Hello, my name is Alice White and I have been an Associate Lecturer at Central Saint Martins for over 10 years.
My specialism is taking students who have never held a brush or a pencil before or who are long out of practice, or applying for further study in the arts, from the very basics of understanding the tools and materials associated with these practices, to creating fully formed, well-made artworks suitable to hang on a wall during their short course.
I teach from the nude, both male and female, because I strongly believe that the human form contains all the ‘problems’ you’ll find in any other area of art and design. In this sense, it’s fair to say that my courses are designed to provide an entry-point into any other area of creative study you’d hope to find at Central Saint Martins.
In my classes, I explore mark-making and the line, chiaroscuro, human proportion, the manipulation of oil and acrylic paint, dip-pen and ink techniques, dry drawing techniques, colour theory, composition, collage, plus a bit art history.
Alice White, in the studio
What advice would you give to aspiring creatives?
I’d give the advice given to me: don’t let the blighters get you down. Running a self-motivated practice is a wonderful challenge, but it can be hard working alone for extended periods of time. Everyone is their own harshest judge, so it’s sensible to seek out people whose work (from any field) you respect, and ask for their support. Drawing strength from practitioners in a wide range of disciplines will help keep yourself, and your own working methods, in balance.
How has teaching students at CSM informed your approach to art?
Without my students I could never have been such an effective tutor. Working at CSM helped me to develop a very concrete, clear way of describing what is a essentially a very abstract thing: the practice of art. My students demand patience, precision of language, and a great deal of energy. I consider myself fortunate to have those high demands set for me in my role, as it keeps me aiming upwards and developing ever-increasing skills and awareness for the future.
What is the most important thing that students take away from your course?
My students take away a greater confidence:- both through the practical, technical skills which they acquire on the course, and also in terms of a self-assuredness about their work. I spend a lot of time encouraging my students to explore their own work, the work of famous artists, and their responses to the work created by the rest of the class during our studio sessions. This interaction will be helpful to them whether they go onto study art within the context of a degree or further education, or if they set up their own individual studio practices, because discussing and developing work alongside the constructive critique of other practitioners from the field is so essential. Having confidence in describing and sharing one’s own work also helps on a more individual basis, because it helps maintain one’s awareness of what the artwork ‘is’, and how it operates within the context of contemporary art.
Art is for everyone. Don’t get distracted by worrying about what your last art tutor, or your favourite personal relation, or the so-called ‘art elite’ says your work should be about. Instead, aim to discover what your work COULD be about. That is art.
Alice's work in the upcoming Centenary Exhibition
I'm delighted to be exhibiting in the Centenary Exhibition for the Society of Graphic Fine Art, celebrating the art of drawing. As an Associate Member of the society, I'll be showing four original marine art works in ink, gouache and mixed media. The exhibition opens at the Royal Birmingham Society of Artists from 3-18 May, then continues it's tour to London, where we open at the Bankside Gallery from 5-16 June. All are welcome to attend the Private View on 4 June, from 6pm-8.30pm.