Parallel Project: Initial ideas


Post 1 – initial ideas

Initial ideas – July 2016

“Art is about exploration and asking questions, not about supplying answers.”

The first ideas for my parallel project initially came from a comment made by the tutor during Part 1 of the course. In a list of questions which he put to me about exploring composition, one stood out. It was “Is the subject of your drawing important enough?” This question of the subject matter of an art work and its validity continued to challenge me in my own work and was further developed during an online conversation on the OCA Forum by another tutor in a conversation about ‘validation’. His comments were, “…art is about exploration and asking questions, not supplying answers.”

The concept of art being about ‘exploration and asking questions’ is one I want to explore further. I think it will be particularly relevant to my own work in bringing greater focus and authenticity to the work. The Drawing 2 course has challenged me to think more deeply about the drawing process and has forced me to question the concept of ‘looking’ and instead to embrace the opportunities available through the other senses. Above all it has been a course about ‘exploration’ and ‘experimentation’ in the creative process and I want to take this further in my own work.

Over the past 9 months I have taken the opportunity of visiting a number of exhibitions and these experiences have led me to question where my own art influences may stem from. Just as an example I have recently made my first visit this year to the Summer Exhibition at the RA and in all the rooms and from so many paintings, it was a small painting of flowers by Diana Armfield RA which leapt off the walls and has dominated my thought ever since. So the questioning begins with oneself.

Other exhibitions, which have influenced me this year “Delacroix and the Rise of Modern Art” and “In the Age of Giorgione”, showed the work of artists who were pushing out the boundaries of painting, questioning and experimenting and the resulting influence this has on other artists and art movements. I’m looking forward to seeing the exhibition of the Abstract Expressionists at the RA.

In order to narrow down the project to a manageable focus, I’m considering confining the study and research to the topic of ‘Flowers’. This will tie in with the major exhibition at Tate Modern on the work of O’keefe (although I understand only a few of her flower paintings are in the show). Cy Twombly’s paintings of flowers are of great interest and I want to include these in my research as well as possibly the flower painting of Emil Nolde, Kandinsky and Diana Armfield.


The project will include extensive experiments in drawing using flowers and the natural environment as starting points. I want to see where the drawing process takes me beyond representational into abstraction, as I explore a questioning approach. This questioning will include experimenting with media, questioning my own response to images, exploring other senses in my response. It will also include the exploration of looking beyond what the eye is informing me.

The second part of the quote ‘instead of supplying answers’ will also be explored. I take this to mean that to be an image which is ‘dead’, one which holds no further meaning. Seeing the difference in these two approaches will be revealed as the project progresses.


Phase 2 of the parallel project – July 28th

I have begun exploring this ‘questioning’ approach to my work. Starting with the experience of the heat of the summer’s day, I have been working with the responses from the other senses, namely, touching, listening, memory, and developing these in the sketchbook. What is emerging is ABSTRACTION and I feel that this is the direction that this work will take.

So I’m narrowing the project to investigate ‘abstraction’ in the expression of ideas which come from the other senses. I also want to include another ‘sense’ which is less spoken of and that is ‘spiritual sense’. I don’t mean this is any religious sense but in the sense of allowing expression to come from consciousness rather than just what the eye is saying. In thinking about this direction for the project I’m reading more about the work of Trevor Bell and Ben Nicholson to see where that leads me.

This narrowing down of the initial ideas for the project also means that I will not just be pursuing the area of ‘flowers’ as I wrote in the first phase of the project.

My ideas are continuing to develop….




About pbfarrar

I am an Australian living permanently in England. I have recently retired from the position of Principal of an independent school and have taken up the study of Fine Art with the OCA.
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