Art students need real skills

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I WAS interested to read the article about the demise of painting (News, 14 July). It was refreshing to hear support for a neglected art form, particularly from an artist of the calibre of Ken ­Currie. He knows exactly what he is talking about.

Many of us fondly remember wonderful tutors at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art: Bill Cadenhead, Peter Collins and Alberto Morrocco to name but a few. Bill’s relaxed charm in the analytical drawing classes carefully nurtured and developed the individual qualities of each student. Peter’s sound advice and knowledge on the finer points of glazing would be a complete mystery to present-day students. Alberto’s portrait demonstration to a packed lecture hall was a wonderful, flamboyant display of consummate skill. In the anatomy class our tutor Jimmy Duff could name each bone, muscle and sinew as he drew a full figure freehand, from memory.

Skills like visual analysis, hand-eye co-ordination, manual dexterity and colour judgment are no longer valued. Such formidable intellectual demands need no supporting academic explanation or pretentious theorising, just sustained hard graft. As Ken says, an artist’s visual language and voice will, in time, come from within, not from “referencing” the work of others. I urge present-day art students, who feel short-changed, to demand quality tuition, dare I say instruction, from seasoned practitioners, not academic theorists who have never handled a paintbrush.

George Herraghty (former lecturer in Fine Art, Moray School of Art), Lhanbryde, Moray

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