My on-line diary began in the 1990's from my studio in the North of England. After a lapse of ten years, I resumed posting from my present studio on the Caribbean island of Dominica.

From the far beginning, the intention has been to give an insight into my working methods, and to share the triumphs, trials and tribulations of work-in-progress.

My diary pages are followed by thousands of artists, art students and art lovers in over 50 countries.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

The Master Class

In the olden days (a term sufficiently vague for my purpose) painters, along with all other artisans, learnt their trade by serving an apprenticeship under an established master.  Sadly this system of teaching has been largely consigned to the history books.

On leaving school at the age of fifteen, I wanted to serve an apprenticeship with a master woodcarver in the next village.   However, in those days a career in woodcarving was not to be encouraged.  I had no option but to follow in my father’s footsteps and served a seven year apprenticeship in engineering.  Be that as it may, the values of an apprenticeship are the same whatever the trade.  I learnt my skill at the workbench and the men in overalls that taught me how to cut a screw thread, also instilled in me a love for poetry and music. 

This leads me to how we go about teaching a new generation of painters and master craftsmen in general.  We no longer have the wealth of masters that we had generations ago.  Degree courses are not the answer: skill comes from practice, not from theory.  I have never attended an art school, but fifty years ago I spent a year painting on the pavements of France and selling work to on-lookers direct from my sketch book.  That practice enabled me to begin earning a living from my art.

At the moment I am being begged to tutor a degree course in the visual arts.  More in my line are the life classes that I occasionally teach from my studio.  Or better still, send aspiring  painters out on the streets with a sketch book as their means of survival.


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