and gazing out of the window got on my nerves and we drew a self portrait in our books instead. On Tuesday and Wednesday the groups were more positive and they quite enjoyed themselves with the large scale work and the message will have got round to the Monday groups, probably. Anyway, when the first groups were working in their sketchbooks I modelled concentration and observation and drew out a self portrait on a plate I had ready in the cupboard.

In the workshop I dipped it for a relatively restrained 50 minutes and printed from that. The result is OK – sketchy and relatively under worked compared to most of them. I intend to leave it at that and move on to another one.

Self portrait etching drawn from life Monday 4th October in school.

Looking through the sketchbook I can see that the Whiteread show has had an effect. I was varnishing some collagraphs and ended up varnishing some pages in the book and using scraps of spoilt paper as collage. I found some isometric paper on the desk and started using it to draw on as does Whiteread. I drew some improbable structures in idle moments, enjoying the puzzle like way they come together if you can keep using the isometric framework logically. I could see that the drawings might appeal to the sort of kid who is interested in drawing a s technical thing. I can remember being fascinated by the wonder of perspective and spending hours drawing street scenes and girders coming towards me and rockets going away from me and all that. I was always interested in the minutiae of learning to draw and illusionism is part of being ‘good at drawing’. When you are a kid is it much more? There is a sub-section of ‘being good at cartoons’ I guess. As I drew these improbable forms I realised they looked a lot like the drawings I did some years ago as part of a project based on plugs. All these things looping around and coming back to earlier ideas and connecting to the work of other artists and to learning to draw. I can see these insignificant drawings having these connections to learning to draw, inspired by Whiteread to pick up this isometric paper, linking back to an earlier body of work about plugs which I did with pupils and in my own work, and these link to Whiteread’s switch drawings which I had been unaware of. Complicated. And easily forgotten.
And in a couple of weeks I will have moved on to another mild obsession and these pages stained with the influence of Whiteread will be forgotten. It seems difficult to concentrate on anything for any length of time. This seems to be a feature of the work and the research. I have always been a bit like that any way. Discursive would be kind. Easily distracted more like it. This has helped me be a decent art teacher as my interests and influences are quite wide and I am technically versatile. But the downside is that my work flits about from one idea to another. This isn’t helped by the way it is produced within and around a timetable of hours, fitted into broken up days. We don’t let the kids get really focussed on something for a day or two and we don’t allow ourselves to either as we live these oddly fragmented days. I am beginning to realise that the project is an in depth look at work produced in fragments and I am beginning to see that the work can be left as fragments, left as unfinished ideas or partly done. The big self portrait painting I did as part of the Clemente week hasn’t been touched now for a fortnight or so. The last thing I did was put a bit of shellac into an eye. I don’t think it is going to get any further than it is and I think that is OK. It is what it is. I think that if I go over it or work on it more then I will be working on it with a feeling and interest which has moved on to something else.