Meet the Tutors: David Winning

The second tutor in this series is David Winning. At work in his studio in Chorley, he communicates the sheer joy of “thrashing and splashing around in paint” and the importance of letting go. Now we really see what he means when he exhorts students to “loosen up” in their work ….!

David is a drawing, painting and printmaking tutor and a visual arts assessor for the OCA.

If you’d like to know more about his work and practice, ask a question below.

Meet the OCA tutors: David Winning from Open College of the Arts on Vimeo.

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16 comments for “Meet the Tutors: David Winning

  1. Alison
    9 November 2012 at 11:58 am

    Hi David
    I am very much aware of the tendency to tighten up when it comes to the final assignment, resulting in a rather lifeless drawing. In your painting, what role does drawing play? And what stages do you go through to get to the point where you can bend the rules….?

  2. David
    9 November 2012 at 1:54 pm

    Hi Alison
    What rules? There are none! Art isn’t a science and the most inhibiting approach an aspiring artist can take is to follow “set pieces” or expect to find the illusive magic formula which turns base metal into gold. It’s possible for anyone to be an artist, but things only really start to happen when you roll up your sleeves and and just get on with it. The alchemy only occurs at the point where you’re no longer projecting, focussing on the future – what the finished picture will look like and what others will think of it – but rather becoming absorbed in the process of doing – that unique moment where paint and surface coincide and something totally unexpected happens. At this point I usually abandon any preconceived notions about what I intended to do before I picked up the brush and allow the paint to guide me (sometimes up completely blind alleys) but then I’m happy with that. For me the process of drawing and painting is about exploring and experimenting with ideas and media and looking for ways to express myself – it’s never for me about picture making, though sometimes pictures can be an unexpected by-product.
    It’s a redundant academic debate that’s as old as the hills, but for me in practice there’s little distinction between drawing and painting – when I’m painting I’m thinking in the way I do when I’m drawing and I’m certainly making similar media inspired marks. I take the same exploratory approach to both.
    However, the process, with whatever medium I have to hand, is vital to the creative experience in my work. In connection with any drawing or painting there are always accompanying pieces running in parallel in a different media. So the sequence may begin with an alla prima painting, punctuated by associated work in a different medium on another type of surface. So the two activities become related and interdependent – each informing the other. And the process can become circular, in that I often make further “drawings” from the “paintings” which lead to other paintings which then lead to . . . . An artist’s work is never done!

  3. 9 November 2012 at 6:14 pm

    Very insightful… seeing tutors talking about their own work and inspiration is so intriguing and inspiring.(Don’t know why I used so many ‘in’ words?)

  4. Josie Thomas
    9 November 2012 at 9:17 pm

    This is fabulous! Especially I love David’s facial expression of intense excitement and concentration when he’s actually painting!! When I feel like that, it’s really working – but it’s so rare. I am grossly inhibited by the idea of producing a picture for assessment, and constantly wondering how to “free up”. I love the strength of the dinosaur bone structures and the aliveness of the composition. I’m sure that the experience of seeing so many students take off, gain confidence and become individuals producing unique artworks must give you a lot of confidence in your own creativity. I mean that it’s not a straight choice: either pay the bills OR starve in a garret for your art. It must be very frustrating to squeeze your own work into the corners of time that are left, but how much you must value the time when it comes along. Thanks for these films. They give a very good picture of a personality. My only criticism is: Please could we see more actual pieces of work by our tutors? It’s tantalising spotting bits of things in the background. Josie

  5. Stephanie
    10 November 2012 at 5:44 pm

    Lovely video, insightful and beautifully paced.

  6. 15 November 2012 at 5:22 pm

    Great to see your work David, very inspiring!

    • David
      16 November 2012 at 4:08 pm

      Thanks Charmaine. Looking forward to working with you again on Drawing skills.

  7. Lynn
    15 November 2012 at 8:23 pm

    Lovely video portrait – it fully captures David’s passion for the entire creative process, his positive approach to tutoring and his infectious good humour. I feel very lucky to have been on the receiving end of his wisdom in Printmaking 1 this year. Well done OCA!

    • David
      16 November 2012 at 4:21 pm

      Hi Lynn and thanks for your encouraging comments. But you know what they say – “It takes a good student to bring out the best in their tutor.” However, I’ve got to dash as Mike Leigh’s on the phone (I wish!) 🙂

  8. Alice Cleland
    15 November 2012 at 8:43 pm

    As a retiree returning to study a ‘lost love’ in drawing and painting, I am freed from the necessity of making ends meet from my art. However, it has taken me eighteen months woring on Drawing 1 to start relaxing and really feeling the medium. There is a sensual pleasure in total interaction with the materials one works with which I had never appreciated before. This is evident in your video.
    I am interested in the backdrop to the video i.e. your studio. Do you work on several pieces at a time, leaving and returning to them as you feel inspired?

  9. David
    16 November 2012 at 3:57 pm

    Hi Alice, and thanks for your query. The short answer is, “Yes.” I always have several pieces on the go at the same time. They may, or may not be related, in the same or different media. They are sometimes developments from a current painting/drawing which have suggested themselves during the working process which then temporarily take priority. Quite frequently they are separate sections or panels from the same piece which I feel must evolve together, side by side. They can also be completely unrelated diversions. As you’ll glean from my comment above I find the drawing and painting processes almost indistinguishable in practice, so I’ll often halt one in order to make simultaneous working studies in the other. I also make studies “after the event” from my paintings as I consider the creative process to be essentially circular.

  10. Peter Appleton
    16 November 2012 at 4:57 pm

    Hi all (and David),

    I have just finished an esay on Richard Diebenkorn and sent it off to David for comment. I finished the essay on the following note;

    For him (Richard Diebenkorn)it would seem to be the case that the actual act of painting was the key. To quote from him “ It wasn’t art that I was interested in; it was drawing and painting. I had no real understanding of drawing and painting as art.” This for me sums it up – don’t get tied up trying to produce art just get on with the process of painting the art will take care of itself.

    This for me is the key lesson for us all.


    • David
      17 November 2012 at 12:41 pm

      Thanks for your comments Peter. This quasi-hedonistic philosophy of doing rather than thinking and enjoying the sensuousness and physicality of painting certainly sums it up for me. But it isn’t the only route, and isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. There are artists who approach their practice in a very different way, where for example the finished product is far more important than the process. It would be good to hear form some of the picture makers out there too.

      • Peter Appleton
        18 November 2012 at 11:06 am

        Hi David,
        I understand what you say and why you say it, but it is still true for me that I need to be happy inside with the final picture, be it representational, expressive or more abstract. I produce pictures as well as other types of art, and I don’t see why being absorbed in the act of doing has to be exclusive to one approach. Surely any artist, be they concerned with the final product, or just with the act of painting, has to be concerned with process, and this is evident in big elements of OCA courses concerning techniques! Yes for some artists the act of painting is a means to an end, and for others the doing is the important thing, but don’t tie that into making pictures we all make pictures don’t we? Be they purely representational or be they designed to evoke a reaction in the viewer’s eye. Behind every good artist are hundreds of failed attempts (certainly in my sketch book) and they are part of the act of doing, doing and doing again.

        One stroppy student having his say!!


  11. Tracey Simpson-Akass
    23 November 2012 at 2:14 pm

    Throughly enjoyed your clip, and watching the way you paint. Interesting hearing what you have found inspirational thoughout your career. I do like the idea that you can make further drawings from your paintings and further paintings, developing your work as you go along. Must be very worth while with some pieces.

  12. Phil Goddard
    23 November 2012 at 11:05 pm

    Why couldn’t you have been my Tutor at Secondary School! A great video – more please. Regardless of what you are studying, I am working on Creative Writing Degree, the input from Tutors about their own craft is inspiring and I love the idea of no rules.

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