Bully boy

A blank page is more intimidating than one with words.

This evening I have read that van Gogh was intimidated by a blank canvas.

Moan: Why do so many write ‘van Gogh’ as ‘Van Gogh’? It’s incorrect, people. The guy’s first name wasn’t ‘Van’, it was Vincent. His full name was Vincent Willem van Gogh. Go on, look it up. And note my correct use of capitalisation when you do.

I’m not van Gogh, not in any sense, but I am similarly intimidated by a blank canvass – in this instance a blank page.

My assignment (Mr Phelps) is:

In no more than 300 words, write a descriptive analysis of this painting. Pay particular attention to features such as the composition of the pictorial space, to the organisation of form and detail, and to the use of lighting and tone, and say how you think these contribute to the effect of the work.

‘This painting’ is Man Reading by Georg Friedrich Kersting:

I know what I’m supposed to look at, appreciate the distinct areas I should pay attention to.

But it’s the blank page, sitting there, intimidating the life out of me.

I could bow down to the bullying intimidation; could do this assignment in significantly less than 300 words but with very little attention to the areas I’m supposed to dutifully visit.

Words such as ‘cold’, ‘boring’ and ‘lacking heart’ spring to mind.

But I won’t give in, will not let myself be intimidated by the bullying blank sheet of paper.

I’m off to bed though.

Not as an act of procrastination, oh no.

You see, my head’s so full of artistic analysis I need to sleep on it to let my subconscious process it all down in to manageable chunks.

Brian Sewell, you’d better look out!

Oh yes.

But first bed.

And perhaps a chapter from ‘Guerra‘ to help my mind switch off from this high-level concentration.


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87 Responses to Bully boy

  1. Lee says:

    Hi All,

    I’m doing this course too… not sure if it was the right move now… work full time and planned to study on my days off but hasn’t worked out like that yet! So am now trying to do TMA02 right now – have til wed/thurs to send in and am still stuck on the 1st part. My mind goes blank everytime I try and start it. I just can’t work out what to say about the ‘Man Reading’ Any clues anyone?

  2. Birgit says:

    So glad I’ve found this!
    Yep, I’m also trying to knuckle down & get TMA02 done within the next few days, ARGHHH!
    I am enjoying the course but still struggling with the timetable, life just gets in the way sometimes!!!
    Good luck everyone 🙂
    Back to the painting I go…..

  3. Rhoda says:

    Arghhhh!! Im not alone thank goodness!! I am finding the painting really difficult…no matter what I write it looks rubbish…I only have a few more days and Im cramming it all in too…work and my son and life in general has made this much harder…sighs 🙁

  4. Brennig says:

    I was re-reading my Sonnet notes last night, surprisingly I’ve got over the 300-words and that’s even before I’ve turned it in to structured sentences. The painting surprised me too – that when I sat down with the criteria I found so much against each part of the question to burble on about. It looks pretentious rubbish in the light of day but at least it is structured, to the point – doesn’t burble – and seems to be what they’ve asked for.

  5. Birgit says:

    Okay so I’ve to narrow down the words for teh painting, shouldn’t be too difficult! Sonnet next, I’m on a roll now…fingers crossed this sudden splurge of motivation continues!

  6. Jo Ann says:

    Hi all

    And thank the stars!! I had no idea there were so many other people drowning in the cold dark sea that is A103. I’m not having trouble with the content – I love it, the sonnet is wonderfully evocative and the painting looks like my spare room at the moment! – but I work 60 hrs per week and only received my coursework 3 weeks ago due to an OU admin cock-up AND the postal dispute.

    The guidance notes virtually tell you what to write and if you don’t have the Arts Good Study Guide, get it – it’s a lifesaver. I managed to get my copy from a local Oxfam for 80p! If it helps, I tend to just scribble everything that’s in my head and then edit it according to the question and the guidance notes – you’d be amazed how far that gets you without even thinking about it. Good luck everyone.

  7. Caz says:

    So glad to find you all – the forum is so depressing most people have sent their TMA and all they keep talking about is tea/coffee and biscuits and block 2. Do they have lives? Just trying to decipher philosophy today and write the essay and guess what, I’m struggling, just can’t get it at all. Thinking about sending the other 3 and to hell with philo, but no really must say something even if it is wrong I suppose. So feeling like the naughty girl in the class as so far behind. Can we submit the TMA at 11.59pm on Friday? Struggle on all you slackers! And good luck kindred spirits!

  8. pete ariss says:

    Worry not all of you. You will all out perform me as I am convinced my TMA02 is a pile of shite. As for the music, even mCcartney doesnt remember much about it. Good luck

  9. Laura says:

    Well it is all finished and ready to be sent off. My music one looks a bit shite and I really had to condense it. When I checked my word count I was 200 words over nearly. Don’t feel entirely happy with it all but if I dwell on it anymore then it will make me ill so it is getting sent off tonight. Going to reward myself with a large gin and tonic I think 🙂

  10. Ben says:

    Having not yet completed TMA02 and struggling I probably shouldn’t find this site hilarious?
    It is nice to have some like me still but I am persisting to get this done by Friday. I’m at the point where there’s no time for worrying anymore, it’s just sit down, shut-up and write godammit!
    It’s been too long since my brain was pushed like this and I think I’ve learnt to be better prepared on Unit 2.

    Good luck all!

  11. ashlea says:

    I am beginning TMA02 at precisely this moment and I don’t understand painting/’visual art’ at all. tearing my hair out on first question, what are the others going to be like! aaaaaaaaaargh!

  12. Birgit says:

    heeheehee! What a bunch we are eh?!
    I’m just a little stuck on question 2 of part 4…having a few mins break before I get something down on paper! Thankfully I’ve done the rest, just got to type the whole lot up & send….oh yes, there is the small problem of why I can’t seem to save things as a word document…infuriating…must be something very silly I’m doing wrong!
    Good luck & thanks to Brennig for this great place to let off steam!

  13. Greg says:

    Hi all.
    Well, that was pretty tough for the first one, wasn’t it?
    My analysis of the painting was long and rambling and still missed bits out. The sonnet was ok, I think (hope). Don’t even mention the music!! Philosophy…who knows?
    Looking forward to Rome next weekend.
    Good luck everyone.

  14. Zillah says:


    Sorry, am I being completely dense? I can’t find the A103 forum that people have mentioned, what site is the arts cafe on? Also does anyone know if there is a time TMA02 has to be in by on 16th Nov?


  15. Michelle says:

    I think TMA2 must be submitted by midnight on the 16th.

  16. Zillah says:

    Great thanks, every minute will be useful with this one.

  17. kirsten says:

    hello all you fellow last minute types. hurrah! that it’s not just me! have half done tma2 and quite frankly i feel that i have waffled myself so far up my own arse i might never be able to climb out and finish the darn, bloody, bloody last 2 q’s. Arggh! why do we do this people? now i’m gonna have to drive to tutor’s house tomorrow to submit. okay…if i can just sort out my premises from my timbres and my sestets,i might just do it…

  18. Aaron says:

    Sh*t !!! i really cant do this painting, what is the point of this!! its 02:36 am and im still working on it! quess i have failed already! 🙁

  19. kirsten says:

    Hi folks. Well i have just posted my assignment through tutor’s door and what a relief, phew! Think that deserves a few drinks later. It wasn’t actuallt too bad once I got cracking. I think my biggest stumbling block has been believing I am capable of stringing words together. Not that I am saying it will be any good because I went on a bit about bollocks-all, but the act of beginning to write loosened me up to continue. Carpez diem…..or something….Hope you are all feeling the same sense of relief. Hugs.

  20. Neil says:

    phew, i’ve nearly hit the end just checking over it.. 🙂
    was ok when i got going the beatles question 3 is a killer

  21. Farha says:

    I have JUST finished TMA 2. It was so hard. (Emphasis on that word “HARD”) I didn’t know how to attempt the last pit.. Part 4.. completley messed up part 3… Dragged myself through part 2 .. and wrote what i could for 1.. How backwards is that? lol!
    .. I need to sleeeeep! x

  22. Farha says:


  23. pete ariss says:

    I think they should pull down the colosseum and put up a travel lodge.Much more useful

  24. Eddie1946 says:

    Ah, come on, Pete, where’s your soul?

  25. Brennig says:

    In a travelodge?

  26. pete says:

    My soul is in the Travelodge of lost dreams. Next to the chocolate machine.

  27. pete ariss says:

    The Ass’ Tale is fab. I’m sure I watched a similar film last week 🙂

  28. kirsten says:

    Hi folks,
    Well, how did you all get on with results? I got 85 and can’t believe it considering how stressed I was and how close I was to throwing Man Reading out of the psychiatic unit window!
    As for TMA 3…is there any room next to that chocolate machine, Pete?

  29. Moi says:

    Hey Everyone!

    I have withdrawn from the course as i was finding it far too difficult. I will be doing the W100 in February now : )

    I have those four books that were recommended to us and haven’t used them. If anyone needs them just let me know as i don’t know what to do with them now and am sure one of you could make better use of them x

  30. kirsten says:

    Hi Moi, sorry to hear about you leaving the course but good for you that you are preparing to start another-which subject is that?
    I would like to buy your books, please, if poss. Please get in touch with me on my home e-mail:kirsten74@btinternet.com
    Cheers for now, K. x

  31. Nicky says:

    Everyone seems a bit quiet on the Colosseum front…….. Any tips?!? It’s due in on the 7th and I haven’t a clue. So far behind……

  32. pete says:

    Hi Nicky. Just follow the qustion guides. All the info is in Resource book 1 andblock 2 pages 26-42 and 54-61. I found the discussion on Martial very useful on CD3a I think.

  33. pete says:

    e mail me

  34. Nicky says:

    Cheers Pete! Can’t get my DVD’s to work so hoping I haven’t missed much on them. Thanks for your good will – sure ’tis the Season for it!

  35. Moi says:

    Doing Law and Legal Studies in Feb 2008. It is what i wanted to do in the first place but was too late for enrolment so i thought why not take up Humanities, but had to drop it, got far to difficult at an early stage.

  36. Nicky says:

    What’s your email?

  37. Brennig says:

    A public answer to a private email from a non-broadband internet user…

    Should the podcast go in to detailed discussion of OU-related activities, it would be reflected in the podcast notes. I hope that deals with your question?