PART 5: PROJECT 4 – time and the viewer

PART 5: PROJECT 4: Time and the viewer

Make a drawing which forces the viewer to use time differently. This may mean a drawing which takes time to make sense of or a drawing that creates a feeling of a certain pace. The drawing may need an investment of time by the viewer in some way.

What an interesting project!

In order to get started with this project I went back over my own experiences at looking at art and what it is which makes me take time with a painting. The most vivid example I can recall is spending time with Willem De Kooning. Many years ago I went to an exhibition of De Kooning and immediately, on walking into the gallery, felt that I wanted to get out. I knew little about the artist or the paintings and certainly at first glance, they didn’t attract me. However, I decided that this wasn’t good enough. Here was a renowned artist and I needed to give them a chance. So I remember sitting myself down in front of one of them and getting very quiet and allowing it to talk to me. I sat there for a long time certainly until I‘d put down all of my prejudice and negativity. I had to get past that to start with…kind of empty the mind! Then it all began to happen. I think it was the most wonderful hour I ever spent with a painting. He has been one of my favourite artists from that time.

So what is it that will attract the viewer to make an investment of time in a painting or drawing? I think it will be a number of things. It may be the initial attraction of the image – the colours used, the subject matter etc- possibly superficial elements to start with. Or it may be the title of the piece which intrigues.

Over the past several months I’ve been putting together a visual daily diary of images which express my feelings, experiences etc as part of my parallel project on Abstraction. This has provided an unexpected wealth of material to draw from. To get some ideas on how to approach this project which included the viewer I decided to ask a friend to look through the diary and indicate which images made her want to pause and look further. At this stage there were no titles for the images and so it was purely on first visual impressions that judgements were being made. This was a really interesting exercise in itself! My friend picked out a few from this first look at the diary contents. Over the weeks of compiling this book I had also made daily notes for myself on what each image illustrated. This was because I wanted to be sure that I was not just creating designs but that each image had real meaning for me. After my friend had selected the images which attracted her, I then let her see the titles and this was interesting. One of the images plus its title stood out and I found her looking again more deeply into the drawing to see what was there. It was titled ‘SEARCHING’.


I based the work for this project on this information which I’d got from this experience. I used charcoal, pastel, eraser, chalk. Each layer of lines was built up by applying the line then rubbing back or obliterating with chalk. The process was gestural and each line became a search for something unknown. The lines were done very slowly as the pencil moved across the paper. At certain points I turned the paper upside down and began the same searching lines from other directions. There was no planning of composition. I had not idea what the final image would look like. It was revealing to me that when I finally turned the page back to the original position that there were several figures there. I think the thing which I like most about this drawing is the quality of line. I love the rise and fall of the pencil.



Sections from the drawing:

I hope the viewer will spend time with this image.


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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